How to create a healthy financial relationship with your S.O.
Most married people argue about money at some point. Whether struggling to pay bills or disagreeing on where to save and where to splurge, almost every couple faces an economic crossroads. It’s inevitable when you think about it: We come into the relationship with our own set of values based on how we were raised, our beliefs, spending habits, triggers, desires and goals—and our partner arrives with likely an entirely different set of practices and expectations. Yet, we avoid talking about it until it all comes to a head.
In any case, you can’t stay financially blind in your relationship and simply hope for the best. Whatever stage you’re at—long-term dating, newly married or celebrating a milestone anniversary—the following five strategies can help you get on the same page and achieve budgetary peace with your other half.
1. Have the talk.
Some things to discuss: Do you consider yourself a saver or a spender? How were your parents with money and what did you learn from them? How do you want your kids to deal with their finances and are you setting the right example? Think of money like an iceberg: What we see (the tip) is how we spend it, but we don’t see all of the factors beneath the surface that drive our spending behaviours.
2. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
If you have bad news (say, large debts), honesty is the way to go. White lies and innocent omissions can break couples up—even sneaking in with a purchase and pretending you’ve always had it. It’s like cheating on your partner with your credit card; you’re committing monetary infidelity, and the truth always comes out in the end.
3. Agree to a system that works for both of you.
This could be pooling everything together or having individual accounts for personal spending, plus a joint account for shared expenses. Whatever you decide, both parties should be aware of what’s going in and what’s coming out. Furthermore, the arrangement must be equitable; a 50-50 approach might feel unfair for a person who earns much less than his or her partner.
4. Set goals.
Outline and agree upon what you’d like to save for—properties, retirement, your children’s education—but don’t forget to have fun, too. Give yourselves an allowance for some guilt-free spending so you’re not feeling the stress of constraint.
5. If you're stuck, get help.
This is an important step many couples miss; don’t wait to figure out your finances through a divorce lawyer. When your money issues are causing relationship stress, contact a nonprofit credit counsellor for free, unbiased and confidential information and options.