Money tends to be a hot-button issue for most couples. There are generally two types of people in a relationship: one who manages the money and one who spends it. Whether you’re engaged or married or just starting to get serious with someone, it’s important to be open and honest about your financial situation. The money talk doesn’t have to be daunting as long as you approach the subject with respect, a mutual understanding, and a strong sense of teamwork. Here are some tips on how to address the money subject with your S.O without causing a fight.
If you’re not able to bring up an important topic like your personal finances without becoming defensive or resentful, there could be another problem in the relationship. It’s super important to have a strong foundation as a couple where you feel like you can share anything with each other. Make sure to take time for one another if you aren’t connecting as a couple the chances of you agreeing how to manage your finances isn’t going to happen. Once you have that base established, lay out all of your debts on the table: anything from car loans, credit cards, student loans, or medical debts. Having it all laid out and knowing how much you owe in each category can help you both make a game plan for the future. Focus on making a solution rather than lecturing the other person about how they messed up and what they’re doing wrong. Don’t forget the other person’s feelings.
- Set Goals
After showing your hand, don’t stop there. Make sure you use this time to focus on setting goals for the future, not only to pull yourself out of debt, but to decide if you want to buy a house, have children, or even get that new car you need. Whichever goals you decide to set, make sure they’re specific, measurable, and have a time stamp. It’s imperative to hold both of you accountable otherwise it’s unlikely these goals will be met. Writing your goals down in a place where both of you can see them is a helpful reminder that you’re both working toward the same outcome.
- Make a Plan
For each of the goals you set, figure out a common plan on how to reach them. Whether it’s cutting back on nights you go out to eat or limiting your mall trips to a few times a month, each of you should be willing to make some sort of sacrifice to reach your goals. After you figure out what sacrifices you two can make to start, let’s start diving into the debt pool. There are tons of resources out there to help couples tackle debt. If you have student loan debt, explore options to refinance them. Refinancing your loans gives you a lower interest rate and decreases your monthly payment which can allow you to save some extra cash each month. There are also tons of debt counselors out there to help families and individuals face their financial problems if you feel you’re not able to do it alone.
Bringing up financial problems isn’t an easy task for anyone. Be casual, respectful, and most importantly understanding for your spouse. Try to remember this isn’t easy feat opening up about past financial troubles. Start with easy topics about where you see yourselves in 5 years and then dive into the hard stuff like debt and how you’re going to pull yourself out. Establishing trust with your partner and being supportive can help ease the tension and create a warm and welcoming environment for future money discussions.