Revisiting The Money Talk With Your Partner
Three and a half years ago, in one of my very first blog posts, I wrote about why it’s so important to have the “money talk” with your romantic partner. And it is! Especially as you’re first starting to get serious with someone. It’s a great way to really understand your partner and get them to understand you. But just like with budgeting, this conversation should not be a one and done. You should revisit the money conversation regularly throughout your relationship. But also just like with budgeting, it isn’t always the most fun thing to do. That’s why you need to be deliberate and thoughtful when you revisit this conversation. And it’s imperative to be having these conversations, because money is one of the main causes of relationship discord. So here’s how you can get started.
And it’s imperative to be having these conversations, because money is one of the main causes of relationship discord.
Schedule a Money Date
If you’re like me, if something isn’t on your calendar or your to-do list, it doesn’t get done. That’s why it’s so important to schedule a money date to revisit this conversation. Pick a day and time that works for you and your partner and put it in your calendars. Make sure you set a reminder for yourselves so that you don’t forget about it. And make sure that you pick a day and time that you will actually honor. If you know Sunday night at 8pm is the time you like to Netflix and chill, don’t choose that time for your money date.
Share Your Joint and Individual Goals
I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again: all of your money conversations should be framed within the goals that you want to reach. And that is definitely true when it comes to talking about money with your partner. You both should share what your individual goals are and get clear on what your shared goals are. If you don’t get on the same page about your goals, it’ll be nearly impossible to reach them together. This framework also makes the conversation more fun and more productive, because you know what you’re actually working towards. Plus, you’ll understand each other better, because you’ll know what each of you wants to achieve.
Identify Changes That Need to be Made
One of the reasons it’s so important to consistently talk about money with your partner is that it lets you identify what is and isn’t working.
I’ll give you a personal example. When I first quit my day job to run my business full-time, we set it up so that my husband’s entire paycheck was getting deposited into our joint checking account to cover our bills and other necessities. Any money I brought in would go into savings or cover something fun. It seemed to be working well, but after a few months, things started to get a little tense when we would talk about our finances. After several conversations, it became obvious that Dan needed to feel like he had some money that was just for himself. We altered our budget so that $100 a month would go into his personal checking account and we agreed that he would use that money for anything that he wanted. That decision immediately eased the tension and made Dan feel like he had more freedom and flexibility with our money.
If we hadn’t had those conversations, we might still be having those same money arguments! And the solution was really so simple. So when you notice that there is tension coming up around money, sit down and hash it out. Figure out what the problems are. It might be as simple as moving a little money around. It could also be something bigger. But it won’t get fixed if you don’t talk about it.
Assign Responsibilities and Tasks
Not everything has to be split 50/50 all of the time. In fact, it can be more effective and efficient to assign certain tasks to the person in the relationships who is either better at the thing or more excited about the thing. Or even just the one who will actually do the thing. So figure this out within your relationship. Who should take on what when it comes to your finances?
In my marriage, I’m obviously the one who takes on the bulk of the financial responsibilities. That’s because I enjoy tracking and organizing our expenses. I also have several systems already in place that allow me to do this more easily. Plus, I’m the one in the relationship who is more likely to sit down and review everything and make sure we are on track with our budget and other goals. (Listen to more detail about this on this week’s Money Circle podcast episode!)
But it won’t necessarily be that cut and dry for you. Maybe neither of you are excited to manage the finances. Maybe neither of you is particularly well-suited for it. But it still needs to get done! So figure out what makes the most sense. Perhaps you each have to input your own individual expenses into your budget spreadsheet (or categorize them in the budgeting app). Maybe one of you tracks how much you’re spending on groceries and the other person tracks how much you spend going out to eat. It’s going to depend on how you manage money together and what makes the most sense for both of you as individuals. But having clear roles will make it easier to finish tasks and feel like you’re on the same team.
Revisit the Conversation Regularly
Congratulations on having this conversation again! However, you’re not off the hook for good. It’s important to revisit this conversation regularly so that you and your partner are always on the same page. Plus, the more often you discuss, the easier it will be. So set up a day and time to have this conversation often. It could be as often as weekly and as infrequent as quarterly. It’s up to you and your partner and what will work best for you together. Once you agree on a frequency, set up reminders. Put it in your calendars that you’ll be having your money check-in on a certain day and time, and make sure to set it as a recurring appointment. To make this easier, you should pair it with something pleasant, like a bottle of wine or a delicious dessert.