My partner and I have been together for a significant amount of time, 8 years soon, and are planning to get married (within a few years due to busy schedules and graduate school). I have recently gotten very much into personal finance and have started budgeting using spreadsheets and planning for expenses and such ahead of time. I have been saving my own money for a while and it makes me feel very good to know that what I'm doing now is going to kick-start a great and relaxed future of financial independence (that's the goal anyway). My partner on the other hand has been increasingly strapped for cash, as is the process for graduate school students. They have taken out many loans to pay for school and by the end of it all it will amount to somewhere in the region of $150-200k. Because of the schooling and time commitment, they are unable to work for very long during their studies (in fact, the school recommended no more than 5-10 hours a month to be spent working outside of schoolwork, due to the heavy course-load) and so can earn very little of their own money.
It is because of this that I want to press forward with my idea of being fiscally responsible and keeping track of things, so that we can dig ourselves out of the hole of (necessary and understandable) debt that will inevitably be created by these life decisions.
As a result of all of these factors, I have been solely financially responsible for the both of us (rent, food, bills, etc.) I have absolutely no problem with this, but it seems that my partner feels awful about it. They take it very hard when something happens that costs money could be spun as their fault. As an example, some dishes fall off of the counter and shatter on the floor meaning they need to be replaced. This is taken by my partner as a great mistake and "now the budget is going to be off and its all my fault, I'll pay you back for this, I promise."
- I would rather not focus on these events, as ultimately a little hiccup in the budget doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things IMO
- I want to be able to convince my partner that its not an issue for us to spend money on things; just because we don't have much money, doesn't mean we don't have any and that we are going to starve for needing to spend an extra $20-50 here and there.
My partner and I both grew up in lower-middle class families, however due to me being an only child and them being in a family of 5, money was always more of a touchy subject in their life than in mine. I worry that the stress that I am causing as a result of my insistence of tracking our expenditures (not to a crazy extent, but to one that allows for it to be effective) is becoming too much for my partner to handle. I want to discuss these things and make sure that we are on the same page about finances since coming up soon, it is going to be not just my finances and my partner's finances, but rather our finances.
I know the common advice of "it's their money and you can't tell them how to spend it," but in this case it's my money, and I want to be sure that it is US that benefits in the long run, without overstepping comfort zones. I heard somewhere that the most common reason cited in divorce is financial issues. Obviously, this is something that I would like to avoid, and I'd like to be started in conversation and communication sooner rather than later.
Recently, I have been looking to meet with a financial advisor to make sure that we are on the right track. I want my partner to attend these meetings with me, even if right now the only funds will be "my funds." Unfortunately I am having a very difficult time coming up with a way to ask them if they would like to attend these meetings with me, that would avoid adding unneeded stress onto my partner's platter. (Indeed a quite full platter)
- How should I go about asking my partner about planning our financial future, when I know that they are already stressed, and will likely become more stressed after I ask?
- What can I do that might help them understand that I am fine with supporting the both of us in this journey, and that they don't owe me anything, since we will both benefit in the long run?
[Update]: We have gone to a meeting with the financial advisor as mentioned above, but it seems like the situation is still the same. My partner seemed uncomfortable during the meeting; when pressed, they replied that they were simply bored, since none of it really applied to them. "It's not my money, after all." Relating to my second question: how can I convince them that it really is our money? Or will that just need to wait until I have our marriage to lean on for "proof"?