How to Talk Money With Your Partner
According to a recent survey published by SunTrust Bank, finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents identified money as the primary cause of friction. If you’re in a serious relationship, married or otherwise, and haven’t talked about money, it’s time. Yes, money isn’t the easiest subject to discuss, even with someone you love and trust. But avoiding money talk only postpones an inevitable misunderstanding that could end up costing you an otherwise wonderful relationship. Before you merge finances with your partner, there are a number of things to consider.
First, talk about the past. You may have been dating for ages, but have you ever asked each other whether or not you have any outstanding debt? Perhaps lingering student loans or car payments are still a part of your partner’s monthly drain and you don’t know about it.
Second, discuss your earning expectations. You may know your significant other’s dream career, but what are his or her immediate plans? His five-year plan? Her 10-year plan? Does he plan to work his way up the corporate ladder and reap the steady benefits of regular raises and a pension? Does she plan on leaving her current nine-to-five to start her own venture? Maybe he wants to join a start-up with a much more volatile future? And what about you? How long will you work at your current job or any job? Do you want to have kids and be a stay-at-home parent? These are incredibly important questions to ask each other before you commit to a lifetime together. You should be able to configure a projected cash flow for your combined incomes so you know how much to expect coming in.
Third, discuss your spending priorities. If you want to have a family, are you thinking public or private schools? Are you inclined to spend your money on traveling? Is there a certain amount of money above which you want to ask each other before spending? For example, maybe you don’t purchase something over $500 without checking in with each other first.
Fourth, discuss accounting. There are countless ways you can keep track of your finances—Mint, Google spreadsheets, Excel, etc. But if you don’t figure out your preferred method of joint bookkeeping, you will end up backlogging months of expenses and will never know where you stand financially. We recommend scheduling an accounting check-in at least once a month to go over spending patterns, goals, and any financial surprises that may have arisen.
Finally, you should talk about your end goal. How much money you will need to live a comfortable life with the family and retirement plan you desire? Do you have the risk tolerance for investing in the market? Will you be investing in technology? Talk about how you want to live your life once you both no longer work. Then strategize a way to get there.
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Have you had the money talk with your significant other? How did you start it? Anything you wish you had asked earlier in your relationship? Share with us in the comments.