How To Talk About Money In A Relationship
1. Give Plenty Of Notice
So you've decided to speak about money more, but you're not sure where to begin. And casually noting that you have college debts, a sprinkling of credit card debt, and some dubious outstanding medical bills don't appear tempting (or seem like something you should hide). That is why you should give your partner some time to prepare.
“It's always a good idea to give your spouse a heads-up if you're attempting to tackle the issue of money,” says Chrishane Cunningham, a therapist with the Chicago Counseling Collective. “It's also critical to communicate the issue and the aim.” Remember that just talking and listening is a good objective in and of itself, particularly at first.
For example, you may say, “Hey, I'm trying to become better at budgeting, and I'd want to start talking about our money more often.” Is it possible to set aside some time on Sunday?” Or whatever seems appropriate — just make sure you're clear about what you're asking so your partner doesn't feel rushed.
2. Recognize Your Discomfort
Nothing disarms strangeness like pointing it out. It's not easy to talk calmly and casually about things like heavy student debt or the fear of growing up in an unstable economy. You'll have to put forth some effort. And it will entail stumbling through some awkward situations. The key is that you shouldn't attempt to ignore whatever pain you're experiencing throughout these discussions. Bring it up instead. It's the simplest method to de-stress.
3. Get Off To A Good Start
Dr. Shannon Curry, a psychotherapist who regularly works with couples who are having financial problems, suggests beginning every money chat (and any difficult topic) by mentioning a few qualities you like in your spouse. “You don't want to vent your complaints right away,” she advises. “It may be anything as simple as the fact that she walked the dog or made supper earlier in the week that you value.”
This strategy is known as “the crap sandwich” by one of my friends: You start with the positive (“You're doing an excellent job with X or Y, and I want you to know I appreciate it”), then express your concern (“I feel like I'm paying more than my fair share of our bills”), and end with another affirmation (“I know you've been working extremely hard, and I'm proud of you,” etc.). This method softens the blow of the negative feedback you're giving, making the other person more inclined to consider it carefully.
Curry adds, “Most of the time, the way a dispute conversation begins will be the way it concludes.” “If you come in hot, you're probably going to wind out furious.” Even if things become hot in the middle, if you come in softly and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, things are more likely to finish nicely.”
4. Put Some Structure In Place
It is good to establish certain ground rules. When my spouse and I are discussing something difficult, we occasionally set a timer so that we both get equal, uninterrupted air time (typically 10 minutes each) before the other person may answer. It may seem rigid, but it really makes each of us feel more at ease since we know we'll have our opportunity to speak.
Curry suggests having a pen and paper with you. Take notes while the other person is speaking. “Writing down what your spouse says helps you to be present and attentive because it gets you out of your own brain and defensiveness,” she explains. It also provides you with a reference point in the event of a misconception.
5. Don't Strive To Fix All Of Your Problems
The way you were raised around money is the source of many financial disputes and anxiety. They might also be related to current pressures, such as caring for an aged parent, losing your job, or dealing with debt. These aren't problems with simple solutions, and discussing them won't help. The goal is to comprehend them, not to devise a strategy. “I simply want you to hear this and think about it,” you should feel comfortable to say openly. You don't have to react right now.”
Curry says, “You'll never be on the same page about everything.” The majority of causes of conflict between spouses are “perpetual,” which means they will never be resolved. “You want to learn how to converse about what you're experiencing,” she explains, rather than focusing on finding answers. “This leads to an attitude of ‘us against the issue,' rather than ‘us against each other.'”
I've found that asking the other person whether they want my opinion on what they're saying is helpful. “Do you want my opinion, or do you simply want me to listen?” is a simple question. People aren't always in the mood for advice, which is good – give them their space. If they truly want to know what you think, it creates a situation where they're willing to receive it.
6. Make It A Habit To Do So
“It's critical to make money talks a regular occurrence,” Cunningham argues. That may be once a week, once a month, or once a quarter, depending on your relationship and money. They can be brief as long as they're consistent. Frequent check-ins regarding money not only help you get more experience conversing about it but also offers you a defined venue where problems won't fester or crop up when you're cranky after work or annoyed that you've paid for food two weeks in a row.
It also allows you to assess what's working while also allowing you to adjust to change. “Financial conditions change all the time,” Cunningham explains. “It's fantastic to have a strategy, but you also need to monitor how it's going and be adaptable.”
Talking about money might be a bit awkward at times. And finding out how to have a money talk with someone you like like might elevate the degree of “I have no clue what I'm doing” to a whole new level.
However, despite how uncomfortable it may seem, discussing money is critical in a relationship. The way you and your spouse manage money (both individually and jointly) may have a significant influence on things you might want to accomplish together in the future, such as buying a house or raising a baby.
Keep in mind that every relationship is unique. Some of these issues may arise on their own or at a different period than what is suggested below. Instead of a checklist, consider this a broad suggestion to assist you to strengthen your relationship by aligning your financial objectives.
And if you're thinking about having a money chat with your significant other, make it a point to approach them when there aren't any distractions and you'll have plenty of time to speak.
Here Are 11 Topics To Discuss With Your Spouse About Money:
1. The Debate On “Splitting The Bill”
Talking about who pays before you go on a date is one method to get a sense of a person's money mood early on. According to Tori Dunlap, something as basic as asking to share a dinner bill might give you a sense of your date's financial views.
“It may be a fantastic approach to find out whether you and your partner are financially compatible. Is this a good possible partnership for us since we both have these strong financial habits?'” Hopefully, you and your date will be able to have an open and simple chat about dividing the check, which might lead to larger financial discussions later.
2. “What Is Most Important To You?
Talk Dating is all about getting to know one other, and finding out what your date enjoys might offer you insight into how they spend their money — and help you figure out if you're financially compatible.
For example, if your date is preoccupied with fine dining, they are likely to be willing to spend money on meals out. However, if you like to save money by cooking at home, you and your partner may disagree when it comes to creating a food budget.
Shelly Eweka claims that discussing your values might reveal a lot about your date's beliefs. “Put what you want to do and what you want to achieve out there. You may be paying off college loans or putting money down to purchase a home, for example.”
You may learn a lot about your date's priorities by revealing your ambitions and seeing how they react. Different values aren't always a deal-breaker, and opposites frequently attract, but going into a possible partnership with your eyes open is a smart idea.
3. The Discussion On “Partnership Roles”
You may also learn a lot about your date's financial habits by asking them about their previous relationships' finances. If they describe living with an old sweetheart, for example, you may gently inquire about how they divided obligations in the relationship. Finding out how they've handled similar situations in the past might help you predict what they'll do in the future.
Your date's beliefs on gender roles may also influence how they manage money with a relationship in certain circumstances. Dunlap, for example, noted that she loves to ask men she dates how they would feel about being with a woman who makes more money than they do, in order to screen out men who could feel intimidated by her success. You could also want to inquire whether they believe gender should affect who makes certain choices or professional objectives, depending on what's essential to you.
If you don't want to approach them directly about their views on gender roles, Dunlap advises saying something like, “Hello, I came saw an article regarding the wage disparity between men and women. Have you read the article?” By starting the discussion with a question about a larger trend or news article, you might learn a lot about your date's opinions without putting them on the spot.
4. The “How Much Do You Earn” Discussion
It's a good idea to chat about how much each spouse earns before you start looking at apartment listings or houses for sale jointly. For some individuals, money is a delicate topic, yet it's one that you shouldn't avoid discussing. After all, how would you know where you can genuinely afford to live if you don't know your combined monthly income?
If you're hesitant to inquire how much your significant other earns (or share your salary), Dunlap suggests rethinking how you think about money in the first place.
“Money may be framed as a tool to bring you to where you want to go, which can help to defuse a lot of these unpleasant financial discussions. ‘Hey, I want to create my life with you,' it's like. I want us to have these mutually agreed-upon life objectives or dreams, and we'll simply utilize the money to get there.'”
5. The Debate Over “Credit Score”
Probably not your idea of a wonderful, romantic time is talking about your credit score. However, since your credit might influence your ability to rent or purchase a home, you should discuss it with your spouse if you're looking for a new place together.
You don't have to demand to examine your partner's credit report, however. “Just ask for a range or inquire, ‘Is your credit score good?'” Eweka said. If you take this approach, she recommends being really explicit about what you mean when you say “good credit.” The excellent range for the FICO credit score is between 670 to 739, however, it varies based on the credit scoring model you're using.
BTW, if you're not sure what your credit score is, you should be aware that you have many credit ratings. If you live in the United States, however, your FICO credit score will most likely be used to make loan choices. This score may be available through your bank, or you may check it for free by registering with Experian. To get started, all you'll need is your social security number.
Are You Tired Of Scams?
6. The Debate On “Splitting All The Bills”
You're probably fairly adept at figuring out who pays on a date if you're talking about moving in together. It's now up to you to figure out how you're going to pay for everything else. Moving in together usually entails combining rent, utility expenses, and sometimes even a shared Netflix account.
Dunlap said, “When it comes to this conversation, “It doesn't have to be very emotional. ‘Okay, where is the money going, in a really practical sense — so let's figure out something that works for both of us,' it's like.”
Some couples choose to share their finances 50/50, which makes sense if your salaries are somewhat comparable. Other couples may want to share expenditures 60/40 or another ratio that makes sense for them in circumstances where there is an income disparity or one person has greater personal expenses (such as medical bills).
Don't forget about some of the more unseen expenditures of living together, such as renter's insurance and figuring out how to handle recurring expenses like furniture, home supplies, and food.
7. The Debt Debate
As your relationship progresses, it becomes more necessary to open up to your spouse, including discussing any debt you may have. At this point, telling your spouse about student loan debt, credit card balances, or large medical costs is critical to provide them with a greater understanding of your financial situation. Opening up about debt, particularly if it's something that worries you out, might be frightening and vulnerable.
Dunlap advises her clients to be open about how uncomfortable sharing this knowledge makes them feel: “You may say, ‘Hey, I'm very frightened to tell you this, but I know we need to speak about it if we want our relationship to be the best it can be.'”
Then, when you've gotten your debt off your chest, don't be too hard on yourself! Instead, keep the discussion focused on how you're paying it off. Furthermore, being bold enough to discuss this aspect of your life with your spouse may motivate them to share something with you as well, bringing you two even closer together.
8. The Debate On “Financial Sharing”
While some couples create a joint bank account for expenses after moving in together, others don't actually start sharing financially until they are married. Some couples choose to keep all of their accounts separate, while others want to share everything. Alternatively, you may want to preserve your separate accounts and just create a joint account for common objectives and spending.
When it's time to discuss pooling funds with your spouse, you may want to start by deciding how much sharing you're okay with. Then you might ask your significant other what makes them happy. If your responses are a bit off, work together to find a medium ground. There are several tools available that may assist. Honeydue, for example, is a couple's budgeting tool that makes it simple to keep track of shared expenses, spending, and goal-setting.
If you'd want some help figuring things out, Eweka recommends meeting with a financial adviser to come up with a strategy for your money. “The financial planner will put together a good study of all of your objectives and how you intend to achieve them.” Setting clear goals for yourself, like saving for a house or paying off both of your college debts, can help you stay on track.
Talk About The “Money Ground Rules”
Working up some ground rules together might be a fantastic approach to establish expectations upfront if you do decide to share your funds. Some couples, according to Eweka, prefer to establish a spending restriction. “I can spend $500 or whatever the maximum is without having to speak to or contact my companion. This might cost $100 for certain couples. It might be $1,000 for others. It is dependent on your circumstances.”
Setting limits may help take some of the guessings out of managing life with your partner. Other ground rules to explore include how much each of you contributes each month to joint savings or retirement accounts, as well as discussing when you'd be prepared to draw into emergency funds.
I trust you enjoyed this article on How To Talk About Money In A Relationship. Would you please stay tuned for more articles to come? Take care!
Want to Learn How to Build Your Own Home-Based Online Business & Start Making Money Online From Your Comfortable Couch?
Your Opinion Is Important To Me
Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me your questions, experiences, remarks, and suggestions about How To Talk About Money In A Relationship, in the comments below. You can also contact me by email at Jeannette@WorkFromAnywhereInTheWorld.com.