When dating, you spend countless hours getting to know the other person. Yet there’s often one topic that’s difficult to discuss: personal finances.
As a relationship gets serious, this conversation becomes critical. Talking about money can be awkward, but a lack of communication can devastate a couple. Here’s why finances need to be one of the most important things to talk about with your significant other.
Why Couples Are Afraid to Discuss Finances
Money can be an emotional topic that many couples would rather avoid than discuss. And often, it’s because of our particular upbringing.
Some households provide the opportunity to learn money management skills, with parents acting as great financial role models. They’re comfortable speaking about finances, even in front of their kids, and welcome questions about money, such as how much income they make.
Other times, there may be a lack of positive conversations about money or countless arguments amongst parents regarding the matter. Finances may be viewed as an off-limits topic, which creates a misunderstanding about its significance when that child becomes an adult.
Partners may also have difficulty discussing money because of feelings of embarrassment or shame. Maybe it’s massive debt, a past bankruptcy, or a business foreclosure – whatever’s the reason, some people may worry that their partner will negatively react and view them differently.
Limited knowledge about money can also cause some partners to avoid the topic altogether. They may feel they have little to contribute to the conversation and lack the ability to improve their personal finances.
Yet others avoid it simply because they’d rather not argue. Money is one of the top reasons married couples fight, and there’s a direct correlation between a couple’s debt burden and their frequency of arguing. The same study reports that couples in healthy relationships are more likely to discuss their financial dreams and create long-term money goals.
Tips for Managing Finances as a Couple
- Be Supportive
Having an open conversation about money with your spouse can be scary and difficult. But if you want to create a relationship built on trust, you’ll need to be honest about your financial situation. Some financial questions to ask a significant other include inquiries about overall financial goals, current debt load and retirement plans.
Share your money fears with each other. Do you worry about a lack of security? Ending up like your parents? Not realizing your dreams? Communicating these fears can help establish a clear understanding of one another’s financial security.
Admit past money mistakes without making excuses for them. Truly listen to your spouse, ask questions for clarification, and share your thoughts about what they say.
- Avoid Financial Infidelity
Be completely upfront about your spending habits. Share anything valuable – like credit card and bank account statements, pay stubs, and income tax documents – so that your significant other can help you figure out your debts. Having a secret credit card or overdrawn bank account could jeopardize your relationship with your partner.
At the same time, it’s also important to build and maintain credit individually by holding separate credit cards. Just make sure to be upfront about it with your partner and practise smart credit card habits. Having strong credit will help if you make a large purchase together, like a home or vehicle.
- Talk About Long-Term Goals
Couples may have different values about money, influenced by various factors including education level, culture, age, medical and socio-economic conditions, and societal influences. These values influence how important money is to us and what we want to do with our earnings. Understanding this history can help couples develop a financial plan that works for both partners.
Your income is a crucial part of your financial situation. Let your partner know about your career goals and discuss future earning power.
You’ll also need to decide how you’ll combine finances. In a marriage, sharing a joint bank account may be more complicated than having separate accounts, but it creates a healthier relationship around money. In fact, couples who pool their money together are less likely to argue about money.
- Create a Financial Future – Together
Once you learn about your current financial situation as a couple, you’ll be able to create a shared vision for your future.
Start getting out of debt together by making short-term sacrifices for a better long-term situation. Create a realistic budget and schedule regular check-ins with each other to stay on track.
Having financial goals as a couple can impact how well you save money now. If one of your goals is to get out of debt, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our credit counselling, budget mentoring, or financial education services.