How to Talk to Your Partner About Money

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When I first met my husband I remember noticing several things about him.  He was handsome, clever and our entire group at the restaurant seemed to laugh at everything he said.  I liked him instantly.  I didn’t care if he had any money or a job.  Luckily he did.  Today is our 9 year anniversary and he is wonderful partner.  While I didn’t care about how well we matched financially at the time, money plays a big part in a marriage.  Here are some of my tips for couples who may not be match made in heaven when it comes to money.

Theirs, Mine and Ours

I was 29 when I got married which means I had spent close to a decade handling my finances on my own.  He had been living alone for even longer.  While it might work well for some couples to combine their finances when they marry it would have caused nothing but problems for us.  Why?  We were both independent when we met and that became part of who we are.  Do I spend like crazy? No.  Could I spend less on my hair color and cuts?  Oh hell yes, but I don’t need my man telling me that.

While we do have a joint account for our bills and children we don’t share it all.  This keeps us from bickering when we don’t think each others purchases are that great.  As long as the bills are paid and we are saving some money I don’t care how many pairs of Nikes he owns (even if 1/2 are collecting dust in the attic).

Even if one spouse works and the other doesn’t I still think it is important for each person to have some money they can freely spend without judgement.  Cutting off someone’s access to money is controlling and a good way to start a war in your house. Your marriage shouldn’t read like a chapter from The Handmaid’s Tale.  As long as everyone is pitching in there should be a little freedom when it comes to spending.

Talk to Your Partner About Money

Our society is so messed up when it comes to money.   Some people don’t even know how much money their partner makes.  This is not good for a relationship since just about every goal we have in life requires money.  One way to start talking about money is to open up to your partner about your own situation and feelings when it comes to your finances.

If you would love to travel the world someday or own a farmhouse with a wrap-around porch tell your partner.  If they feel the same it is your opportunity to discuss a plan to get there. When you share the same goals it makes talking about money less intimidating.

Maybe you have a lot of debt and talking about money is depressing.  That doesn’t mean you can avoid it forever.  Working with someone can be a very powerful – even if that means getting your net worth above zero.  I work hard to accomplish my own goals but I will move mountains if it means helping my partner, friends or child see theirs.  Don’t keep things from someone on your team.  They might have more faith in you than you realize.  Choose to be a power couple instead.

I Swear It Happened Before We Met

Our beliefs about money start before we can count to ten.  There is no right or wrong way to think about money and we all have different experiences that start in childhood.  Maybe your partner was spoiled rotten and feels like they deserve the finer things in life.  Or maybe they didn’t have money growing up and do strange shopping bans to prove to themself that they don’t need things to be happy.

Don’t get mad at your partner if they feel differently about money than you do.  Their ideas about money started forming long before you met.  Best thing you can do is acknowledge how they feel and work on your own issues.

People who love to save can annoy the hell out of “spenders” because they don’t appear to know how to have any fun.  Spenders can drive “savers” crazy because they only care about instant gratification.  Two savers can miss out on a world of opportunity before they realize you can’t take it with you.  Two spenders might end up with major financial problems because they didn’t bother to save for a rainy day.  There is no perfect combination – you just have to try to find some middle ground.  It’s worth it if you love them.

Does money come up at the dinner table or do you avoid talking about it at all costs? The more you talk about it, the less uncomfortable it gets.  If you have been in a relationship for a long time what are your tips for couples?  Let me know in the comments! 

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One comment

  1. I totally agree with you, Misty, that the more you talk about money, the easier it is. My husband and I have been together for nearly 29 years and thankfully it has always been pretty easy for us to talk about money – although there have been easier and less easier times. I tend to be more of the saver and he more of the spender. But really, we’re both pretty close to the middle without being extreme. When he spends on things that I would never consider – and which get my saver genes all tensed up – I try to put myself in his shoes to figure out what his motivation is. Usually, it’s for the kids or the family – not for himself. His spending comes from the heart and the desire to create memories and experiences for the family.
    Or he spends money on things that save time, like a prepared salad that he picks up on his way to work.
    Focusing on gratitude for everything my husband brings to the family is really helpful. He loves to fix things around the house. So what he spends on salads, I’m sure we save many times over on the handyman work he does on the home and garden.

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