Over the past week or so, a few of my clients, students, friends, and colleagues have professed to have an interest in buying tickets for the Powerball jackpot that currently stands at approximately $1.4 billion. With smiles on their faces, many of them have openly shared that they want to use the money to buy a large home, car, take care of debt, start a business, retire, etc. They also discussed who could benefit from the money including their family, friends and even acquaintances. Some of them even ventured to talk about having secret “stashes” of money to keep from their partners and having the capacity to do “whatever, whenever.” If no one wins the Powerball soon, it may move to over $2 billion dollars.
I usually don’t challenge the moment because I believe that it is nice when people have the opportunity to fantasize and think about alternative realities. But the truth is that many of us will never know the triumph and challenges of becoming a lottery jackpot winner. As the Powerball grows, it seemingly creates an opportunity for partners, parents and families to have a sensitive discussion about personal goals and values related to money. It invites us to talk about how much money is being saved/spent; short and long term goals and the financial resources needed; how money is distributed to bills, children, recreation/leisure; and the utility and probability of investing.
The growth of the Powerball has given us an opportunity to talk candidly with our partners about expectations, assumptions, implicit/explicit rules around money. Many people do not talk about this in their relationship until something significant happens and the individuals discover that their partner has different ideologies about money. Because people have their individual values and assumptions about money, it can be a challenge for two people to get on the same page about what to do with money once it is earned or acquired.
Here are a few tips that may enable you and you partner to have a healthier relationship about money management:
1. Talk with your partner about what you learned about money from your parents, friends, school and media growing up. Were you taught to save or spend?
2. Discuss personal goals and expectations around money and how that may factor into how positively or negatively you feel about yourself and how happy you were/are/will be.
3. Keep in mind that your partner may have a different set of financial goals and may be more/less motivated to pursue those goals. Talk openly about the support both of you may need in order to reach those goals.
4. Share the meaning that balance has for you and how it relates to money. Said differently, do you want to work all day and all night to make money and possibly neglect the other needs of your family? Is money everything to you and your relationship?
5. Teach the value of patience to your children and the importance of saving. You and your children need to have access to financial resources in the event of an emergency.
Use these tips in order to have that billion dollar relationship you always dreamed of having. Give yourself and your significant other an opportunity to talk about money so that in the end, both of you (and your children), can come out as winners.
Dr. James Wadley is an Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Human Services Program at Lincoln University. He’s a licensed professional counselor and marriage, family, and sexuality therapist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He is also the Founder and Editor of the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships. Follow him on Twitter @phdjamesw