Talking about money with your partner may be easy if you’re setting exciting goals together, like buying a home or saving for something special.
Money can be a tricky subject to talk about when there are pressure points with different spending habits, staying in control, a lack of money or debt to name a few. There can be tensions as a result of peer pressure to have things, the way money affected our childhoods, and also what we need and want for our children, if we have them.
The emotions that go with these issues can make communication about money harder. We can find ourselves avoiding conversations or miscommunicating.
It may be difficult or awkward but we can head off a lot of problems further down the line if we tackle things early. It’s not rocket science, couples who make joint decisions around finances have fewer problems and more likely to experience harmony at home. The other good news is that you can plan in generosity to others and to yourself!
Here are some tips for having a positive conversation about money:
- It may seem obvious, but find a good time to talk — not in front of the TV or when it’s late in the evening.
- It’s a good idea to broach the subject in the context of a shared goal. If the conversation is a more sensitive one, perhaps around a concern, then start by helping each other feel safe to talk openly. Say how important your relationship is and talk about a common goal, for example: “I love you and I want us to be able to talk honestly about the credit cards so we can find a solution together.”
- Take turns speaking and listening. Be honest and don’t interrupt.
- Listen well so you understand how the other person thinks and feels, especially around what money means for each of you. Ask clarifying questions to check understanding: “Are you saying that you feel…?” “What do you mean by…?”
- If you are talking about a serious issue then try not to judge, blame or shame because these will close down the conversation. Instead take responsibility for your own actions and feelings, for example: “I felt really upset when I opened the credit card bill.”
- Research shows that some people hide spending and debt from their partner. It may feel uncomfortable but it’s best to be honest and open. This will build trust and then you can tackle any issues as a team. If you’re not honest this will lead to problems down the line.
- Work through the Toucan Money Module. This will frame positive conversations around important areas: what money means for you, what you experienced about money growing up and spending priorities. The module also gives practical insights about savings, handling debt, building budgets and managing change. There are helpful tips and videos where couples honestly share their stories.
- Make sure you both have all the information. If you have a big issue do your research and get help if you need it, especially debt issues. There are sources of help below.
- Write down options for the way forward. Frame ideas: “What if…” Then talk about how you each see the options, the pros and cons. If it helps, treat the conversation like a business meeting, where you’re working together to find a solution you can both live with.
- If communication gets very heated take a break and agree a specific time to return to the conversation.
Life can be busy and pressurised, but it’s really worth taking time to work together to handle finances well, starting with a positive conversation and building shared goals. We hope that these 10 tips help you start that process!
SOURCES OF INFORMATION / TIPS
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