Near the end of each calendar year we walk our heroic business owner clients through a powerful three-day experience we call BOP Prep Week.
For those of you who were High School football players, think back to the dedicated week known as summer camp, or two-a-days. It was intense, grueling, and wildly necessary.
Those are times that teams grow in their camaraderie, intuition, trust of each other, and anticipation of how to handle a variety of situations.
It prepared you for a long, exciting season where you would experience ups, downs, and everything in between.
An upcoming calendar year for your business is filled with the same twists, turns, blindside hits, and touchdowns as a regular sports season.
Amidst the business preparation that you must pay attention to (vision, culture, systems, processes, finances, team, etc.), there is another, as important conversation that must be had headed into a new business season; a conversation that is rooted at home.
Anytime we bring up the idea of home, or family, within a business conversation we can hear the sub conscience of those around us beginning to ask, “but wait, I thought we were just keeping this to business?”
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Indeed, a conversation about home is very much a conversation about business due to the reality that business and life necessarily intersect. Rarely does a woman or man have the capability to keep “work at work and home at home.”
Hands-down, the most common reason for the break up of relationships is conflict in arguing. The number one topic of conflict and arguing is…money.
A key feature of prep week each year is that on the third day we have each of our heroic business owners make time to spend with their spouse or partner if they share the home, and walk them through a simple and thoughtful framework around their personal finances.
We do not lead the discussion, and we do not make decisions, we merely invite two people to have a thoughtful, facilitated, guided, human discussion about money together.
How can you talk to your spouse or partner about money and not get in a fight?
Here are four elements that can help you get started.
First, commit to having a thoughtful conversation instead of a heated argument. Your goal is not to win, your goal is to get on the same page and to create clarity around the idea of money.
Imagine that you had a miniature jail cell sitting on the table in front of you. That jail cell exists only for your thoughts. Imagine that every thought that pops into your head as you were in conversation with the other person first gets locked in that cell so it can be analyzed and thought through before it ever comes out of your mouth.
Incarcerating every thought in a holding cell before it comes out and becomes official takes great emotional strength but will lead to a more human conversation.
Second, acknowledge openly your own biases and predispositions to money.
There is a Wisdom saying that says, “where your money is, your heart is there also”. You may have grown up where the responsible idea was to put your money in a savings account. Because your money is in a savings account, means that your heart is with the idea of saving and potentially storing up.
For others, you may have grown up with a responsible idea was to spend what you had, therefore your money is with things, or experiences, which means your heart is there also.
How did you grow up, and what biases have you brought into the relationship regarding money?
Third, set a goal of what you want to discuss and communicate that goal. Do you want to discuss saving more? Spending more? Traveling more? Moving somewhere else? How to spend what you currently have? Why do you want to have this conversation?
For me, I want to have a conversation with my wife because I want to have a meaningful mix of spending for the things that we wish to experience, great generosity for the things that we wish to contribute to, and thought for saving and investing so we can build appropriate wealth and be prepared appropriately for the future.
With that goal, it allows my wife and I to set a number that meets all of that criteria, and then try to create a plan to shoot for that number.
Where things get dangerous is when the conversation is left open-ended and the goal is either endless savings or endless spending, with no floor or no ceiling.
One final element that will help when having the tough conversation around money is to schedule the conversation, the location, and grab a pen and a piece of paper.
We like to go to a hotel for an overnight, and sit at the bar and begin to map out a stick figure barn. In that barn or multiple rooms.
We have the “living expense” room, the “401k” room, the “hobby” room, the “generosity” room, the ”college savings” room, and so on.
Within each one of these rooms we place a number, and that values the value that we believe that we want to shoot for this year to fully fund that room. Once complete with all the rooms, we simply add up all the numbers, and that gives us the primary number that we want to shoot for this year.
Anything over that number, we go ahead and agree upon what we will do with any excess.
From there on, we set time throughout the year to follow back up on the stick figure financial barn that we’ve written out and do our best to hit the dates of saving, and giving that we have pre-planned.
Part of the reason that money can cause so much tension is this true statement “the love of money, is the root of all evil.”
Money is not the problem… Loving the money more than other things is where things begin to break down.
Let’s commit to these thoughtful elements, and instead of fighting with our spouse about money, let’s unite with our spouse, get on the same page, and leverage money as the neutral tool it was intended to be, for the good things that you want to see.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.