Birds of a feather flock together, but research shows that when it comes to approaching money, opposites attract. Spenders tend to pair up with savers, and vice versa. It’s no wonder, then, that money is one of the top sources of relationship conflict.
Having different financial mindsets doesn't have to be an issue. You simply need to communicate in order to play to the other person’s strengths. Next time you’re gazing at each other over candlelight (and maybe after a glass or two of wine), see what happens when you introduce a little money talk.
Here are the questions you should ask your partner:
- After your regular bills are paid, what do you like to do with the rest of your money?
- Do you have any financial goals in the next five years? What are you doing right now to work toward those goals?
- How do you feel about debt?
As you become closer with your significant other, conversations about money should become a normal part of getting to know each other. This is about building trust and intimacy—not giving each other the third degree.
When you think that this is a relationship that might go the distance, start to broach the big topics:
- What division of roles and responsibilities feels right for you? Who pays the bills? Joint accounts or separate?
- What do we do with the debt each partner brings into the relationship? (Be specific!)
- Is it important to you to have the same kind of lifestyle you grew up with?
- What are your thoughts about working while raising children?
- When it comes to money and investing, how would you describe your risk tolerance?
In broaching these topics, it’s important to understand that one person isn’t “right” while the other one is “wrong.” However, there are some red flags to indicate you and your main squeeze might be in dangerous fiscal territory.
Be on guard if you find yourself or your partner doing the following:
- Lying about, minimizing, or hiding purchases
- Keeping undisclosed accounts (either credit or banking)
- Giving financial help to friends or family without telling the other person
- Secretly selling or trading assets
Money is tied to our most basic sense of security, and any breach of financial trust can permanently damage the relationship. Better to be honest and deal with a conflict than to maintain secrets. Intimacy takes hard work, and for many couples, the money part of intimacy is the hardest. But if you nail that, then you two are—excuse the pun—money.