Money & Career

Money talk: How to handle the big money conversation with your significant other

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

Money talk: How to handle the big money conversation with your significant other

Don't worry. You don't need to do it on the first date, or even the tenth. What you each do with your money won't become a big issue until it's clear that you are committed to a future together. But as soon as you're in a serious relationship and are talking about sharing your future, it's time to talk about money, too.
 
So, how do you bring it up?
 
There are several ways to broach the topic. Maybe you've got something you're saving for together, whether it's your wedding or just a romantic vacation. As you make your plans, you can use it as an opportunity to talk about some of your other goals and even create a spending plan together. If you have some money saved up, you could suggest that you move that into a joint high-interest savings account and that you both put a set amount into the account each month so that you'll have the money for something you both want—or just to keep as an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
 
Or, if you're talking about moving in together, expand the conversation about how to split bills and expenses to include talking about setting money aside for your future goals too. That is a great way to start figuring out how you can work together to manage your money and achieve your goals.
 
Or try the reverse. Ask him if you can spend some time tonight or this weekend talking about your plans for the future. Trying to figure out how you can reach those goals together is a natural way to ease into a more detailed discussion on money. And it will help keep you focused on building a future together, rather than dwelling on any differences you may have in your finances now.
 
You might feel comfortable just talking generally about your hopes and dreams, and any financial concerns you have. Then you can get into the nitty- gritty details of your finances in the follow- up discussions.
 
As you prepare for that first conversation, keep these tips in mind:
 
Choose a comfortable setting. If you live together, think of the place where you both feel most relaxed outside of the bedroom. (We don't want you falling asleep!) Maybe you enjoy cozying up on the living room couch or sitting together at the kitchen table. If you're the one who is initiating the discussion and you don't live together, suggest having it at his apartment— assuming he doesn’t have any roommates or that they'll be out— so that he feels at ease in his surroundings.

Page 1 of 2 - find more money talk tips on page 2.




Excerpted from The Smart Cookies' Guide to Couples and Money by The Smart Cookies with Jennifer Barrett. Copyright 2010 by The Smart Cookies with Jennifer Barrett.

Excerpted by permission of Random House of Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Cut out the distractions. Make sure the TV is off. Put away your cellphones and turn off the ringer on the home phone. Make sure your partner won't be focused on other things. If he's a huge hockey fan, for example, the week of the Stanley Cup finals may not be the best time to have this conversation. You don't want to have this discussion over dinner, when you might be focused on food, but rather after the dishes and table have been cleared and cleaned. You may want to share some wine, though, as you talk. (As long as it's not too much wine— you do want to remember this conversation after all.)
 
Agree together on a time. You don't want to bring this up in the morning before work or right before you head out for an evening, but ensure that you've allotted plenty of time so you don't feel rushed. Nor is it wise to initiate the conversation after he comes home with a big-screen TV and you're livid— just as it wouldn't be a great time for him to launch into the conversation about how careless you are with your money when you've returned from a shoe sale with bags in hand. You want to make sure that neither of you is angry or upset when you start the discussion so that, hopefully, you won't be at the end either.
 
Remember that you’re on the same side. Don't point fingers. Don't get defensive. And try not to rush to judgment. Remember, you want to tackle any financial problems you have as a team. It's important that you offer each other support and encouragement as you share the details of your finances and then look for ways you can help each other, rather than making the other person feel bad about spending too much, saving too little, or not earning enough. Focus on the future, and what you can each do now, rather than on what's happened in the past.
 
Give a little to get a little. If you volunteer your own fears or feelings about a financial issue, your partner may feel more comfortable doing the same. Be candid about past mistakes— or even current ones—and about any concerns you have, and encourage your partner to do the same. It's not just about coming up with an arrangement that works for both of you, but understanding why it works for both of you. By being honest about your feelings now, you can prevent either a lot of anger or resentment later on. But you must also be willing to make the changes necessary to address any concerns your partner has and to improve your finances so that you’re each doing your part.
 
Stay positive . Instead of talking about all of the things you think the other person is doing wrong and how misdirected you might be, talk about what you are both doing right and how you can get to your goals even faster by working together. Identify each other's strengths, and use those to figure out how to divvy up your financial responsibilities. Talk generally about the goals that you share and how you can achieve them.

Page 2 of 2



Excerpted from The Smart Cookies' Guide to Couples and Money by The Smart Cookies with Jennifer Barrett. Copyright 2010 by The Smart Cookies with Jennifer Barrett.

Excerpted by permission of Random House of Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Money talk: How to handle the big money conversation with your significant other

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