How to Talk Finances with your Partner
Talking finances with your partner may not be your idea of a shared romantic moment, but communicating openly about how you manage your money is a crucial part of having an honest and trusting relationship. It’s fairly common knowledge that arguing about money is one of the leading cause of divorce in the U.S., and no one wants to be the next statistic. To avoid defensive behavior or friction, we’ve compiled a list of ways for you and your partner to have a comprehensive, yet productive, discussion about money.
1. Plan the discussion in advance
It’s never a good idea to bring up a potentially explosive topic without warning. Instead, broach the topic 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 money 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. It could also be helpful to encourage each other to make topic lists or write a bullet point page explaining what parts of finances and financial planning are most important to each of you.
For additional help selecting a starting point or creating your top list, check out our Financial Wellness Resources for downloadable resources, online modules, financial calculators, and more.
2. Start with a vision
Remember, you and your partner are in this together. So, instead of starting the conversation with accusations or negatively (by bringing up a time your partner overspent or questioning their saving habits, for example), start with a vision you can both share! For instance, you can talk about how wonderful it would be to take a luxury vacation to the Cayman Islands, or how you’d love to start saving for a home. This way, you are communicating a shared dream and putting a positive spin on your money talk, which will set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
3. Listen carefully to your partner
While one of you may be the more “responsible” or “detail-oriented” partner, it’s still important that you both come to the table with an open mind. Be ready and willing to carefully listen to what your partner has to say, allowing them the time and space to explain how they view financial situations. You may even be surprised at the insights they have to share about your own spending habits or expensive vices.
4. Talk openly about sharing expenses and savings
At a certain point in your relationship, you may decide to share expenses, split them evenly, have each partner cover different expenses, and/or to pool your 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 or does it make more sense for one to take on a greater cut of the bills? If one partner goes over the agreed upon budget, will they be responsible for patching up the difference by contributing more money? All of these questions, and more, are important to discuss up front to help prevent future blowups and/or hurt feelings.
5. Consider having 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 just dropped a large sum of money on an expensive purchase. Having a slush fund, or money set aside for your personal “just for fun” spending, can help you maintain a sense of independence and keep some of your purchases private.
If you and your partner decide to keep a joint or personal “slush fund” account(s), Community Financial can help you set separate (or joint!) checking accounts. Start online at cfcu.org/checking or call (877) 937-2328 today!
6. Set up a weekly or bi-weekly time to talk money
No, you don’t need to have the “Big Money Talk” every week, but it is a good idea to touch base about finances once a week, or once every two weeks. You can talk about recent purchases, big expenses that are coming up soon, surprise bills, and more. Setting aside time to talk about money, even if it’s only 15 minutes a week, will keep the stressful money arguments out of your everyday conversations.
Congratulations! You had the money talk with your partner and you are closer than ever. From here on out, be sure to stick to your commitments and to bring up any money issues that may arise during your regular money talks for continued harmonious collaboration about any and all financial matters.
At this point, if you are considering linking one of your accounts or opening a shared account, Community Financial is here to help get you and your partner all set up. We have convenient checking and savings accounts to suit every financial preference, from Premier Checking to Money Markets and more. Just by stop by, call (877) 937-2328, or apply online today!
Your Turn: How did you bring up the big money issue with your partner? Share your tips with us in the comments.
« Return to "Money Matter$ Blog"