How to Have The Money Conversation With Your Significant Other

Birds of a feather flock together, but research shows that when it comes to approaching money, opposites attract. Spenders tend to pair up with savers, and vice versa. It’s no wonder, then, that money is one of the top sources of relationship conflict. Having different financial mindsets doesn’t have to be an issue. You simply need to communicate in order to play to the other person’s strengths. Next time you’re gazing at each other over candlelight (and maybe after a glass or two of wine), see what happens when you introduce a little money talk.

Photo by mrhayata via Flickr

Here are the questions you should ask your partner:

  • After your regular bills are paid, what do you like to do with the rest of your money?
  • Do you have any financial goals in the next five years? What are you doing right now to work toward those goals?
  • How do you feel about debt?

As you become closer with your significant other, conversations about money should become a normal part of getting to know each other. This is about building trust and intimacy — not giving each other the third degree.

When you think that this is a relationship that might go the distance, start to broach the big topics:

  • What division of roles and responsibilities feels right for you? Who pays the bills? Joint accounts or separate?
  • What do we do with the debt each partner brings into the relationship? (Be specific!)
  • Is it important to you to have the same kind of lifestyle you grew up with?
  • What are your thoughts about working while raising children?
  • When it comes to money and investing, how would you describe your risk tolerance?

In broaching these topics, it’s important to understand that one person isn’t “right” while the other one is “wrong.” However, there are some red flags to indicate you and your main squeeze might be in dangerous fiscal territory.

Be on guard if you find yourself or your partner doing the following:

  • Lying about, minimizing, or hiding purchases
  • Keeping undisclosed accounts (either credit cards or banking)
  • Giving financial help to friends or family without telling the other person
  • Secretly selling or trading assets

Money is tied to our most basic sense of security, and any breach of financial trust can permanently damage the relationship. Better to be honest and deal with a conflict than to maintain secrets. Intimacy takes hard work, and for many couples, the money part of intimacy is the hardest. But if you nail that, then you two are — excuse the pun — money.

About the Author

By , on Jun 29, 2010
author
Amanda Clayman is a regular contributor at LearnVest -- an independent, interactive, personal finance platform that fills the gap between one-size-fits-all, overwhelming books and expensive financial advisors; LearnVest walks users through personal financial issues with a step-by-step approach.

Leave Your Comment (4 Comments)

  1. Jamie says:

    This is one of the most difficult subjects couples have to deal with. It is very difficult to discuss finances with some couples because sometimes they are not on the same page. This is exactly why they need to talk. Thought you had some pretty good suggestions in your article. Think I will try a few.

  2. sandra says:

    Yeah, having “money talk” is really hard. I really love the “breach of financial trust” part. We are guilty of it sometimes. I do minimizing of purchases just to save some money. He on the other hand surprises me with his unplanned clothing purchases. He grew up having all the clothes he wanted that’s why I have a hard time keeping up with his lifestyle. I think I’m the saver and he’s just my exact opposite. My grocery budget is always ruined due to his impulsive buys. I’m guilty of giving in to his pleas of course. Oh, well, glad for you to have posted this one. I’ll just reveal my secret account when I’ll be successful with my money conversation with him….=)

  3. kt says:

    i dont have a significant other but i cannot for the life of me see why money issues spell the end of so many marriages including my parents. I thought that if two people genuinely love each other and God has put them together, then they shouldn’t let anything destroy what they have. I wouldn’t want to have to approach a money talk with my wife(if i ever get married) like i would rocket science. I think is two people cannot get past money issues, then there are other underlying problems. It is just a theory

  4. Jenna says:

    Seems like there are conversations to be had before getting married / when you have joint accounts with significant others and other conversations as your relationship progresses, when you have children, change careers, retirement, etc. Also, having a smaller separate account isn’t always a bad thing, this makes it easier to surprise your significant other before they get the bill 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Disclaimer

The information on this site is strictly the author's opinion. It does NOT constitute financial, legal, or other advice of any kind. You should consult with a certified adviser for advice to your specific circumstances.

While we try to ensure that the information on this site is accurate at the time of publication, information about third party products and services do change without notice. Please visit the official site for up-to-date information.

For additional information, please review our legal disclaimers and privacy policy.

Notice

Moolanomy has affiliate relationships with some companies ("advertisers") and may be compensated if consumers choose to buy or subscribe to a product or service via our links. Our content is not provided or commissioned by our advertisers. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of our advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers.