Anytime you’re in a serious relationship and the prospect of being together for years to come has crossed your mind, there’s usually an array of life topics you and your partner need to discuss. After all, if you’re planning on being together for the long-haul, it’s important to ensure you’re both on the same page when it comes to life’s big decisions.
Things like how many kids you want to have, if and when you’d like to purchase a home, and career goals, among other plans for your future, are all important steps in life, and if your values and goals aren’t aligned, finding out all too late can not only strain your relationship, but sometimes end it altogether.
That said, while most couples do a good job of having those discussions, there is one topic in particular that is sometimes avoided or forgotten, money.
Your financial habits, goals, and situations not only affect your life but that of your partner’s as well. Hence, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation might be, discussing your finances and financial expectations throughout your relationship can help ensure for smooth financial sailing in the future. Before tying the knot be sure you and your partner have these five awkward money conversations.
1. Careers & Children
Whether or not you want children and how many is a conversation every couple should have. That said, there’s more to that conversation than just how big of a family you hope to have one day. In fact, there’s an array of money questions that go along with your discussion of kids.
As in, depending on how many you kids you want, how will you go about ensuring you have enough income to support each of you? Should you have fertility issues, are you willing and able to pay for assistance? Moreover, you should think about and discuss what your careers will look like with children.
You’ll need to decide if one of you will stay home with your kids, if you can afford to be on one income, or if you’ll opt for childcare, and should that be the case, how you’ll pay for that each month as well. With kids comes a list of financial question marks, which is why the conversation about children should be about more than the number.
2. Debt (New & Old)
Before entering into a lifetime of marriage, or even a long-term relationship for that matter, it’s important that both you and your partner are transparent about your debt. After all, once married, you and your spouse’s debt are one in the same. Ergo, be sure you discuss any past and current debt you may have.
Depending on the amount, you can then begin to talk about and formulate a plan for how you’ll eliminate that debt. Furthermore, apart from discussing past debt, you may want to think about future debt. Decide what you’re both willing to acquire debt for, how you’d ideally like to go about paying it off, and how many credit cards you think it’s smart to have between the two of you.
3. Financial Habits
Our environment and family growing up has a tendency to influence our financial habits and expectations. In most cases, the way your parents spent or saved money and what they felt was worth spending money on, is likely how your financial habits will form. That,or you’ll be the complete opposite. Regardless, your partner may have similar habits or be completely different; they may be more of a spender or choose to save and only splurge once in a blue moon.
Differing habits, however, can cause tension, as you’ll both probably think your way is right. Instead of waiting for an expense or purchase to cause an argument, review your financial habits with one another from the get-go.
View each other’s budgets and discuss the items you spend on, what you save on, and the times you feel it’s appropriate to spend money extraneously. If you do find that you have opposite habits, take the time to decide what your habits will be as a couple and how you might compromise to incorporate both of you habits.
4. Financial Goals
Throughout your life you’ll have a number of financial goals. Whether it’s to pay off your debt, save for your dream vacation, buy a new car, a home, go back to school, or one day put your kids through college, you’ll likely spend years saving to achieve those goals.
Once in a relationship or married your goals will have to mesh with those of your partner’s. Take time to discuss what each of you hopes to achieve financially in your lifetime. Decide what’s of highest priority and what you’ll work to save for throughout the years.
5. Your Retirement Plans
Most working adults hope to reach an age and financial spot where they can one day retire. Moreover, many also have an idea of what that retirement might look like. While it may seem years away, planning for retirement needs to start when you’re younger. Discuss how you each view your retirement and what you hope to achieve.
What age do you hope to retire and do you hope to work part-time or be work-free? What does your 401(k) or retirement fund look like and how are you saving? Furthermore, discuss how you might go about long-term care and what activities and plans you have for your golden years. By doing so, you can begin to plan for your older years together.
Money is one topic people tend to avoid, even with their significant other. In some cases, people don’t become aware of their partner’s financial situation or habits until they’re officially married. That said, money can no doubt cause tension within a relationship, which is why it’s imperative that you and your partner are on the same page. If you’re in a long-term relationship or are on the verge of tying the knot, no matter how awkward it may be, do take time to sit down and have some much-needed financial conversations with your loved one.
How might you go about creating a compromise of you and your partner’s spending habits? What could be a good strategy for ensuring you discuss these awkward money conversations?