Why it’s important to talk to your partner about money, financial conversations among couples are usually reactive they are based around bills, budgets or overspending. Rarely do we have positive discussions about our values and feelings about money. These conversations can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you and your significant other have different views about the ways that your money should be saved and spent.
Talking to your spouse about money may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it’s important for your marriage. A lack of communication can lead to fights, busted budgets, and underfunded savings accounts.
1. Why it’s important to talk to your partner about money
The key time to know about your partner’s finances is when they begin to become intertwined with yours. This will often be when you start living together and paying bills jointly. It is at this point that your partner’s finances can begin to have a more significant impact on your own and vice versa.
Issues can come up at any point in a relationship when you’re first dating, when you decide to move in together, when you want to have kids, when you buy a house, when you want to retire, and even if you decide to separate.
2. Agree to Disagree
Men and women value money differently. But the more you talk about your values and differences with your partner, the less likely you’ll resent your loved one for a financial decision you may not understand.
3. When and how do I bring it up?
Because if certain money issues are a deal breaker for you, you’re better off catching red flags sooner than later. Some discussions might come up naturally. Like when you both reach for the check at the end of a date. But others might need a little push. Opening up about your own situation first can help get the conversation going and encourage your partner to feel comfy sharing.
4. Think ‘We’
Plan for your future. Create a realistic budget together, based on the future you both want. Write the plan using words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and ‘you’. If you don’t discuss your hopes for your future life, then you end up making assumptions about what the other wants. Maybe you want to settle down in a peaceful city while your partner wishes to travel places after retirement. The only way to know is by asking each other. Having open conversations about your future allows you to plan for it, rather than just letting your future happen by default.
5. How you can tackle different attitudes
We all have different attitudes to money. You might be cautious and always saving your pennies. You might feel that money is there to be spent and that ‘you can’t take it with you’. It’s completely normal to have different opinions about money – we all come from different financial backgrounds. It’s how we manage these differences that are important.
The good news is that it can cost less to live together and share expenses than to live on your own. So, by being life ‘partners’, you will have opportunities to save and invest that wouldn’t be available otherwise. To make the most of this, however, you want to avoid the frustration that comes if you and your partner have completely different attitudes and goals.
In reality, the odds of any couple agreeing 100% on everything is pretty much zero, but it’s working out what your differences of opinion are which can lead to great compromise and make your finances less of a hassle.
6. Talk through mistakes
Your spouse may overspend on their portion of the budget. Don’t assign blame when this happens. Instead, find ways to prevent it from happening again. As a starting point for the discussion, seek to find out why your spouse overspent, but do so without passing judgment.
For example, did your spouse overspend because car repairs were costlier than expected? Add more money to the “repairs fund” to prevent future problems. Arguing with your partner without understanding what went wrong is a recipe for disaster, as is making assumptions about why they overspent.
7. Consider Earnings, Not Just Expenses
We often focus too much on how we spend, save, and invest money and too little on how we earn our money. The way we earn shapes our overall relationship with money in a significant way. Once a while, discuss money making ways and the role it plays in your combined budgets.
8. Financial Independence
Everyone has the right to financial independence, so if your partner is controlling your money, running up debts in your name, stopping you from being financially independent or earning your own money, it’s financial abuse.
It’s more common than you think. One in five adults is a victim of financial abuse in a relationship and this kind abuse almost always overlaps with these physical or emotional abuse, although it is possible to experience it on its own.
If you’re in this situation, talking about money might cause your partner to do or say things that put you at risk of mental or physical harm.
9. Talk Values, Not Just Numbers
Discuss your values around money. The number is only one part of the bigger narrative the value of the thing that you bought in exchange for the number. Make sure your partner recognizes why you spent a certain amount on a particular item. You need to take time to explain why you value it, and your partner needs to take the time to understand. If it helps, list each other’s life values and compare them to make sense of each other’s spending habits.