From what we had for breakfast to #selfies from last night’s party, we’re willing to share almost anything about ourselves in the digital age. But there is one subject that couples tend to tap dance around – finances. Yep, we know – it’s scary, soul barring stuff. It’s never easy to talk about money, but it is an important subject to discuss, especially if you’re a new couple deciding to move into together, or an established one that needs a clean slate. Here are some ideas to get you started for “the talk”.
Go on a date
The first thing to do is commit to a money date together. Choose something small, like meeting in the backyard on a Friday evening with a bottle of wine, or heading to a coffee shop to chat over a latte. Make it a casual conversation and come prepared to have an honest talk.
The goal is take some of the tension out of the conversation. Discussing finances can be stressful and full of unknowns, but going on a money date and having a little fun can help alleviate that pressure.
Before you and your partner sit down, you should both agree to be completely open and honest about your finances. This isn’t the time to hide that credit card debt for that ill-advised trip to Mexico you took with your best friend during rainy season and racked up 200 bucks in movie charges to your room.
The goal of these first discussions around money is to create a solid foundation for the future. The inevitable financial surprise will arise and being on the same page from the get-go helps avoid arguments down the road. Here are some things you’ll need to bring on your money date:
Bank statements for all your accounts
Credit card and loans statements
The last paycheck stubs from your job
A list of any investments, insurance coverage and other assets
Household bills and mortgage/rent statements
Put everything out on the table, literally and figuratively, so you’re both being totally honest with each other.
Ask each other the right questions
Now that you’ve started the conversation, it’s time to ask the important stuff. Start with these basic questions:
How much money do you make?
What’s your credit score?
How much debt do you have?
Are you saving for retirement?
How will you split bills as a couple?
Who’s going to handle the monthly bills and bookkeeping?
What are some of your short-term and long-term financial goals?
And then you can dive into deeper money issues as they arise, or as you feel more comfortable as a couple. Here are some advanced money questions that all couples should talk about when they’re ready:
What’s your mindset about money?
What money habits did you learn from your parents?
Do we want joint or separate accounts?
What about college expenses if we have kids?
Do you classify yourself as a saver or spender? Why?
Yes, having the money talk can be a scary conversation. But, it’s vital to the health of your relationship to talk about your spending habits, financial mindset and future goals. And, it’s never too late – whether you are talking about moving in together or have been married for several years. You’ll be much more successful when working towards the same goals together, versus doing it on your own.
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