3 Financial Tips for Couples During Effective Communications Month
Talking about money can feel taboo — but when you’re in a serious relationship, it’s an important topic. If you plan on being with that person for the rest of your life, you’ll need to talk about how much money you’ll need to retire and how to afford kids if you plan to have them. You’ll also need to be able to handle any unexpected financial expenses and setbacks as a team.
Here are a few tips to help you and your partner successfully navigate money conversations during June’s Effective Communications Month.
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No. 1: Start small
You can start with simple topics: whether they’re a saver or a spender; whether their parents talked to them about money when they were kids; what their top financial priority is or what they’d do if they won $1 million.
“These can be fun discussions, but they can also shine some very real light on what people think at a basic level about money,” Schulz says.
If you’re combining finances, you’ll also want to ensure that each person’s financial boundaries — for example, the threshold for “big” purchases that need to be discussed beforehand — are understood and respected going forward.
No. 2: Aim for transparency
Once you’ve combined finances with a partner, it’s important to be transparent about your finances. After all, everything you do with money will impact them in some way — and vice versa.
Transparency is about making sure both parties have equal access to financial information. Whether that looks like fully combined finances, separate accounts or some mix of the two, you’ll want to make sure you’re both on the same page.
If you’re comfortable with it, a shared checking account can be useful here, since it lets you keep track of balances and act accordingly. That can allow a couple to move toward financial goals more efficiently.
There are some financial secrets you might want to keep for a little while (for example, if you’re saving up to surprise your partner with a ring or a special trip). Just make sure these costs won’t disrupt your joint budget or saving goals. If the surprise could affect your partner’s financial future, they need to know your plans.
No. 3: Keep each other in the loop
As you move forward in your relationship, it’ll be even more important to keep the lines of communication open. That includes regularly checking in with your partner about your combined finances.
There are ways to make these conversations fun.
Money can be difficult to talk about. But clear, honest communication is key to overcoming unexpected financial obstacles. It’s best to go into these conversations with an open mind and remember that this is about working together, not assigning blame.
“This should be a conversation, a two-way dialogue where both people feel heard and not judged,” Schulz says.