Communicating about money with your significant other is vital to a successful, lasting relationship. Transparent, open-minded conversations about money are an essential step towards setting and meeting the financial goals you have as a couple. Whether you’re new to discussing household financial planning with your partner or need a refresher, these ideas will help this lifelong process.
How to Begin Financial Conversations
It’s best to begin these conversations in a structured environment before they lead to an argument. Choose an evening to sit down and talk about your household financial planning and working together as a couple.
If you haven’t discussed your financial ancestry before, these questions can start your conversation:
- How did your parents handle money?
- Does your attitude about money differ from your parents’?
- What’s a memory about money that brings you joy?
- What’s a memory about money that upsets you?
- How do you expect our finances to work as a couple?
Talk about your assets and liabilities. Your assets and liabilities present a precise financial balance of where you are today and can be a starting point for discussing goals with your partner.
- What do you own, and what do you owe?
- What is your credit score?
- How much do you typically save in a given month?
- What is your plan for retirement?
Dive into money roles and how you’ll divide financial chores:
Deciding who pays the bills is important. Both partners can handle some expenses, or one should assume the role of bill payments. Joint or single bank accounts also fit into discussing money roles, and who’ll handle what payments. Both partners should agree on who will take each role.
- Who will handle the bills? What helped us arrive at that conclusion?
- Do we want a joint account, separate accounts, or a combination? Why?
- How do we feel about our individual financial contributions to our budget?
- How about our partner’s contributions?
Finally, look towards the future:
Both partners to be open to saving and investing for their future together. Furthermore, both partners should be included in planning and developing a savings strategy that works towards financial goals and retirement but accounts for the possibility of becoming single.
- What do we want our finances to look like in three years?
- Are there pressing debts we need to tackle? How do we plan to do that together?
- What fears do you have about our financial situation?
- What excites you about our financial situation?
- Does our household financial planning feel fair and balanced?
Different perspectives among partners are common. Our upbringing, parents, and life experiences influence our relationship with money. Work to understand where these attitudes come from both in yourself and your partner. Then, decide how you can compromise together when disagreements arise.
How to Manage Finances in a Marriage or Long-Term Partnership
We know firsthand that every couple and every marriage is different. Nevertheless, here are a few recommendations to consider:
- Having discretionary separate bank accounts in a marriage can foster independence and cut down on financial disagreements.
- Create clear rules about how your money is split.
- Discuss your perspective on investing. Is one of your more conservative or more of a risk-taker than the other? How could those differences work together to create a healthy portfolio?
- Schedule weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings with your partner to check in on the state of your finances. Are you meeting your goals? Are there upcoming expenses to plan for?
- Work with a financial planner to create a clear roadmap towards financial stability, including investments and retirement planning.
- Consider splitting the financial “chores” so the burden and mental load aren’t exclusively on one person.
How to Deal With Debt in Marriage
Our advice: Work on your debt together. Be honest about your debt; hiding it from your loved one will only hinder the process and cause tension.
As a couple, create a realistic budget and track your spending. Put aside money every month to pay down the debts in order of priorities. You may be surprised how working on these goals can bring you closer together.
If you need help navigating how to deal with debt in marriage, a financial planner can help. They’ll work with you to figure out which debts to prioritize and create a plan to work through them until you’re debt-free.
Read more about tackling debt in our latest blog post.
Being open about your income and how you choose to save/spend is a good indication of whether or not you two are on the same page. When there is heavy use of credit, a credit score is a good indication of financial health, either good or bad.
It may not be easy to talk about debt, but the conversation must occur since money and financial issues are common causes of breakups.
Marriage Finance Findings
Ramsey Solutions, a leading company in financial education, conducted a study to determine how couples communicate and relate to money. Money fights are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. Results show that high levels of debt and a lack of communication are significant causes of household finances’ stress and anxiety. Interesting key survey findings include:
- Nearly two-thirds of all marriages start in debt. 43% of couples married more than 25 years started in debt, while 86% of couples married five years or less started in the red — twice the number of their older counterparts.
- One-third of people who say they argued with their spouse about money say they hid a purchase from their spouse because they knew their partner would disapprove.
- 94% of respondents who say they have a “great” marriage discuss their money dreams with their spouse, compared to only 45% of respondents who say their marriage is “okay” or “in crisis.”
- 87% of respondents who say their marriage is “great” also say they and their spouse work together to set long-term goals for their money.
- 63% of those with $50,000 or more in debt feel anxious about talking about their finances.
- Almost half (47%) of respondents with consumer debt say their level of debt creates stress and anxiety.
Remember, You’re In it Together
Discussing money with your partner is essential to having a healthy relationship. At the end of the day, you two are on the same team; tackling your marriage finances together will help you align your values, priorities, and plans for the future.
If you need help starting a discussion with your significant other, the experts at Trajan Wealth can help. Scheduling a meeting with one of our financial professionals is an excellent place to start or reinvigorate your household financial planning.