Are Your Money Mindsets Compatible?
Be sure you and your love are on the same page when it comes to money.

Valentine’s Day is thought of as the most romantic day of the year. For millions of couples, it’s the day to follow Cupid’s arrow and get engaged and become newlyweds. Yes, love may be in the air this month, though it’s important to keep your feet on the ground and look to the future.

Money is one of the biggest causes of marital strife, so do yourselves a favor and have that hard discussion around finances while planning your future, not boots-deep in it. Sit down and exchange a different kind of commitment: to talking about money promises.

Everyone has a different money mindset: the way we view money, our intentions and habits around finances, our values and long-term goals. Figure out early on if your spouse's money mindset is compatible with yours so that you can address it regardless of the answer.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of whether your mindsets are compatible is how you and your partner discusses money, not what you have to say about it. Is the topic difficult to talk about? Are either of you secretive or embarrassed to address finances? This is what you must fix as you commit to each other.

There are a number of specific behaviors to look out for in order to understand your partner’s money mindset. For starters, listen to their comments—about bills and debts. Are they paying off student loans? Do they have credit card balances or have bills in collection? Observe their spending habits, from their day-to-day expenditures to bigger purchases, and communicate your thoughts on them now.

What’s more, observe these same financial realities in yourself and make sure your partner knows about them. If you’ve been bad with money all these years, there’s now someone who loves you who likely can help you improve. Take advantage of that.

What about goals—the ones you’ve already achieved and the ones you hope to reach in the future? How are you going to get there? Also, discuss failures. Be open about hard times you’ve faced. Resilience is a major key in building a successful future.

Our money mindsets generally are formed from our upbringing, so discuss what role money played in each of yours. Was it discussed openly in the family? What skills or lessons were taught early on? Did you receive an allowance and if so, was it spent frivolously or tucked away? Additionally, take time to understand the financial health of your future in-laws. No, they needn’t be rich, but you want to get a sense of how their financial situation might burden you as they get older. And trust me, they will get older.

Don’t let finances take a backseat to the emotional whirlwind of love. Money issues can be a downfall to an otherwise picture-perfect marriage. So, while communicating about it might not make for the most romantic Valentine’s Day, it will set you up for a more harmonious – and financially sound – marriage.

Michael F. Kay, is the founder and president of Financial Life Focus, a fee-only multi-advisor financial life planning firm in Livingston, NJ.

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