Image of a couple holding a piggy bank having a discussion about finances.

When a couple first begins a relationship, they usually talk about a lot of things in an effort to get to know each other. One of the most difficult discussions to begin is a discussion about each other's finances. We have provided you with some tips below to help you begin an open dialogue with your partner.

Understand your partner's financial personality

  • Different people have different spending habits and goals. Be honest and open about your finances with your partner.
  • Keep an open mind with each other and be willing to compromise.
  • Discuss any financial issues that you're dealing with, including debt, taxes, or an inheritance.

Don't avoid talking about financial issues

  • Set time aside each month, like when it's time to pay the bills, to discuss your financial situations together.
  • If a financial problem arises, tell your partner. Explain the situation. Hiding from the problem will only make things worse.

Handle your finances together

  • Have a good understanding of your partner's income and obligations.

Create a realistic budget

  • Sit down together and list all of your income and expenses.
  • Journalize your spending and swap journals once a week. Help each other find ways to minimize waste.
  • Create a budget that allows you to split the household expenses and any other expenses that you share. Decide how much goes into savings, how much to set aside for expenses, and how much to leave available to spend. Click here to learn more about creating a household budget.
  • Make sure to allow a certain amount of discretionary spending for each partner.
  • Whether you pool your income or keep it separate, make sure your budget allows you to save.
  • Talk about how you plan to make financial decisions as a couple.
  • Continue to pursue personal goals such as your education, a vacation you've been planning for a long time, or hitting savings goals.
  • Set some financial goals together. Team up and make a game plan. Make it a point to discuss long-term goals that you'd like to accomplish, either individually or together. Do you want to travel, buy a house, or retire early? Begin planning the things you would like to achieve and decide what you need to do in order to meet these goals. This is a good way to learn about your partner's financial habits, as well as give yourselves an opportunity to accomplish goals together.

When one partner has a lot of debt

Talk About It!

  • Do not keep it from your partner. It will be much easier to discuss now, rather than letting it get in the way of your plans later on.
  • Discuss your entire financial situation: debt, savings, investments, etc.
  • Swap credit reports
  • In community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), all debts incurred during a marriage are considered joint debts, even if a spouse applies for credit on his or her own. If a husband defaults on an auto loan, for example, the lending company can compel the wife to pay.

Talk About Your Goals

  • Discuss individual goals and the goals you want to accomplish together.
  • Make debt reduction a priority. Your partner may be willing to pitch in.
  • Talk about how you plan to make financial decisions as a couple.
  • Construct a joint budget
  • Allow a certain amount of discretionary spending for each partner.
  • Continue to pursue personal goals such as your education, a vacation you've been planning for a long time, or hitting savings goals.

Keep Emotion Away from the Money!

  • Remember, it's only money. There is no need to let money issues affect your relationship in a negative way.
  • Avoid making money a control issue. Do not expect to "reform" your partner's habits. Most people will make changes that are beneficial to the couple's financial situation, but bad habits die hard. Make sure to avoid getting into a situation where one partner feels like the other is ordering them around.
  • The one thing that can make a relationship successful is communication between partners. Although we are accustomed to communicating about things like how we treat each other, how we feel, and what we have in common, too often we do not think about bringing up our finances. We are not suggesting that you trade credit reports on your first date, but as the relationship progresses, a discussion about money will become very important. So, when the time is right, have that discussion. It will be good for you and your relationship.

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