If you take a look at your Facebook friends list, you’ll see hundreds of people in different stages of relationships. From the happy bachelors, to the new couple, the people head over heels in love and the couples celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. No matter what your relationship status, there is one topic that is bound to create some challenges: money.
Cornering your date on the first meeting and demanding to see their bank balance is probably a little too forward. But it is important that you don’t wait until after you have settled down to discuss money.
Here is the why, when and how to talk finance at each stage of your relationship.
Why you should notice the numbers
Money is one of the most important influences on relationships — with nine in 10 people believing financial problems are likely to push a relationship apart.
We need to remember we all have different upbringings, experiences, expectations and financial values. These are often different to those belonging to our partner: if a ‘spender’ and ‘saver’ find themselves matched there may be some cross words if financial discussions haven’t been had and processes agreed on.
Money can tear relationships apart…so be careful!
Talking finances can result in a happier, healthier relationship
While “life admin” may not be the sexiest thing in the world, studies show talking finance as a couple sets clear goals and helps clarify financial values, dreams and aspirations.
Money issues can be a source of stress, but working together to keep life admin, like finances and life insurance, in-check can reduce conflict and stress — significantly improving relationship health.
When and how to talk finance, no matter what stage of your relationship
The new relationship
It may be awkward to talk about money in a newer relationship, but this shouldn’t stop you. Transparency is key during the first few months and honesty about your spending style will save you difficult discussions later down the line.
I would recommend asking:
- What does money mean to your partner?
- What worries your partner about their finances? This can be a current issue or a future thought
- If your partner a spender or a saver?
- What are your partner’s financial goals?
- How important to your partner is having emergency savings and paying off debt?
- Would your partner want a joint financial account? Have they done this in the past with previous relationships?
Now I becomes We…
The nesting period
This is where “I” becomes “We”. You’re nesting and deeply in love, but don’t become complacent.
During this phase couples often begin to merge finances. To increase financial harmony and reduce conflict, it is important you communicate financial expectations, create a budget and set mutual financial goals.
Think about what policies are contributing to the creation of a solid relationship (like life insurance) and what bills are placing undue stress (perhaps unexpected high electricity bills).
In the nesting period, you can ask:
- What are your, and your partner’s, financial roles in the relationship?
- What are your, and your partner’s, financial concerns?
- Will the finances be merged? If so how much will you each be contributing and how will you negotiate spending and saving?
And you’ve finally hit the jackpot!
The established couple
You’ve been with each other through thick and thin, a true team that’s locked in for the long-term.
Once you’ve reached this stage, you should be thinking about your mutual financial goals and long-term financial planning. Making sure your partner’s long term financial needs are taken care of will reduce stress and show’s that you’ll take care of them if something was to happen.
Katia Loisel is an internationally renowned dating and relationships expert.