Valentine’s Day recently passed, which my husband and I don’t mark with candlelit dinners or gifts. What’s more romantic than spending a bunch of money in mid-February? Learning how to talk about money with your partner—that’s a really big key to a successful relationship!
Questions to Discuss With Your Partner
A tip on how to talk about money with your partner is to start with questions. These can be sprinkled into casual conversations to help give you an idea of who the other person is.
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- What did you learn about money while growing up? (Forbes discusses why this topic is so important in a relationship.)
- What’s your relationship with money? (This might refer to things like your feelings on debt, credit card use, combining finances as a couple, abundance or scarcity mindset, etc.)
- Do you have any “rules” about money?
- Would you stick to a budget if we had one?
- Is there anything that triggers you to spend?
- What money goals do you have or think we should have together?
- How do you envision our retirement?
You might be surprised by how much or how little you know about someone even after a decade or more together. Figuring out how to talk about money with your partner is a lifelong practice.
Related: How to Talk About Money as a Couple
Tips On How to Talk About Money With Your Partner
Relationship experts will always give you suggestions for how to approach tough conversational topics. When you’re married or committed to someone, openness about money is paramount.
- True conversation
- Shared goals
Pick an appropriate time and place. Nobody wants you to spring a heavy money conversation on them after a long day at work. Avoid bringing it up while the kids are screaming for their dinner.
Ideally, plan ahead. Ask your partner to help pick a good time to discuss finances. Personally, I like Saturday morning over coffee. The kids have their cartoons and we’re more relaxed than during the week.
Your phrasing and tone of voice are important here. Imagine if you yelled at your partner out of the blue and said, “You need to quit spending like a crazy person!”
Now, maybe in an extreme situation that would be warranted. But it won’t be effective. Compassion and talking to your partner as an equal will work much better.
A confrontational attitude is something to avoid when you talk about money with your partner. Try not to place blame on the other person (we all have faults, after all).
Perhaps you’ve just heard a great podcast or read an amazing finance book.
Why not frame your conversation around financial lessons you’re learning? “Hey, I just read some cool stuff about ____ (fill in the blank)?” That’ll express that you want to engage in a real dialogue, not attack your partner for financial problems.
Make it a true conversation
When learning how to talk about money with your partner, you have to let them speak too. Whatever you do, don’t just tell them “This is how it is.”
Of course, make sure to bring up any major issues you need to address. But give your partner the chance to share any concerns or things they’ve learned. Both parts of the couple need to have a say in your finances.
For example, maybe you’re trying to convince the other of a financial change. Perhaps you’d like to cut back to pay off debt or quit your job to start a business. These are important decisions! Both of you should voice your views.
Focus on shared goals
As you continue this conversation in the coming months and years, try to frame every financial question in terms of shared goals. You’re on the same team!
You won’t agree on everything. But when you perfect how to talk about money with your partner, you can create money goals together.
When one person is a saver and the other is a spender, it’s especially crucial to unite your big goals. One partner may love driving a pricey luxury vehicle, but still be willing to downgrade to a beater if the goal is worth it.
When partners talk about money, they often need to compromise. Maybe you worry about little purchases adding up each month. Why not assign each partner an amount of “fun money” they can spend without guilt? Whatever you do, keep your eyes on the prize.
How to Talk About Money With Your Partner: Make It A Habit
There are different stages in a relationship, money-wise. When you’re just beginning to learn how to talk about money with your partner, take it slow.
But let’s assume you’re committed and therefore your finances are linked. Open money conversations should be a habit.
Once you’ve opened up the lines of communication about your finances, don’t shut them down. If you want this to be a lifelong partnership, getting your financial goals and perspectives aligned is essential. Keep talking about money regularly!
Some couples have a monthly budget meeting or “money date.” You can pick a regular time, such as the last Saturday of each month. Get a sitter or make sure the kids are entertained, and talk over your finances.
Use Appropriate Tools
You might benefit from using a budget app to consolidate all of your finances, too.
As you continue your marriage or partnership, your financial goals and conversations will evolve. Some days you’ll be calculating how long until debt freedom, while other days you’ll be mapping out your life goals.
Just Keep Talking!
My husband and I talk about money constantly. But it’s not out of stress or fear. It’s actually fun for us, and we recognize how important it is to our financial success.
Are you confident you know how to talk about money with your partner? Or does the idea cause a lot of anxiety? I can guarantee that hiding financial issues from your partner will only cause harm. So don’t be afraid to talk money—it can save your relationship as well as your finances.
Do you know how to talk about money with your partner? Yes or no? We’d love to hear your take in the comments!
AUTHOR Kate Underwood
Kate Underwood loves reading, talking, and writing about all things in personal finance. She made the switch from her high-school teaching career a few years ago to become a full-time freelance writer and editor and can be found at kateunderwoodwriter.com.