Financial Wellness in Relationships
Talking about money can be awkward and uncomfortable. However, in order to have healthy families, friendships, and romantic relationships, it is important to be financially well! Developing strong communication about finances and knowing your own money habits are key to creating healthy relationships, navigating conflict, and ultimately becoming financially secure. Talking about money can be awkward and uncomfortable. However, in order to have healthy families, friendships, and romantic relationships, it is important to be financially well! Developing strong communication about finances and knowing your own money habits are key to creating healthy relationships, navigating conflict, and ultimately becoming financially secure.
It can be helpful to reflect and understand your general approach to money before talking with others. Do any of these sound like you?
- The Stockpiler: You’re always saving for a rainy day, just in case
- The Idealist: You’re aware that money is a necessary part of life, but you’d rather not get bogged down with it
- The Hedonist: You know how to enjoy life. Money is not going to get in the way of your freedom!
- The Nurturer: Your savings provide for the people you love.
- The Conqueror: Making money comes naturally to you because work is the love of your life
Interested in finding out your money personality? Visit: https://empower.me/quiz
Predetermined expenses remain constant for a specific period of time; the amount is the same each time you are billed.
- Examples: rent, internet, utilities, insurance, even subscriptions such as Netflix, Spotify, etc.
- When making a budget: START HERE!
- It is helpful to understand what your recurring expenses are before you budget for fun or non-essential things
Expenses that change over a period of time and depend on how much use you’re getting out of them; amount changes from month to month
- Examples: groceries, entertainment, clothing, gas/transportation
- To budget variable expenses: track and average variable expenses over a period of time, and subtract from your budget.
- Variable expenses are often easier to reduce than fixed expenses
Questions to consider
- What is my money personality?
- What does my spending and saving say about my values?
- What is my comfort level talking about finances?
- How has my identity or upbringing impacted my approach to finances?
- How might my partner/roommate/friend approach money differently?
Cash Flow and Savings Tips
Avoid spending more than you make!
- Use this formula to start: Income - Expenses = Cash Flow
- Be honest with yourself about your expenses (including ride shares, random online shopping, and eating out!)
- Positive cash flow: more money to consider putting into savings
- Emergency fund goal: 3-6 months of expenses
- Negative cash flow: consider an increase in income or decrease in expenses
- Consider an app to track expenses like Mint or EveryDollar
Save where you can!
- 50/30/20 goal: spend 50% of income on needs, 30% on wants, and put 20% in savings
- If this doesn't work for you, start tweaking the numbers until it feels right
- Start with small, achievable goals and build from there
- Saving is difficult! Consider making multiple saving "categories"
- Ex: Emergency, Vacation, etc.
- Find a high-interest savings account!
- Many accounts only give you .01%, but some range from .5% - 1.5%!
Financial situations often change, especially in college. We may not know how someone else is being impacted financially by their family, school, or the economy. Communicating about finances is likely to be an ongoing conversation, and it's beneficial to regularly check in with partners, friends, or family about financial wellness.
Need additional support answering these questions, understanding your cash flow, or learning more about managing finances? Set up an appointment with a Money Spot Advisor through VCU Navigate!
→ It is essential to negotiate and navigate boundaries around your finances when in a relationship. What information are you comfortable sharing? How will you split paying for things? Here are some important things to keep in mind…
- Being in a relationship doesn’t mean everything will be 50/50. Equity is the goal, not equality
- Equity: make spending proportional to income/fixed expenses
- Equality: splitting things evenly
- Respect privacy/autonomy: you are not entitled to your partner’s expenses/accounts
- Be very cautious about sharing passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account information
- Examples of boundary setting include:
- "I'd love to go to the movies, my budget for tonight is $20"
- "I've been paying for Netflix and all of our Ubers lately, can we talk about splitting things up more fairly?"
- "I appreciate your concern, but I am not comfortable sharing the details of my finances with you"
Let's have cinnamon rolls, not gender roles
- There is a societal expectation that men should pay for more in relationships
- Not all relationships are heteronormative or subscribe to traditional gender roles
- Gendered assumptions can create tension or conflict in relationships. It's important to talk about your expectations and how you all can contribute to the relationship
- Keep your personal power and privilege in mind
- Ask each other about family values and assumptions made around money
- How often do you want to go on date nights? Or eat out?
- Don’t know? Try setting personal budgets first so you understand what you have to spend
- Set agreed-upon limits on gift amounts
- If you share subscriptions with others, make sure it's fair! If you pay for a music subscription, maybe they can pay for tv subscriptions
- Check-in regularly about shared expenses. Consider using a cash sharing app to make things equitable
If a partner or family member is dictating how or when you spend money, negatively impacting your ability to do your job, or overstepping your financial boundaries, it may be time to get help. Contact a confidential advocate at VCU at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-828-6200 or call the Richmond Regional hotline 24/7 at 804-612-6126
Examples of Red Flags
- Partner says “It’s easier if we just share our bank information/credit card”
- Your credit score or savings could be negatively impacted by their decisions, even unintentionally. If you break up, your financial security could be compromised. You deserve privacy and autonomy over your finances
- Go on a date with a set budget of $50, partner pressures the other to spend more
- A clear boundary was set and crossed, and they were pressured/coerced into spending more
- One partner insists on paying for everything but makes the other partner feel guilty
- This is controlling behavior that can cross the line into emotional and financial abuse
Ideas for dates in RVA!
- Take a walk outside (ex: Monroe Park, Belle Isle, Browns Island)
- Picnic at Maymont or VMFA
- Bike Ride (rent bikes for free from RamBikes)
- Boardgame/video game night
- DIY Bob Ross paint night
- Movie night/Netflix and Chill (seriously chill) and build a fort
- Movies at the Byrd Theater
- Watch the sunset at Libby Hill
- Try a new recipe together