How do you make financial decisions in a relationship?

Sunday, October 18th, 2015 by Lisa

There are a number of reasons why people struggle making financial decisions. The key one is the difficulty in trying to understand the balance between the financial (or technical) elements and the emotional ones.

Most people have a pretty good understanding of the financial components of the decision they want to make. If it’s a complex situation you may need some expert advice however you probably know more than you think. The difficulty in most cases lies more in the emotional element. Whether we like to admit it or not we are driven by our emotions. Imagine an iceberg.

The tip of the iceberg that sits above the water is what sits in our conscious – ie what we are aware of. The part of the iceberg that is below the water is our subconscious. This is much bigger and we are less aware of it, however it plays a big part is why we do what we do. Our beliefs and values sit here and it’s a huge subject area. To help you work through you decisions here are some ideas:

1. Put some quality time aside to think about or discuss the situation:
Most people don’t do this rather they have little snippets of a conversation in the middle of daily life. For example how many times have you had a conversation or have been thinking about money during dinner, while shopping or driving somewhere. Often one person wants to talk about it and the other is not interested. Set aside a specific time where you won’t have any interruptions to work through your issues.

2. Think about what you are trying to achieve from the decision and the outcome you want.

3. Write everything down:
People often go around in circles and struggle to get any clarity. An exercise that I have found to be really effective with clients is to first write a list of the options you have and then list all the pros and cons of each of those decisions. Which option and list looks like its going to provide you with the best solution. Its highly unlikely that you will find a perfect solution so you will need to go with the one that looks the best.

4. Think about emotions that are coming up for you while you are going through this process and what you feel when you consider each option.

5. Try to put yourself in your partners shoes and consider how they are feeling:
Repeat back to each other what you think your partner is saying. We always look at things through our own eyes and what we think we are communicating to someone else is not necessarily what they are hearing. Just because it makes sense to us doesn’t mean it does for someone else.

6. If you are struggling to get entirely on the same page as your partner then try to find a compromise:
It may not be what you want in a perfect world but can work and its something you both can live with.

7. If you are still struggling talk it through with a friend or a professional to get an independent sounding board:
It may surprise you want someone else might suggest when they are not emotionally engaged.

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One Response to How do you make financial decisions in a relationship?

  1. Peter L says:

    Often enough in a relationship, there may be one party that will be focussed on the financial side of the relationship and the other will be quite happy letting the ‘interested’ one do most of the planning for short or long term.
    The important thing is that whether the objective is for buying a car, house, an expensive holiday or longer term objective of savings for retirement, both should agree to the Same objectives to be strived for and periodic reviews be made and shared by both parties so that there will be no surprises.
    Trust and transparency should be present for the relationship to strive.

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