How to Share and Talk Finances with Your Partner (No Matter How Long You’ve Been with Them!)
Falling in love, moving in together, and getting married (if you choose to) are all incredibly exciting events, but when two lives entwine, that often means our finances do, too. Even if you don’t combine your finances completely, you will share joint financial responsibilities, and that means you need to open a dialogue with your partner about money.
That certainly sounds simple enough, but we all have our own hang-ups about money, our own beliefs about it, and of course, different goals…. I call it money “noise” And where we differ, there is also space for conflict – in fact, money stress is said to be the biggest cause of arguments in relationships. This leads many of us to avoid the topic entirely until it erupts in an argument, or we give up all our power to another person.
While the idea of discussing finances is hardly romantic, having open and honest money conversations is essential to long term happiness – even if you haven’t done so for the past ten years of your relationship. So, how should you go about it, while still maintaining a peaceful and harmonious relationship?
1. Know Yourself First
Knowing where you stand as an individual is vital to ensuring you have an equal voice to your partner in money conversations, and you may be surprised to realize that many people don’t look at their own financial situation regularly. If you’re someone who winces every time you have to look at your bank statements, even if you’re not in debt, you need to start doing so. If you’re going to have a harmonious relationship with your partner, you need to have one with your money, too.
2. Be Aware of (and Discuss) Power Dynamics
This is especially important if one person makes more money than the other, or if one person has the role of bringing money into the relationship while the other stays home with children. Be aware that our society has been built around respecting the person who goes out to “win” the money, and not the person who’s at home. If this is the case for you, you need to talk with your partner about how to ensure the person at home doesn’t feel powerless.
This is also important if one person makes significantly more than the other – say, for a doctor and nurse. If this is the case, consider dividing up your joint expenses by percentages of your income. So, instead of splitting things 50/50, try 60/40, or 70/30.
3. Define Time to Talk Finance
Defining time each week to talk about upcoming bills and expenses and how you’re progressing toward financial goals is a great way to ensure that both people know what’s going on with the other, and help you stay on track for big financial goals, such as your investments or saving for a new home or car purchase.
4. Become a Team
Even if you don’t plan to mix your finances entirely just yet, it’s a good idea to create that team spirit anyway. Either have a joint goal in saving for something (even if it’s something small, like a weekend away), or cheer the other on as you pay off debt or reach savings goals. Celebrate together when you do!
5. If You Butt Heads, Seek an Outside Opinion
It’s important to remember that money is a sensitive subject, and you’re likely going to meet resistance both in yourself and in your partner, especially if you’ve only recently realized you don’t have equal footing where your finances are concerned. Avoid playing the blame game, and aim for both partners to have some money that is “theirs” to spend as they please – no judgment. Especially if one person is a spender and the other a saver by nature. If you’re still having problems, a discussion with a financial advisor may help you clarify your goals and get advice on how to manage your finances and assets moving forward.
Finally, remember why you’re having these conversations, and why you’re sharing your finances. Money can be a sensitive topic for a lot of people, whether you grew up in a high-earning home, which put pressure on you to earn similarly, or a low-earning home where you weren’t sure how stable your parents were. Remember that you’re having this conversation because you love each other and want to be together. Use non-judgmental, non-confrontational language and keep the tone light, open and honest. That way, each time you have this conversation, it will get easier and easier.
If you feel like you don’t have a grasp on your own finances, or like you don’t have any financial power in your relationship, we’re here to help. We help women take control of their finances and create a future on their terms.