Money and Emotions
How to Disentangle Them . . .
Money and emotions are intricately linked. Most of us know the feeling of wanting to spend to make ourselves feel better after a hard day at work or after a stressful activity.
Even if we phrase it to ourselves different — “I want a manicure as a treat” or “expensive chocolates would taste good now” – the desire to have those things is linked to a desire to spend in order to care for ourselves, to reward ourselves, or to protect ourselves from stress.
Spending emotionally is only a problem when you are overspending. To some degree, everybody spends emotionally, whether it’s for a great suit to make oneself feel important or entrance to a nightclub to dance the night away.
If you’re overspending because you spend emotionally. You need to curtail it.
The first step out of the web of money and emotions is to become aware of why we might be spending when we either binge spend (rack up big purchases or a lot of little ones suddenly, for things we don’t really need) or go way over budget for the month.
First, plan a rough budget for all the necessities: rent/mortgage, food, transportation, clothes, anything else you need on a steady basis.
Second, if you binge spend or go way over budget, examine your purchases. Why did you make them? Write it down or record it on your computer. Why? Well, in order to take action, you need to define what the feelings were. You need to get it out of your head, too, and into someplace else, like a journal or an audio/video diary.
Once you know why you did something, analyze what you can do differently the next time you get a trigger like that. Ex-husband driving you crazy? Call a friend and share emotions rather than spend.
Combining Finances as a Couple
Sometimes there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding couples and their finances. Everyone is looking for a magic formula that will somehow allow them to comfortably fill their bank account, while effortlessly bringing peace and harmony to their relationship. In reality, there is no one magic formula that works for all couples. What works for one particular couple might create issues if another couple tried the same method.
Managing money is simply one more task that most individuals have to address throughout their lifetime. Just as with household chores, childcare activities and work responsibilities, couples must carve out a plan that works for their unique needs. Above all, couples must understand the peace and harmony of their relationship is their number one priority. Once they understand their relationship’s integrity is what is truly important, they can negotiate and delegate the various responsibilities of life between the two of them, including money management.
Some couples might find it works best to put one of them in charge of the finances who makes sure all the bills are paid and the other partner receives what amounts to an allowance for inconsequentials. Other couples find it works best to keep separate accounts. They divvy up the monthly obligations and each partner ensures they pay their portion of bills every month.
For long-term financial goals, an annual or semi-annual discussion with each other, much as they would with a financial planner, is a good way to touch base with each other. Sharing ideas and thoughts and ensuring both parties are comfortable with the trajectory of their long-term plan will go a long way to keeping couples feeling good about their financial future.
As with any partnership, there might be times when the two parties simply do not agree with each other. This is where compromise and negotiating comes into play. For example, if your spouse wants to save 20% of your combined take-home pay and you want to save 5%, compromise at 10% or 12%. Each partner might not get everything they wanted, but both parties did receive at least a portion of their desires and that is probably enough to maintain harmony within their relationship.
Living Together or Getting Married Impacts Couples Financial Planning
Naturally, the decision to wed or not to wed is highly personal. For many, it is an emotional minefield. For others, it involves dearly held values. No matter how strongly emotions and values rule, legal and financial considerations flow from choosing whether or not to marry.
Marriage conveys certain legal rights. For instance, a wedded spouse is allowed to visit their beloved in a hospital or even a prison.
Additionally, a spouse is legally the next of kin. When it comes to personal misfortune and tragedy. That status confers meaningful rights. In an emergency, the marriage partner may make medical decisions.
Cohabitation does not confer the same next of kin status nor the same legal standing. A domestic partner may be barred from the hospital or emergency room. Many hospitals rank blood relatives higher on the list of who gets in. Naturally, everyone benefits from having a will and the appropriate medical care legal documents in place. For non-married couples these documents are absolutely critical long before a partner becomes incapacitated.