Let’s face it, “The financial talk” is something that we all dread. If you’re anything like me, you would much rather go about your relationship(s) without even discussing the topic of money. And then there is that awkward question, ‘Who’s going to pay this time?’ But- it’s inevitable.
Whether you’re dating, engaged, or married, it’s a good idea to be open about your financial situation, share your financial goals, and start talking about your spending habits. It’s only a matter of time before one of you brings it up, and it’s best to be prepared- so that you don’t say the wrong thing.
Although I work in the financial sector, I am far from perfect when it comes to fine-tuning my accounts. That being said, I have a slight obsession with TJ Maxx. But that’s okay! (Right?) And I’m sure there are elements within your own financial life that are less than perfect, and that’s okay, too.
What’s not okay- is keeping these financial glitches from your significant other. Moneyunder30 provides a variety of helpful tips for couples who talk finance, and out of those tips, there are 5 you should always keep in mind:
- Don’t make a big deal out of it
The worst thing you can do is wait until you’re upset about a purchase your partner made, to bring up finances. The best way to discuss money is to talk a bit about it each day. Money is a part of life, so it’s only natural that it comes up in your daily conversations with your life partner. You should try to bring up recent purchases you’ve made, each day (and encourage your partner to do the same.) These nonchalant discussions about your finances promote an open, two-way financial relationship. These talks can save you from having those long, convoluted arguments about unnecessary or expensive purchases that one of you made.
Remember: money only becomes a big deal when you hide things
- It’s not just about numbers, it’s about the value
I cannot emphasize this enough. If you love shopping, and you frequently visit your local department store (as I do,) there will be times when you come across those glorious deals that offer half price off of an already expensive item. From there, you’ve convinced yourself that you would be stupid NOT to buy it, and you swipe your card (or insert).
Let’s say this item was originally $500, and you’ve only ended up paying $250- given the discount. It’s still quite a bit of money to spend, so how would you go about explaining this to your partner?
“But it’s one of a kind, and only $250,” you’ll say. “And you went on that skiing trip with your friends and blew over $400!”
At this point, you have only focused on the numbers aspect, rather than highlighting the value of the purchase.
In justifying your purchase, you should always remember to discuss the value, not just the number. If you want your partner to understand why this purchase was a good deal- you’ll need to take the time to explain why you value it, and why you felt that you needed to make this purchase in the first place- and your partner needs to take the time to understand where you’re coming from.
- Don’t just talk about spending
When you get a conversation going, you both should identify your goals related to saving, investing, financial planning, and donating. These are elements of your financial lives that are not discussed often, but should always be out in the open.
For example: If you plan on saving up $100,000 over the course of 15 years, and then using these funds to retire to a warmer climate- wouldn’t you say that affects your partner? Make sure that they are always ‘in the know,’ when it comes to your plans, whether they are short term or long term.
- Don’t lie
No, I’m not saying that gambling or blowing money behind your partner’s back is equated to cheating- but the damage caused by lying can be just as severe to your relationship.
Always tell the truth, no matter what. It is better to come clean about an excessive purchase, rather than hiding it from your significant other, and letting them find out some other way- or from someone else.
- Agreeing to disagree
We are only human, right? No two people in the world possess the same exact views on anything and everything- especially how to spend money. You and your partner must accept the fact that you are different people, and although you care about one another, your individual characteristics lead you to view financial matters differently.
For example: In your partnership, you both might be looking for another car. The method of acquiring this new car could be a topic of debate. You might be looking into getting a 3-5 year loan for a vehicle, but your partner might not be so keen on borrowing money. Instead, maybe your partner is looking for a cheaper vehicle that could be purchased in one swoop.
One of you is going to lose the debate, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you both discuss the pros and cons of your differing perspectives, eventually making the decision together.