Money can be a delicate subject for couples. Here’s how to handle it deftly.
Relationships commonly run into serious issues when a couple’s individual approaches to their finances are incompatible. It may be heartless to let someone go because of a low credit score, but if you don’t assess the financial aspect of a your relationship, it may crumble regardless of how strong the emotional ties are.
When to Start Thinking About Merging
You shouldn’t wait for your wedding day to sort out your money situation, but you don’t need to jump into it right away, either. There probably wouldn’t be a second date if you did. Casual relationships don’t require a discussion about money. But once you begin considering a life together, it’s time to have “the talk.”
Start the Conversation
Financial discussions can get very emotional very quickly. Your best bet is to set aside a specific time to begin discussing the matter. If thing get heated, you can put it the conversation on pause and agree to resume another time. Make sure your partner recognizes the need to deal with finances as you two become serious about your future. If your partner keeps dodging the topic, that probably should be considered a red flag warning you of danger ahead.
If the conversation is going smoothly, make sure to discuss your income levels, what each of you owns, what you owe and your financial goals . Once both of you are clear on the details, you can take steps to move forward as one financial entity.
Projects That Project Future Financial Compatibility
Like most everything, practice makes perfect. Small projects tackled together can help the two of you build a financial foundation for your future.
A good first endeavor is setting a budget. Start small and try to stick to it for at least a week or two. Work your way up to a comprehensive budget. No detail should be too small to include. Remember, budgets are tools. You can be flexible and make changes; you’re not setting anything in stone. Even if you do alter your plans, you’ll be glad you agreed on most of the budget items in the first place.
Another project is opening a joint savings and/or checking account. Agree on how often deposits should be made and the amount of withdrawals that can be made from the account for various purchases. This will give you a feel for how well you will communicate about shared financial matters.
Working Out Financial Roles
As you work together on small projects and consider increasingly large purchases, discuss the roles you’re each taking on. Sometimes a couple may have a dual income, but only one person takes responsibility for financial decision-making. Other couples prefer to take turns or divvy up the financial responsibilities. How you handle it is up to your personal styles and strengths as a couple.
Remember, this process will take some time. If you approach the topic deliberately, and regularly communicate about small details, you’ll find yourself prepared to handle financial conflicts in a constructive way.