How To Talk to Your Live-in Partner About Money
Oh, the money talk. It is inevitable and it can certainly destroy a relationship — especially if one, or both of you are bad with money.
In the beginning of relationships, there is usually a fair amount of going out to restaurants or bars, going to the movies, spending money on dates…you probably know the drill. If you’re not intentional about the money you two are spending, it can get out of control fairly quickly.
The trick is to be on the same page, money-wise. But, how do you go about it? Glad you asked.
If you have NO idea what your BF or GF’s values surrounding money are, you should start there. Usually you can gain a pretty good understanding of someone’s spending or saving habits just by hanging out with them. But, if you’re struggling to pin it down, here are a few examples of how to bring it up:
how to bring up money habits:
Example one: Ask them if they are currently saving for something.
This will help you determine if they are goal-oriented when it comes to their personal finances and if they are planning ahead.
Example two: Discuss making a budget for your monthly date nights.
Sexy, I know. But hey, if you can’t talk about wanting to save money on nights out, you better start getting the hang of it! Talk about wanting to only go out to dinner a certain number of times a month and see how it goes — this also helps you be more creative when it comes time for a date night!
Example three: Make a weekly grocery budget together.
If you are the one who is better with money, it ALWAYS helps to demonstrate good money habits. In this way, you can have a conversation about why budgeting is important to you. Talking about good money habits and demonstrating good money habits are a different beast altogether. BUT, remember, if you approach the conversation about budgeting with an attitude of superiority, or by trying to force them to do as you do, it won’t go too well for ya. It’s like when your mother would tell you not to have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and then all you wanted was choco chip pancakes.
if you’re on the same page money-wise:
Because my boyfriend, Kevin, and I have the same mindset about money, it helps make our relationship that much more stress-free. We both made it a priority to be debt-free, we both are working to save money for a home, and we both do our best to live below our means — meaning we are intentional about spending less than we make.
If you are both working on your money habits together (and you should be, even if you think you’re doing awesome), there are SO many ways you can facilitate conversations about money. Here are a few of my personal faves:
Example one: Listen to Finance Podcasts together.
The next time the two of you will be driving together, put on a finance podcast. Not only is it a great source of information, but it also easily facilities a money conversation between you two. In this way, you can discuss whatever the topic was and exchange ideas to get a better understanding of how each other views that particular money topic. Here are a few finance podcasts which I listen to pretty regularly:
The Dave Ramsay Show
The Chris Hogan Show
Radical Personal Finance
Example two: Create a Savings Priority
Maybe you’re not ready to start saving for a home, or something that monumental. But, having a small priority you BOTH are contributing to, I think, is a big thing. Even if it’s a nice barbecue for the upcoming summer, a new patio set, or a dog — those sons o’ guns are expensive these days — setting a standard of jointly saving for a bigger purchase is key. If every time you will be buying something which costs a significant amount of money, you have set a precedent of sitting down and discussing how you will both be saving for it, can make a world of difference.
Example three: Talk about Retirement
Ohhhhh saving for retirement is a biggie. And something which younger couples are certainly not doing enough of and not talking to each other about it enough, either.
Talk about your savings goals together. Will you be putting 10% away each month, 15%? Are you putting it in a Roth IRA, a CD account, or a precious metals IRA? Even if you are both new to the world of saving for retirement, have the talk! Do some research together and talk about all the different options.
Even though you are each saving individually for retirement, it is still important to discuss these big money matters. It, again, sets a precedent of discussing any and all money comings and goings together. Couples get into trouble because they think their money is their money and their partner isn’t concerned in those matter. I have some news for ya, though. If you are sharing your life with someone, buying cars and homes and clothes and groceries and a designer dog together, you are engaging in spending and saving money which has an impact on the other person.
And once you move in together:
And if you and your significant other have moved in together and things are serious, a conversation (s) about money and the future is a MUST. There are so many pitfalls and weird situations you can get into when you are living together and share expenses, but each of you have separate bank accounts. I’ll give you an example.
Kevin and I usually go grocery shopping together on the weekend, we call it, ‘The Big Shop’ because we get everything we need for the next week or two. I do the cooking 98% of the time and if we run out of dinner stuff during the week, I head to the store and grab stuff for the next few days.
I did this for the first 3-4 months of living together and kept wondering where all my money was wandering off to. After looking at my monthly budget, I noticed my grocery bill way wayyy higher than usual. Why? Because I was now buying groceries for TWO people instead of ONE.
It is so easy to get into a routine and it’s a pain in the ass to keep track of groceries and split the receipt, but it’s not fair for whoever is footing the bill, obviously.
So, instead of being annoyed about the fact that I was unknowingly being Kevin’s grocery sugar momma, I brought up the topic of money and we found an easy solution we could both get on board with. Now, when I go to the grocery store and end up buying things for him, or I purchase all the stuff to make dinner for the week, I hang on to that receipt and just write what he owes me on it and hang it on the fridge. if we can even it out when we go for a date night out, he’ll pay and we’ll square up what he owes me.
Simple solution, right? I find nearly everything can be solved with a quick, well-intended conversation where the goal is for each party to understand the other.
what not to do:
Conversations about money can go south real quick. Especially if you set out in the conversation to ‘win’ that interaction. Meaning, if I had approached Kevin and been rude and basically said, ‘hey, I'm buying all the dinner groceries and you owe me money’ it probably would have left a bad taste in both of our mouths. Approaching the conversation with the intention of finding a solution so we can move on with our lives, made all the difference.
AND, especially if someone is not the best with money, this can be a touchy subject! If you are approaching your BF/GF and essentially attacking them for being bad with money, or for owing you money, you’re going to find yourself in an unpleasant conversation! No one likes feeling inferior and with something as personal as money, this conversation needs tact.
Money is the SECOND most noted reason for divorce. Let me give you some research to support this:
Nearly two-thirds of all marriages start off in debt. Forty-three percent of couples married more than 25 years started off in debt, while 86 percent of couples married five years or less started off in the red — twice the number of their older counterparts.
One-third of people who say they argued with their spouse about money say they hid a purchase from their spouse because they knew their partner would not approve.
Ninety-four percent of respondents who say they have a “great” marriage discuss their money dreams with their spouse, compared to only 45 percent of respondents who say their marriage is “okay” or “in crisis.” Eighty-seven percent of respondents who say their marriage is “great” also say they and their spouse work together to set long-term goals for their money.
Sixty-three percent of those with $50,000 or more in debt feel anxious about talking about their personal finances. Almost half (47 percent) of respondents with consumer debt say their level of debt creates stress and anxiety.
That’s because couples simply don’t discuss it; they don’t make talking about money habits a part of their relationship and they don’t work TOGETHER to develop a healthy mindset surrounding money. If you have different priorities (or no priorities) when it comes to your joint finances, living together in harmony in a world where we are spending and saving money every day is truly setting yourself up for some unpleasant times.
Do yourself and your partner a favor and start talking about money, together.
How do you and your partner work on
your finances together?
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