Yup, we’re talking about this today because we’re approaching the most commercial, consumer-centric holiday of the year…
Retailer-inspired, strip mall celebrated and middle-class embraced “holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday do not hold a candle to the time-honored holiday that is…
In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is worse than both Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Valentine’s Day preys on our emotional connotation of love to guilt them into buying shit.
(Side note: imagine having this opinion, then dating a girl who’s birthday landed on February 14? That was me. Good times.)
I want to go deeper than Valentine’s Day, though. Even the most lavish expressions of “love” on Valentine’s day only affects your bank account for one day each year. In the long run, it’s negligible (still stupid, but negligible).
Instead, I want to talk about relationships and money: two areas that affect every day of your life.
After reading this post, you’ll feel more comfortable discussing money with your partner. Because you’ll understand what’s happening beneath the surface when you talk dolla dolla bills.
First You Meet Someone, Then Things Get Tough
Los Angeles is a conundrum: so many people to meet, yet (as friends of both sexes tell me) a terrible place to meet anyone.
For those reading this with penises, DJ Lubel may (or may not) strike a chord:
Then you do meet someone. With that hurdle vanquished, you stumble on other challenges. My friend Greg brought one challenge up on the phone yesterday:
“How do you and your girlfriend approach the ‘money’ conversation?”
The “money” conversation is a difficult conversation for most people. I don’t envy couples embarking on their first.
It’s hashing out: how to split money for rent, for groceries, utilities, who pays for nights out, who is investing in your futures together.
You know. The sexy stuff.
At some point, it has to happen, though.
Along with the “do-you-want-kids?” conversation, or the “chances-of-a-three-way-with-your-best-friend?” conversation.
But it’s an emotional minefield.
Many people have deep, personal (and often, painful) relationships with money.
So what’s the best way to start?
The best way is realizing the conversation isn’t about money at all?
It’s a Conversation About Values
Think about it. We don’t actually want money.
No one wants a million dollars in the bank. We want the lifestyle and security we think a million dollars brings.
We exchange money for things we value — the necessities obviously (food, clothes, shelter), but after that, the list of things we want is long and complex.
Someone who wants a high-powered career as an attorney, an agent, or a Fortune 100 consultant: they may value convenience, which gives them more energy to focus on work.
So they exchange money for services: a cleaning service, a meal service, or a car service.
It’s a very specific value exchange.
Compare this to someone who prefers independence. They work as remote IT support, a mechanic, or a freelance blogger. They value their autonomy, controlling when and what they work on.
So they exchange money for more employees, and money for time (that it takes to do their own cleaning and cooking)
Money is a Tool to Exchange Value
Once we understand that, the “money” conversation becomes a “value” conversation.
Do you and your partner value the same things?
For example, do you value lavish vacations or location independence (option to do remote work?)
Do you value the option to eat out every night, or sitting down at family dinners?
Do you value expensive suits, or working in your pajamas?
Something my girlfriend and I value is our family – our respective families, and the one we’ll eventually start. Right now, we don’t live close to either of our families, so if we want to be able to visit at moment’s notice, that’s money we need to set aside.
We know that starting a family is expensive. It’s a huge investment of time, energy, and money. So we’re investing a great deal of all three now, so we’re preparing when the time comes.
This means less time, energy, and money to devote to other things, like watching two hours of television every day, or eating out every night.
Which is fine. It’d be nice to crash on the sofa and watch Breaking Bad reruns at night, or to never have to think about making dinner, but it’s not something we particularly value.
The Money Conversation
Is actually a value conversation.
Have that conversation with your partner. If those values align, then everything else will fall into place.
If they don’t… if your values conflict with one another, then all the money in the world may not buy you happiness.
Photo Credit: qthomasbrower