“You need to change… the way you spend money.”
Having a hard talk with your significant other is never an easy thing to do. And it’s made all the more complicated when the subject is money.
Money is one of the most common reasons for couples (dating or married) to argue or split up. Personal finance is a topic that seems relatively easy to handle on paper (after all, it’s just a bunch of numbers that you can add or subtract – either the bill is paid this month, or it isn’t!). But there’s so much more than math behind money, especially when it comes to relationships. Money is a very emotional topic, which means financial situations can stir up very emotional reactions.
Why is money such a touchy subject, especially with a significant other? We all have a different story with money: how we were raised, how we bring money into our life today, how much debt we have and how much we have saved up at the moment. And that means money can be an issue that divides even the closest couples, regardless of whether you agree on every other issue in life or whether or not you’ve combined your finances.
So just how do you talk to your partner about money? Here are some conversation starters to help you talk about anything from the cable bill to retirement:
“If you came across $100, what would you do with it?” This kind of question helps you both think not only about your financial priorities, but also draw a distinction between your different money styles and personalities. For example, your approach may be to take half of that money and save it toward a vacation and then use the other half to pay off your debt. Your partner, on the other hand, may want to spend all of that money on gifts for other people. If you know where the other person’s priorities lie, you can get a better sense of how you may both approach money differently.
“What do you imagine your life to be when you retire?” This question can help prime a future-oriented conversation that you might not have otherwise. Retirement – especially retirement savings – isn’t something that comes up in normal conversation. Striking up a conversation about your dream retirement can help get you both thinking toward the future and start talking about what you need to do today to make that becomes a reality.
“If money wasn’t an object, what would your life look like right now?” This question takes the conversation back to the present and allows you both dream of what you would do with your life if you didn’t have to worry about finances. By stating your dreams, you can both support each other in achieving them – and it helps you give more context to the reason why you may say, “no” to that new car or vacation.