I remember it well – the weekend of the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals. I was getting in a bit of gardening when my wife rolled up the drive, smiling with a new 46’ flat-screen TV in the back of our wagon.

Since I didn’t see this one coming, my first reaction was somewhat mixed. I confess there was a bit of dread inside, especially since I prefer comparing prices online before a big purchase. Did she get a good deal? Had she been charmed by the salesman and ripped off?  Did she borrow or pay cash? (Turned out to be hire purchase that morphed into a credit card.)

I quickly set aside all that inner conflict and went with it – complimenting her excellent timing and looking forward to the All Blacks playing Argentina. (Being a visual artist, she also has a knack for picking out the best screens.)

Some friends of ours are a husband-and-wife team of marriage therapists, and for relationships to thrive, they say, what’s needed is both autonomy and communication. By autonomy they mean avoiding co-dependency and being able to act freely within the relationship and take the initiative. At the same time, communication means putting in all the time and effort that it takes to express and explore our frequently opposite takes on things to grow together.

Lose the autonomy in a relationship and we all feel smothered. Lose the communication and we drift apart.

Now for finances to thrive in a relationship, we need much of the same: autonomy plus communication. I think it’s fair to say that, no matter how combined a couple’s finances are, these days asking a partner for ‘permission’ to purchase something is hopefully a thing of the past. Yet that makes it all the more important to communicate and coordinate the choices we make and the goals we’re working toward together.

The first step to getting sorted financially begins with setting goals, and it makes sense to set them together. Sorted can help you put down your goals for the short (6 months to a year), medium (1–5 years) and long terms (5 years plus).

To get Mars and Venus aligned on money matters, it helps to know what finance experts call your ‘money personality’ – our money personality quiz  is a useful tool to know yourself and your partner better. It will help you find your financial strengths and may uncover some blind spots, too.

Once your goals are in place, Sorted’s budgeting tool is the ideal calculator to get your money going exactly where you want it to, by first tracking all your incomings and outgoings and figuring out if you have a surplus or deficit. Any surplus you make can then go toward those goals.

Since I felt that our autonomy tank had been running a bit low in our relationship, I celebrated my wife’s flat screen purchase, but at the same time vowed to communicate more often and more openly about managing that debt.

So far it’s been going quite well – we’re still in the interest-free period, so we can be movie buffs at home without racking up any interest charges. We’ve been discussing the monthly statements and making sure we are on track to pay it off on time.

(I’ve been hearing horror stories about leaving HP unpaid beyond the interest-free period – some finance companies may charge you interest even for the entire interest-free period if you run the slightest bit over.)

So it feels like we are on the way to relationship – and financial – happiness. But come to think of it, I never really told her much about that ‘dread’ I mentioned above, so I could probably work on communicating better…

It’s a work in progress.


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