How to Have the “Money Talk” with your Partner
Louisiana consumers aren’t discussing money with their significant others before uniting lives and bank accounts.
According to a credit union consumer survey, about 55 percent of respondents think couples should combine at least some financial accounts and bills once they’re married. Another 37 percent think married people should share all finances.
However, about 51 percent of respondents who were married or engaged said they didn’t take time to discuss a financial plan with their future spouse before saying “I do.”
According to an American Express Spending and Saving Tracker poll, 66 percent of American couples pay all their monthly expenses together and most maintain joint ownership of at least some household accounts.
But only 43 percent of American couples talked about financial plans before they combined finances. In fact, 91 percent of Americans said they actively found reasons to avoid discussing money with their partners.
A Money Magazine poll found four out of five spouses believe they’re on the same page as their partner when It comes to money – but 22 percent of husbands and wives have spent money they didn’t want their partner to know about.
Even though they’re not communicating about money, couples are stressing about it. According to Money Magazine, 70 percent of couples report fighting over money. About 30 percent of respondents in the American Express survey said finances caused the most stress in their relationship.
A Utah State University study found that couples who reported disagreeing about money at least once a week were more than 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times a month.
Mark Littleton, president and CEO a Credit Union in Columbus, said he understands coordinating finances can become challenging for couples.
“It’s difficult enough for a single person to keep on top of budgeting, spending and paying bills,” Littleton said. “Finances become that much more challenging for married couples. How are we going to spend our paychecks? Who is going to be responsible for paying what bills? How do we budget together?”
Littleton suggested couples set aside time to talk about money before tying the knot. “Bills and spending might not seem like romantic topics,” he said. “But if you’re heading toward a life-long commitment, finances will become a part of your relationship whether you talk about them or not. You’ll need to pay the bill for the electricity you shared. And furnishing the home you own together will cost money. It’s important to get on the same page about how you’ll treat finances as a couple.”
Littleton said couples shouldn’t feel ashamed if splitting finances causes arguments from time to time.
“There are a lot of moving parts and emotions involved in making money work in any two peoples’ lives, so it’s natural for couples to disagree about how their finances should look sometimes,” he said. “As long as you and your partner keep talking through your finances, you’re on the right path.”
Tips for Having a Healthy Financial Discussion with Your Significant Other:
· Don’t wait until it’s already an issue. Try to talk with your significant other about any possible financial sticking points before they become a problem. Emotions will be lower, creating conditions more conducive for a constructive conversation than a fight.
· Keep emotions at bay. Money is an emotional topic. Most people have opinions about what they earn, spend and save – and it can be difficult to see another point of view. Try to stick to the facts of the topic with your husband or wife and be prepared for his or her emotional response. Be sure to acknowledge how the topic makes him or her feel and to explain how you it makes you feel. Remember that if you both remain calm, you’ll be able to reach a resolution more effectively.
· Ask for your partners’ input. You may feel confident you know the best way to handle your household’s money, but it’s important to remember your finances are now a team effort. Ask for your partners’ input even if he or she isn’t volunteering it. Your significant other might have a point of view you hadn’t considered – and it’s important that you both feel a valuable part of your homes’ finances.
· Don’t lie or hide anything. Open up completely about whatever financial topic you’re discussing with your significant other. Don’t try to hide purchases or lie about financial mistakes you’ve made. The more transparent you are, the more both your finances will benefit.
· Get help. Credit unions are member-owned and are dedicated solely to service. They can provide expert advice for couples whether they’re just starting out or need to get on better financial footing.
If you and your partner still struggle to find common ground, or if you are unsure about your combined financial future, consider getting some financial counseling together. Many credit unions offer financial counseling, and POECU members can receive it for free with our certified financial counselor.
We value our members’ financial health, so if you and your partner are having money problems (whether big or small), don’t hesitate to make a financial counseling appointment! You do not have to figure it all out on your own.