Will You Be My FI Valentine?

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! To get those warm and fuzzy feelings flowing, I wanted to get in touch with how money can influence relationships, both for better and for worse. Romantic, right?

According to a study performed by MagnifyMoney in 2017, money causes 21% of all divorces. This is a larger percentage than even infidelity. What’s even more interesting about this survey is that those who had higher incomes also had higher percentages where they money caused their divorce. Mo’ money, mo’ problems, right? This tells me that it’s not the amount of money they have that matters, it’s their philosophy around money that will make or break the relationship.

Speaking the Same Money Language

For Better

When I mention having a philosophy around money, I’m specifically speaking of what values each of us has and how money relates to those values. One of the many conversations that are crucial to have prior to the big day needs to be about your values. What you value will influence where you focus your time, energy and money over the course of your marriage.

If you’re both on the same page, then nothing can stop the two of you from doing anything you want together. Paying down debt, saving for a house, your child’s college and retirement all become easier when you have a partner keeping you on the path to FI. There have been many times where Kayla or myself have fallen off the bandwagon momentarily and the other is there with a gentle reminder of “Hey, do we really need that, maybe we should put that money towards our trip this summer instead?”

Or For Worse

Meanwhile, if your values are not aligned with your partner, it’s akin to trying to run a three legged race when one of you is trying to go in a different direction. No one makes any headway towards what they want and the frustration of it all can seep into every aspect of your relationship. In the same survey, it was noted that of those who listed money as the reason for their divorce, 30% cited overspending and cash flow as the most common problem they faced. One half of the relationship having an overspending problem while the other tries to pay off debt, save money or just keep costs down means that their values do not align with each other.

It’s important to dig down into the reason for someone to overspend on something. Most importantly, by asking non-accusatory questions to dig down to the root of the spending.

  • Is spending $300 on clothes every month important to you?
  • What makes it important to you?
  • Could you get the same feeling from doing something else that costs less money?
  • Does it align with where we want to be as a couple in the next year?… in 5 years? … in 10 years?

Once the reason behind the spending is flushed out, you can determine if the spending can be mitigated or if it needs to be accounted for in the budget. If what they are spending on truly is important, then just make sure it’s added to the budget. Something else may have to give, but if it’s important to them, then diminishing what they find to be important will only lead to arguing.

Conversely, there may be a reason that overspending occurs that can still be honored while cutting the expense by a little or cutting it out completely. For example, if they’re just bored and shopping is something to do to fill the time, there are hundreds of other cheap or free activities that they could do or you both could do as a couple. Adding not only to your wallets, but adding value to the time you spend together.

My Wife is the Best

Before my wife met me, she was never an extravagant person, but by no means did she keep track of her spending or have extreme savings goals like we do as a couple.  While I enjoy going through all of the nuts and bolts of personal finance, she does not.  However, we align ourselves every month on what we find to be the most important places to spend our money based on what events we have coming up and what we want to accomplish for our own goals.

Part of our values involves eating well while keeping our monthly food costs down. This is where I falter and Kayla shines. She is a fantastic cook and meal planner. I do know how to cook, but I just do not find any joy in the task itself. Without her, I would probably eat a lot of sandwiches for dinner.  With her though, I find myself enjoying meals like this Thai Chicken Ramen Soup. 

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One of our favorite Instant Pot meals!

The point here is not only to rave about how amazing my wife is, but to say this:

Make sure you agree with your partner on the values behind your spending and you will find common ground in the small actions that propel you on your journey to financial peace.

Even if you and your partner have completely different perspectives and talents to bring to your FI journey, you can still align and bring out the best in each other.

How do you and your partner keep yourselves aligned? Or does money currently cause you stress? Let me know in the comments below!

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