Ramit Sethi has made a name for himself as a personal finance guru who gives straight-forward advice. In his new Netflix show "How to Get Rich," based on his book "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," the Stanford-educated TV personality uses his no-nonsense ethos to help a handful of Americans navigate unpleasant financial situations.
Couples featured on the show are dealing with an array of issues — one pair doesn't agree on how much to spend on a wedding, another is attempting to navigate credit card debt.
Regardless of what concern the couple is facing, Sethi believes the most important thing you can do as a partner is be transparent. In fact, if a partner is unwilling to share, that is a potential deal breaker.
"If they won't talk about money at all with you, that's a huge red flag," he says.
We are programmed to think money is a taboo topic and often don't discuss it with our partners unless we absolutely have to. In many cases, this means we are only bringing it up if it's a stressor.
"For most of us, money is something that is reactive," Sethi says. "We only talk about it when there's a problem. Why did you spend that much? How are we going to pay our bills this month? It's always a problem. And so when you develop that pattern, then over time you come to hate money. You certainly come to hate talking about it."
But talking about it is how you get better at it.
"One of the things that financially successful couples do is they talk about money regularly and proactively," Sethi says.
Laying out your financial goals and hearing your partner's can illuminate how you two align and differ.
"I don't mind if someone has debt," he says. "I don't even mind if someone has made bad financial decisions in their past because they didn't know any better. But they've got to be willing to talk about it."
Like all advice, this guidance is easier to give than to follow. In fact, one in three couples don't discuss important financial topics until after they are married, according to a survey of 1,000 adults by Western & Southern Financial Group.
And while you definitely want to talk about finances before you tie the knot, Sethi says you also don't have to be overzealous about it.
"A lot of experts in money tell people that they should talk about money on the first date," he says. "I'm like, 'Have you ever been on a first date? What are you talking about?' You don't talk about your IRA when you're having the first drink."
There will be times throughout a relationship where money talk is more seamless.
"I think there are natural, pivotal moments where it makes perfect sense to talk about money," he says. "Think about the first time you take a trip together. If you decide perhaps to be in a committed relationship, that's a natural moment to start talking about it."
Once you're in a more settled situation, Sethi suggests scheduling what he calls a "rich life review." This is a monthly meeting where you and your partner discuss money.
There are two steps to a successful "rich life review:"
- Start by giving your partner a compliment. "You always start off with something you appreciate about your partner," he says. "Gosh, you always do a great job booking our flights. I know that I can trust you're going to put us on the best flight."
- Then "review key numbers," he says. This makes money a less taboo topic.
Creating opportunities to discuss finances openly can help you have a more positive relationship with not only your bank account, but your partner as well.
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