Planning With A Partner
You can go it alone and hope for the best or get your partner on the same financial page. Remind your partner of the benefits of budgeting together and if you can’t find shared goals, be prepared to compromise.
Heaven, I'm in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
Oh the spreadsheet. My partner Annabelle could never get excited about the spreadsheet. So, here’s what she liked and what she didn’t like.
She didn’t like
- That she didn’t understand how it worked.
- That it looked complicated.
- That there was so much of it, so many interconnected tabs.
- That it didn’t magically bring in loads of money.
- That I swore a lot when it went wrong.
However, she did like
- Being involved in the prioritisation i.e. where, when and how we spent our money. Although clearly there was still never enough of it.
- That we were supreme at rolling with life’s punches i.e. we could react quickly when things changed.
- That we were financially grounded and had an insight into our financial future.
- That we could say no to the kids and have my spreadsheet to blame.
There are many reasons why we should financially plan with our partners. Firstly, your partner will almost certainly have different priorities to you and it’s most worthwhile trying to see the plan though your partner’s eyes. Even if you don’t agree with your partner’s ideas, a level of compromise from both of you will keep you both engaged with the plan. A refusal to compromise makes it too easy for one party to disown the plan.
Of course, agreeing priorities is not always easy. Let’s go back to Annabelle. She loves living in central London. She enjoys the pace, the choice, the whole urban scene. I’d prefer to head for the hills, to enjoy the quiet rural scene. Neither of us want to live in the suburbs so no compromise there. But I can see more attractions of living in central London than she can see, when she considers heading for the hills. So, decision made (for the time being) and the scene is set for us to start to prioritise together for our urban life.
Prioritisation should be fun. Clearly there will be serious aspects such as how much rent you can afford or possibly how much debt to pay off. But it’s important to make sure that you both have some fun money. Annabelle and I factor this in to our weekly cash allowance. The fun money allows financial space and independence and requires no explanation, guilt or compromise.
We know that debt is often a contributing factor in relationship difficulties. Furthermore, debt or the failure to manage debt is often the result of not having a plan for your money. Maybe money has always been a taboo subject for you and your partner. Learning to talk about money can start with talking about what is important to both of you, your passions, expectations, your personal or joint ambitions. Talking about your passions and ambitions should make it easy to talk about your priorities which naturally brings you around to your plan.
Once you have started to feel comfortable planning your money together, the next step is to make time to routinely consider your plan, together. Doesn’t your future deserve your full regular attention? After all, things change all the time and you can only jointly maintain your engagement with the plan if you jointly put some time aside to review. Perhaps an intimate financial date night?
And remember it’s not about paying the bills on time (although you should). It’s about your hopes and dreams.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.