The topic of relationships and money often triggers a variety of responses. In a recent ACCC poll, 67% of respondents said that they argue about money, and 79% said that it puts a strain on their relationship. Discussing financial priorities, debt and future goals with your partner help avoid this tension.
Priorities When Discussing Relationships and Money
Honesty, patience, and forgiveness are three helpful tools when talking about relationships and money. Each person should be forthcoming with their strengths & weaknesses. Sometimes it’s hard to control your reactions towards the other person’s personal credit card debt revelations. However, having the courage to share your financial blunders is also very difficult.
This is a tough topic. It tends to be best handled with a little compassion. Keeping those tips in mind, here are three main areas to discuss with your partner when it comes to finances.
What are your financial priorities? Do you value saving the most? What about charitable donations? You and your partner may differ widely on these items. You can still be a united front even though you have different priorities. The key is making each other’s priorities valuable to both of you.
Developing a financial plan to include different priorities is absolutely possible. Remember to keep your necessary living expenses and any debt at the forefront. Finally, after these items are taken care of, you can then look into other priorities.
How to Talk Through Debt
Debt can be very difficult to get through, especially if someone has not been honest with their partner. Personally, I had some credit card debt going into marriage. I told my husband-to-be about it once we got engaged. It was a big relief that this news was received well. He appreciated knowing ahead of the wedding. We made a plan to eliminate the debt right away.
We both had student loan debt and made a plan to work on that together. It wasn’t separate debt anymore; we shared each other’s debt. Not everyone chooses this route, but it worked really well for us and the way we combined and managed our finances.
Address current debt and then move onto future debt. Is everyone comfortable with a large mortgage? What about car loans? Do you want to pay for most things in cash or pay yourself back each month? Getting on the same page in this area can make a world of difference.
Setting financial goals as a couple can be a tremendous and productive way to grow your relationship. As we have already seen, eliminating debt is one of the most common goals couples face. Saving, traveling and investing are some examples of other goals that pop up around relationships and money.
When setting goals, remember to make them realistic, manageable, timely… in a nutshell SMART. These goals will vary widely from couple to couple. Overall, once priorities and debt are talked through, moving forward together with new goals should be much smoother.