You’ve probably never heard your partner say, “let’s talk spreadsheets.” However, all couples have to broach the money conversation at some point in their relationship. Talking about finances with your partner is never an easy conversation, but it should be done as frequently as possible – especially if you’re living together, getting married, or starting a family.
According to a recent study, couples who talk about money regularly are happier in their relationships than those who discuss it less frequently. Overall, money plays a big role in relationship problems – which can lead to breakups or divorce if not managed the right way.
The good news is that talking about money can make your relationship stronger and even help you get closer to your partner.
When to start talking about finances with your partner
There’s no cut-and-dry answer for when to tackle the money conversation, but you should at least have brought it up before the relationship turns serious. Before you move in together – you’ll need to understand what your partner earns, how much they can contribute to the household, and what their other expenses look like. Before you get married, you’ll want to know about your partner’s debt and what their credit score looks like. This knowledge can help build equity in relationships. Plus, their financial status will impact you should you both wish to obtain a loan for a bigger purchase down the road.
Don’t start your first date by asking, “how much do you make?” Instead, trickle in financial topics by asking them about their goals in life. This could be anything from, “What’s your dream retirement age?” to “Where do you see yourself living in the next ten years?”
Experts recommend asking “what if” questions to not only learn about their financial priorities but also their values. Some icebreakers could include, “If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?” and “If you had to choose between a high-paying job with high stress or a low-paying job that you love, what would you pick?”
The more you talk about finances in this way, the easier it will be to talk about their financial situation over time.
Everyone comes from different backgrounds, values, and financial limitations. If your partner’s parents didn’t teach them effective money management skills, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Talking money makes people vulnerable, so it’s important to listen and be sympathetic too. Responding with anger will cause your partner to not feel safe having this type of conversation with you, leading to a lack of trust and transparency.
You also don’t want to just bring the conversation up out of nowhere, give your partner some advanced notice. A great example of this is simply saying, “I’m trying to get better about budgeting and want to talk about finances more regularly. Could we plan to talk about it this weekend?” Having a conversation goal in mind is even better. If you’re planning a romantic trip together, also plan a budgeting conversation so you can save up for your getaway.
It should be a regular part of your routine to talk about finances. When paying your bills, plan to do a monthly financial check-in with your partner. The goal isn’t to micromanage your partner’s spending habits, but rather to see where you both land on your goals and where you can improve. Over time it will become a regular part of your relationship, and will help make you both feel like you’re on the same team.
If you need some help with budgeting and financial literacy, look no further than the team at First Financial. We can give you recommendations and advice based on your financial situation. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!
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