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How to Talk Money With Your Partner

Updated: Jan 19

You: Hey love, I have something we need to talk through.

Them: Oh, that doesn’t sound good.

You: Nothing bad, just want to chat about money.

Them: 👋 [exits room]


Money talks may not be the most romantic form of communication a couple can have, but they are undoubtedly crucial for a healthy relationship. Whether or not you’re married, discussing finances with a significant other can have a powerful impact on your current situation AND your shared future.


Why it Matters: The Currency of Trust

In any relationship, trust is the currency that keeps it thriving. Financial matters, whether we like it or not, are a big part of the trust equation. Being open about money sets the stage for a stronger bond and ensures everyone is on the same page.


Infusing Joy into Money Conversations

One of the themes I’m working on during 2024 is adding more fun! A great way to add pizazz to your money conversations is by making it a date night. Set the scene… are you at home on a fuzzy blanket with candles on the end table? Are you at a wine bar sipping some of your favorite Sauv Blanc? Are you hiking, and you stop for a snack while you take in a view? 


a female couple standing on a bridge watching the sun set

This requires a little planning, but if you decide on some money conversation starters (listed below), you can be in a date night-esque space that makes you happy while talking about your finances. It’s a win-win!


Is it Time to Talk Money With Your Partner?

Initiating a money talk might feel like walking the plank, but it doesn't have to. Start by acknowledging that this conversation is important and requires a judgment-free zone (make sure you pinky promise to this).


two people interlocking fingers

The “we need to talk” style of communication demonstrated at the beginning of this blog is often a communication trigger, so here are a few other options to get the conversation around finances started:


  • When you think about money, what comes to mind?

  • What is your preferred way of discussing financial matters?

  • Have you read any books about money you think I’d like?

  • Do you consider yourself a spender or a saver?

  • What’s your favorite thing to spend money on?

  • When you envision retirement, what does that look like?

  • What were your parents'/guardians’ attitudes towards money when you were growing up?


Everyone’s experiences are different

As with everything in life, your money experience is going to be different than your partner’s. If you try to broach the money conversation and notice heavy resistance, anger, or them shutting down, you may want to have a third-party professional involved. Did you know that Financial Therapists are a thing? According to NerdWallet, “Financial therapy is therapy that combines behavioral therapy and financial coaching to help improve your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around money.” If you’d like to find a Financial Therpist, you can check their national organization’s website, The Financial Therapy Association. The point being… you’ll have to navigate whether the hesitation to talk about money stems from a place that needs professional help or if it needs a safe space and a gentle invitation.


Everyone’s values are different

When you’re having these discussions, actively listen for clues about their values. Do they talk a lot about experiences? Or things? Do they mention the aesthetics of their environment? Or are their surroundings not important? Do they like to be on the cutting edge of technology? Or are they yet to get an Apple Watch?

a picture of a gray couch with yellow pillows and a soft blanket

One of the best money conversations my husband and I had was about our home furnishings. I have a strong desire for my environment to be decorated in a way that is clutter-free, cozy, and with splashes of color. He puts next to zero value on that–so when I put together a PowerPoint presentation about why we had to get a custom couch, he was confused. I wanted to spend money on our environment. He did not. This is where compromise comes into play.


Elevating the Conversation

If you’re starting to feel comfortable with money conversations, here are a few prompts to dig a little deeper:

  • What do you consider ‘enough’ money?

  • What is your greatest financial fear?

  • What are some of your short-term or long-term financial goals?

  • What would you do if you won $1,000,000?

  • What is your biggest financial regret?

  • Is there a certain amount of money you're comfortable spending without discussing it with me?


Not Holding Back

If you’re like me, sometimes you want to push conversations out of the comfort zone. If you’re ready for that, try these:

  • Is there anything related to money that keeps you up at night?

  • Have you thought about how we would handle a financial emergency?

  • Were there any significant financial experiences in your past that shaped your views on money?


Regular Check-Ins: Keeping the Conversation Alive

Once you've opened the door to financial conversations, keep it propped open. Regularly broach the subject in order to normalize the topic. After you get comfortable, you can dive into the nitty gritty and even make those money date nights a recurring activity.


Getting Into the Nitty Gritty

When it’s time, you’ll want to move into full financial disclosure. This is where everyone puts their financial past & present on the table. This may take some individual investigative work, but it’s worth it!


Each person tries to find the following information:

Credit Score

Total Debts

General Savings

Monthly Income

Monthly spending


Credit Score

You can typically find this information from your credit card company or bank. 


By knowing this number, it will help you make better decisions as a couple. The big takeaway here is the higher your credit score, the better interest rates & terms lending institutions will give you.


Debts

It’s important to know how much debt each person is bringing into the relationship. Will you be paying them off together? Is each person responsible for their own? 


I find that debt awareness is one of the most important steps someone can take to improve their financial picture. 

Aside from a mortgage, make sure you think about vehicle loans, personal loans, student loans, and credit card balances.


General Savings

When was the last time you took an inventory of what you have in savings? This may be the perfect reason. Sometimes, people leave an abundance of money in savings just because they don’t know what else to do with it. You can have some fun convos with this one!


Monthly Income

I said you’re going to be putting it all out there…

Monthly income includes paychecks, self-employed income, side hustle inflow streams, commissions, bonuses, etc. (well, maybe not the money in your piggy bank).


Monthly Spending

Having an idea of how much money you spend individually and as a couple on a monthly basis helps guide a lot of decisions.


A few additional things you can discuss if you’re committing to each other as life partners: insurance, retirement accounts, large assets, and prenups. You know, the usual Friday afternoon chit-chat.


The Bottom Line

Remember, talking money with your partner can be very rewarding. Embracing the topic with openness and honesty can lead to a stronger, more resilient partnership. So, take a deep breath and start the conversation that will shape your financial future together.


Here's to you,

Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money Coach | Accredited Financial Counselor®

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