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Finance for Couples pt 2

Continuing the train of thought from yesterday, today will look at a crucial aspect in integrating good financial habits with your spouse: time.  Time is something that is generally scarce for most people and that goes double or quadruple for doctors and nurses. Given that any free time is used to decompress from the hospital and spend with your family, it can be hard to take a chunk out to look over finances.  All of that being said, it’s going to be an uphill battle to make sure you’re taking time to go over finances regularly, but if you don’t control your money it will control you.

Time is Precious

I know that time for residents/doctors/nurses is very precious, and have learned that all the more with my fiance having clinicals at night.  That being said, it’s still important to spend time with your spouse going over your financial status every month. The AICPA 2012 Finances Causing Rifts for American Couples Report found that 55% of people who are married or living together don’t set aside regular time to discuss finances.  Given how big a role money can play in the demise of relationships and 55% of couples don’t discuss it regularly, it’s no surprise that so many relationships suffer from finance-related issues.  Perhaps we need to switch our thinking from having to find time to look at finances and make sure we’re on the same page to setting time aside every month to intentionally work on the relationship through the structure of making sure we’re on pace to reach our ideal life.  Again, I know most people don’t want to set aside time to discuss finances even when they have plenty of free time, but it can be more effective to look at it through the lens of working on the relationship with intention with defined values instead of abstract concepts. The busier you are, the more intentional you’ll need to be, schedule it with your spouse and add it to your calendars, so you’re both aware of what’s coming and can make sure that you’ll have the time to go through the exercise.  

Communication

We touched on communication yesterday and we’re doing it again today to underscore how vital good communication is to creating a strong and lasting relationship.  Simply talking about money doesn’t necessarily produce results, and can actually make things worse. It’s not just about engaging in communication, but it must be the right type of communication.  Those in healthy relationships will know that communication is about listening in order to understand, not simply to judge, and this absolutely applies to communication regarding finances. As I mentioned yesterday, you must be able to share values and agree on a direction, so the communication surrounding your plan must be an exercise in understanding.  This is a great opportunity to bring communication skills used in other parts of your relationship to finances and vice versa, as increasing not only the amount but type of communication will lead to a more open and loving union. Communication is also crucial in controlling your money instead of letting it control you. Doctors are particularly susceptible to greatly increasing their standards of living once the attending paychecks start rolling in, whether it’s best for their family or not.  Being able to effectively communicate what your ideal life looks like and having defined steps to get there increases the chances of avoiding those traps that can lead to needing to work forever in order to pay off debts.

Being intentional with your time and communication is vital to building strong financial habits as well as nurturing your relationship.  If there’s something I missed or if you have questions or comments, leave them below or send me an email as I’d love to know about your experiences.  

financial planning for couples