Disagreements over money can make trouble in even the best relationships, which is why many couples avoid talking about money at the beginning of a relationship. But if money has caused you trouble with relationships in the past, talking about it early might be exactly what you need to do.
But how can you broach the topic of money in a relationship, especially a new relationship? Here are some tips.
1. Be sure money really is the issue. Often, disagreements about money aren’t really about money at all. There may be other issues in the relationship, like self-esteem, love, security, or control. When you discuss money with your partner, especially if there is a problem, make sure there isn’t something bigger going on beneath the surface.
2. Be honest with yourself about money. You can’t work through tension about money with your partner if you don’t understand how you personally feel about money. How did your parents deal with money in their relationship? Did you have a bad experience with money in a previous relationship? Money is part of a relationship, and it is easy to attach emotions to it.
3. Find the right time to talk. Talking openly about money may make some couples uncomfortable, so choose the time and place carefully. The best time to have a discussion about money is when there’s no real issue going on, and you and your partner can both come to the conversation relaxed, calm, and ready to communicate.
4. Work through scenarios. During your talk, work through different financial scenarios with your partner. For example, you might discuss how you would handle an overdrawn checking account or what you would do if the primary earner lost their job. If you are worried about your partner’s spending habits or want a more prominent role in managing money, bring those up as well.
5. Be patient but persistent. Not everyone will feel comfortable talking about money at the beginning of a relationship. If you try to talk about something about your finances that is concerning you, and your partner gets defensive, it might be a sign that they are not ready to discuss money. But if you see the relationship developing into something long-term, keep trying.
6. Try to see your partner’s side of things. Everyone sees money differently, depending on your age, gender, career, and history. Some people like to save, while others are willing to take more risks. Try to see where your partner is coming from and be prepared to compromise. It’s okay to disagree, but you ultimately have to agree to keep the relationship going.
7. Establish financial rules. If you and your partner have committed to each other long-term, working together to set spending limits can help you when money troubles arise. Set a limit for how much you can spend without clearing it with the other person. For some couples, this figure might be $500; for others, it might be closer to $100. Some couples may need to have a strict budget where they track every penny, while others can be a little laxer. Work out what is best for you and your partner, and stick to the rules you set together.
Any opinions are those of Thomas Fleishel and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.