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Are you fighting with your significant other about money? You’re not alone.
Roughly 25 percent of people in relationships keep their money separate from their significant other, according to a survey from Policy Genius.
The same study found that some people are completely in the dark when it comes to their partner’s finances, with more than 16 percent of respondents not knowing their significant other’s salary.
A lack of transparency surrounding money can lead to conflicts in a relationship and can impact future plans with your partner, like buying a house or getting a loan.
Talking about money can be nerve-racking, but it’s crucial for a healthy relationship. Here’s five tips for discussing money with your significant other.
Tips for talking about money with your significant other
1. Start financial conversations early
It may seem awkward to bring up finances if you’re new to a relationship, but early discussions about money don’t have to be heavy.
If you’ve only been dating someone for a month then it’s probably not the time to ask about their deepest financial secrets, but you can start small.
Discuss a budget for dates with your partner, or if it’s financially feasible for you to take that weekend vacation right now. Early talks about money take away some of the intensity and nerves that could come from more serious talks down the road.
2. Discuss your financial values
Rather than just discussing the numbers, talk to your partner about what’s truly important to you when it comes to spending money. Maybe you prioritize saving money for travel or retirement over shopping — or perhaps you want to start a business.
Often, conflict about spending money comes from a disagreement between partners about what they should prioritize. Try having candid conversations about how you want to spend your money rather than just how much your significant other is spending.
3. Don’t wait until you’re angry
Talks about money are often pushed aside until a couple reaches a boiling point. This can happen when one partner spends money without letting the other know, or the stress of bills keep piling up.
When it comes to discussing finances, be proactive.
Waiting until you’re mad to talk about how you are spending money can do more harm than good. Talking about finances is often more effective if you approach it with a level head and clear values around spending.
4. Highlight your partner’s financial strengths
If money is a point of contention in your relationship, you may only focus on the faults you see in your partner’s spending habits.
Sure, you may think they spend a little too much on clothes or they waste money on the newest gadget, but what about their good spending habits? Are they the one who always remembers to pay the utility bills? Or keeps a balanced budget?
Whatever the case may be, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. If you want to discuss your partner’s spending, then consider what strengths they bring to your financial situation as well as your concerns. Discussing finances from a neutral position where you acknowledge both good and bad habits can help avoid conflict.
5. Be honest
Last — but certainly not least — is honesty.
Being truthful with your partner about your finances and spending habits is vital to a healthy relationship. Financial infidelity, where one partner spends money or has debt without telling the other, is a source of conflict for many couples and is a breach of trust in a relationship.
If you follow no other steps, being honest is the most important thing you can do to establish a healthy dialogue about finances in a relationship.
The bottom line
Arguing with your significant other about finances is not uncommon. However, opening up the conversation about money with your other half is important and can lead to clarity, trust and a healthier relationships. Learn how to start the “money talk” with your partner before it becomes a serious issue in your life.