Avoiding the Financial Blame Game

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How do you work with a significant other regarding finances?

This is tricky. I know a financial review is not every couple’s dream date night, but after seeing many relationships destroyed over financial issues, I also know how important it is to be in sync.

To ensure success in your mission, utilize these three fundamental principles from the book, “Extreme Ownership” written by Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

1.        Extreme Ownership, “The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame.” (pg 29)

Take Extreme Ownership of securing your household’s financial success. Your role as a leader requires ensuring your teammate understands their responsibility in the mission. Statements like “this stuff doesn’t interest me,” “I don’t understand” or “he/she takes care of everything” lead down a dangerous path. Many of the divorces I’ve witnessed started with financial ignorance. Delegating duties based on strengths is appropriate, but as a leader, you must ensure your partner understands how their actions impact the outcome. You will be surprised to find the support that comes from a partner that comprehends how they share in the development of the household. The best situation is when two leaders emerge, both taking Extreme Ownership of the household’s success.

2.        Alignment of Values and Goals, “In any organization, goals must always be in alignment. If goals aren’t aligned at some level, this issue must be addressed and rectified.” (pg 78)

Ensuring values and goals are aligned is the foremost reason I always prefer to have both members of a relationship involved in financial planning. Some people push back on getting their partner involved, often code for “I don’t want my partner to know what I am spending money on.” Think of what is being given up? Two teammates working together toward identified objectives, versus two independent agents keeping the other in the dark – who has a better chance of success?

If you both agree that funding your child’s education is the primary goal of the household, avoiding buying that car you can’t afford becomes easy. Clear communication early can save you from a downfall in the future.

3.        Simplify, “Combat, like anything in life, has inherent layers of complexities. Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success.” (pg 140)

Keeping things simple is the best way to ensure your household remains unified and on track to meet your goals. What are you asking of your partner? Is it clear and concise?

Three priorities you can start with are:

1.        Automate your finances

2.        Avoid a credit card balance like the plague

3.        Invest early and often (including in yourself)

You can then spend time building off of these fundamentals.

Most Americans struggle when it comes to discussing their finances. Try these techniques to give your household the best chance of success. Lastly, be patient. Life sets you up for a wild ride, and there are always opportunities to learn and adjust.


Rick Vazza

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