I’m not going to lie to you: talking about money in your relationship is pretty unsexy. It can, however, mean that your relationship is in a stable, committed and safe adult place, which is quite edifying. Of course, you don’t need to jump straight into the finances when you’re dating someone new (let’s face it, the start of a relationship is mostly about managing your farts), but once you start getting serious and thinking about things like moving in together, future goals, and even having children, the money talk is essential. You want to make sure you both have the same expectations and priorities, and that you can work together to make decisions as a team when your finances come together. Here are some tips for talking about money in your relationship.
1. Designate time for it
Getting into a conversation about money after a few wines or half way through an episode of Game of Thrones isn’t exactly conducive to a productive conversation. Unlike the sexier things in your relationship, money talk shouldn’t be spontaneous. Set aside time to thoroughly discuss money without distractions, and plan ahead for what you’re actually going to talk about.
2. Be honest about debt and credit
Sing it with me now: this debt is my debt, this debt is your debt... When you’re merging finances, how much debt you and your partner are in is going to affect what you’re able to do with your money. For instance, if you’re looking at investing in property, it’s good to know where you both stand in terms of your personal debt and credit ratings.
3. Be realistic about your future income
It’s rare that two people will earn exactly the same amount of money, especially if one of you is a man and the other is a woman (that hellish pay gap!). Keep this in mind when you’re discussing finances, and remember that you’re probably not both always going to be able to contribute the same amount to things at all times.
4. Don’t get defensive
Talking about money with your partner isn’t supposed to be adversarial. You’re supposed to work together to come up with attainable goals, plans, and solutions. Be open to suggestion, and willing to compromise. Don’t look at the conversation as a competition.
5. Understand that you're going to have to share
Again, if you’re looking to become a financial unit, words like “me” and “mine” are going to have to be limited. Yes, you’re entitled to your own, hard earned money. But when you’re living together, or buying together, or raising kids together, some (or a lot!) of that money is going to end up in the communal kitty. Your stuff is going to become shared stuff, and while you’re still entitled to go out and buy yourself an outfit for Saturday night with your own dollar bills, keep in mind you’re also going to be contributing to the joint stuff.