Here's Why Experts Agree Having the "Money Talk" Early in Your Relationship Is So Important
There's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to couples and money. It's a deeply personal topic, and many people's beliefs around saving and spending their money will vary based on both cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, we spoke with three experts who all agree that the sooner you have the conversation, the better off you both will be. Even though it might feel strange to start discussing finances when you're a newly-minted couple, it's important for the overall health of your budding relationship.
First Date Convo
According to Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet, not even your first date is too soon to start having conversations about money, but that doesn't mean you have to talk salaries before the salads have even arrived. "Even before asking financial questions, you can pick up clues about the other person's money habits by noticing the kind of restaurant they choose to go to or activities they enjoy," Palmer explains. "If they seem like a big spender while you're more frugal, then that could create tension that you need to address early on in the relationship." Of course, dating your financial opposite is not necessarily a bad thing. Palmer believes that it can lead to helpful conversations that cause each partner to adjust become more in line with one another.
Why It Matters
If you and your partner have been together for a while or plan to get married, your lives and goals are most likely intertwined, according to Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner with the personal finance company SoFi, which means it's time to plan for your financial future. To do this, you and your partner need to have a thorough understanding of your financial situations. "While being married doesn't mean you have to share absolutely every detail about your lives with each other, when it comes to money, there are some basics that should be covered," she says.
A great first step should be to present each other with your basic financial information. That should include how much you earn and the sources of that income. It's also important to disclose any debts including student loans, credit cards, and car or mortgage payments you have in your name. Last but not least, be ready to discuss your spending habits, how much you have saved, where you save it, and how you manage your money. For example, are you a consummate saver who loves to max out their retirement savings, or do you have trouble setting aside even a few hundred dollars for a rainy day? With this basic information on the table, you and your partner can identify challenges and areas for growth.
It's Good for Your Relationship
Liz Colizza MAC, LPC, NCC with Lasting, explains why it's best to have a proactive approach to money issues. "Money issues are not actually about money," she says. "That's because how you engage with money reveals what you value and prioritize." Talking about money together gives you an idea of how you and your partner will approach big topics, and you'll want to know this before you get engaged. Can you work together to find solutions and compromises? Will you choose to work as a team and view finances as shared finances?
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