Some of my fondest memories include sitting around the kitchen table playing The Game of Life with our children. Reminiscing about those afternoons, I realize Milton Bradley’s board game provided a roadmap to the types of financial conversations LGBTQ couples need to have now.
The Game of Life
The Game of Life imitates real life by mapping a person’s travels from college to retirement, career, marriage, and possibly children along the way. The spin of a wheel advanced the player along the board — and our kids would have ongoing commentary on life’s milestones.
“Oh, no! My husband and I are going to live in a house! That’s expensive.”
“Cool! My wife and I are going to rent apartments around the world!”
“We are going to work really hard for a while, live simply, retire early, and then volunteer for a charity that saves animals.”
These innocent and humorous remarks also represented a narrative on key milestones that many of us take for granted as we plan our futures—especially with partners and spouses. That’s especially true for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) couples, who, research shows, face income gaps and have less confidence in their financial knowledge than other couples. And if those challenges are exacerbated by different saving and spending styles or life expectations, the results can wreak havoc on the couple’s relationship.
Whether you’re getting ready to tie the knot, purchase property, move in together, or take some other important life step with your partner, it’s time for a discussion about money. Of course, broaching the topics of spending, saving, and investing with the love of your life isn’t always comfortable, yet understanding your financial styles now can prevent serious conflict and disagreement later. Never let your financial wellness be determined by a spin of the wheel. Here are five financial conversations LGBTQ couples need to have now.
How will we make decisions about saving and spending?
Perhaps you have every financial gift you’ve ever received, but your partner likes to spend money and make luxurious splurges. It’s important to find a middle ground so that you can build a nest egg for your future, but also enjoy the occasional indulgence. Consider creating a budget that meets both your needs and discuss how you’ll make decisions about bigger purchases.
What are our lifestyle goals?
This is a great opportunity to daydream together. How do you picture your future? Where will you live? Do you plan to have a big house and expensive car or live more modestly? You may find that each of you have expectations that the other didn’t realize. If you have different income levels, how will you divide responsibility for paying mortgages, loans, and bills? Define your vision for your future together, then address the realities of how you’ll make your dreams come true.
What causes are important to each of us?
For some people, philanthropy and supporting various causes is a way of life. For others, giving back is nice to do, but not crucial. If this part of your life is important to you, but your partner wants to use the money for other purposes, you may need to resolve that difference in expectations.
Is there anything that we haven’t disclosed to each other about our financial histories?
Past financial mistakes or issues can be hard to talk about. But, if you or your partner has poor credit, enormous debt, or a problematic shopping habit, both of you may be affected. Credit and debt ratios can have an impact on everything from your ability to secure a mortgage to whether you get the best rate on your insurance policy. Your credit history can even affect your job prospects. Sharing your financial secrets with each other now means that you can determine solutions rather than being blindsided by the unexpected later.
What are our investment styles and risk tolerance?
Some lose sleep when the stock market dips while others want to go for growth, regardless of downside exposure. Perhaps you want to invest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) stocks to align your investments with your values while your partner wants growth, regardless of where it comes from. Discuss what’s important to you about your investing strategies and work on creating a plan that works for both of you.
Just as The Game of Life can be full of surprises, discussing each other’s “rules” and expectations can help you avoid some of the pitfalls and help you arrive at a winning outcome.
We can help with the financial conversations LGBTQ couples need to have
If you are concerned about having conversations about your financial future, RegentAtlantic can help you start them.
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