You know you’re adulting when it’s time to talk about money with your significant other. Money and the relationships we have with others are both such a big part of our lives. When you put them together, it can get complicated fast. So complicated that, for some couples, they just avoid the conversation altogether. It might be easier to do that in the beginning, but over time your lack of conversation can create bigger problems down the road. It doesn’t have to be that way! Knowing how to talk about money in a relationship is an art form – there’s no perfect or “right” way. Getting on the same page will be worth it in the end.
No matter where you are in your relationship, it can be super awkward to talk about money for the first time. All relationships are different and there’s definitely no “one way” to do this, but there are some guideposts that can keep the conversation productive.
How to Talk About Money in a Relationship
Know your money first
It’s hard to have a conversation about something you’re not even familiar with on your side of the house. Getting your own skeletons out of the closet will help the conversation with your loved one. Make sure you’re not having an emotional conversation about money. Know your own numbers before you lean in with someone else.
Call out the awkwardness
If it’s awkward, disarm the cringe by calling it out and just getting it on the table. You both know it feels weird, so lean into that and approach it together. This will put you both on the same side right from the very start.
Maintain or create an equitable relationship
Equity is not equality. It’s important that you’re on the same page about the decisions being made. That means respecting each other’s boundaries, goals, and approaches to money. Whoever makes the most money shouldn’t be the determining factor in power or decision-making. Having the courage to create equitable systems will set you up to win for years to come.
Keep an open mind
Learning how to talk about money in a relationship means understanding that thoughts and ideas about money are highly personal. If you’re going to lean in, be sure you’re ready to listen to your partner’s ideas without trying to convert them to yours. Sharing your values will strengthen your trust because you can see where each other is coming from and start working together from there.
Discuss individual and couple financial goals
Getting on the same page means getting some clarity on needs and goals – both individually and as a couple. What are your six-month, and one-year money goals? Time to say what you really want so you can establish a playbook together.
Areas of negotiated privacy are okay
Beyond the established playbook that you create, it’s natural to have a few more personal or private needs and wants. For example, the shopper in your relationship may want to spend money freely without feeling guilty. In that case, work together to establish an appropriate amount they can spend without question (I do this with my husband and it’s a life saver!). Working these out – together – automatically creates a relief valve that will keep your financial playbook sustainable over time.
This is a tough one. Having the courage to share your real numbers is scary! Keeping financial secrets in a healthy relationship is counter-productive. It won’t work. Eventually, something is going to crumble. Have the courage to tell the truth now, before it comes out later.
Make talking about money with your partner easy
Couples who regularly talk about money are happier in their relationships than those who discuss finances less frequently. In a study among respondents who said they talk about money at least once per week, 42% described their relationship as “extremely happy,” compared with 27% of those who talk about money less than once per month.
In any relationship, money can be a difficult conversation. Talking about it now will avoid the bigger fights down the road. Another study done by Kansas State University found that “when new couples argue frequently about money, they’re around 2.5 times more likely to be less satisfied later in their marriage.” The money conversations may be awkward to have at first, but they are so important to maintaining a healthy happy relationship in the long run.
If you’re looking for a supportive group of women to help you achieve your money goals this year, join mine. If you are looking for help getting your money together before you talk to your loved one, I invite you to sign up for my next GIT Elevated Money Course today.