14 February 13
Let me tee this off with some words of friendly caution: you may not want to have ‘the money conversation’ today or anytime in the next day or so. Give Valentine’s Day its due and let the glow linger a little.
When you show up with flowers for your big night out, resist the urge to explore your love’s attitudes towards budgeting. As you lean in over the table in the candlelight with that longing look in your eyes, avoid asking if she’s finally moved on from her ex-KiwiSaver default fund. And as you walk that moonlit beach hand in hand, by all means skip sharing your deep-seated feelings about how much you adore having an emergency fund.
I’m a bit concerned that you’re even reading this.
But since you’ve got this far, let me affirm something worthwhile: money can also help strengthen our relationships.
If you’ve ever saved together for a holiday, put money aside for a house deposit, or even just set up a joint fund to buy a dishwasher, you’ll know what I’m on about. There are definite joys of being on the same page and working side by side for a common financial goal. And in the process, we build rapport, trust and confidence in our lives together. We grow financially and we grow closer.
A couple of years ago we decided to rent a lifestyle block, even though it was only available for half a year or so, just to give it a go. It was somewhat of an experiment in semi-rural living – something totally different for us townies. (Our new neighbours were three cows we named Blackemon, Rosemary and Buttercup.) As we worked hard to make it all happen financially, I noticed a marked difference in our relationship too. Those were good times.
Getting on the same page, however, can be anything but easy. You need a good dose of the communication and autonomy that every relationship needs. It can take time too, but once you are heading in the same direction financially, it’s a beautiful thing.
Perhaps it’s also the sacrifice that’s involved that draws us together in a meaningful way. Depending on the savings goal you choose, it can be a tough nut to crack. Saving for your kids’ education, for example, can take some serious commitment by parents over long spans of time. But not only is it worth it for the kids, it can do a lot for the couple too.
The trick is to celebrate your achievements as you pass milestones along the way. Don’t miss this step for those long-term goals, and it will definitely help you stay close and committed.
Which brings us back to today, Valentine’s Day, which of course is all about celebrating the romance of it all. Will it draw you closer? A day like today certainly can. But if not, you might consider sharing a goal and saving for some exotic holiday together.
Just make sure to leave the money conversation for some other day.