How to Talk About Money with Your Partner
If you’re already in (or ready to be in) a committed relationship, chances are your finances will mix and mingle at some point. For many couples, discussing money with their significant other is one of the most challenging talks. It’s common to feel ashamed or embarrassed about financial hardship because you have a fear of being judged by someone who has your heart.
But, it’s extremely important to move past that fear and sit down to have this conversation early on in the relationship so you and your partner can make important financial decisions together.
Before I became a financial expert, I had an enormous amount of debt in student loans I needed to pay off, but I wasn’t ready to talk about my financial situation with anybody, especially my boyfriend. This was a bad idea on my part, and I quickly learned I wasn’t going to be able to hide it long. Luckily, he was very open and honest about his finances, which made it easier for me to talk about my situation.
In this article, I’m going to share the steps we took in having a financial conversation. I'll also share specific budgeting and savings tips you and your partner can do to help you tackle financial problems head-on. Psst...your financial institution can help you and your partner on your financial journey. I'll share all of those tips here, too.
Before we go any further... I want to stress that every relationship is different and by no means do you need to read this as a “Must Do” for you and your partner. I simply want to provide the steps you can take, should you and your significant other choose to mix your money.
reasons why you should talk money with your partner
If you're on the fence about talking to your partner about money, here are a few reasons and benefits of why you should start having a conversation today.
- It’ll Break Communication Barriers: You'll both create open lines of communication where you can connect and talk about finances painlessly. Plus, then you won’t feel like you need to hide something from your partner.
- You Can Face any Financial Problems Together: Money can sometimes feel overwhelming and complicated. With your honey as a team member, you won’t feel so alone and can face giant problems head-on.
- It Brings Trust To the Relationship: By talking about your finances together, you’re ultimately opening up a very intimate part of yourself. Even if you’re not opening a checking account together and seeing each other’s transactions, you’re still letting the other one in on something personal just by talking about it.
- It Could Bring Unexpected Benefits: For example, if you're struggling to pay off debt, you and your partner can create a plan where both incomes can help eliminate debt faster. Or, if they don’t necessarily want to help financially, you’ll at least have a sounding board to bounce debt-tackling ideas off.
1. address money early in the relationship
If you're beginning a new relationship, you may not be ready to talk finances on the first or second date but you don't want to wait until you're moving in with each other or getting married to bring it up. Since all relationships are different, there's no clear-cut answer as to how early you should talk finances, and you’ll have to trust your gut about when the time is right.
For me, my boyfriend was ready to talk finances before I was. He saw how serious our relationship was becoming and was ready to restructure his financial plan and include me. This doesn’t mean he sat me down one day and gave me his login credentials to his accounts, but he had always been very open with talking about his credit score, discussing his income, and even opening bank statements with me.
Psst... Since I wasn't ready to share my financial plans, he opened up about his financial situation first so that I can feel comfortable with discussing the huge load of debt I owed at the time.
Now, I'm not saying you must take the same approach as him. If you want, you can take the lead and discuss your finances first or you can try a different method. Everyone is different so it's important to be mindful and not impose your money ways on the person you're dating. Money conversations can be a sensitive topic, so take their unique experiences into account.
how to bring it up:
If you're serious about the person you're dating, you can start the conversation slow or with a vision. Here are a few to get you thinking:
- How comfortable do you feel about discussing money?
- Wouldn't it be amazing to buy a home of our own?
- I'd love to retire at 55. Wouldn't you?
- I just got a promotion at work, and it came with a pay increase. Now I'm making...
QUICK TIP: If you’re not at the point where you’d want to share bank statements and the nitty-gritty details, beginning to talk about finances early will only lead to making the harder financial conversations easier to discuss.
Once you’re comfortable about each other’s finances, it won’t be uncomfortable to ask more personal questions like “how much do you have left on your student loans?”, “what’s your car payment?”, or even “do you carry credit card balances?”
ONCE YOU GET THE CONVERSATION GOING…
2. dedicate a time
Once you both feel comfortable and ready to talk more in-depth about each other's finances dedicate a time to really dive in. This allows you and your partner to be open and honest with each other.
Together you can choose a time when both of you can focus without distractions. Plus, when you give your partner a heads up about having a serious money talk, you both can prepare your thoughts and come together on a clear goal.
QUICK TIP: This might sound super formal, but don’t think that means you have to hold a formal meeting at a Starbucks in your work attire. This simply means you and your partner should plan a time to cover your finances since it’s never going to be a quick conversation. Planning ahead will also help you tackle step 3…
3. prepare your thoughts
Before you really dive in, prepare a mental list of topics to talk about. Yes - even the uncomfortable ones. Money can be an uneasy topic and it doesn't help if you're avoiding something that can help your relationship thrive such as:
- Your Views on Money
- Short and Long-Term Financial Goals
- Retirement Plans
- Credit History
- Any Existing Debt or Open Lines of Credit
- Spending and Saving Habits
4. create a plan together
Depending on how the conversation goes, it might make sense to take another step forward and create a financial plan together.
In a recent article, How Do I Start Saving for My Goals? I gave some actionable steps to help anyone get on track with reaching their goals. Step 1 - define them. If you and your partner plan on moving in together or making a big purchase like a new home, it's important to agree on what your goals are and create a plan so you can start saving for it.
making a savings plan together:
Grab your boo and take this Savings Style Quiz to determine your styles are and what product would be best for your specific needs.
QUICK TIP: Know where the line is.
building a budget together:
When you're ready, and even begin to mix your money, you might want to rework and tackle that pesky budget together. In The Basics to Building Your Budget, I took it all the way back to square one and covered everything under the sun about creating a budget. It's perfect for budgeting beginners, experienced budgeters, and couples. I also shared some budgeting tools you and your boo can take advantage of.
woo hoo - you're ready to talk... what's next?
Money conversations can seem scary, but they don't have to be when you and your partner are willing to open up to each other about finances. Continue to dedicate time and talk about money often.
When you and your partner come together to discuss finances regularly, you're building a strong foundation in your relationship. Try to connect often to keep each other updated and discuss what you're doing. This type of communication prevents arguments and builds trust.
QUICK TIP: If you run into trouble, seek out help! If you’re struggling to find a positive solution to finances, a financial counselor can help and make further recommendations for a financial plan that meets you and your partner’s needs.
As always, the staff at Skyla are here for you. You can send an email, give us a call at 704.375.0183, or visit any of our branches.
As the Content Specialist and author of the Learning & Guidance Center, Yanna enjoys motivating others by uncovering all that's possible in the world of finance. From financial tips and tricks to ultimate guides and comparison charts, she is obsessed with finding ways to help readers excel in their journey towards financial freedom.
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