In normal times, we would be in the midst of one of the most popular wedding months of the year. Of course, these aren’t ordinary times.

Instead, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to postponed and canceled wedding plans, resulting in the loss of time and money invested for the big day. Many couples had to creatively reimagine what it means to “walk down the aisle” and celebrate their commitment. For some, the loss of jobs compounded stress and worry when we should to be uplifting the beauty of two people dedicating themselves to each other.

That’s why it’s even more important that we nurture our relationships, whether we are taking new steps together or have been committed to each other for years. As always, money plays a role. Really, how we think about money and what we do with it in the best of times and the most challenging of times can affect our relationship’s dynamics.

CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, Thasunda Brown Duckett and husband, Richard Duckett.

When we partner with another person, we bring our money beliefs, perspectives, experiences, and habits into the relationship. Often, the partnership helps us rise to new levels and achieve more than we ever could alone. 

Sometimes, there isn’t a clear path to merging financial lives, whether you are just starting out — or have been together for decades. Building a pathway to financial success starts with getting clear about where you are now and the values and vision you share.

With a shared vision as your focus, you can create a plan that honors your individuality and your relationship.

Today, some couples literally jump over a broom as part of their wedding ceremony. It signifies the two of them becoming one and represents “sweeping away” past problems and concerns. They’re getting a fresh start in their lives.

I want to talk to you today about jumping the financial broom and getting a fresh start on your financial lives together. I encourage you to jump into this with both feet, no matter how long you have been together.

Start by setting aside time to talk. Try to keep distractions to a minimum because this won’t be five minutes and done.

It will be a time to talk about how you BOTH feel about where you are right now and your vision for the future. And it will be worth it.

I will suggest questions that can help you get the conversation started, but first here are some ground rules:

  • Each partner needs to try to answer each question. “I don’t know” doesn’t count as an answer.
  • Be patient with your partner if he or she is reluctant or slow to share. But make sure they do share.
  • Listen, really listen when your partner talks about their goals.
  • Write down your answers, or at least some notes, so you can check back over time.

Most goals will have a financial impact, so it’s crucial to have a clear picture of where you are right now. This also can help you focus on areas where you are aligned and notice the areas that you may have to develop shared agreements.

Consider these questions as discussion starters:

  • What are your core values? How do your money choices reflect your values?
  • What are your beliefs about money?
  • What money messages did you learn as a child?
  • How do early money messages affect your communication now?
  • How have recent events redefined how you think about money?

If this discussion took quite a while, set up another time for a second discussion.  If you have time now, keep going onto this second assignment – this time a writing assignment — for each of you.

Take a few minutes to complete each of the statements below:

  • If money wasn’t an issue, I would ____________________________.
  • The money choice I made that I am most proud of is _________________________
  • The money choice I wish I could do over is __________________________
  • Money is ________________________________

Now, switch papers and read each other’s answers.

Were there any surprises? Where are you in sync? Where are you different?

Spend some time talking about it.

It’s all part of building your relationship and building to the future together.

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