Talking is golden: how to talk about money for the first time
February 12, 2020
4 minutes to read
Five tips for talking about money in a relationship
When you've got butterflies in your stomach, financial matters are probably quite low down on your list of priorities. Why waste valuable time with your loved one discussing boring things such as finances? #Yolo, right? However, this hashtag rarely offers good advice. If you want to build a future with someone, you have to have a chat about money sooner or later.
And of course, you don't want to come across as harsh or meddling. On the other hand, you want to know exactly where you stand, as it's important to have a clear idea of each other's financial situation when you're building a relationship. Here are five tips to help you talk about money with your partner.
1. Think about what you want to know
Unless you're particularly inquisitive, you won't know all the details of your partner's income and expenditure. If you're going to move in together, you're better off knowing what your partner can contribute to the rent and the household bills. And if you enter into a cohabitation agreement or are planning to get married, you need to be sure that your partner is debt-free. Perhaps you'd like to know what they earn so you can get an idea of a joint budget, or if you're planning on new additions to the family, you'll probably want more information. Ask targeted questions, and explain why you'd like to know the answers.
2. Be open and honest
If you want to ask your partner a potentially sensitive question, it helps to share information yourself. The same applies for questions about money – if you have a particular question about finances, put your cards on the table. Doing so helps to create an open atmosphere and makes it easier for your better half. You shouldn't withhold anything yourself, either: dishonesty in a relationship tends to come back and bite you, particularly when it concerns a topic as sensitive as money. If your partner enjoys being with you, they won't run away just because you have debts or a lower income.
3. Timing is everything
You shouldn't discuss money matters in between making the soup and peeling the potatoes. Make sure you're both relaxed and that you have time to talk things through. Sit down at home, or if that isn't an option, somewhere where you can speak freely. Above all, make sure you are prepared, as it's something that should be done properly. Discussing financial matters is no time to do things by halves.
4. Set a joint goal
You've probably got a reason for asking about finances. Perhaps you want to buy a car together, suggest moving in together, start a family, or simply take the relationship to the next level. Whatever the situation, you should make the goal clear – and your partner will appreciate the fact that you're taking the relationship seriously. Talking about a project together makes questions about money more normal; what's more, it confirms that you value your relationship and want to build it in a realistic manner.
5. Don't impose your way of handling money
People have various ways of dealing with money. One person prefers to spend lots on eating and drinking out, while another prefers to save more. Everyone's lifestyle is different, and there's no right answer. Spending patterns are often very personal – show empathy and don't criticise your partner's choices. Try to understand where the pattern comes from. Perhaps your partner was on a low budget before, and that's why they are cautious today.
Try to seek compromises that suit your joint project. Your partner may well spend more than you'd like, but they want to live a more frugal life when you decide to buy a house together. Or perhaps you think it's perfectly fine to go out for a fancy meal every now and then. Make clear agreements about how you'd handle the joint financial situation and allow some breathing space in the budget for each other's financial habits.