For many people, having a money talk with a boyfriend or girlfriend feels awkward and uncomfortable. Yet, if your relationship is becoming more serious, know there are four reasons why couples should talk about money. If you face your fears, discomfort, and insecurities early in the relationship and start having regular money talks, you’ll likely find your relationship becomes stronger in the upcoming years.
Why Couples Should Talk About Money
If you want a strong partnership, you owe it to yourself and your partner to talk about money because there are so many benefits!
Enter a Committed Relationship Knowing All the Facts
If you’re going to enter a committed relationship with someone, you want to know all the facts. You want to know what her childhood was like, how he feels about monogamy, whether or not she wants to have children. Just as importantly, you should have a clear understanding of his finances. You don’t want to be 18 months into the relationship when you learn that she previously filed bankruptcy and is still a big spender.
Know You Can Talk about Finances
Finances affect a relationship every.single.day, especially as your relationship grows closer. If you eventually decide to take your relationship to the next level and move in together or get married, you will need to determine how you will arrange your money, whether that means keeping accounts separate or combining accounts.
You’ll also need to know if you’re compatible financially. If you both have similar money styles, you likely won’t have as many money troubles. However, if one of you is a spender and the other a saver, you’ll need to work a little harder to find a middle ground. You should know this before your relationship gets more serious.
Understand What Your Financial Future May Be
Letting your partner know how much you make and finding out how much he makes can be awkward. However, knowing each of your salaries helps you both understand what the future holds. If you both earn less than $50K a year, where you can live, how much you can spend, what price house you can buy, and how much you can save for retirement is much different than a couple who each make $100K a year.
As awkward as a conversation about salaries can be, you need to know the facts as you plan to deepen your relationship so you can understand what the future may hold financially.
Avoid Financial Tensions
Talking about money can be awkward when you first start. However, if you make money talks a regular part of your life, you will find that financial discussions become easier and easier, perhaps even routine. Avoiding tension when talking about money can strengthen your relationship and help you work as a team.
What You Should Talk About
When you’re ready to talk finances with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you’ll want to cover the following topics. (Keep in mind, you don’t have to talk about this all at once. You can talk about it little by little over a few weeks or months. No need to overwhelm one another with the discussion!)
Surprisingly, some couples have been married for decades and don’t know how much their partners make. That was the case with my aunt and uncle, and not knowing caused resentment, at least on her end since based on his spending, she knew that he made significantly more than her. You don’t want a strained relationship like theirs was.
Instead, openly share how much each of you makes. You may also want to discuss your potential income earning in the future.
Sharing this information can make you both feel vulnerable, so having this discussion isn’t necessary until your relationship progresses to the next level.
Just as sensitive a topic as how much you earn is discussing how much debt you each have. Some people fear if they expose how much debt they have, their partner will leave. Know that this does happen, but not frequently. If your relationship is a strong one, you can work together to make a plan to pay off the debt you both have.
If you have debt, you should also explain why you have it. For instance, is it because you put yourself through college and had to take out student loans? Is it because you were unemployed for six months and needed to rely on credit cards? These reasons are different than if you have debt because you went out to eat every single day and don’t have the money to cover the expense.
You and your partner need to know the reason why each of you is in debt and if you’re responsible with money or not.
What is your credit score? You should know one another’s credit score as that, too, affects your future. If you have a credit score of 780 and your partner has a score of 600, you may approach buying a house differently than if you both have credit scores of 750 or higher.
When my husband and I married, I had a credit score in the high 700s. He didn’t even have a credit score. We merged finances, and now, after 20 years of marriage, his credit score is a few points higher than mine.
Credit scores are fluid, so if you have a low number, raising it is possible. However, your current credit score can affect your immediate future plans and goals, which is why your partner needs to know about it.
Consider Counseling If Needed
You may know why couples should talk about money, but that doesn’t make the conversations easier. If you’re struggling with talking about money or with what you find out about your partner’s financial situation, I highly recommend counseling. Counseling can help you discuss matters and find ways to compromise and agree on money issues. Getting counseling before marriage can help pave the way for a smoother relationship in the future.
If your relationship is getting serious, don’t put off having a money talk. There are many reasons why couples should talk about money, but the most important one is that the more you have these discussions, the easier they become. Then, you’re less likely to fight about money in the future.