Written by Kelley Keehn
Tuesday, February 4th, 2020
We often choose friends that are like us in many ways, including financially. But when it comes to love, sometimes partners can be polar opposites in matters of money.
Talking About Finances in a Relationship
Whether it's your first date or you've been together for a decade and never had the "talk," here's one question that can get you started with putting yourselves on the same page:
What does money mean to you?
Give yourself and your partner a few minutes to think about the answer. I've been asking this question to my readers for over a decade, and what most people answer is either freedom or security. And often, partners don't see this the same way.
But that's OK. Personalities can clash on this, but they can also complement each other.
Once you've started to dip your toes in the money conversation, you'll want to keep going. Some couples can accomplish a foundation in a financial date night or two. For other couples, it may take a few months to ease into the conversation and fully have it.
3 Money Questions to Help You Get Started
1. What Are My Goals? What Are Our Goals?
Try writing the answers down separately before sharing. Do you want to build a new home, have a baby or go back to school and get another degree? Once you have yours down on paper, compare notes with your partner. Do they align? Are they in direct conflict? It's better to know in advance what you both truly want, so you can have an honest conversation if your goals contradict. Where can you both compromise?
2. What Do I Need? And What Do I Want?
Again, try answering these solo first. List everything that you want in the next year, but also in the next three and five years. A new car? More travel? A sabbatical? A home renovation? After you compare lists, rate them by “wants" and “needs." Choose one or two from each of your “needs" list that you'll tackle together this year.
3. How Are We Going to Get There?
Create a Net Worth Statement together. What do you own, and what do you owe? What do you have to do to get to your short-term and long-term goals? Earn more income, get rid of your high interest rate debt?
Develop an Action Plan
Your action plan should list specific steps, dollar amounts and goal dates. For example, selling your second car this spring to pay down debt on a high interest rate department store card. Or, maybe it's taking out an RSP loan in February and using the tax deduction you'll get this spring to add to your savings for your top goal. If creating a budget is needed, try this handy budget worksheet.
If you need help to get out of debt, seeking the advice of a non-profit credit counsellor can help you develop a debt reduction plan. If you need a pro to assist you with other blind spots like tax credits, grants and other free money you might be leaving on the table, reach out to a Certified Financial Planner.
Having the money talk can seem intimidating if you've never had it, but it can help create a solid financial foundation as a couple. Consider adding a reminder to your digital calendar to check in at least 30 minutes a week.