Having that money talk to your partner can be an awkward conversation to have with your partner. It gets even harder when you and your partner have different views on how to handle finances. Because of this, financial experts advise couples to hold regular money talks with their partners and address any issues early. Don’t wait for a financial crisis to talk!
According to survey from AICPA where 1,157 U.S. adults living with a spouse or partner were polled, 73% said financial decisions have caused tension in their relationship, with more than a quarter (26%) stating that happens at least once a month. 40% of Americans who live with a partner or spouse said it’s at least “somewhat likely” they’d end a relationship due to financial dishonesty. Another survey by TD Ameritrade found that 41% of divorced Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers say they ended their marriage due to disagreements about money. The statistics are clear; financial discussions must be had prior to marriage if you don’t want to be part of these statistics.
So how do you bring up this topic without it spiraling into a heated argument?
1. Be Honest
Honesty is the foundation and a building block to any successful relationship. Be honest with your partner about where you are financially. Talk about debts, whether it is consumer debt or student loan debt, talk about goals and each other view of money
2. Schedule Regular Talks
Let your partner know you’d like to talk about money and, together, choose a time and place that works for both of you. Make it a time when you both can completely focus on the topic without distractions. Allow up to an hour for this discussion.
3. Prepare Your Thoughts
Prepare a mental list of topics you’d like to discuss. Include the basics, like budgeting, saving, and sharing living expenses, along with any specific issues that are bothering you or that you’d like to change.
4. Create Financial Goals
Everyone, whether they’re in a relationship or single, should take the time to set financial goals. Those goals will help guide your decision-making and provide some helpful structure to your spending plan. make sure that your goals are aligned and that you’re flexible should things shift in the years to come.
Question to ask each other:
- What are your top three goals?
- How quickly do you want to achieve those goals?
5. Attach Monetary Values to Your Goals
Now that you’ve shared your goals and dreams, you can start talking numbers. How much would it really cost to spend a month’s vacation in Europe? How much would we need to save for a house in our neighborhood?
6. Create a Savings Plan
Together with your partner, create a reasonable savings plan that will help you reach your shared goal. If you’re saving for a vacation, a house or any other dream, work out how much money you’d need to put away each month, and how long it would take to reach your goal.
7. Build a Budget
Together, work out a monthly budget that accounts for all of your expenses and your new savings goal. If you want to create a detailed budget, now’s a good time to get started. You’ll need to begin tracking all your expenses for the next three months so you have a clear idea of your expenditures and income.
8. Be Clear on Money Management
If you aren’t already sharing some expenses, now’s the time to bring it up. If you’re living together, it makes sense to split some basic costs, like rent and food supplies. You may want to go 50/50 on this or make another arrangement that better suits your individual incomes.
However, you choose to manage your joint finances, be sure to keep at least one credit card open in your own name. It’s important to establish your own credit history independent of your partner’s.
9. Seek Professional Help
An expert can help you and your partner define your shared goals, shared priorities, and shared budgets, as well as recommend strategies for effective joint financial planning. A financial advisor can help you to develop an individualized plan that plays to both partners’ strengths and sets a solid foundation for your future together.
Deciding to talk to your partner about money can be hard, but it’s an important conversation to have. The worst thing you can do is hide your feelings and your financial challenges from one another.
Money talk should be an ongoing conversation in a relationship, especially as it gets more serious and you start thinking about combining accounts or sharing expenses. You might feel uncomfortable talking about money with your partner the first time around, but practice makes perfect, so keep going!.