Your finances and relationships have a few things in common: they’re valuable, require active management to thrive, and benefit all areas of your life when healthy. It should come as no surprise then, that some financial management principles are great for helping not only your money grow, but your relationships too!
Here’s how some time-tested financial principles can be applied to our personal relationships to build up emotional capital.
Set goals and targets
When it comes to money, it’s best not to take a laissez-faire approach. Not setting budgets or planning ahead can result in your income exiting your bank account as easily as it entered. We all know the feeling of having our credit card bill arrive, and realising that what seemed like small expenses added up to a staggering expenditure we didn’t anticipate. Even saving up without planning can result in lost opportunities, as setting aside your funds in an account with low interest rates can result in erosion via inflation.
Coming up with a plan for our finances can mean setting budgets and saving goals, and doing research for how to grow our money. Financial planning is at the core of what Planner Bee is about; we prepare based on the pillars of manage money, protect, and grow money.
Likewise, when it comes to relationships, it’s best to plan ahead. Putting our relationships on auto-pilot can lead to mediocre to negative outcomes. Just as unexpected expenses and inflation can eat away our savings, the quality of our relationships can diminish through busyness, miscommunication and the stresses of everyday life.
Instead, why not take a thorough look at the relationships that are most precious to you, assess their health and set goals for where you want them to head. These don’t have to necessarily be romantic relationships; even friendships and family ties can benefit from actively recognising and deciding how you’d like them to improve. Feel free to also involve the other person when setting goals. Simple ways to do this could be aiming to catch up with a friend once a month, or finding a hobby to regularly take part in with your partner.
Build up your emotional bank accounts
When conflicts arise between you and someone else, a good indicator of how quickly your relationship will be able to rebound is how rich your bank account is in goodwill. This is built up before the conflict, through positive interactions that have made each other feel appreciated and fostered trust in the relationship. Without that, you could still work out and resolve an argument, but it would probably take much longer and be more difficult.
Just as you would deposit savings in your bank account regularly over time, intentional actions to build up goodwill with the other person should be done intentionally and regularly. One way to do this is through recognising the other person’s Love Language. There are five main types: acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Or the other person could have a specific way of feeling loved. For example, perhaps he/she appreciates it when you wait to catch up on a Netflix show together.
The key thing to remember is to deposit into their “emotional bank account” in ways they would appreciate. You can also think of this in terms of currency: if you’ve been earning and saving in USD, someone paying you in rupees probably wouldn’t make sense to you. Likewise, you want to show them you care in a form that they would understand as care – not just what’s convenient or comes naturally to you.
Similar to how you set aside an emergency fund, you also want to continually maintain healthy emotional bank accounts because you never know when conflicts or pressures will arise and cause outflows. When times are good and your relationships are relatively smooth, take the opportunity to build up more goodwill for when the rougher times hit.
Get protection for times of crisis
Getting insurance is, in essence, having a back-up plan for when things go south. This could be anything from being in a car accident to contracting a long-term illness that doesn’t permit you to work. As much as you don’t want these things to happen, you’d want to prepare for the possibility that they do, so the blow can be cushioned.
Crises can also occur in our relationships, whether it’s a prolonged cold war, infidelity or even divorce. Though we hope to never encounter such challenges, are there any preparations we can make ahead of time to protect ourselves?
Thinking these things through beforehand can help to relieve the pressure when such situations arise. For example, in the case of fierce conflicts, having an agreed upon signal for a time-out can help give time and space to cool down before arguments get even more heated.
A key safety net for any relational crisis is the other relationships around you. No matter the tumult you may be going through, you’ll want to always have trusted people to vent to and seek advice from. Try not to focus on or be absorbed by a single relationship. Rather, build up a trusted circle to form your emotional support through the good times and the bad.
Some types of insurance also provide for long-term needs – think education or retirement plans. In the same way, building up emotional support systems can also ensure you have a fulfilling personal life even when shorter term demands, such as that of career or children, start to ebb away.
Start investing to see growth
A little can go a long way when it comes to investments. Time will help your investment grow as it compounds, so the key is to get started as soon as possible. Likewise, it doesn’t take a lot to invest in your relationships; what’s more important is just to start. A WhatsApp message to a friend every few months to check in, saying something encouraging to a spouse every day – these efforts may seem small and insignificant in and of themselves, but add up their effects over time and you’ll surely reap the dividends in your relationships.
Applying these principles for both your finances and relationship can see both areas grow and mature, allowing you to benefit from the rewards that they’ll bring. Manage them intentionally to see your aspirations realised over time.