Money, credit, and debt can all be touchy subjects. Yet having honest conversations about your finances is essential when it comes to romantic relationships. According to a 2021 survey, 18% of divorced couples regret not talking about finances more frequently. Meanwhile, couples that had more open financial conversations tended to be happier.
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If you're not already in the habit of talking with your partner about money and credit, knowing where to start can be difficult. Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to these important conversations. But consider the following three ideas and see if they seem like a good fit for your relationship, from myFICO:
Idea #1: Plan a financial "date night."
For many people, talking about money may feel uncomfortable. Even if that's not the case for you, it might be your partner's reality. Therefore, it's important to be sensitive, especially when you approach the topic of finances with your significant other for the first time.
Instead of springing questions about money, debt, and credit on your partner out of the blue, you might consider scheduling a time for a conversation. Explain to your partner that you want to discuss your financial life together and see if he or she is open to the idea of a financial date night.
If your partner is on board, pick a time that’s ideal for both of you. Try to avoid times when you might feel rushed or tired (such as immediately before or after work).
You might also want to incorporate a nice meal or some other treat to set a pleasant mood for the conversation. Adding a special element to your money date can be a nice tradition to establish, especially if you hope to repeat the experience (perhaps on a monthly basis) in the future.
Idea #2: Talk about the future, and the past.
As partners, it's important to be on the same page when it comes to your future financial goals. But you can't reach this point unless you make an effort to open up and talk about what matters most to you—and to find out what matters to your partner.
One way to discover your partner's financial priorities, and to share your own, is to discuss your hopes and goals for the future. Below are some questions that may help guide you through this conversation.
- What are your big financial goals (i.e., home ownership, debt freedom, early retirement, starting a business, college fund for children, etc.)?
- What are some short-term financial goals that also matter to you (i.e., travel, creating financial space to pursue a hobby, donating to charity, etc.)?
- Do you tend to be a saver or a spender (and are you happy with those past financial choices)?
- Are you used to using a budget to manage your money, and do you like the budgeting system you have in place?
- Are you open to reduced spending in certain areas if it could help us reach our joint financial goals?
- What is the condition of your FICO® Scores?
- Are you working to pay off debts? If so, what are they?
- How do you feel about working together to achieve our financial goals?
In addition to talking about the financial objectives you hope to achieve, it can also be helpful to discuss your financial backgrounds, such as the experiences you had with money as a child.
The way your family dealt with finances when you were growing up can have a profound impact on how you feel about money and credit as an adult. The same is true for your spouse. Understanding where the other person in your relationship comes from can help you build a financial management plan that works best for the two of you as a couple.
Idea #3: Share responsibility for the monthly financial to-do list.
Not only is it important for you and your partner to have equal say where financial decisions are concerned, it can also be helpful to share equal responsibility for your financial to-do list. You may want to consider divvying up monthly financial tasks such as:
- Paying bills and debts (or confirming that scheduled auto drafts take place).
- Balancing bank accounts.
- Reviewing credit card statements.
- Tracking debt elimination and savings progress.
If each of you handles a portion of the financial responsibilities for your household, you can discuss those areas together at your monthly money date. You may also want to check your individual FICO® Scores and credit reports monthly or at least quarterly to make sure your credit health is in good shape too. Finally, you can consider using a joint spending tracker to make sure you both stay on track with your budget goals during the time in between your money conversations.
Talking about money and credit can be intimidating at first. Yet many couples find that financial transparency and openness strengthens their relationship. Working with a partner toward mutual goals can be powerful.
It's also important to note that you don't have to try to navigate this process alone. A financial therapist can help you and your partner if you don't feel equipped to start (or continue) the money conversation on your own. And if you're comfortable talking to your spouse but feel overwhelmed when it comes to financial decisions themselves, a reputable financial advisor or credit counselor might be able to offer professional guidance, depending on your situation.
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