How To Talk About Money In A Relationship
If you’ve ever wondered how to talk about finances with your spouse or significant other, you’re not alone. Every long-term couple has to have the “money talk” at some point. Now that we’re in March and the month of love is behind us, you may be thinking about how to have the “money talk” in your own relationship.
Fairmont FCU is here to help. We asked real life couples to share how they navigate financial discussions with their partners, and we’ve gathered their best pieces of advice to share with you below.
Discuss priorities and goals with your partner
You and your partner know each other better than anyone, but you should still discuss what you think you already know. When the time comes to talk about finances, start with the questions that are most important to you: How many children do you want? What does retirement look like to you? How often do you want to eat out? All of these things affect your finances in a relationship, so talking about them candidly is an important step in setting up a successful future.
Priorities will differ for all couples – maybe it’s important for you to take a vacation every year, to retire early, or to pay off your home by a certain age. Whatever your priorities are, be sure to discuss the financial expectations that come with them, so that you’re on the same page with your partner. Those expectations can include discussions about salaries, debts, assets, and other financial obligations.
Make a plan you’re both comfortable with
After you’ve discussed your financial priorities, make a plan to turn them into a reality. Is it important for you and your partner to stay debt free? If so, you can plan to pay off your credit cards in full every month. That’s just one example.
You’ll also want to make a plan for how you’ll handle day to day expenses and the sum of your money together. This often comes down to one thing: joint accounts or separate accounts. Across the board, couples that felt the most financially successful in their relationships said that they made use of both their own personal accounts, as well as a joint account with their partner.
One couple in particular felt that a piece of advice passed on to them before marriage was the reason why they’ve never argued about money: They were advised to have their own accounts in addition to a joint account for bills and big purchases. Each month they set aside a predetermined amount of money to be spent on things they want individually – lunch with friends, new shoes, etc. Neither can question how the other spends their individual amount, but before a big purchase is made from their joint account, approval from both is needed. What constitutes a “big purchase” is different for every couple, but this method can help keep both parties financially responsible, while also giving them freedom in the day to day.
There’s no right or wrong method, though. Choose what’s right for you and your partner, as long as you’re both comfortable with the plan you’ve set in place.
Prepare for emergencies
Part of your financial planning process should include planning for worst case scenarios. It may take some time to save - but if you can do it - plan to keep a minimum of three months expenses in savings for emergencies.
To quote Forrest Gump, life really is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. If your partner lost their job or you became sick today, would you be able to pay your mortgage? Having a nest egg just in case can protect you both in life’s most unexpected situations.
Tackle finances as a team
More than anything, a relationship is a team effort. Couples have to work together for a healthy and happy one. Joint finances work the same way. If you tackle your finances as a team, success will follow.
One couple said that turning finance into a joint hobby helped them plan more efficiently. They read books together on saving and investing, which opened the lines of communication between them. Their top two recommendations were The Millionaire Next Door and The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.
Another couple said that they “always do bills together, so that we both know exactly how much money we have.” Working together and being transparent about your finances creates trust, and leaves less room for arguments when it’s time to pay the bills.
No couple wants their finances to be a point of stress in their relationship, so talking about your shared plans can help you avoid those arguments. As a couple, you can feel secure knowing that you’re stronger because of your financial planning and teamwork. At Fairmont Federal Credit Union, we help couples every day with their financial goals. For help setting up your personal checking accounts , or help making savings account plans for future emergencies and dreams, please apply online or stop in to any full service location for assistance.