Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been with your partner for several years, it’s equally important to talk with them about finances. Money can be one of the biggest issues in a relationship, so it’s important to discuss it early on.
A majority of financial problems can be avoided by talking about your financial views and values with your significant other beforehand. That’s why you should talk about finances with your significant other sooner rather than later.
Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish that.
How to Break the Ice
We’re going to start from the beginning here. If you’re in a newer relationship, you might be wondering how you can even broach the topic of money. After all, it’s taboo to some people, and it can get awkward.
When you’re meeting someone for the first time, talking about money can be a little tricky. It’s not something you have to jump into right away (as in, the first date), but when things start getting serious, you should ask your partner about their financial beliefs.
This doesn’t have to be anything in-depth, but try and get a feel for whether they’re a saver or a spender. What do they value? Are they okay with spending on things you think are a waste? Are they thinking about their future, or are they living paycheck to paycheck?
Sometimes, you can tell these things just by observing the spending habits of your significant other. If you don’t like what you see, it’s worth talking about.
Money can be a serious deal breaker. If you love to save money, and can’t understand why people struggle with shopping addictions, you might not want to be with someone who’s careless with their money. You generally want to be on the same page, financially speaking, or as close to it as possible. This will help you avoid any future conflict, and it will set expectations from the get-go.
That’s not to say if you’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, it won’t work out, but you should be aware of the potential challenges involved.
How to Have the Conversation
Are you at (or past) the point of considering combining your finances with your significant other? Maybe you both want to open a joint bank account to make paying the bills easier, or maybe you want to take the extra step and have shared checking and savings accounts.
Whatever the case is, you want to be absolutely sure you can trust your significant other with your money. It’s important to talk about how you’ll be spending it beforehand.
The best thing to do is set up a date ahead of time where you’ll meet to talk about your finances. You’ll both have time to prepare to make it a meaningful conversation. Make it clear what the meeting will be about, why you’re having it, and what you hope to get out of it.
Remember to be respectful during this talk. Money can be a touchy subject, and it’s easy to make someone go on the defense. Don’t make accusations – seek to understand your partner’s reasoning.
This can be difficult, especially if you had different financial experiences growing up. Our families influence our financial habits and values a lot. If you’re coming from two different viewpoints, that’s okay – just be sure to put yourself in your partner’s shoes instead of jumping to conclusions.
We’re all human, and we’ve all made financial mistakes. It’s better to be compassionate and forgiving when possible.
However, it’s also important to know what constitutes crossing the line. If you find your partner hasn’t been truthful to you about their spending or their debt, you have to decide whether or not you can still trust them, and what they can do going forward to regain your trust.
What to Review
Not sure what to talk about during your meeting? Here’s a list of things you should touch upon when it comes to discussing your finances:
- Debt: Do you or your significant other have any debt you’re bringing into the relationship? You need both need to be aware of the situation and how it affects your finances. From there, you’ll also need to decide how you’ll pay it off. Will you resent your partner if you help them out, or is “our” money applicable to debt as well?
- Goals: Are you both on the same page when it comes to your financial goals? If you’re not sure, now is the time to gain clarity on what you’re working toward. Do you both want to save for a house, or a car, or to start a family? Are you prioritizing debt? Develop a list of financial goals you want to achieve and set up a timeline for achieving them. You’ll both stay motivated and know what’s expected from each of you.
- Bank Accounts: Will you be fully combining your finances, only having a joint checking account, or maintaining your separate accounts as is? Make sure you’re both comfortable with what you decide – don’t pressure each other into making a decision.
- Address Issues: The need to discuss finances with your partner may have been spurred from a fight about money. If you’ve been bottling up any issues you’ve taken with your significant other’s money management, now is the time to bring it up. Again, do so in a respectful way. Don’t talk your partner into a corner.
- Budgeting: If you and your partner do decide to combine finances, it might be a good idea to set up a joint budget together. Take the time to evaluate your spending and ensure your budget aligns with your values and goals.
How to Continue the Conversation
If all goes well, you should set up monthly dates where you meet to review what’s happened with your money. This is a great way to hold yourselves accountable to any financial goals you may have made, and it’s always a good idea to keep a pulse on your accounts. You can review your spending and the progress you’ve made on your goals.
Have a shared budget? Take the time to review it here. It’s important to check in with each other to see how you feel about your spending, what you think you can improve on, and what changes need to be made.
For example, perhaps your significant other thinks the grocery budget needs to be increased, or you want to suggest cutting cable. You can use the meeting as an opportunity for proposals.
Have an Open Line of Communication
All relationships need open lines of communication. Without communication, you won’t be on the same page, and that’s bound to cause issues – even outside of your finances.
It’s important to foster trust and communication to experience financial success with your significant other, regardless of what stage your relationship is in. Don’t be afraid to broach the subject, and encourage honest discussion around money by being empathetic.