Ditch Disagreements About Dollars: 5 Tips for Talking About Money with Your Partner

January 31, 2022

One of the toughest topics for couples to discuss is money, so if the idea of talking about finances with your partner makes you nervous, you definitely aren’t alone.

Money is the number one issue couples argue about (and the second leading cause of divorce), so it’s no surprise many people avoid cash-focused conversations. But talking about finances is important—it can even benefit your relationship. Ramsey Solutions’ in-house research team reported that 94% of couples surveyed believe they have a “great marriage” in part because they discuss financial goals with their spouse.

Need help starting a conversation with your partner about money? Here are a few tips for successful talks:

1. Consider your relationship.

Your relationship “status" often dictates how funds will be used. Do you and your partner share a home? Maybe you dwell separately but date exclusively—or perhaps you have a more casual relationship. If you live together, you’ll need to decide how to distribute income to cover food, rent, and utilities. If you’re married, insurance and investments may also be considered. And if you’re just starting to get to know each other, deciding who pays for what on an evening out may be all you need to know for now.

2. Discuss your goals.

Money means different things to different people (e.g., security, power, status, freedom, etc.), so it’s important to understand both partners’ expectations. Separating goals into short and long-term targets can help make planning for the future easier. Specific examples might include:

Short-term goals:

  • Creating an emergency fund
  • Managing monthly credit card payments
  • Spending for entertainment, travel, etc.

Long-term goals:

  • Maximizing earning potential
  • Saving for retirement
  • Planning for education costs

3. Be honest.

Sidestepping spending issues or lying about financial habits is never helpful. Maybe you spent too much on a purchase and hid the receipt, or perhaps your partner has credit issues they aren’t proud of, but the bottom line is simple: if you value your relationship, be honest about your spending habits and any debt you may have—100% of the time.

It’s important to be upfront with yourself about personal financial situations, too. If your credit could use some help, we can assist through our Money Matters Small Dollar Loan Program. Build or repair credit and practice successful, small loan management as you boost your credit rating. Interested? Sign up for a class - offered year-round, both online and in-person!

4. Don’t criticize.

Let’s say you and your partner have created a budget together. What happens when someone overspends? First, stay calm. Instead of criticizing their mistake (“You spent HOW much on a stupid fitness tracker?!”), remind them of your plan and open the door to conversation. For example, a better way to begin might be: “I thought we agreed to talk about purchases over $200. What happened?” Talking through a spending oversight is more productive than accusing or belittling, which is never helpful.

5. Re-visit and re-evaluate your plan.

Money-focused conversations aren’t just a one-time thing. Life sometimes changes unexpectedly (jobs, salaries, market fluctuations, personal situations, etc.), so having regular, ongoing conversations about your finances is important. Consider reviewing your budget on a yearly basis—this provides an opportunity to discuss earning and spending changes as well as evaluate savings goals.

Don’t wait for a financial crisis to talk with your partner about money. Making sure you are both on the same page about finances is key in maintaining a healthy relationship. Need help getting started? Contact Heartland Bank today!

This content is for informational purposes only. Readers should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific advice from their own counsel.