Healthy couples can agree to disagree about some things, but when each of you has financial responsibilities within the relationship and beyond, discussing financial goals and strategies is essential. Here are some ways to talk to your partner about money without a fight.
Watch Your Timing
Five minutes after your partner comes home with an expensive new watch or waltzes past you in a new designer dress isn’t the best time to talk about money. You’ll be too worked up about it to avoid a fight.
Choose a time to open the conversation when you are both well-rested and not preoccupied with stresses from work or family.
Discuss Values and Goals First
It’s important to understand each other’s upbringing regarding money. Some people grew up believing that all debt is evil, while others are fine with “good” debt, like mortgages and education expenses.
Explain your internalized attitudes toward money, and encourage your partner to do the same. That will help you understand each other when you talk about your values and goals. Do you have a long-term plan as a couple? Do you share a goal of buying a house or taking a vacation?
One way to talk to your partner about money without fighting is to use “what if?” scenarios—both positive and negative. What if you won the lottery? What if you lost your job? This will help you understand the goals that are important to you both and your attitudes about how money factors into achieving those goals.
Make a Budget Together
Once you have an idea of your goals and of each other’s money “personality” (saving and thrifting or spending and paying over time), you can drill down to the practical aspects of your financial situation. Make a budget together that shows how much comes in and how much goes out each month.
Be honest with your partner about how much income you have and how much you’re willing to contribute toward supporting your life together.
If you hide income and assets from your partner and you someday split up, you may have to reveal them as a part of a spousal support order. Divorce is never easy, but it can get ugly when one partner discovers the other has been hiding money for years.
Play to Your Strengths
Acknowledge which of you is better at paying bills on time, saving, investing, and managing debt. Then, divide your financial responsibilities according to your strengths. Don’t blame or shame your partner for making less money or for maintaining separate savings to fund personal dreams you don’t share.
Perhaps one of you is rock solid in bringing in consistent income. The other may be an artist or musician with less dependable income but great resourcefulness with thrifty purchases.
Talking about money without fighting is possible if you choose your time wisely and, most importantly, if you’re honest with each other about your income, debts, and attitudes about saving and investing.
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