Relationship-Saving Money Talks that Every Couple Should Have

By Mike Peterson
In May 22, 2014

Money:  It’s not the easiest or most pleasant topic of discussion — but if you’re in a serious, committed relationship, it’s something you have to talk about.   


If you and your partner share assets and expenses, it’s important that you’re also working together to protect your financial future and well-being.   And talking about money can do more than protect your assets:   Maintaining an open dialogue about money may help protect your relationship.   In fact, in a 2014 survey of 1,061 married and divorced adults in this country, 51 percent of the respondents said money played a role in ending their marriages!


Adults often come into relationships with very different viewpoints about saving and spending.   This is why it’s important to know how your partner feels about spending, debt, savings, and investing.   Ideally, you should be talking about these things before making a serious commitment, and you’ll need to keep the communication going once you’re a couple.


Here are just a few of the topics you should be addressing.


General views about money:  This really is a conversation that should take place while you’re dating.   One of you may want to save, while the other is more of a “live for the moment” type.  If things are starting to get serious, it’s a good idea to take a look at your partner’s spending habits.  Discuss your attitudes toward credit cards.  If something strikes a nerve, now is the time to talk about it.


If you’re in a serious relationship and you haven’t found the time to discuss your general financial view, chances are you’ve already noticed a few differences in your attitudes about saving and spending.   You and your partner may even have had a few finance-related disagreements.   Don’t wait any longer – start the conversation.   


Not sure how to start?  It could be as simple as saying something like:


·       “I’ve noticed that we disagree on (finance related issue).   Do you want to talk about that?”

·       “I was reading an article about couples and money.   We’ve never really talked about savings and retirement, and I think we should.”

·       “When I was growing up, my mom was a saver and my dad was a spender.   That caused a few arguments.   Did your parents agree on money?”


Financial goals: Whether your goals are paying off a loan, staying home to raise the kids or early retirement, you both need to be on the same page.   


Ask your partner what kinds of things are important to them.   Talk about your financial goals.   Sit down together and discuss the kind of lifestyle you’d each like to have in five, ten, or even twenty years.   Do you have any debt?  Old student loans or credit card bills that you’d like to pay down?  Do you want to buy a home one day?  Do you dream of starting your own business? 


You may find that you and your partner have the same – or very similar goals.   If you find that your goals are a bit different, now’s the time to have an honest discussion and perhaps find some areas where you’re both willing to compromise.


Paying the bills:  There’s no “right” way to handle household bills – but it’s important that you and your partner develop a plan you’re both comfortable with.   


For some couples, this could mean maintaining separate bank accounts and dividing the bills evenly.   For others, this could mean pooling your money into a single, joint account and using automated bill pay to handle all of your household’s monthly payments.    And for still others, this may mean assigning the task of bill-paying to one partner, while the other takes care of entirely different responsibilities, such as cooking or cleaning. 


Spending:  Over-spending can be a real relationship killer, and it can put you at risk of running low on funds when you most need them.  Even if you aren’t worried about covering your expenses, spending can create friction if one of you is spending money the other would prefer to save or invest.


Not sure who is spending what?  It could help to create a journal of your monthly expenses so you can see very clearly where that money is going.  Then you can decide together to decide if you can to cut spending and, if so, where. 


Retirement:  The earlier you start preparing for retirement the better.  Make sure you’re saving and investing for your retirement, and if you have accounts in place, make sure they’ll get you where you need to be.  Online retirement calculators can help you determine if you’ll have enough money to retire at the age you have in mind, and financial planners can offer advice as well.


Some final thoughts:  Talking about money can be stressful.   Keep the tone of these conversations calm.  Don’t point fingers.  Instead, try to work as a team to identify your goals and develop a plan for meeting them.  If you need to make changes, try to work together to develop ideas.  Keep your partner’s needs and perspectives in mind. 


Ultimately, taking shared responsibility for your money only will strengthen your relationship.


Happy saving!

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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