No matter how unsexy it is, money is an essential part of life. Whether you have a lot of it or not, it is important to your wellbeing. This means, if you are sharing your life with someone, money is going to come up at some point. We all want to avoid the subject because it brings us anxiety. But understanding how to talk about money with your partner will make for a better relationship.
What if you have debt? What if they have debt? How do you decide what to do with extra money or how to make a budget? Do you split things 50/50? What if one of you earns more than the other?
All of these things cause stress in relationships, but if you can learn how to calmly talk about money with your partner, it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.
[Read: What does being compatible in a relationship really mean?]
How to prepare to talk about money with your partner
The worst mistake you can make when it comes to talking about money with your partner is not doing it. The next is lying about it. Apart from that, you should be okay. It will be awkward, but putting it all out there is the best thing to do.
Money is a stressor for everyone. It can be scary to take on your partner’s money issues or have them take on yours. Whether it be student loans, credit card debt, or anything else, it is scary. I get it. But, it is necessary.
The reason it is so scary is that you haven’t done it yet. Not sharing this with your partner is holding back. It leaves a gap in your relationship.
[Read: Sharing expenses in a relationship and the must-follow rules to abide by]
Your finances as a couple, whether married or not, matter. Things like buying a house, renting an apartment, or even buying a car depend on your financial status.
If you can’t talk about it now, on your terms, it will only be worse later when it comes up without you being prepared. You know this money talk is inevitable, so just do it. Go into this conversation with honesty and openness. Your partner could be just as nervous to have this talk as you are.
Decide what you want out of this conversation. Do you want to make a plan? Are you going to draw up a budget? Or do you want to give each other an idea of where you are financially? Will you talk numbers or just what you’re both comfortable with?
Figure this out so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many questions. Also, be sure to bring a pen and paper. Write down things that you are agreeing to, and figuring out.
[Read: How to have a difficult conversation without losing your nerve]
Go in ready to listen as well as share. You are two parts of a whole, so share. Also, try to remain calm. Just because they have debt doesn’t mean your future is ruined.This is a fact-finding mission that will come to a conclusion eventually. Just get the facts and slowly come to an agreement about how you both want to move forward together.
Knowing this outcome will be gradual but is vital when entering into a money talk with your partner. It will help you keep calm and discuss this without losing your cool.
[Read: 17 brilliant yet simple ways to save money as a couple]
How to talk about money with your partner
Now that you’re going into this talk with a sense of calm, you can figure out the logistics.
If one of you makes two times the amount as the other, will they pay 2/3 of the rent? Will you be responsible for groceries while they pay utilities? Do you want to open a shared account or card?
These things can get heavy and complicated. If you handle money talks with your partner right, things will go smoothly. So, here are some tips from experts to help you stay on track when it comes to discussing money with your partner.
#1 Do it early on. You can skip money talks on the first couple of dates, but once you’ve gotten comfortable with this person and see a future with them, it is better to have this talk sooner than later.Money issues can cause a lot of tension in a relationship and the earlier you nail down any concerns, the better. Waiting until you get engaged or move in together can stir up a lot of drama and stress that could have been avoided.
This also helps you create a healthy open communication regarding money early on. If you wait until an issue comes up, the stress is already there, making the entire situation harder. [Read: 21 questions couples should ask to get to know each other better]
#2 Take it slow. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t just have one talk about money and never bring it up again. This is a long-term conversation. So, take it slow. Go in with questions you need answered and your answers to the same questions.At first, you may just discuss if you have debt or what your loose financial goals are. Then if you live together, you’ll need to make a budget and decide how to split costs. You’ll also need to discuss your savings for the future, if you want to travel, settle down, and more.
These things come with time, but having an honest discussion early can make these more serious talks easier down the road.
#3 Help each other. I don’t mean you have to pay off each other’s cards but help each other take control. If you are more of a spender than a saver, ask your partner for advice and reminders. If you are thinking about splurging on something, they can ask you respectfully if that contributes to your savings goal.
You can do the same for them. If they avoid any spending in order to save, you can remind them to have a little fun and splurge every now and then. [Read: How to show respect in a relationship and love each other better]
#4 Think of all scenarios. Try to manage situations before they come up. Talk about what you would do if you won the lottery, if you came into money, or if you lost your job. You should have plans for accidents. It can be morbid to think about these things, but planning now is better than scrambling later.
#5 Dig deeper. Talk to your partner about both of your money habits and why you think you are that way. How did your parents handle finances when you were growing up. Did you learn about savings and credit when you were young?
Understanding your partner’s upbringing and how they were introduced to money is important for your relationship. This is what helps you understand each other better.
#6 Don’t judge. If your partner made a financial mistake when they were young or last week, try not to judge them. Whether it affects you or not, they are owning up to their mistakes as you would if the situation were reversed. Try to work with them, not attack them.
Money talks with your partner should be a safe space.
#7 Have shared goals. Maybe you always wanted to buy a boat and they always wanted to take a trip to Italy. Figure out how you could accomplish those goals and come up with joint goals. Do you want to take a trip together? Do you want to buy a house or invest your money? Working together to meet a goal will encourage you.
#8 Come to an agreement. Decide what works for both of you. Do you have free rein with your money? Do you have access to each other’s money? Additionally, do you need to discuss big-ticket purchases? What is the amount you should talk about before buying?
#9 Plan your next talk. Make sure this isn’t a one-time thing. Money is involved in everything, so plan these talks as regularly as you think you need them. That could be once a month or quarterly depending on your budget and how things are going.
If something comes up off schedule, you should be able to bring it up and return back to this calmness when needed.
[Read: Unspoken relationship rules that couples should all follow]
Learning how to talk about money with your partner can be stressful, but if you do it calmly and honestly, it can make your lives a lot easier.
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