How to Discuss Money With Your Significant Other

by Emily on December 26, 2011

We have all heard the phrase, “People are funny, when it comes to money” before.  Many people do not want to discuss money issues whether they are personal successes or problems with other people. You could have someone who you think is the greatest friend in the world, but then when it comes to the way they handle their finances or how they spilt a check at dinner time, you think that they are frugal, cheap or overly generous with their money.  At times, we are all making judgments about the way others handle their money, and while someone may be your friend whom you share lots with, when it comes to money you are silent. Although it may be difficult, you cannot be silent when it comes to money matters in a relationship with a significant other. Sharing your life with someone is not easy, and communication needs to be open and honest in a relationship in order to be on the same page. You may think you know everything about your significant other before deciding to share your life with them, but how they handle and view their personal finances needs to be an open book.

You do not want to move in with someone or be preparing to purchase a home, car or apartment with them and then discover financial problems. Think about if you were trying to make one of these large purchases and are working on acquiring financing, when all of a sudden you find out your significant other has terrible credit and significant debt. Issues like this one, will create a major strain on any relationship. You need to be aware of what your significant others financial goals and pitfalls are. They may have had some problems with credit card or other bad debts in the past and are working on solving them and have a clear, concise, realistic plan to get their finances in order. Your significant other may have all their personal finance matters in order, but you both have different views about spending money – how and what to spend money on. You will never know these things though if you do not have a conversation about them. You need to approach the topic delicately, because as I have said before, “People are funny, when it comes to money”.

You may be the person in the relationship who makes more money and it could be a source of insecurity for your partner.  You could be the person in the relationship who does not like talking about your personal finances. Regardless of how difficult and uncomfortable the conversation may be, you still have to have it with your significant other. Be sure to be sensitive to your partners feelings about the topic of personal finances. Everyone has their own views on how to spend and save their money and it may very well be the case that your partner has very different views than you do. Just because their views on money, may be different than yours does not mean that they are wrong. Try to approach the conversation in a calm and supportive manner. Your partner may have a questionable financial past, but by being understanding and supportive throughout the conversation, you may be able to help them. The ultimate goal is to be on the same financial path, especially if this relationship is for the long term.

If you are getting ready to take the next step in your relationship, whatever that step is, you need to discuss key financial issues such as cars, homes, retirement plans and children.  These issues will help you to determine where you both stand on major financial matters. You may be living together, discussing the possibility of living together or getting ready to make a major joint purchase such as a property or car. You want to be sure that if you are sharing your life and finances it is because you both are working towards a common goal. You are living together in a rental in order to save money to buy a house, you are both saving up money towards your wedding or maybe you are saving up because you are planning on having a child. Whatever the goal is, it needs to be a common financial goal and plan that you both want to work towards. Neither of you should feel that you are combining finances in order for one partner to benefit from the others higher income. You do not want to feel that your partner is depleting your savings so they can buy more shoes or attend sporting events with their friends.

Once you discuss your personal financial goals, together you should develop a plan on how to achieve them. Creating goals with a timeline in mind will help you feel as if you are working towards them and that you are not saving without an end in sight. You and your significant other may not even be saving up for a car or home, but maybe you both love travel and have a big trip you plan to take together. By setting your goals out with a timeline you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you have achieved them. Each relationship is unique and so are each couples personal finance goals. By recognizing where each person currently stands financially and where you both want to be together in the future you can create positive personal finance habits.

Having the possibly uncomfortable personal finance discussion early on in your relationship, could help prevent issues in the future. You do not want to wake up one day like Theresa from The Real Housewives of New Jersey and realize that your spouse drove you into bankruptcy and you may lose your house. Finances can be a source of major contention in relationships, but discussing the topic openly and honestly can help you achieve your goals as a couple. You may be embarrassed about your personal finance spending habits or past problems, but being open about it early on in your relationship can help you get on track financially and kick bad habits. You do not want your partner to become resentful about your dishonesty or about the way in which you spend money. By talking to your partner, you may be both able to help each other with personal finance issues that the other lacks knowledge about. Your partner may be able to help you get out of debt, or help you realize issues with investments. You may be able to help your partner spend less and save more. Once you have the discussion about your personal finance habits and goals, you will find you may be able to help each other work towards those goals and have a happier relationship.

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