How open are you and your partner when it comes to money? How would you feel about showing your partner your bank statements and credit card bills? Is is something you do already? Being in a relationship with someone doesn’t mean you have to know everything each other does, but — if you’re serious about each other and especially if you have joint financial commitments — it’s useful to get an idea of how you manage your money.
Plan a money date
When I was writing a book aimed at helping couples getting married or moving in together sort out thieir finances, I was often asked when someone should talk about money with their date. It struck me as something of an odd question because we don’t stop to think when we should talk about other things that are important to us (whether it’s hobbies, children, politics or whatever).
Here are my tips:
- Have your money conversation before you need to. Make sure you talk about money before you’ve taken out joint loans or moved in together. It’s not supposed to be a business meeting, just a genuine effort to find out whether you have similar ideas about what money is for and what you want to do with it.
SAVVY TIP: One friend of mine said that it was only after she’d got married that she and her husband were open about money. Luckily they both had similar ideas, but it could have been a different story…
- Be open. If you feel like you don’t handle money particularly well, you’ll probably want to gloss over the truth. The problem is that if you have joint financial commitments (such as loans etc), how you handle money will have a direct impact on your partner.
SAVVY TIP: You don’t have to have the same outlook on life when it comes to money, but it’s useful to know why your partner thinks about money the way they do. If they think money is for security, they may get twitchy every time you head to the shops — it’s not necessarily that they’re trying to cramp your style — it’s just that they may not understand if you think money is for spending.
- Don’t see it as a test. This isn’t something you have to pass or fail.
SAVVY TIP: OK, so you’ll definitely get more from your money if you’re able to make good decisions about what to spend it on and when to save, but this is more about being open with each other and finding out where there’s common ground and where you have different ideas.
What happens if you don’t agree?
If you and your partner have different ideas about money, the key is to identify where you can compromise and where you’re happy to agree to differ.
Here are some tips from Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor with Emotional Insights:
1. Don’t make assumptions about your partner’s behaviour. If you’re a saver and your partner is a spender, you might take that as a sign that he/she isn’t so concerned about the financial security of the relationship, but they probably view their behaviour very differently and don’t make that connection.
2. Realise that money can mean different things to different people. Some people get their status from their wealth, others their financial security and others believe that money can only bring happiness if you spread it around as wide as possible.
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