Money talk can cast a dark cloud over your relationship, but fortunately, there are effective ways to bring up finances with your partner. Ignoring financial discussions might keep temporary peace in your relationship. But if serious money issues exist, refusing to acknowledge the elephant in the room opens the door to long-term problems. Don’t hide from financial discussions. Here are seven simple ways to bring up finances with your partner.
1. Choose an Appropriate Time
If you talk about sensitive money issues in front of friends or family members, this might put your partner on the defense. There are plenty of places and ways to bring up finances with your partner, but this isn’t one of them. Not only will this approach embarrass your partner, but it’ll likely trigger an argument. Wait until you’re alone, and then talk money.
2. Act Casual
Don’t approach your partner with an overly stern face and immediately start asking heavy financial questions. You’ll catch your partner off guard, plus your approach sets the entire tone for the discussion. Be relaxed and act casual. A technique that I’ve seen used: "Let me know when you have a few minutes, I have a question about the credit card (or bank account)." This approach doesn’t indicate a serious problem, and it’s likely to generate a positive response from your partner.
3. Be Understanding
Maybe you manage money well and you’re not the one with the spending problem. Regardless of who’s responsible for money problems in the relationship, if you’re unwilling to be understanding and supportive, the conversation isn’t going to end well. Lose the critical or negative attitude before you speak with your partner. He or she will sense the attitude and check out before the conversation begins.
4. Set up a Time
Being busy can delay money discussions. But I don’t suggest letting financial talk fall by the wayside. The sooner you bring up finances, the sooner you can get your finances on track. Narrow down a day and time to speak with your partner.
5. Start with Easier Topics
If there’s a lot to discuss, spread the conversation over smaller discussions. For example, you might have one discussion that focuses on long-term financial goals. If you or your partner has credit card debt, you can later focus on debt elimination strategies. Other topics to bring up might include ways to grow your personal savings and reduce unnecessary spending.
6. Don’t Talk when Angry
Don’t wait until your partner makes an irresponsible money move to bring up finances. This is the worst time to talk about money because emotions may run high. You might say a few things that you don’t mean. Don’t let a particular incident set the mood for a financial discussion. Calm down, allow some time to pass, and then have your money talk.
7. Be Honest with Yourself
It’s easy to point fingers and exaggerate your partner’s money mistakes. However, financial success in a relationship typically requires both partners to make adjustments in the way they handle money. Do a self-evaluation first and determine areas that you need to improve on. Therefore, when you approach your partner for the money talk, you can make suggestions for him or her, as well as yourself.
Hopefully, these tips will help turn a potentially stressful money talk into a conversation that can accomplish something, and maybe even bring you closer together. Do you hesitate to bring up the money talk? What do you think is the best approach?