Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Six tips for discussing money with your partner

By CATRINA TATE

This week, during the Indianapolis Recorder’s Money Smart Week, we’ll share daily articles about financial wellness. We’ll focus on topics including how to discuss money with your partner, create a budget, pay down your debt, prepare your kids for financial success, and improve your credit score. By the end of the week, you’ll be better prepared for your own financial journey!

Money is one of the toughest topics for couples, but communicating openly about finances is a crucial part of having a trusting relationship.

Here are six tips to help guide you through the conversation:

1. Plan the discussion in advance.

    Broach the topic to your partner a few days before you want to have the “Big Money Talk.” This way, you’ll each be prepared with what you’d like to discuss and can focus on the conversation without distractions.  

    2. Start with a vision.

    Instead of starting the conversation with negative comments about your partner’s money choices, start with a vision you can both share. For example, you can discuss how you’d like to take a vacation or start saving for a home. This way, you are communicating a shared dream and putting a positive perspective on your conversation.

    3. Listen carefully to your partner.

    It’s important to listen carefully to what your partner has to say. Even if you think you are  more financially responsible, you may be surprised at the insights your partner shares.

    4. Talk openly about sharing expenses and savings.

    At a certain point in your relationship, you may decide to share expenses, to split them evenly and cover different costs, and/or to pool your savings. Whether you’re already at that level, or you plan to bring up the topic now, talk openly about the way you feel to avoid future resentment. For example, if you earn more than your partner, should you split expenses evenly? Can one partner take additional financial responsibilities instead of contributing an equal amount of income to the pot? If one partner goes over budget, will they need to cover the difference by contributing more money? All these questions are important to discuss to help prevent future hurt feelings. 

    At this point, consider linking one of your accounts or opening a shared account together at a bank or credit union.

    5. Consider having a slush fund.

    Sharing finances can be liberating in a partnership, but it can also feel constricting. Sometimes, you just want to splurge without having to explain it to your partner or buy them a surprise gift. Having a slush fund, money set aside for personal “just for fun” spending, can create a sense of independence and keep some purchases private. You can keep this fund in a separate checking account under your name.

    6. Set up a weekly or bi-weekly time to talk money.

    It’s helpful to touch base about finances once every one or two weeks. Setting aside time to talk about recent purchases, big upcoming expenses, surprise bills, and more will keep money arguments out of your everyday conversations. 

    Congratulations! You are ready to have the money talk with your partner. Stick to your commitments and be sure to bring up any issues that may arise during your regular money talks for continued harmonious financial collaboration. Learn more best practices for having family conversations about money through our free online learning module.

    Catrina Tate is vice president of Retail at Everwise Credit Union with more than 21 years of banking experience. Visit everwisecu.com.

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