How to Talk About Money with Your Partner
Having the ‘Money Talk’ Before It’s Too Late
Are you crazy in love, but your relationship is moving faster than your current budget allows? Are you and your partner already talking about getting married or buying a house together without thinking about how you will afford it? Are you considering moving in together to save money?
Asking yourselves these questions signifies that it may be time to have the “money talk” with your partner. If you are hesitant to have this conversation because your partner is not as good with money as you are, having a solid, comprehensive financial plan can help you feel more confident when talking about money and inspire your partner to do the same.
If, on the other hand, you see a serious future with this person and want to set yourselves up for financial success, but you have personal money issues that are affecting your wellbeing, you will want to create a long-term financial plan and open a dialogue with your partner about budgeting, paying off debts and saving up for future goals together.
Reduce Your Financial Stress
The first step towards setting the tone for a productive conversation about finances in your relationship is to look inward at your own money issues. If you let your own problems continue to build, such as the pile of bills in your mailbox, you may start to feel the negative physical and mental health effects of financial stress.
For example, if you are drowning in student loan debt, you will feel much more secure bringing it up to your partner if you already have a strategy in place for getting your finances back on track. Although it may be tough to think about, having a well-planned financial strategy ensures that if your relationship ever goes south, you will still be able to support yourself. You should strive to retain full ownership over your money problems because the last thing you want is for your partner to take on the stress of your own financial woes, weakening your relationship rather than making it stronger.
One way to feel more stable despite having stressful financial issues is to set up an emergency fund. By contributing a small percentage of your income to an emergency fund every month, you will feel more confident knowing that you have funds readily available in case of an emergency expense, like your car breaking down or laptop being stolen. You can even ask your partner if they would like to start making contributions so that the emergency fund is accessible to both of you in case of an unanticipated situation. Budgeting for emergencies together as a couple will help you get on track to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck and start paying off debts.
Speaking of debts, you want to be as upfront as possible when disclosing your personal debts to your partner. Before you start this dialogue together, figure out a debt relief strategy that fits best with your budget and lifestyle. Perhaps you want to tackle your highest debt amounts first or start small and budget along the way for larger debts. Because you will already have a plan in motion for paying off your debt, your partner will be able to better support you emotionally.
To grow into a financially healthy relationship, you and your partner will want to analyze your individual spending habits as well as your spending habits as a couple. Identify where you can make adjustments to save money together.
For instance, if you live together and are feeling like your cable bill is too high, consider canceling your subscription and instead create a joint Netflix or Hulu account for both of you to use and split the bill for. If you find yourselves eating out more than you probably should, schedule a time to go grocery shopping and cook a homemade meal together once or twice a week. Cutting costs to save a few dollars here and there will eventually help you and your partner save enough for long-term goals.
Find Common Goals
It can be hard to talk to your partner about financial goals because you both may have unique situations. Find common goals to help you make decisions on financial priorities. Do you both have student debt? Is there a dream vacation you would both like to contribute to? What about starting a family or adopting a pet? These are common goals you can both agree to include in a budget. Forming a financial future together does not have to be a huge challenge when you are both working hard towards a shared goal.
Attempt to start small and create realistic steps. First ask yourselves, how much of both of your incomes do you have to set aside to reach these goals? It may be cutting down on coffee runs, considering both of your rent-to-income ratios, calculating your debt-to-income ratios, or adjusting your means of transportation. Secondly, actively participate with your partner in each other’s finances. Usually, one of you will manage both incomes as a whole, which is a mindful task in itself. The second person has to proactively participate in remaining on the course of also reaching these established goals. It is easy to defer your responsibilities when someone else is keeping an eye on the bill. This may seed an easily avoidable conflict.
Bring Ideas to the Table
Come to the table with well-thought-out solutions if you are going to point out a discrepancy. Speaking about a consistent lack of money, mounting debt, a low income, or raising taxes are all stress-inducing topics. Planning some budget proposals for your partner can help alleviate anxiety.
When you live with someone, it is easier to get on top of a shared budget. Form a strategy, have your highest priorities on the top of the list, and consider what actions need to take place to accomplish your mutual goals. Repeatedly ask yourselves how you both can work toward your goals when creating and maintaining a budget. The more kinks you work out the more transparency you will both have. Speak openly about financial hardships and constructive solutions to move towards your shared and individual goals.
It is crucial to clear a path for communication because, in a committed relationship, finances will be a constant topic of conversation. So, strive to make it as comfortable and as normal as possible. The road to accomplishing your financial goals as a couple is a work in progress, so practice compassion and patience towards each other. Keep in mind that your partner has individual needs that might shift. Finances do not have to be a difficult conversation. The less time you delay having “the money talk,” the sooner you and your partner will be on track to that dream vacation, that new puppy, or the down payment on your future home.