Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. You haven't forgotten have you? MetLife apparently didn't. They sent out several brief financial tips for couples for this year's day of romance and they are not bad. This was the subject of this week's Money Matters segment on Alabama's 13, and it was fun so I thought I would pass it along here for your relational enhancement.
Hope you have a great one with you loved one!
- Learn about the financial before you say, “I DO”- Probably not the best to inquire about this on Valentine’s day, but if your relationship is starting to get serious then you may need to have a serious discussion about how each of you feel about money. What is the money situation of each person? What values do you share and where do you differ? Many of those attitude won’t change easily, and if you are in different places in terms of how you think and act financially, you will find the relationship can become difficult. If you are serious about each other and trust each other, things like credit scores, debt levels, and living below you means should not be threatening topics of discussion.
- Discuss Debt before Debt become THE discussion- Not all debt is not bad, but both partners in a relationship need to be on the same page regarding debt, and both should agree on what is “good” debt and what is “bad” debt . Remember, even with good debt, too much of a good thing can turn bad quickly. Good debt is leveraging something that leads to a greater financial return, such some manageable student loan debt, a reasonable mortgage or starting a well defined business. Bad debt is anything that does not lead to appreciation. The easy example would be credit card debt, but if I wanted to meddle, I could suggest debt on automobiles as an example of debt that is not financially productive as well.
- Financial Secrets never end well - Mysteries are great for books and movies but when it comes to finances and couples, keeping secrets will never have a good ending. Healthy relationships are built on transparency and trust. Undermine those and you won’t have a lifetime of Valentine's day to celebrate with your partner.
- You’re a couple not competitors- Two income families are typical and many times necessary, but even though there may be two earners in the household, it is often the case there are income disparities. If you are committed to your partner, you can’t allow income to be a source of power that disrupts the balance of the relationship. Each person contributes more to a relationship than a paycheck. It takes two to be a couple.
- Have a financial date night- Dating is important both before and after a marriage. Finding intentional time to spend together is foundational to a happy relationship. Applying that same intentionality to personal finance is important. Designate a regular time when you can come together and discuss where you are presently in your financial affairs and where you want to go. Celebrate your progress, communicate about the shared sacrifice, and envision where you want to be in the future with your significant other.