We’ve all been there. You’re tired from a long day of work, you come home to spend an hour cooking dinner, and you sit down at the table with your partner. The last thing you want to talk about is your money problems, but they come up anyway. Before you know it, you’re in a full-blown argument about paying the bills and how much you spend eating out. What’s the secret to learning to navigate shared financials with your partner? I don’t have a perfect quick fix for this prevalent problem, but I do have a few tips and tricks that my husband and I have learned along the way.
Learn about your partner’s financial history
Let’s start at the very beginning. How did each of you grow up? How did your parents approach money? Did they teach you any concepts along the way? When my husband and I first got married, we had to share with each other how our upbringing had affected our view of money. Whether you grew up barely making ends meet, or with plenty to go around, the way your parents handled the money you did or didn’t have makes a huge impact on the way you handle your money today. Many of us have stress and anxiety over financial conversations, and this can contribute to heated arguments and high tensions. Understanding why you are the way you are can be essential to having a healthy relationship with your partner.
Build a budget together
Part of any healthy financial plan involves building a budget. Budgeting doesn't have to be rocket science! Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a solid budget:
List out all your income sources and their amounts
List out all your predictable expenses (things like rent, WiFi, and phone bills)
List out all your more variable expenses (things like eating out, clothing, and entertainment spending)
Ensure that your income is over and above your expenses (if not, you might need to cut down on spending where you can!)
Use your excess income to save and invest!
Use a method that works for you to track your spending (this might be a spreadsheet, an app, or a whiteboard on your fridge)
After you’ve developed this financial roadmap, it’s time to track your progress and continue the conversation.
Set a designated time to talk about finances
If you and your partner ever struggle with having productive financial conversations, this tip might be just for you.
One of the best things you can do for your relationship in regard to having healthy financial conversations is to set a designated time to talk about your finances. When my husband and I first got married, we set up a “taco Tuesday” night to talk about our finances over dinner. This gave us the ability to come to the table prepared to talk about issues or questions we had with our financial situation.
Don’t go silent
You’ve probably heard this before, but communication is the foundation for any healthy relationship. If there’s ever an issue between you and your partner, the best thing you could do is talk it out. Continue trying to have healthy conversations about your finances and eventually, it will get easier and easier to bring these things up without strife and stress.
Couples therapy can be a great space to hash out your financial issues and make a good plan for your communication. Whatever you do, don’t push your money issues under the rug and gloss over them in favor of “ignorance is bliss.”
All relationships have their issues, and financial differences can be a huge point of contention for many couples. But, financial problems don’t have to ruin our relationships. These things can be worked through, with the right approach. Take these tips to heart and put them into practice and you’ll see a huge difference in the way you split financials with your partner!