Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Building Financial Intimacy

With Valentines Day coming up this weekend, I understand that your romantic plans with your sweetie probably do not include money talk -- yet. Let me make my case for the least understood, most unappreciated, yet totally romantic topic of them all.

After the intoxicating initial flush of love, financial cooperation and compatibility are one of the cornerstones of true intimacy. Money is tied to our most basic sense of security. When we can't trust our partner or we feel we can't be our own true financial self in the relationship, then the long-term prospects for the relationship are terrible. Chances are we will either blame, bolt, or cheat (financially speaking). You've heard the statistics about how conflict over money is the leading cause of divorce, right?

How do you boost the financial intimacy in your relationship?
Having different financial mindsets doesn’t have to be an issue. You simply need to communicate in order to play to the other person’s strengths. Next time you’re gazing at each other over candlelight (and maybe after a glass or two of wine), see what happens when you introduce a little money talk.

Here are the questions you should ask your partner:
  • After your regular bills are paid, what do you like to do with the rest of
    your money?
  • Do you have any financial goals in the next five years? What are you doing
    right now to work toward those goals?
  • How do you feel about debt?
My article for LearnVest on How to Have the Money Conversation with Your Significant Other has more on the right questions to ask whether you're just dating or moving toward marriage.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tweet Your Way to a Balanced Budget

One of the biggest obstacles to tracking spending is creating a habit around it. Writing down each expense may seem awkward, uncomfortable, or time-consuming.

What if you could use your addiction to social media to help put yourself on a budget? That's the idea behind Tweet What You Spend, a free financial tracking tool that works through your Twitter account.

After each transaction, you simply send a direct message to TweetWhatYouSpend (@twys) with the amount you spent and what you spent it on. There is a special TWYS syntax that makes sending the information quick and easy. Tweet What You Spend then securely parses the information into your own Cash Journal.

And while I am no fan of shame-based strategies for keeping yourself on track, TWYS does have a "Wall of Shame" feature that allows you to highlight transactions that are not in keeping with your financial plan by dragging them onto a special bulletin board. If for some odd reason you'd also like to share this information with a community, you're welcome to do that, too. (Personally that sounds a little weird to me, but I have been known to get a lot of clients who begin each session with a mea culpa, so maybe there is a huge need here for public shaming.)