Have You Had the Money Talk?
Money can’t buy you love.
While that may be true, the flip side of the coin could read, “But it CAN cause divorce.” And if you’re dating someone, it could make or break your relationship.
I’m all for “making it” rather than “breaking it,” so I personally got some advice from the experts. Many say couples are afraid to talk about the “M” word because it will end up in an argument. These Q’s, clues and tips can help couples have healthy conversations about money while navigating through each stage of their relationship.
Having “The Money Talk” When You’re Dating
At this point, asking your partner to produce a pay stub on your next date is a bit (OK, a lot) premature. So how can you get a clue about where your date stands when it comes to money and financial fortitude? Try steering the conversation around these topics:
- College life – This topic is usually good for a few laughs. It can also paint a picture of your partner’s spending habits and career aspirations; even provide a guesstimate about your date’s student debt.
- Work – You can gauge your partner’s income – and motivation – level by talking about current job status, past and current employers, and future career goals.
- “Horror stories” – Most of us learn from our mistakes, so share your past money woes. Keep it light, but make some mental notes. If your partner seems to have a pattern of repeating the same mistakes (like maxing out credit cards), it might be a red flag.
Having “The Money Talk” When You’re Getting Serious
- Get into goals – Sure, opposites attract. But it you’re on opposite ends of the career and financial goal spectrum, it’s important to find out now. That way, you can work on meeting in the middle or make a decision about where to go from here.
- Discuss debt – Comparing credit scores can be one way to find out where you both are financially. It can also help you plan for the future. If your partner has a good score and seems to be managing money well, it’s often a sign of dependability and stability. (Two checkmarks under the “Keeper” column!)
- Don’t make a move until – You make a mutual decision about co-spending. Will you split all expenses 50/50? Whose name(s) will be on the lease or mortgage? The list goes on.
Having “The Money Talk” When You’re Married
- Decide what’s yours/mine/ours – Is it time to pool your assets? Set up a joint bank account? Update beneficiaries? Questions like these need to be addressed right away. Get guidance from a financial professional.
- Set some budget guidelines – Before you shut me down on this one, hear me (and the experts) out. Let’s say there’s $200 of “fun money” in your budget. You see two concert tickets online and boom – there goes the $200. You don’t bother talking with your spouse who, coincidentally, didn’t check with you before spending the same fun money at the mall. Avoid arguments. Establish rules that both of you follow, like checking with each other before you spend more than $100.
- Keep talking – Find neutral ground. Be patient, honest and respectful of one another. And don’t just talk about money when times are tough. Enjoy your successes, too.
If there’s one take-away from all of this it’s: open communication. When you’re talking, let your values be your guide. They can help you make better decisions about how to save, share and spend your money.
Written by Mary Thoele
Mary has some great thoughts on how to begin talking about the “m” word with your significant other. These ideas are only meant to help you spark conversation between you and your significant other. As you dig deep into your specific situation, talk with a financial professional.
This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).