Whether you are in a new relationship or a few years in, money can be a touchy subject depending on your level of comfort, openness, and communication with your partner. It’s one of those major life topics that can fall in line with religion, politics, or your decision to raise children, and can make or break a relationship. Brian and I most definitely experienced tension created from a lack of communication and resistance in discussing money in the early stages of our relationship.
As highlighted in our previous posts regarding our financial roots, he and I came from very different backgrounds. I was so frugal that my living room consisted of items I had dumpster dove for, in addition to incredible Craigslist and Goodwill finds. All in all, my entire living room, including the big screen television I acquired, cost less than $200! Brian was extremely free in his spending, so much so that he splurged on what he wanted, when he wanted, including shopping sprees on tech gadgets and at high end grocery stores. As you can imagine, when we discussed money, he and I could not see eye to eye.
We finally managed to tackle our differences in understanding finances, as well as work through our communication issues. It was not an easy task, but it helped us grow individually and together. Honesty, as long as it is done without malice or judgement, in addition to open communication, has helped and continues to help us connect and work through obstacles as a team.
Here are 10 ways to talk to your partner about money.
Don’t be a jerk:
Speak with kindness. This is sometimes easier said than done, but we all know that being ugly doesn’t get you anywhere. Learn to address your feelings without pointing fingers.
Agree to disagree:
There will be moments when you will not agree with everything your partner thinks or says. It is important to pick your battles. While you may not see eye to eye on some things, the ultimate goal is to ensure you agree on the big picture.
Write letters to yourself and to your significant other. Be honest and kind. Seeing thoughts written out in black and white helps to organize discussion points and allows for your point to be made without interruption.
Share financial priorities:
Your significant other cannot read your mind. Discuss your individual financial priorities so you both have an understanding of where you stand and where you are headed financially.
Make it a date:
Don’t take yourselves too seriously! Make your conversations a date – grab a pint, a cup of coffee, or share a dessert. In fact, we love discussing our hopes and dreams during a lengthy hike or road trip.
Share a goal:
What better way to focus your finances than to make a goal together?? Ready for your first cross-country road trip or a luxury cruise? Time to upgrade to a new TV or save for a down payment? Having a shared goal helps to re-focus your priorities and finances together, as a team!
Do not lie and do not hide information from your partner. Yes, it can be awkward and embarrassing to discuss money, especially if you are ashamed or uncomfortable with your own personal finances. However, the best way to improve your situation is to be upfront and honest with yourself and your partner. Whether you have an enormous amount of debt, lost your job, or need to make changes to your lifestyle, it helps to share the news with your partner so you both can discuss and tackle the situation head on. This is important, especially when something directly affects your significant other. Being transparent allows for personal growth and helps to keep your relationship strong.
Brian and I frequently check-in with one another. Our check-ins were not as comfortable at first, but over time, we learned how to speak to one another and share in each other’s excitement and determination in reaching goals. We don’t have a set schedule for check-ins, but have found that we discuss our finances every week or two. Doing so helps us both stay focused and excited. Checking in has become such an important factor in our relationship that it not only applies to finances, but also applies to our relationship and marriage.
The library is a great source of education. Check out your local library for books on personal finance or even financial education programs for the community. Another way to learn about personal finance is through free podcasts. Brian and I are huge fans of podcasts and have learned a great deal about finance, investments, and more from listening to them.
Be a team:
Last but not least – remember that you and your partner are a team! It is very difficult to work through obstacles together if you are thinking or believing that your partner is out to get you. For us, being teammates is a crucial part of our relationship. We work through things together – the good and the bad, the adventure and the misadventure…we do not have to go at it alone! It is a powerful feeling to know someone is standing beside you, whatever challenges you face. Being a team will help you feel empowered and not so alienated.
There are many ways to initiate the ‘money talk’. Brian and I have found ways to make it work for us. Each person and couple have their own way of opening up and working through finances. How have you discussed finances with your partner? Would you like to share suggestions on how to talk about money in a relationship?