5 Money Habits of Happy Couples
A lot of people see my wife Kim and me today and think we’re happy because we’re rich.
The reality is that when I met Kim, I was broke and a million dollars in debt after the failure of my first business selling rock and roll Velcro wallets. Thankfully, Kim stuck with me, and I know that Kim isn’t with me because of my money — and I’m not with her because of hers!
For many years, Kim and I struggled financially. In that respect, we were no different than many young couples. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was stressful at times. But we worked together as a team, persevered, and had a plan.
That might not have happened without taking the time to talk about the future. Like the time we joined a friend on Whistler Mountain…
Kim, my best friend Larry Clark, and I were skiing in Vancouver, British Columbia. The snow was very deep, the runs were long, and the skiing was excellent, though bitter cold.
At night, the three of us sat in a little cabin that was snuggled in between tall pines, barely visible because the snow was up to the roof.
Around the fire every night, we discussed our plans for the future. We had very high hopes, but very little resources. Kim and I were on our last few dollars, and Larry was in the process of building another business. Our discussions ran late into the night, every night.
We discussed books we’d recently read and movies we’d seen. We listened to educational tapes and discussed the lessons in depth.
It was during that trip that Kim and I became united in our goal to retire. We were united in our pursuit of financial education, and we committed to learning together.
But that wasn’t enough. Our success required hard work, not just on our business, but on our communication…
How Do Happy Couples Talk About Money?
Kim and I operate our marriage much like a business — we use the B-I triangle just like we use in our business.
Communication is one of the most important principles of running a successful business, and the same is true for having a successful marriage.
In an Ameriprise study, 68% of couples describe communication about finances with their spouses/partners as “perfect” or “very good.”
This communication should start right at the beginning of a relationship — Kim and I discussed our financial habits and financial goals during our first date. We didn’t want to waste any time.
If you’re unsure how to begin these financial conversations, start with these questions:
- What did your parents tell you about the subject of money?
- Do your thoughts differ from those of your parents?
- What does money represent to you?
- What’s your general thought about very rich people?
- How rich is “very rich?”
If you’ve been in a relationship, or if you’ve been married for a while, and haven’t had these conversations yet, it’s not too late to start. Many people get uncomfortable talking about money, so take it gentle and slow. Work at it from different angles until you find the one that gets the response — and eventually leads to deeper conversations.
After you and your spouse have discussed money, start putting into practice these money habits of aligned couples.
5 Money Habits of Happy Couples
#1 They make money a priority.
Many people don’t think that money should be the most important thing in their life. Some people think it’s offensive or superficial to focus on how much money they make or how they are using their money.
But the majority of successful couples agree that money is a priority. They make a point to talk about it and plan their lives around their financial goals and needs.
My rich dad once said, “Money may not be the most important thing in your life, but it affects everything important.”
#2 They talk about and agree on financial goals.
Whether it’s retirement, saving up to buy a house, or becoming financially independent, most couples have very clear, shared financial goals. Sharing financial goals, and working toward them together is not only a great way to increase your likelihood of achieving them, but it’s also fun!
Though Kim and I faced a long bumpy road when we first became a couple, our shared goals kept us going. When we started The Rich Dad Company, we did so together, as partners, and it made all the difference to our success in business and our relationship.
#3 They set spending limits.
A spending limit can be a great way to ensure you and your partner have open communication about finances. Spending large amounts of money without discussing it with your partner can lead to trust issues and resentment. But being open and upfront about big financial decisions can help solidify your relationship.
#4 They have joint banking accounts.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about joint banking accounts. On the one hand, I think they can be a great way to support constant communication as a couple. When your finances are tied together, you have more reason to talk about how you’re spending or saving your money as a team.
On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a separate bank account, as long as your partner is aware of it. Many couples have both: A joint bank account for shared household expenses (mortgage, utilities, groceries, pets, children, etc.), and separate accounts for personal items.
Either way, the key is communication. Having secret accounts or stashes of money your partner doesn’t know about, is not indicative of a healthy relationship.
#5 They share responsibility for retirement planning and investment decisions.
Retirement is a wonderful time to relax and pursue the things you love with the person you love. Kim and I had shared goals about retirement and at what age we wanted to achieve retirement.
A lot of people look forward to the extra time they have to spend with their partner in retirement.
Unfortunately, retirement is too often one of the most stressful times in a couple’s life. If they haven’t planned properly or communicated what their goals and expectations are for retirement, then what should be a happy, relaxing time can quickly dissolve into stress and anxiety.
That’s why happy couples should talk about retirement right away, and work toward their retirement goals together.
Learn From Mistakes (and Laugh)
Finally, understand that life is a journey. Many couples have a hard time with financial mistakes because they expect that hard times won’t or shouldn’t come. Every couple faces hard financial times. It’s your response to them as a couple that will make or break your relationship.
For Kim and I, we always looked at our setbacks as learning opportunities. And because we were a team, we tackled those problems together—and learned from them together.
Also, we laugh together a lot. Kim is my best friend. When life gets hard, it also often gets absurd. If you can’t stand back with your best friend and laugh at the difficulties and absurdities of life, you’re screwed.
Play it smart,
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily