I’m no relationship expert, but I’m willing to bet that money has probably broken up a lot more marriages and relationships than any of us would care to admit. No one likes having those money conversations, but when we are in a serious relationship, talking finances starts to become the giant green elephant in the room that we can’t keep avoiding. This month, our topic on The Stress Less Show is Relationships - one of the top stressors in America for women - and we really can’t talk about addressing stress in our relationships without talking about combining finances. So, this week, I brought financial expert, Kristy Runzer, to talk more about the process of addressing money in our relationships.
Kristy has a very unique perspective on this topic, both as a financial planner and as a married woman herself who had to have these conversations with her partner.
“Funnily enough I, as a financial planner, married another financial planner. So we were lucky to be equipped with some of the tools that we needed, but it was still challenging... When I found that I was sharing with friends and clients and other women what that process was like, [I found] that a lot of us were struggling with the process of either combining finances or just having money conversations in relationships.”
After her experience and working with couples in her work as a financial coach and planner, Kristy has a few tips she came on the show to share about how to start confidently addressing those financial conversations in our relationships and make sure that money doesn’t tear apart our relationships.
Tip #1: Determine Your Money Story
Kristy’s first tip is all about looking inward first. When we grow up, our parents and communities we grow up in all influence the way we think about money and the beliefs we have around it. Some of us grow up in households where money is not a concern while others of us grow up with parents who view excessive wealth as a negative. All of those things can influence how we later choose to spend and invest and form what Kristy refers to as our Money Story.
“We all have our own unique money story. And so when you're in a relationship, those money stories sometimes may clash or sometimes may allow you to get on the same page quicker.”
Understanding our personal money story and our partner’s money story is a crucial step in identifying where rifts around money can develop. It can also help you and your partner find common ground.
“The more that you can learn about yourself and your partner and those money experiences and where you stand with money, and you share that, the better you'll be able to communicate about money and understand each other and that reduces things like fighting and not being on the same page.”
Tip #2: Communicate With Your Partner
This tip is the big one, we HAVE to communicate with our partners when it comes to money. Discussing finances is usually the last thing any of us want to do with anyone because there can be a lot of very uncomfortable emotions that arise. Kristy stresses the importance of learning how to approach money conversations from a place of compassion.
“Learning things like being a good listener and seeking to understand where your partner is coming from, [and] practicing things like empathy and compassion are huge... Having the courage and the vulnerability to be honest and to really speak your truth [and] starting to practice those techniques will make the world of difference in a money conversation.”
Even with compassion, it can still be difficult to start having these money conversations. We can feel overwhelmed or even ashamed of our personal financial situation because of looming credit card debt or loans. This can be painful for us to share with our partner as we start to think about money as a couple, because we may be carrying a lot of unresolved feelings. While we might be able to jump headfirst into these conversations, Kristy does recommend healing your personal emotions around money if you are feeling nervous about talking about your finances with a partner.
“Sometimes, it takes a process of self-exploration first and understanding that shame and that doubt and then questioning and learning how to heal and release that for yourself before you can share. So it's OK to take some time to turn inward and heal within yourself before you go outward and communicate that with your partner.”
Tip #3: Set Money Goals
Kristy’s last tip is where we can start to have fun with our conversations about money. Talking about money can feel like a painful process when we are completely focused on just putting out the fires in our finances. However, Kristy says that it is important to create a vision of your future and set money goals that align with those life goals - both for ourselves and together with our partner.
“How are you going to know what to do with your money if you don't know what you're working towards?”
Discussing money goals together gives us a unified direction to work towards so that we can prioritize our values and what is important to us when we make money decisions. By taking these steps, we can turn money conversations in our relationships into an opportunity to build our relationships up, instead of tearing them down.
This episode of The Stress Less Show was sponsored by The Stress Less Space, an intentional space for women to relax and recharge away from the chaos of everyday life. Learn more about The Stress Less Space by clicking this link!