Compared to roses, chocolates, and candlelit dinners, talking about money with your partner can seem about as romantic as a root canal. But as you begin to build your life together with that special someone, talking openly and honestly about money can ensure that you face any issues or changes as a team, and build the trust and intimacy you need for a successful relationship. If you’re worried about broaching the conversation with your partner, don’t be. Here’s a guide on how to get there, so you can speak calmly, confidently, and positively together when the time comes.
Acknowledge your partner’s financial philosophy.
Everybody has a unique individual relationship with their finances, and your partner’s may be different from yours—is it more “a penny saved is a penny earned,” or “seize the day”? Spenders and savers can make excellent progress on their financial goals together, but it’s important for each person to understand where their partner is coming from. If your approaches to spending, saving, and giving don’t feel compatible, you can keep more autonomy by maintaining separate accounts.
Agree on shared goals.
Some goals are individual, but most “big” life goals (buy a home! have a baby! sail around the world!) are best approached as a team. Here is another opportunity to share with your partner what you want out of life, and plan out how you can get there together. A joint savings account (or a few) is a great tool for this, especially at a bank that offers you the opportunity to designate separate “buckets” or name accounts with labels like, “Dream Home” or “trip to New Orleans.”
Talk honestly, but respect your partner’s privacy.
Discussing personal finance can be a very emotional topic, especially for people who feel uncomfortable with their own situation. Remember that saying, “I don’t feel comfortable sharing that right now” is always an option. This is a journey, and the destination will be different for every couple. Don’t feel pressured to share more (information or money) than you feel ready to.
Don’t wait until there’s a problem.
While it might not be first-date conversation fodder, it’s important to get a sense of your relationship partner’s attitude towards money. Turning points in the relationship—for example, moving in together—provide an excellent opportunity to discuss expectations around shared expenses and a blended approach towards managing money. This could be the time to talk to your partner about money and maybe even open a joint checking account for shared expenses such as rent, Internet, and electricity, as well as decide how the joint account will be funded. Will you split contributions equally (50-50), base it proportionally to your income (so if one person makes twice as much as the other, they will deposit twice as much as the other), or take other factors, such as student loan debt, into account when you’re deciding? There is no wrong answer here, as long as both partners feel good about the system you’re setting up.
Consider meeting with an advisor or financial therapist.
An expert can help you and your partner define your shared goals, shared priorities, and shared budgets, as well as recommend strategies for effective joint financial planning. A financial advisor can help you to develop an individualized plan that plays to both partners’ strengths and sets a solid foundation for your future together. Here’s a look at what the different types of advisors really do and how to find one.
MORE ON HERMONEY:
- The Pros And Cons Of Fee-Only Financial Planning
- 5 Questions You Must Ask Any Financial Planner Before Working With Them
- 10 Steps For A Successful Mid-Year Financial Check-Up
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