Discussing the topic of finances with your partner

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Gordon Martin

There are a number of difficult conversations you may have with your partner over the course of a relationship. One of them is when you need to talk about finances. Couples may need to discuss money matters when facing debt problems or deciding to take out a joint mortgage or online loan. Or they may need to discuss finance just because they feel the time is right to combine their finances.

In this guide we will explore the topic of discussing finances with your partner. We will discuss the advantages of having shared finances, how to broach difficult situations and how you can work towards setting new financial goals together (and hopefully we will try our best to give some hints and tips as to how to avoid causing unnecessary stress to the relationship itself!)


couple smiling happily

Why is it important to talk to your partner about money?

As soon as you decide to intertwine your finances, talking about money is likely to happen more often. Here are some of the common disadvantages of having joint finances:

  • Your partner affecting your credit score
  • Your partner taking on more debt than you're comfortable with
  • You and your partner not contributing the same amount towards retirement
  • Improper division of expenses throughout your household
  • A lack of set financial plans when you or your partner access increased income
  • Improper planning for expenses like your children's education, a house fund, emergency fund etc

If any of these disadvantages arise as a result of differing financial opinions in a relationship, it is important that you can have a conversation so that you can move forward towards a brighter financial future. Your partner's finances can begin to have a major impact on your own especially if crucial payments like your mortgage are tethered to you both working and maintain set income levels.

It's understandable that you may want to have more control over finances that directly affect you but making sure that your partner has a say is equally as important. Being financially controlling in a relationship can be deemed a form of abuse. Having an open conversation and working as a team is crucial in any relationship.

Your motivation or attitude towards money may not be the same as your partner's

We are individuals even if we are in a relationship. No matter how much you might care for your partner, there are bound to be some differing opinions in relation to money. You may feel as though it's wise to invest in a specific mutual fund whereas they would prefer to go into a long-term bond investment. This is an example of a relatively small difference of opinion. There are some couples in situations where one partner would prefer to live in the now without saving for retirement whereas the other would like to draft a careful savings plan.

It's completely normal to have these differing opinions on money. After all, we all access money in different ways through our jobs and we all have a different financial background. By choosing to intertwine your finances you instantly made a decision to combine your expenses and live in a less costly way. Combining your income also gives you a far greater budget that you can use towards your expenses or savings.

No couple is going to agree 100% on what to do with their income. What is important is stating your opinion. If you remain silent on financial matters or how much you would like to save to feel secure, it can lead to an unnecessary rift within your relationship.

A great way to focus on a relationship and your future financial compatibility is to ask more about your partner's attitudes towards money and talk about some of your financial goals before you are in a position to link your finances. You could ask them if they are confident in managing money and are open to discussing finances. You may also ask if they have help with their money or if they have any current financial goals. The answers to these questions could be important in understanding your (financial) compatibility. Talking more about the financial goals that you set and your attitudes towards finances will make sure that there are no real surprises in the future, if and when you do decide to combine finances. Starting these conversations before combining finances can also be a great step to making them more comfortable conversations.



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What if my partner doesn't want to talk about finances?

Having a conversation about money is often the furthest thing from the mind of most people in a relationship. It can often cause intense conversations and there are some people that actively avoid their finances when they are in a poor situation. If you want to plan for the future and experience less stress financially it's a necessary conversation that you're going to have to have. Continuing to ignore financial habits that stress you out or staying on a path that you know could be detrimental to your linked finances is avoidable with the right approach.

Remember that by talking about your finances it's showing that you have a strong desire to plan out a brighter future together and to get on the same page with your financial goals. Don't look at it as a difficult conversation but rather you showing your desire to continue growing and learning with your partner. Make sure to hear their opinion on the matter and don't simply lay down a rigid path you created that must be followed.

Be sure to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally to have this difficult conversation and even schedule it to make sure that there are no distractions that could crop up during the process.


chalk drawing of shaking hands

Tips for having a conversation about finances

It's not ideal to start talking about finances with someone early on in a relationship. Pushing the money conversation or linking your finances too early could often lead to issues with your finances later on. Discussing the idea of earnings, debt and personal finance has to feel quite natural. Do not push the issue of linking finances together until it starts to feel right.

If you are starting to see credit card balances creeping up or you could be facing the chance of a layoff at work, you need to be forthcoming with the information. Letting your partner know about any type of financial concerns you have with your accounts, your income or with your spending can help to prevent larger issues down the road. As a financial issue continues to grow in your linked accounts, this will only lead to more difficult conversations that you might have to have further down the line. Never hide a difficult financial situation from your partner as it could affect your relationship and the level of trust they have in you.

When you start a financial conversation from a place of frustration, it can seem more like your partner is on trial rather than a conversation. Finding the right time to talk and remaining compassionate throughout the situation can help to make sure that you can discover the solution together. You can work to new financial goals together but you have to have the conversation first. The journey for your financial evolution starts with approaching a conversation where you can speak on your finances freely and both sides of the discussion are heard equally.

If every conversation you have regarding finances is about debts, you may find that you and your partner will never look forward to them. Setting goals to get out of debt or setting goals towards new purchases can also be important. Regularly looking at your finances and finding ways that you could set new goals together like saving for vacation or a new car can be exciting. Having regular goal setting conversations will make sure you're on the same page for your spending and for your savings plan too.

Always discuss major financial matters so that you can stay on the same page and ensure (as best possible!) that there are no big surprises. If you're planning on making a major purchase, speak to your partner about it. Develop an ongoing conversation to discuss financial matters. Talk about if you've deviated from savings goals, if you would like to save for a new goal or if there is a financial matter your partner needs to be aware of. Checking in regularly with money management will make the conversation seem less ominous.

A financial strategy is very important to staying motivated in your allocation of finances. Formulating plans together such as paying down your debt, paying off your home, saving for your children's education or saving for retirement will help you to properly allocate your savings. Having an overarching strategy can really help to ease tension between you and your partner because you're both working towards the same goal. Creating a strategy for savings and even forming a budget together can help ensure that there are less surprises financially.

Conclusion

Although you may have some anxiety before you bring up the discussion of finances with your partner, remember that these are important conversations to having any relationship. If you've been feeling uncomfortable about your finances in a relationship for a while, imagine how much better you could feel in a future situation working towards a goal and being able to transparently discuss your finances together. Start the conversation today and you can work at arming yourself with the tools you need to handle any situation financially as a team, including any outstanding payday loans.