Money can be an awkward conversation to have with your partner, even in the best of times. It gets more complex when you and your partner have differing views on how to handle finances. For this very reason, financial experts advise couples to hold regular 'money dates 'with their partners and address any issues early. Money dates help build trust and allow couples to get ahead in their finances and be better prepared to face financial emergencies in the future.
What is a "money date"?
A money date is a particular time when you and your partner sit down together and discuss your finances. It allows you and your significant other to understand each other's financial health, priorities, and long and short-term goals. In addition, you can trade information on your financial history, discuss each other's spending and saving habits, and your financial expectations during this time.
While it's not exactly romantic or fun sounding, a money date should not feel any less enjoyable than a normal date. You can, for instance, go out for a quiet evening and enjoy a glass of wine or make an easy dessert at home to share while deliberating over financial issues and crunching numbers on your laptop. Keep an open mind and listen to your partner's concerns even if you do not share their beliefs.
A money date allows you to be proactive and address financial issues in a non-confrontational manner. Regular money dates will help open up and maintain a communication channel with your partner. It will strengthen your personal and financial relationship and make it that much easier to achieve your financial goals.
How to talk to your partner about money in a relationship
While money dates can help significantly, money is still a sensitive and contentious issue among couples. Therefore, you'll need to consider your comfort level with your partner and the stage in your relationship when you open up about money on your money date.
You've just started dating...
These are still early days, and you don't want to come too strong. It's best to tread lightly and not make money a point of contention early in the relationship. But it is the perfect time for you to observe your partner's money habits without asking probing questions. You can, for instance, observe how they react to splitting the check on your dates or their tipping habits. You can even test the waters a bit by asking certain non-intrusive questions.
Questions like "d_id your family talk about money while you were growing up_? Or "w_ere your parents strict about handling money_?" can give you a general idea of their upbringing and how they regard money. You can also understand their financial priorities by asking fun, hypothetical questions like "i_f you won the lottery, what would you do with all the money_?" or "w_hat do you like to splurge on? Where do you try to save?_"
You're making a major life decision together...
The relationship has turned serious, and you're considering a major life decision like getting a house and moving in together or even getting engaged! Now is the time to talk to your partner about money decisions, such as splitting the expenses or whether you can afford the rent or mortgage, during your regular money dates.
It might also get a bit uncomfortable as you will need to ask further probing questions about your partner's monthly income, emergency savings, credit scores, etc.; this will help you learn more about their financial health and decide on the next big step in the relationship.
You're about to get married...
Getting engaged and planning your wedding is undoubtedly exciting, but you will need to get the complete picture of your partner's finances before taking the plunge. Questions regarding their debt situation (student loans, credit card debt, etc.), especially if you are planning to combine finances after marriage (like a joint checking account), and laying down some ground rules on how much to spend, save, or contribute to retirement, can go a long way in managing expectations.
It might sound morbid, but when you talk to your partner about money, you would also need to discuss your financial future – retirement plans, wills, life insurance, etc.; some couples even prefer to draw up a prenup to secure their finances in the event of a breakup or divorce.
4 things to avoid on your money date
Don't play the blame game
Never start your conversation on a negative note. Your "I told you so" and "w_hy did you do this_" might feel like you're winning the argument but when you talk to your partner about money, playing the blame game or shaming them about their financial decisions isn't going to change what happened that you disagree with. Instead, it will only end up making things worse. Instead, focus your energy on helping your partner find solutions to their financial slip-ups, and that teamwork can bring you closer.
Money is a contentious issue and you will need to tread cautiously while broaching this sensitive topic. Choose the right moment to talk to your partner about money. Ensure they are in a good mood and start with some harmless questions so that they do not feel like you are ambushing them. This will give them the time to open up and become comfortable discussing their finances with you.
Don't be closed-minded
Everyone deals with finances in different ways. Just because your partner is not doing things the way you feel and dealing with their finances differently, don't assume they're wrong. Keep an open mind when approaching or dealing with shared financial situations. Sometimes, it helps to get a different perspective. If anything or anyone needs to change something, handle it together as a couple.
Avoid financial infidelity
Sharing your life with a partner means trusting them to support you in all situations, financial or otherwise. Unfortunately, a recent finding suggests that most marriages break down due to money-related issues. Partners often avoid having the 'money talk' with their significant others for fear of rocking the boat. You're not giving them a good view of your finances by hiding your student loans or credit card debts from your partner. Avoid 'financial infidelity' at all costs if you want to build trust and strengthen your relationship in the long run.
An easy solution to sharing money with your partner
Traditional joint bank accounts are limited to one large pool of money that's shared with your significant other. This can make sharing finances very difficult, frustrating, and hard to keep track of. Shared Pockets at One can help you and your partner quickly split expenses, start savings goals together, and keep some finances securely separated if you both choose to.
"A year ago, my partner and I, Evyn, started sharing our finances with Pockets to pay bills easier, save for long-term goals, and make fighting over who pays for dinner a thing of the past," shares Stefan. He continues that "we make our One budget work by dividing our expenses into categories."
It's easy to create and share free Pockets! Anyone who joins the Shared Pocket will be able to manage the funds inside. It's a great way to get organized and manage money together. Learn more about how other partners are using Pockets at One to organize and share money together!