Talking Money with Your Partner

Oh boy. What a mood killer.

No one really wants to talk about money with their romantic partner, but it’s actually super important. Really. Keep reading.

If you’re going to understand and be understood by your partner, you both need to know where you’re coming from regarding money. You need to know if there’s debt, avoidance, differing savings goals, or confusion. You need to know each other’s financial hangups and dreams.

That being said, it can seem impossible to discuss money with your partner. Whether it be splitting the bill, spending less money on activities, or saving for the future, money talk still feels taboo and awkward for many people.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but money is reported to be one of the top reasons for divorce. And no, it’s not due to the lack of money. It’s the lack of compatibility and communication about money. But it’s not hopeless.

Here are 4 tips for talking to your partner about money:

1. The more honest you are, the better.

It’s really hard to be vulnerable, and money can come with so much baggage and shame, but it’s essential that you’re honest with your partner. This is presumably the person you love, whom you’re committed to. Hopefully they’ll be able to listen to your money story without too much judgment. Tell them about any hangups or negative history you have with money. Tell them about your financial dreams. This will help them to understand you better, and hopefully be more open to what you need financially.

2. Use “I” statements.

I’m sure you know how easy it is to feel defensive during difficult conversations. If this conversation is about your partner’s money habits, you don’t want them to tune you out right off the bat. Awkward conversations tend to go better if you approach them in terms of what you need, rather than what the other person is doing wrong.

3. Frame the conversation around your goals.

Are you trying to save money so that you can fulfill your travel dreams? Do you want to save so that you can buy a house someday? Do you really want to pay down your credit card debt? Explain these things to your partner! Instead of just saying that you want to go out to eat less in order to save money, be specific. Explain that there is a true end goal (or several!) in mind.

4. Ask what your partner’s goals are.

Your partner might not have concrete financial goals yet. But everyone should! Once you have your goals decided and written out somewhere, it becomes much easier to reach them. If you encourage your partner to set their own goals, then the two of you can support each other. Just like it’s easier when you have a work-out buddy, it’s easier when you have a saving buddy. You can also see how compatible your goals are, and determine if you have goals you can work towards together.

Again, these are difficult and potentially awkward conversations to have, but they are necessary. If you want to reach your financial goals, you need to be open with your partner about them.

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Maggie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. Her life’s mission is to give women the support and the tools that they need to take control of their money, break the taboo of discussing debt and income, and achieve their goals and dreams. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, and speaking engagements. Passionate about many issues affecting women, Maggie also serves on the board of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, is a member of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s Developing Leaders Program, and was trained as a salary negotiation facilitator by AAUW.