Money and relationships: Here Are Six Conversations Couples Should be Having About Money Right Now

Money and relationships: Here Are Six Conversations Couples Should be Having About Money Right Now

Given that our culture can seem entirely focused on money, it can feel strange how hard it is to actually have a productive conversation about it. That can be especially true of romantic partners—which isn’t great, because they’re likely the people you most need to talk about money with. 

One study in the journal Family Relations found that arguing about money early on in a marriage is the number one predictor of divorce. But you probably don’t need an academic paper to know talking about this stuff can be fraught—everyone has their own incredibly personal relationship to money and how spend, influenced by both practical constraints—your job, your income, the things you need to buy day in and day out—and more nebulous emotional factors like how our parents spent. 

Now, of course, the pandemic has meant many people have lost jobs or needed to make expensive changes to their living situation. Even for the continuously-employed, the future is murkier than ever. It’s time to have some uncomfortable conversions with your S.O. to get on the same page about money. 

But while trying to bring two people with different attitudes about money together to spend as a unit is difficult, it doesn’t have to be impossible. I spoke with Tiffany Aliche, a financial educator and the founder of The Budgetnista about what couples should be doing, what numbers they should be sharing, and six questions to help frame conversations around finances in a productive way. 

1. What Are Our Goals? 

Aliche points out that the easiest—and most enjoyable—entry point for financial discussions is goals. Ask your partner what they’d eventually like to spend money on. This doesn’t have to be a hard-core super serious conversation with timelines and budgets. It’s meant to take your partner’s temperature on what they’re interested in saving for and what they care about financially. Are they thinking of going back to school? Do they want to buy a house? Pay off a credit card? Take a trip to Bali when that’s a thing you can do? Not every money discussion should be painful; dip your toe in with a little bit of mutual dreaming.

2. What Do We Agree On? 

While Aliche is a super saver, her husband was not, and one way that she started to resolve that tension was finding common ground—things they both agreed were important to save for. For them, that was his daughter’s education and going on vacations—they both agreed those were worth saving for. So if he was thinking of making a big car purchase, Aliche might bring up that the money might be better put in his daughter’s college fund. Having established this common ground through what Aliche calls “non-fight conversations” provided a framework to resolve harder conversations later on. 

3. What Should We Combine? 

Aliche cautions couples against combining all of their finances. She suggests being especially careful about combining everything if you’re not married, since marriage offers certain legal protections, but even then suggests that it’s good to keep certain money separate. She and her husband have their own checking and savings accounts, as well as a joint checking account for bills and a joint savings account for big things—vacations, their wedding. 

To copy this model, a first step is to agree upon how much each person is putting in to the joint accounts. Some people split things 50/50, but many couples contribute to joint accounts at the same ratio as their income. So if someone is earning twice as much, they put in twice as much to the shared checking and savings.

Source : Sophia Benoit Link

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