Written by Barry Choi
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
When you're in a relationship, money is rarely a fun subject to talk about. Who wants to talk about finances when discussing the latest food trend or what happened on your favourite reality show is so much more interesting?
The truth is, you'll need to discuss money eventually if you plan on taking your relationship to the next level. I'm not suggesting that you share bank accounts on your first date, but I found that having regular discussions about money actually improved my relationship with my wife.
The dating stage
Without a doubt, this is the hardest stage to talk about money, since you're both still getting to know each other. Each partner will likely have a different perspective on money, so that's where you could begin the talk.
Some people are natural savers while others may have no understanding of how compound interest works. In the beginning stages, you'll want to focus on what money means to each of you. Are you a big saver or spender? What are you saving for?
My first real conversation with my girlfriend (now wife) about money was when we were planning a trip to Asia. At the time, I had a higher income, so I covered the cost of our airfare upfront. The flights weren't exactly cheap and she insisted on paying me back so we came up with a repayment plan. This worked out well for us since we were able to work together to reach a common goal.
By the time you get engaged, you'll both want to know what the overall financial situation is looking like. The last thing you want to find out is that your partner has massive debt right after you proposed.
Although my wife and I briefly discussed finances in the past, it wasn't until we got engaged that we really had a serious discussion about money. Weddings are expensive, and it's easy to go over budget. We talked about how much we should budget and the steps we had to take to make sure we had enough saved.
What made the discussion great is the fact that it really set the tone for us moving forward. We established our first budget together and figured out what our priorities were.
After we got married, establishing a family budget was the next natural thing to do. We had started working on one before we got married, but a lot of our cash was being diverted to the wedding. With the wedding now done, it was pretty easy to adjust our savings towards other goals.
Fixed expenses obviously came first and that was followed by retirement savings. We also decided that travel was a priority for us so we set aside a bit more than the average couple for vacations. The key thing here is that we had an open discussion about saving and built a budget that worked for both of us.
My wife and I have been married more than five years now, and we still have regular discussions about money. We've moved on from just a simple chat about the family budget to investment strategies and estate planning. And yes, we still discuss where to spend our travel budget.
If you and your partner haven't had a serious money talk yet, what are you waiting for? Having regular discussions about your finances can only improve your relationship.