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 common knowledge that arguing about money is the leading cause of divorce in the U.S.; no one wants to be the next statistic. Unfortunately, though, people often grow defensive when discussing the way they choose to spend their money. How, then, can two partners have a calm, productive discussion about money?
Here are six tips we’ve compiled to help guide you in this important conversation.
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”. 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. You’ll both be ready to focus on the conversation without distractions.
Start with a vision.
Instead of starting the conversation by bringing up a time your partner overspent or wondering aloud why your better half doesn’t seem to be saving enough for the future, start with a vision you can both share. For example, 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. This will set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
Listen carefully to your partner.
You may be more responsible, or more detail-oriented partner, but it’s important to listen carefully to what they have to say. Your partner will have their own ideas about money management. You may be surprised at the insights they have to share on your own spending habits or expensive vices.
Talk openly about sharing expenses and savings.
At a certain point in your relationship, you may decide to share expenses. Or, you might prefer to split them evenly and have each partner cover different expenses, and/or to pool your savings. Whether you’ve already reached that level with your partner or plan to bring up the topic now, be sure to talk openly about how you feel. You’ll have a better chance of avoiding future resentment. For example, if you earn more than your partner, should you be splitting expenses evenly? Can one partner take additional financial responsibilities, like paying the bills, in lieu of contributing an equal amount of income? If one partner goes over 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.
At this time, consider linking one of your accounts or opening a shared account at MembersFirst Credit Union. We have convenient checking and saving accounts to suit every preference. Just stop by and ask how we can help.
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 gift for your partner without them knowing how much. 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. You can keep this fund in a separate checking account under your name at MembersFirst Credit Union.
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 your finances will keep the stressful spending arguments out of your everyday conversations.
After talking, 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 all financial matters.
If you need an objective opinion, consider setting up a free budgeting and finance review with one of our Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors. This is a free service to all members! A counselor can help guide you both toward a compromise that’s best for your financial health.
If you need a few resources to help guide you, like a simple expense worksheet or debt reduction worksheet, check out some of our blog posts and “downloadables” on our Resources page.