In most of the couples I work with, there seems to be one person who’s more money-minded and one who isn’t. Often the person who isn’t money-minded wants to be a part of the money conversation, but they lack the financial confidence to really dig into the numbers with their partner.
That was my husband and me during the first year or two of our marriage. I really wanted to have him at the table making decisions with me, but our money conversations kept kicking up his financial anxiety. I thought I had so much I could teach him about money, if he would just let me.
Guess what? Today, my husband is one of the most knowledgeable people about money I know. He has a high level of financial confidence, decreased financial anxiety, and is an equal partner at the table for our financial conversations. He has taught me (and continues to teach me) so much about money and holds me accountable to our goals in ways I’d never imagined. And here’s the kicker: Our transformation had just about nothing to do with me and everything to do with him.
That said, I did learn a few things about how to support him on this journey partner. Looking to help build your partner’s financial confidence? Keep these things in mind:
· It’s About Them, Not You: There’s no one right way to handle money, so more than likely as you begin crafting a fulfilling life together, you’ll discover different approaches to dealing with money. Ask yourself: Are you ok with being challenged, or are you just looking for your partner to appreciate your financial acumen? If it’s the latter, you’re setting yourself — and your partner — up for a disappointing result.
Tip: Recognize that your partner may learn about finances better from an outside voice (like a podcast, relative, or financial educator) than they will from you. When they have an a-ha moment, even if it’s the same thing you’ve been saying for years, remember your goal is to have a true partner in crafting your financial goals and even managing day-to-day finances.
· Share the Moments, Big and Small: One of the biggest mistakes financially-minded people make is to only bring their non-financially minded partner into the conversation for the big decisions, like when one of you gets a raise or an emergency expense comes up. When you exclude your partner from the day-to-day transactions and only bring them in at critical times, you’re likely to leave them even more disoriented about your finances than they were at the start.
Tip: Find a way to check-in periodically that works for your partner, not just for you. Maybe you can share access to the place where you track your finances, whether that’s a spreadsheet or an app like Mint. Maybe you meet for 15 mins on Sunday evening to go over the week’s finances, or (my personal favorite), have a monthly money date.
· Accentuate the Positive: Learn from my experience: Don’t be a know-it-all! You may be much more savvy about money than your partner, but there’s no need to sermonize, editorialize, or relish in correcting them. Instead, welcome their perspective, ask open-ended questions, and point out the things they’re doing right. A big step to building confidence is realizing you have something of value to bring to the table, so make sure your partner knows you want to hear their opinions.
Tip: One of the best things you can do is be genuinely curious about what your partner thinks. They may be uncomfortable sharing at first, but as they open up, thank them for their honesty. Don’t brush them off, even if you know more about the topic they’re discussing; be attentive and responsive to their perspective.
· Be Willing to Try Something New: In order to be genuinely curious about your partner’s perspective and give them an equal seat at your family’s financial table, you may need to let go of “your way” of doing things so together you can create “our way” of doing things. Yes, you may have a system that’s always worked for you, but there may be a different way to get to the same place that works better for you both.
Tip: I’m a big fan of experimenting. If your partner has an idea, agree to give it a try for a few weeks. Set a date to come back and reevaluate. Be patient! It may take you a couple of tries to find what works for both of you.
There’s one key variable here I haven’t mentioned: Your partner’s motivation to build their own financial confidence. This is a variable you have no control over. You can follow all of these approaches and still not be successful. The only thing you can do is stress to your partner the importance of having both of you at the table for financial decisions. Don’t use this as an opportunity to cut down your partner for how they are lacking or what they’ve done wrong. That will only make the situation worse. Instead, be vulnerable in asking for what you need. Then, let it go and wait for your partner to take the lead.
What ways have you found to improve your partner’s financial confidence? Comment below!
This Thursday, Oct. 24, I’ll be going live on Facebook at 8pm Central to share a few tangible ways you can build your own financial confidence before 2019 draws to a close. Not on Facebook? Don’t worry! I’ll be posting the recording to IGTV later on.