When you’re in the beginning stages of a relationship, there’s still a lot you don’t know about the person you’re seeing. He or she might have a strong aversion to shellfish or might play the harp. He or she might be thousands of dollars in debt and not making any effort to get out of it. While some surprises can be pleasant, others, like discovering all the financial skeletons in a partner’s closet, aren’t. Conversations about money can be a bit awkward but they are a must if you and your partner want to keep working towards happily ever after. A 2013 study from Kansas State University revealed that disagreements about money were a leading predictor of divorce, meaning that the sooner you and your partner are open with each other about your finances, the better off you’ll both be.
Get on the Same Page, Goal Wise
Having conversations about money can help you and your partner work towards the same financial goals, or at the very least, help you each understand what each other’s goals are. For example, if you have a considerable amount of credit card debt, you might be focused on paying it off. If your partner doesn’t know about the debt, he or she might regularly encourage you to go out to dinner or spend more money on things you can’t afford right now. Telling your partner not only about the debt, but also about your goal to pay off it and how you’re working towards doing so, will help you avoid arguments in the future. If a person doesn’t want to help you reach your financial goal or continues to try to get you to spend money on frivolous things, you’ll have a clear sign that the relationship is headed nowhere, fast.
Drop the Financial Baggage
Whether you have a lot of debt, own a home in full, or have a healthy retirement account, you are probably bringing some amount of financial baggage into your relationship. Once you let your partner know about your financial secret, whether it’s a good secret or not, it will feel as though a weight’s been lifted off of your shoulders. In relationships, honesty is the best policy, and that includes when it comes to talking about money.
Bringing up the Topic
You might be wondering how bring up the topic of money and when to bring it up. While there’s no need to reveal your student loan debt story or your credit score to a person on the first, or even second and third date, there will most likely come a time when that information becomes something he or she needs to know. Usually, a turning point in the relationship, such as deciding to move in together or deciding to otherwise step up the seriousness, is an ideal time for the money chat.
Try to make it as casual as possible, such as over drinks or dinner at home. One way to do the big reveal is for each of you to type up your details and hand it to the other. Ask each other questions about the numbers, but agree that you won’t accuse or judge each other.
If you’re really uncomfortable with the idea of having the money talk on your own, remember that you can always enlist the help of a financial counselor. A counselor can help you and your partner get on the same page and help you avoid arguments about how you each spent money in the past or about how you plan to spend it in the future.
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