Talking finances with your partner may not be your idea of a romantic moment, but communicating openly about how to manage your money is a crucial part of having an honest and trusting relationship. People can get defensive when discussing how to spend money. How can two partners have a calm, productive discussion about money? Here are six tips we’ve put together to help guide you in this important conversation.
Plan the discussion in advance
It’s never a good idea to bring up a potentially uncomfortable topic without warning. Instead, bring up the subject to your partner a few days before you want to have the “Big Money Talk” and ask if you can have an open discussion about your finances sometime soon. This way, you’ll each have time to prepare the details you’d like to talk about, and you’ll both be ready to focus on the conversation without distractions.
Start with a vision
Instead of starting the conversation by bringing up a time your partner overspent or wondering aloud why your significant other doesn’t seem to be saving enough for the future, start with a vision you can both share. For example, you can talk about how great it would be to take a dream vacation to the Cayman Islands, or how you’d love to start saving for a home. This way, you’re communicating a shared dream and putting a positive spin on your money talk, which will set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
Listen carefully to your partner
You may be the more responsible, or the more detail-oriented partner, but it’s still important to listen carefully to what your partner has to say. Your partner will have their own ideas about money management, and you may be surprised at the insights they have to share on your own spending habits or expensive vices.
Talk openly about sharing expenses and savings
At a certain point in your relationship, you may decide to share expenses, split them evenly and have each partner cover different expenses, and/or to put money in savings. Whether you’ve already reached that level with your partner or you plan to bring up the topic now, be sure to talk openly about the way you feel so you have a better chance of avoiding future resentment. For example, if you earn more than your partner, should you be splitting expenses evenly? Can one partner take additional financial responsibilities, such as paying the bills, in lieu of contributing an equal amount of income to the pot? If one partner goes over budget, will they be responsible for making up the difference by contributing more money? All of these questions, and more, are important to discuss up front to help prevent future blowups or hurt feelings.
Consider a slush fund
Sharing expenses and a budget can be liberating in a partnership, but it can also feel constricting. Sometimes, you just want to splurge without having to explain the purchase to your partner. You may also want to spend money on a surprise gift for your partner without them knowing you’ve made the purchase. Having a slush fund, or money set aside for your personal “just for fun” spending, can help you maintain a sense of independence.
Set up regular times to talk money
You don’t need to have the “Big Money Talk” every week, but it’s a good idea to touch base about finances regularly, like once or twice a month. You can talk about recent purchases, big expenses coming up soon, surprise bills and more. Setting aside time to talk about money will keep the stressful money arguments out of your everyday conversations.
If you both need a little help getting started with your money talk, consider chatting with our Virtual Financial Coach. A Virtual Financial Coach can help you improve your credit score, move forward after a credit decline, pay down debt and build healthy financial habits. It’s a great way to get the conversation started.
Having the money talk with your partner can make you feel closer than ever. Be sure to stick to your commitments and to bring up any money issues that may arise during your regular money talks for continued success about all financial matters.