How To Make The Chat About Money With Your Partner Less Awkward
Talking about money can be awkward. No matter where you are and no matter with whom you are having that conversation. As a society, we are not taught to be open about our finances. In fact, studies have shown that people find talking about money even more difficult than discussing one own’s death, politics and even religion.
Most of you would, however, agree that money plays a crucial role in most relationships. A poll of 500 baby boomers and 500 millennials, conducted by Money Magazine, found that couples who are on the same page about issues like saving, budgeting and retirement feel more financially secure, argue less about money and even have better sex lives!
For most couples, the most difficult part is getting started.
When do you broach this subject? How do you break the ice? What if he/she gets offended? What if he/she isn’t ready for ‘the talk’? A million questions run through your mind.
So, let’s take it step by step. When is the best time to start talking about money in a relationship?
When to start talking about money?
Okay, definitely not on the first date! Maybe not on the second or third date as well. But you needn’t always wait until your relationship moves on to a significant ‘next step’ like deciding to move in or getting engaged to have this conversation.
It is always better to bring up the subject early on in the relationship.
At this point, things are still happy-go-lucky; you are both still getting to know each other, and are still being calm and kind to each other. The other advantage of starting early is that there will be fewer surprises as time goes by. Imagine waking up one day three years into your marriage to realise that your significant other is neck deep in credit card debt!
The key is to not overthink it.
In most relationships, there comes a certain level of initial comfort, when you realise that you are emotionally ready to take things ahead. You know when it’s time to talk about it, but don’t freak out that just because you guys are talking money, you are tied down to the relationship.
Try to bring it up as organically as possible. For instance, when you are out and spending on something. If you notice that your spending patterns are different, you could start from that. Or, when you are talking about your future together or even just your individual goals. Like travelling, buying a home, living in a different city or switching careers. All this gives you a leeway to start talking about money.
Or if nothing similar pops up, you could just talk about a money-related article you just read, a blog you follow, or a film you saw or a tool you use and take off the conversation from there.
Dos and don’ts when you discuss money
Now, that you have made the first step in this direction, let’s look at what you should and shouldn’t say while you are on the topic so as to not put off your partner.
Do understand where they are coming from.
Not all of us are raised with the same beliefs about managing money. So do not be surprised if you find that your partner has a different way of looking at things. Even though you both may hail from a similar background, you may turn out to be a spender and your partner a saver, or vice versa. So take time to understand their background and how they think of money.
Do not be dishonest
Yes, it can be difficult to lay your accounts bare in front of your partner, but understand that this is just a step towards strengthening your relationship. If you are not ready to have this conversation yet, then let it be known. Do not go into such a talk without promising yourself that you would be open and willing to listen to each other.
Do talk about both individual and shared goals
Try to achieve a balance while discussing both goals that are important to you personally and those that are crucial to you as a couple. Discuss each other’s dreams and ambitions and try to figure out where it all fits in your overall financial position as a couple.
Do not judge
This is not the time to point fingers at each other and complain about what’s wrong with each other’s style of handling finances. This is a time to accept that you both may have different approaches to money and to try and work with it towards a feasible financial plan.
Do agree on a plan to reach goals
Take each of your common goals and roughly talk about how both of you can work towards achieving them. It would help to agree on using a system that ensures that you stay on track.
This is where Wallet can come to your rescue. As a first step, you can share your finances with your partner. After analysing and getting a hang of your individual spending and saving patterns, you could narrow down to more specific questions. Do you need to cut down on something? Who will be responsible for paying the bills? Who will track expenses?
Once you decide on specific actions each one will take, gradually, you can start using Wallet to set goals, create budgets and to track your expenses.In this way, both of you can be on the same page about what exactly is happening with your money.
Do not walk away feeling upset
Things may not always go smoothly during such conversations because money brings out many emotions. If you are hurt during the conversation, talk about it. But understand that arguing about money is not going to get you far. The whole idea of having this conversation is to agree to be open about your finances and to decide on how to manage them. So do not walk away from the conversation because unresolved issues are only going to make it harder to talk about this in the future.
Do something fun afterwards
After the gruelling talk, spend time together doing something both of you love. This will give you enough time to process what you spoke about and put it in perspective.
Remember, the hardest part is to start talking. Once you have passed that hurdle, talking about money or managing your finances together will become much easier. They key to ensuring that you get the most out of this discussion is to be open and willing to listen to your partner. Keep the conversation going till a point that money stops being a source of stress between the two of you.
Also published on Medium.