That’s probably not news to you. Most of us know all too well the tension that can come from conversations about money. One partner wants to overspend, another wants to save everything, and each blames the other. Or perhaps it’s hard to make ends meet, and the stress gets taken out on the relationship.
With such a touchy topic, is it even possible to talk about finances in a healthy way, without unnecessary tension? Of course!
Today we’re sharing six top tips for how to have a productive conversation about money with your romantic partner. (And you might be surprised to find that these conversations can actually bring you closer together!)
Tip #1: Find a relaxing environment for the conversation.
A great way to naturally relieve stress is to carefully choose where to have the hard conversations. You could turn your money talks into dates at your favorite breakfast spot or coffee house, or you could treat yourself to an adventure after the conversation. Make sure to plan your talks ahead of time so you both have time to mentally prepare, instead of springing the conversation on your partner.
Tip #2: Choose your words wisely.
With all the stress surrounding money issues, it’s easy to lay the blame on your partner. “If you’d only get your spending in control…” “You never let me spend anything.” “You’re stressing me out!”
Here are a few tips to help guide the conversation:
- Avoid “always” and “never” statements. They’re never true (pun intended) and usually put your partner on the defensive. Instead, bring up specific situations that you want to talk about and have a discussion.
- Avoid blaming. This is something you’re working on together. Rather than place blame on each other, use this as an opportunity to learn from one another.
- Use “I” statements. Own your feelings and communicate them fully. For example: “When you bought the new TV, I felt very worried that we wouldn’t have enough to cover our loan payments that month.” Instead of: “I can’t believe you bought that new TV! If I seem stressed out, it’s all because of you!”
- Watch your tone of voice. Sometimes that means taking a breath and counting to ten until your anger subsides a little, so you can speak rationally instead of from a place of stress.
Tip #3: Seek to understand your partner.
This is a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to your partner, because money struggles often come from different people having different life priorities. That means you can learn about your partner’s deepest life priorities, find ways to better budget for these priorities, and in effect, get to know him or her better!
Take turns sharing your financial goals and priorities, and genuinely listen to the other person share. See if you can find some common ground and a place of healthy compromise. It may take a few conversations to get there, but that’s okay—because part of having a healthy conversation about finances means having regular conversations, regular check-ins.
Tip #4: Make it a regular thing.
Talking about money isn’t a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing process. Our finances and goals are ever evolving, and we are always changing as people. So here are some ways you could use regular check-ins to touch base about finances:
- Go over your budget together once a month to see how you’re doing.
- Set short-term and long-term financial goals every few months.
- Decide how to divvy up spending money. Is it all shared? Does each person get a specific amount?
- Read some money management articles together and talk about them.
- Create and talk about the items on a dream board.
Tip #5: Learn, learn, learn.
Instead of trying to figure it out all by yourselves, learn from people who are experts in the field. Glean money management (and communication) tips and try them out. Keep the ones that work for you and ditch the ones that don’t.
Speaking of experts in the field, if you want to read more about money management and budgeting, here are a few helpful articles we’ve put together for you:
- How Do You Create a Budget and Stick to It?
- 3 Types of Budgets
- A Guide to Paying Down Your Debt
- Avoiding 5 Common Budgeting Pitfalls
Tip #6: Decide who will do what.
Does one person enjoy tracking the expenses? Does another person enjoy paying the bills? Having someone take responsibility for each part of the finances helps ensure that it will get done without unnecessary confusion.
At the end of the day, you need to find what works for you. Each couple will approach finances a little differently, and that’s okay. After all, variety is the spice of life. But we hope these six tips will not only make these conversations a little easier, but will also help them bring you closer together as a couple.