Do you have trouble understanding your significant other’s money mindset? Try as you may, you just can’t get the financial priorities of your mate? Well that’s because when it comes to money matters men and women seem to speak a different language.
“Many people think differently about money,” explained Marsha Barnes, founder of The Finance Bar, a mobile hub offering personal finance resources and advice. “In many cases, we’re told that men absolutely think differently, and while this is accurate in many ways it’s not always the gospel truth.
“For men and women, our beliefs and past experiences shape our thinking. However, there are some pretty fair differences in the way that I’ve found men to think differently about money when compared to women,” she added. “Men have a tendency to feel more confident about their money and what they deserve compared to women. In many situations men are more apt to negotiate salaries than women. As women, we have a belief of simply being thankful for opportunities while men have a strong belief in being compensated for what they’re worth.”
Usually, that gap in thinking between the sexes is due to different priorities, Barnes noted. “In many cases men are focused on the key need to eat and survive while women are focused on lifestyle and dressing the part. Unfortunately, there are deep roots that continue to remind women that we must dress up to measure up. Women are very detail oriented while men often see the big picture. For example, ‘How does this purchase help us long-term?’ is a question that men will likely ask.”
Sometimes, due to a lack of confidence when it comes to money, the fear of losing money, or self-esteem issues when it comes to seeking money, women can be hesitant to investment major amounts of money, and take their time when figuring out investment goals. According to some experts, the slower investment approach of women might actually be the way to go. ”It’s interesting that women are usually perceived as being more emotional than men, yet their more-conservative approach to investing often ends up being a better choice, long-term,” Christopher Kimball, president, CK Financial Services, said.
But if you want to get on a joint financial path with your partner, it’s time to learn a new language, and practice full financial disclosure. “It’s always necessary to come to the table and ask your honey to show you their finances. If this conversation doesn’t take place prior to marriage everyone will be left to assume what the other is thinking. Create an open dialogue about your beliefs around lifestyle, shopping, trust, credit cards, travel, debt, lending money, planning for retirement and understanding if you will need a finance gatekeeper for the home,” said Barnes.
One great way to get the conversation started is to set up a regular time and day to discuss your finances. “There should also be consistent conversations around money (finances), I like to refer to them as Money Dates. The more comfortable you become with discussing your thoughts and beliefs, the less confusion there will be,” Barnes suggested.
This is something all couples, regardless of their financial situation, should do. Not speaking the same money language as your mate can lead to a lot of miscommunication, which in turn could cause relationship problems and even divorce. “Money can often be the wrench that tears relationships apart,” Barnes pointed out. “Topics around spending too much, saving too little, or the lack of priority around paying bills can wear greatly on even the strongest marriages. Money decisions and actions point back to the level of respect that either spouse has for their family. How does my husband or wife plan to protect me financially if we’re not even having the conversations? This ultimately equates to how serious and committed we are in ensuring that, financially, our home is a place of comfort and reassurance.
While you may think money shouldn’t be discussed until someone puts a ring on it, Kimball said these conversations should be happening long before then. “It is critical for couples to have in-depth discussions about money matters before engaging in any sort of long-term relationship. Money is one of the top three problem areas in marriage (the other two being sex and communication. People often joke that the problem in marriage is communication about sex and money!”
Sometimes learning a new money language requires a professional, so if you are finding it difficult to speak with your partner reach out to a financial advisor. “It’s important to add balance to each other’s perspective which will alleviate the unknown,” Barnes said. “Both short-term and long-term goals will be conquered once you are speaking the same financial language. Some questions to think about are: How much would we like to have in an emergency fund? Where would we prefer to live? Will we rent or buy a home? How many kids will we have and how does that look from a financial standpoint. Those are necessary questions that require honest dialogue. The only way to see the future is to plan for the future.”