Cougar women know this. One of the most difficult conversations they can have with a significant other is not about love or commitment – it's about money. How they save it, invest it and respect it. Recently I was interviewed for a story in the New York Times that focused on “money talk” for couples. I received so much great feedback on the story that I felt compelled to address it here.
Almost every time I talk to women about their money I get lots of questions that sound something like this: How do I start a conversation with my husband about money? How do I ask my partner to see our finances without having him feel like I don’t trust him? How do I get my questions answered without ending up in a huge fight?
Three words here…. communicate, communicate, communicate. I know you hear that all the time and know it's not that simple, especially when it comes to money. You’d be surprised (or perhaps you wouldn’t be) by how many people don’t even know how much their spouse is making. Generally, the problem is due to the highly emotional feelings (self worth, self esteem, power, control etc) and unresolved issues with money each partner brings to the table.
Sit back and have a think. What does money mean to you? How does your upbringing and past experiences affect your money attitudes? What stops you from having these conversations – fear? interest? knowledge? lack of ownership? bigger relationship problems?
Having these initial conversations may not be easy, but if you don’t have them, you run a very high risk of becoming a member of the “if only” club.
You may not know what the “if only” club is, but I am sure you know someone or a lot of someones who are already members. Everyone has a friend, neighbor or family member who wasn't involved in managing their finances – then one day reality hit. They found out in the midst of a crisis that their husband was an overly aggressive investor, had amassed huge credit card debt, wasn't saving for retirement, or not protecting the family from death and disability.
What do you think are the first words out of these women’s mouths when the day of reckoning comes? Yep, you guessed it …if only I knew he was (fill in the blank), I would have (fill in the blank.) These scenarios break my heart, because they often result in unfortunate outcomes that could have been avoided or at least mitigated, if they were only talked about.
Here's something for you to think long and hard about: Are you willing to bear some discomfort today to learn whether or not your future is on a path that will give you the greatest probability of success? I hope from the bottom of my heart that your answer is a resounding YES.