This past weekend my friend Leah and I took her boys to the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in Los Angeles which also features a Mutti Gras Pet Parade. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, actually takes place this Tuesday and refers to the carnival celebration that leads up to a culmination the day before Ash Wednesday which leads into the fasting season for Lent. Although our festivities are nothing like what takes place in Louisiana, this experience was definitely a blast. We donned our purple, green, and gold, made be-jewelled king crowns, ate our fill of beignets, listened to fantastic jazz music and best of all got to judge the winners of the pet parade. Hope that you feed your soul and let the good times roll, dear friend!
Another fun outing that I had was to meet up with a group of my girlfriends for dinner. As we do, bottles of wine were cracked open. We shared, we laughed, we supported, and we discussed those topics that always come up. Yes, we touched on things like the latest fashion trends, which shade of nail polish should be chosen for next week's mani/pedi session and who was doing what for Spring break. But, it doesn't end there. We also chatted about real stuff that couples were going through and funny enough, at the forefront this time was financial hiccups. Finances are always one of the tricky topics that are sometimes embarrassing to chat about especially when it's shared finances. Yet, the moment we gals start opening up and getting advice on how to navigate within our home dynamic, the mutuality of experiences becomes so beneficial.
SHOP MY INSPIRATION
That night there were a lot of thoughts circling because, of course, each individual had her own stories. We collectively realized that often most money disagreements aren't even about money, but rather what money represents--security, freedom and the opportunity to achieve one's desires. Here's the thing - most partners enter the relationship from different economic backgrounds, as well as from different money management styles. And then together finances have to be managed through the highs and lows of life. No one that night wanted to ditch her partner. If anything, a few gals had been through some heavy-duty life changes recently, and it only reinforced how amazing it was to lean into a partner who wasn't afraid to recalibrate and doing whatever it took to get finances back in shape. This got me thinking. Wouldn't it be great if I could share with my readers some of the terrific tips that came out of the night? So, here's some insight for how to successfully steer finances forward for your relationship.
1. Sit Down and Discuss Your Financial Goals
Sitting down to discuss finances is often one of the most difficult tasks that a couple will experience. Sometimes it's hard to think about long-term financial goals, let alone have a serious talk about this with your mate. Finances are often an emotionally-charged topic. Many individuals carry over emotional issues from childhood such as scarcity, lack of self-worth and criticism for spending habits. It's important to detach from emotions and instead focus on the ultimate goal--creating long-term prosperity and security as a couple. Make a pact beforehand to remove from the discussion any blame, negativity or emotional language. Identify destructive beliefs about money head-on so that you can eliminate this programming as a team and co-create positive new behavior. Assess your values and come to the table with an outline of your individual goals so that you can then mutually prioritize a balanced budget for necessities and luxuries. Remember to be respectful that your partner and yourself come from different backgrounds and may have different definitions of luxuries. Keep the conversation positive and focused.
2. Create A Mutual Financial Roadmap
Hands down, creating a roadmap was the best tip of the night. Once you and your partner have identified your goals, it's so beneficial to develop a plan that will help you jointly achieve your desires. Consider your shared income, debt, savings, individual spending allowance and an estimated timeline for each goal, etc. Develop a roadmap for monthly spending and saving. It's important to prepare a joint budget, plus make provisions for an individual allowance for each of you that you can spend as you wish - in fact, we all agreed having individual allowances is so important to maintaining a healthy relationship. Also, having joint milestones to reward yourselves will help ensure that this process doesn't always feel like an effort.
3. Design A Monthly System for Both of You
After creating your roadmap, it's time to design a system that puts your plan in motion, but this is not solely about creating a monthly budget. You and your partner also need to decide who is going to take responsibility for each part of the system, so you stay in balance. Who will pay bills, who will do the grocery shopping, who will log weekly expenses, etc.? One extra tip that came up is not to offer to manage it all which is a female habit to do. Why? The general thought process is that it ensures accountability - each partner is vested in minimizing financial stress.
4. Weekly Financial Check-In
Communication is key to achieving mutual financial goals. Set aside time once a week to check-in on these goals. A weekly meeting supports accountability and sustains healthy financial habits. Use this time to review your accounts and spending plan. Assess adjustments that may be needed for upcoming expenses. Discuss challenges objectively. Remember, be in charge of your finances rather than letting your finances rule over you.
5. Be A Team
Most importantly, work on finances as a team. Sharing mutual goals is exciting. Be encouraging of one another as you progress towards achieving your desires. Stay focused on solutions rather than blame and remember that your ultimate foundation of mutuality is love. Healthy financial habits are important for your overall wellbeing and will foster a positive future together.
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Photo Credits: Leah Jonas