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How to have the money talk with your partner

January 08, 2024 | 3 min read

In this article

  • To help build your financial foundation in your relationship, start by making an effort to understand each other’s financial values and backgrounds.
  • Establish regular check-ins to maintain open communication about finances and practice active listening.
  • Explore different financial approaches and their benefits and decide what will work best for your financial goals together.

Money is likely not the first thing on your mind when starting a relationship. But the moment you begin hitting some milestones — like moving in together — it may become a hot topic quickly. It might be daunting at first, as money can be a very tricky subject to broach! You might worry about stepping on toes or finding out your partner's spending style is totally different from yours. Opening up about things like debts, savings (or lack thereof), income and other finances can feel vulnerable and scary, and many couples avoid the topic.  

So, why not think about it differently? Look at it as your opportunity to come together as a couple: Open communication about finances will help you work together to achieve financial goals. Now’s the time to get smart, and we’re here with tips on engaging in constructive money talks with your partner so you can move forward on a healthy financial path together.  

1. Establish your foundation 

Productive money talks with your partner must start with a solid foundation — one that's rooted in a deep understanding of each other's financial values. Take the time to dive into conversations about your individual money mindsets and the factors that shaped them, including your upbringing and past experiences. Establishing a foundation will pave the way for open and honest discussions that reveal things you may not have known. As you talk, keep an eye out for shared financial aspirations and priorities. Whether it's the dream of owning a home, traveling the world or achieving a certain level of financial security, identifying these common goals will bring you closer! 

2. To combine or not combine 

That is the question — and it’s one of the most deliberated ones in any relationship. At this crossroads, practicality meets personal preference. There's no one-size-fits-all answer, so here are some things to think about that may help you find the path that suits you both. 

  • Exploring different approaches

Every couple has their unique dynamics, and that extends to their financial arrangement. Some choose to combine everything, from bank accounts to investments, creating a fully unified financial picture. Others prefer a more independent route, maintaining separate accounts and dividing up expenses differently. And then, there's the hybrid approach, where a joint account covers shared bills while individual accounts manage personal spending. Each option has its merits; it's about discovering what aligns best with your collective goals and comfort zones. 

  • Joint accounts, shared expenses and personal allowances

For those who opt to combine finances, joint accounts can be a powerful tool. They centralize funds for shared expenses like housing, utilities and groceries and foster a sense of partnership. However, maintaining personal allowances within the budget is equally crucial. These allowances offer autonomy, letting each partner spend guilt-free on personal interests, hobbies or occasional splurges. It's a balance that ensures financial togetherness without sacrificing individuality. 

  • Addressing and overcoming potential challenges 

While merging finances can be incredibly rewarding, it's not without its challenges. Differing spending habits, income imbalances or financial surprises can test even the strongest partnerships. The key is open communication. Be sure to check in regularly to assess how things are going and address issues early. Be prepared for compromise — flexibility is essential when meshing two unique financial worlds. It might be hard, but facing difficulties as a team strengthens your bond and financial foundation. 

3. Have regular check-ins 

We will keep going back to it: Open and honest communication is the key. Part of that means regular check-ins with your partner to ensure you’re still on the same page. Here are some ways of doing that.  

  • Create a safe and comfortable environment for discussions  

Choose a neutral and relaxed setting where both you and your partner feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, concerns and financial aspirations. Remember, the goal is not to blame or judge each other but to collaborate and make informed decisions as a team. 

  • Have a set cadence 

Just as you schedule date nights or family outings, consider setting aside specific times for money talk sessions. Consistency is key here. Whether it's a monthly or quarterly check-in, having a regular schedule helps normalize financial discussions and prevents issues from growing. Knowing that you'll have dedicated time to discuss money reduces the urge to bring up financial matters randomly, which can catch your partner off guard. 

  • Practice active listening and empathy during conversations  

Effective communication involves both talking and listening. When discussing financial matters with your partner, practice active listening. Pay attention to their perspective and validate their feelings, even if they differ from yours. Approach the conversation with empathy and a willingness to understand their concerns. This helps foster a sense of mutual respect and encourages collaborative problem-solving. 

Tip: Feel the need to brush up on negotiating skills and ways to find compromises? This article has a lot of great tips that can help you navigate discussions about money.  

4. Remember to be a team 

Don’t forget — you’re in this together. Here are a few pointers: 

  • Budget as a team 

Combine your strengths to create a realistic budget that aligns with your shared goals.  

  • Implement saving strategies together 

Aim for both short-term wants and needs as well as long-term aspirations while also prioritizing an emergency fund for unexpected situations.  

  • Address debts and financial obligations 

Facing them as a team, strategizing repayment plans, and supporting each other in achieving financial freedom.  

5. Celebrate milestones and adjust plans 

Progress is always cause for celebration! As you accomplish your financial goals, take time to acknowledge them and congratulate each other. Events like paying off a car or reaching a savings milestone are important and proof of your shared commitment to achieving financial well-being. 

Just keep talking 

Remember, managing money together isn't just about numbers — it's about being a team. Life can throw curveballs, but a united front helps you tackle anything. Good communication about money makes everything easier! Openly discussing your preferences, fears and expectations sets a tone that allows both partners to thrive. In the end, it's not just about cash. It's about succeeding together while chasing your dreams. 

Looking for a new financial partner to help you on your financial journey? Desert Financial can help! 

Open an account1 today.  

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