Money Talks: How To Discuss Finances With Your Partner
When it comes to sources of conflict within a relationship, finances top the list. Research has shown that money issues—different priorities, overspending, being secretive about finances—are often a major contributing factor to relationship problems. Given the sensitive nature of the topic, learning how to communicate with your partner about money may be one of the most important things you can do—for both your financial health and the health of your relationship.
Identify Your Own Money Beliefs
We all have our own beliefs, experiences, and habits when it comes to money, many of which we formed early in life. These factors determine the role finances play in our life and how we approach them. Some people are naturally thrifty, while others enjoy spending freely on themselves and others. Some people place great importance on actively building wealth and long-term financial security, while others tend to avoid even thinking about a financial plan.
Take some time to consider your attitude and values around finances. Is money a significant source of stress, or do you generally feel like you will always be able to make what you need? Do you find the topic of investments exciting or overwhelming? Do you keep close track of your monthly income and spending, or do you have just a vague idea of your overall finances? Knowing where on the spectrum of “money personalities” you fall is crucial in being able to approach the issue of money with your partner. After all, if you don’t have a clear picture your own beliefs and habits, you’ll have a hard time communicating them to others.
Choose the Right Time–and Way–to Communicate
As with all sensitive topics, it’s important to approach conversations about money at the right time and in the right way. Try to avoid big financial discussion when you or your partner are stressed or upset. Remember, tension and heightened emotions are usually not the recipe for good decision-making! If you receive an unexpected piece of money news, take some time to process the information—separately, if you need—and then make a plan to sit down and discuss things calmly.
When it is the right time for a conversation about money, keep in mind the keys to effective communication, including openness and active listening. Remember that you and your partner are a team and that approaching money issues from a place of understanding, trust, and mutual respect will lead to healthier finances and a stronger relationship.
Schedule Regular Money Dates
Don’t just leave financial conversations for when something unexpected happens! Checking in with your partner regularly can help ensure that you’re on the same page and moving toward your financial goals.
Set regular money dates—quarterly or even monthly—to go over your spending and saving and make any necessary adjustments to your household budget. You should also check in at least once a year to plan for your big-picture financial goals, like buying a home or saving for retirement. These regular dates can help you keep the lines of communication open and reduce the chance for unwanted financial surprises.
Get Advice from a Neutral Third Party
If you and your partner aren’t sure where to start when it comes to things like paying down debt or creating a budget, it’s a good idea to reach out for some expert advice. Your EAP provides financial services, including financial advisors who can help you perform a financial “health check.” Not only are financial advisors experts in their field, they also act as a neutral third party who can present your financial situation and options in a balanced, emotion-free way to help you make the best decisions for your household.
Money talks may seem stressful, but they don’t have to be! By communicating with your partner early and often, you can experience greater confidence, peace of mind, and financial freedom.
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