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How to have the “money talk” with your partner

Couple holding hands, how to have the money talk

According to a recent survey done by Experian, 1/3 of newlyweds are in the dark about their partner’s finances. Here are some shocking stats from the survey:

  • 33% of newlyweds are surprised by their partner’s financial situation
  • 20% of men and 12% of women had secret financial accounts that their spouses didn’t know about
  • 31% of people polled didn’t know their partners’ student loan balances

This is causing significant stress in marriages. One in five people surveyed is concerned about not being able to pay off their debt and 39% said credit scores have already been a source of stress in their marriage but I can help!

What does this mean? It means that the conversation (or lack thereof) we are having around money isn’t working. We feel so shameful and guilty about our financial situations. We don’t know where start to make things better and aren’t sure how to talk about it, let alone share it with our partners. It’s no wonder we’re stressed out!

Come clean. The good news is that the first step actually starts with ourselves. We have to come clean to ourselves about what’s going on with our money before we can share it with someone else. Given my experience working with individuals and couples, I’d venture to say that many people just don’t know what’s going on in their own financial life. They have no idea how much they are truly spending, what their credit score is or what they owe in credit cards and student loans.

Facing the numbers can feel really scary. We’re not sure what we’re going to find but we have a feeling it’s not going to be pretty. That being said, I’ve never worked with someone who wasn’t relieved after going through the process. Until you know what’s actually going on, there’s nothing you can do about it and there’s absolutely no way you can share it with someone else.

Start with the fun part. The whole point of having money is to have and experience everything we truly want. Why not start there? Share your goals and dreams with your partner and listen to theirs. Which goals are similar? Which are different? How much will those dreams cost? Have you started saving for them?

Make it a judgment free zone. We all have different relationships with money and varying values. For our money conversations to be effective, we have to practice compassion and acceptance of ourselves and our partners. Really listen, ask questions and understand their experience with money.

Create monthly money meetings. Schedule monthly money meetings around date night. Check in with your goals, cross off any financial to-dos and see how the past month went as far as spending and earning. You can also bring up any concerns or parts of the plan you’d like to adjust. One of the  best parts of a monthly money meeting is that you no longer have your financial to-do’s hanging over your head throughout the month. Any non-urgent things that come up are put on the agenda for the monthly money meeting and can be dealt with then. Make it fun and reward yourself. What will you do if you stick to your plan?

Get started. You have to create a powerful money conversation with yourself before you can create one in your relationship. Face the numbers, share your dreams and create a safe space with your partner to work towards those goals together. Not only will this reduce stress in your relationship but you’ll also reach those big goals more quickly. Isn’t that the whole point of having money anyway?

And next time Experian does this poll, let’s commit to having these stats look a whole lot different! Here’s how I can help!

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