What happens when you and your partner have different approaches toward money? How do you bring up this loaded topic without it spiraling into a heated argument? Read on for the ultimate guide to discussing finances with your partner.
1.) Dedicate a time - Let your partner know you’d like to talk about money and, together, pick a time and place that works for both of you. Choose a time when both of you can completely focus without distraction.
2.) Prepare your thoughts - Prepare a mental list of topics you’d like to discuss. Include the basics like budgeting, saving and sharing living expenses, along with any specific issues you’d like to change.
3.) Start with a vision - Don’t jumpstart the discussion with accusatory statements. Instead, start with a goal. Here are a few to get you thinking:
- Would you like to take a month-long trip to Europe?
- Wouldn’t it be fun to buy that summer cabin we've dreamed of?
- When should we retire, and how should we plan for it?
4.) Create a saving plan - Now you can start talking numbers. How much would it cost to spend a month in Europe? How much would we need to save for a down payment on your summer cabin? Together, create a savings plan that will help you reach your shared goal. Work out exactly how much money you’d need to put away each month, and how long it would take you to reach your goal.
6.) Build a budget - Before you can start saving, you’ll both need to trim your spending. Without pointing fingers, discuss specific ways to cut back. Together, work out a monthly budget that accounts for all expenses and your new savings goal.
7.) Discuss money management - If you aren’t already sharing expenses, now’s the time to bring it up. There are no hard rules here; every couple has their own system. But, if you’re living together, it makes sense to split some basic costs. You may want to go 50/50 on this or make another arrangement that better suits your individual incomes. Be sure to keep at least one credit card open in your own name. It’s important to establish and maintain your own credit history independent of your partner’s.
8.) Recognize your partner’s strength - When dividing financial responsibilities, assign appropriate tasks that play to each partner’s strengths. Is your partner a stickler for dates and deadlines? Have them assume responsibility for paying the bills on time. Are you a numbers freak? You might want to be in charge of managing your joint investments.
Okay, you’ve made it through the money talk. Now, go make those dreams happen!