How Couples Can Get On the Same Page Financially

March 23, 2023

Some couples combine finances almost immediately after meeting, and quickly join forces to crush their money goals in life. Others wait decades to merge funds and it just takes longer for them to get on the same page financially.

No matter your experience or backgrounds, it is always worth it to have healthy money conversations with your partner. It will strengthen your relationship, alleviate stress, and put you in a better position financially, faster.

Tips for Talking About Money With Your Partner

Here are some ideas to begin getting on the same page financially with your partner. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work. So check your ego at the door and get ready to roll up your sleeves!

1. Set Regular Money Dates

Regular communication is the first step to becoming financially aligned with your partner. Things might be awkward to start, but that’s totally OK! Everyone starts somewhere, and just setting the time to talk and share thoughts is a huge first step.

Best times to chat: when you’re both in a relaxed mood and have the mental bandwidth to devote to the discussion. If you only bring up money when you’re stressed, tired or have a serious money issue, this usually leads to fights. Needless to say, both parties must be ready and open to chatting – never caught off guard.

Best locations to chat: you can choose any setting where you and your partner feel comfortable. Sometimes just going for a long walk together is a great non-confrontational way to talk about money stuff. Being outdoors, walking side-by-side and in neutral territory is a stellar environment for making serious conversations less awkward.

Eventually you’ll want to integrate money discussions into your everyday life. Regular check-ins will help you get on the same page financially, and stay there!

2. Be Honest About Feelings

Aligning yourselves financially isn’t all about dollars, cents and mathematics. Most couple’s financial problems stem from feelings and past experiences.

Here are some talking points ideas that you can help you get started with your partner:

  • Talk about your upbringing and how you learned about money. How did your role models handle money and what were your biggest lessons watching them?
  • Share your life goals and dreams with each other. How do you want to spend your money in life?
  • Talk about your fears and worries about money. Try to understand each other’s triggering events and financial nightmares (so you can work to avoid them!)
  • Discuss how much you earn, spend, and save. Share debts, monthly expenses, and investments.

Discussing your vulnerabilities can be a bit scary. But it’s very important to be honest and open as a couple. If you hold back or hide things, the financial alignment process takes longer.

No single conversation will solve everything. So take your time and spread discussions over multiple sessions. The good news is with each money chat you’ll be this much 👉👈 closer to understanding each other’s thoughts and actions, making you a stronger couple, especially in the money realm.

Pro tip: Here’s an awesome book which has a few worksheets and a few great questions to guide a discussion. Smart Couples Finish Rich, by David Bach.

3. Listen and Put Them First

Try not to judge or criticize your partner. Instead, focus on the things that they do well and recognize their strengths. Everyone approaches problems differently and we all have individual money methods that make sense to us. Although your partner’s approach might not be completely in line with your own, the more you listen the more you can understand.

Trying to “change” your partner isn’t a great approach. The goal isn’t to move your partner to your financial page (or for you move completely to theirs). Instead, think of this process as writing your own new couple’s playbook, creating each page together. It’s the combination of both your strengths that makes you the strongest!

When you start talking about money tactics, be open to new ideas. In fact, try their ideas first! Leading by example and prioritizing your partner is the quickest way to get them to reciprocate.

4. Make shared money plans (long term and short term)

Most couples have general long term plans (eg. we want to own a home one day), but rarely put specific plans in place to achieve those goals. Furthermore, trying to achieve those goals individually can be extremely overwhelming. Continually discuss and make plans to tackle those big goals, together.

It’s also important to identify some short term goals to share (ie. we need to open a savings account and start building a $10,000 down payment). Setting and achieving these smaller money wins will get you on the same financial page sooner. And it will turn those bigger goals from just being hopes and dreams into reality. It’ll also stop you from dipping into your savings accounts for non-important buys!

Aside from goals, work on building good financial habits, both individually and as a couple. They’re often underrated, but simple daily habits have a massive impact on your ability to make those goals happen too.

5. Make discussing money FUN!

You’re on the same team. So get excited about winning, together! Here are a few ideas to make things more fun…

  • Celebrate regularly. Big or small wins should be recognized and rewarded.
  • Make your money conversations combined date nights! Involve a few treats and guilty pleasures.
  • Gamify your financial goals.
  • Focus your budget on all the things you can afford, versus the things that you can’t.
  • Come up with funny account names and personalize your goal targets. (Eg. instead of “home down payment account”, call it “dreamy mc’dream house fund” or something you both get excited about)

It’s difficult to do things you’re not naturally excited about. So think of any ways you can to make money conversations more fun. It’ll go a long way in sustaining your efforts!

6. Learn together

Books, podcasts, YouTube channels, Instagram accounts — there are a TON of different ways folks can get financial education these days. Pick a few that you and your partner BOTH like, and learn together!

If you’re absorbing the same information, it gives you things to talk about and relate to in your family life.

Here are a few you might be interested in…

Another avenue to consider is couples therapy. Whilst not specific to finances, if your communication could use some help, it might make sense. Financial therapy is a growing field as well. Check out this How To Money interview with financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin if you’re interested in learning more about effective communication on the money front.

7. Take it slow (but not too slow)

You can’t merge all your financial ideals overnight. But the good news is you’ve got your whole lives together to figure things out!

It’s ok to take things slow and get on the same page financially with your partner over time. Tackle small stuff to begin with, and constantly readjust. Talking about money is an ongoing process.

That being said, don’t delay getting started. Especially if there are glaring problems in your financial life. Overwhelming debt, financial abuse, or getting a prenup are things that should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Why Do Most People Avoid Money Conversations?

There are many reasons you or your partner may find it hard to discuss money:

It could be a cultural thing: Some families find it rude to talk about money, or it could be a taboo subject growing up.

Kicking the can and avoiding problems: Procrastinating and delaying big money issues is quite common. It’s human nature to ignore things and run away if we’re in trouble.

They could be embarrassed: Some folks deeply regret past money mistakes and feel shamed because of them. This often makes it embarrassing to discuss them.

Avoiding being vulnerable: People want to be strong for their partners and show their best self. So they may avoid discussing money setbacks in order to put on a front. 

Money isn’t fun or exciting enough. In many cases, people are just completely uninterested in the world of personal finance. Let’s be honest, it can be quite boring!!

No matter the reason, you’ll need to decipher any reluctancy you or your partner has to discuss money as a couple. If you don’t address the root cause, very little progress can be made.

Why Couples Should Talk About Money More

There are numerous benefits to being on the same page financially:

Faster and more surefire way to achieve goals. You can get way more done working as a team vs. individually. You can also address problems immediately, leaning on each other for support.

Learn things from each other: Each person brings strengths. And with your powers combined, you are unstoppable! Kind of like Captain Planet.

Your children (and friends) will benefit: There’s a ripple effect to being a financially strong couple. As you start to solve money problems and achieve your goals you’ll be in a better position to help others do the same! Having healthy conversations about finances is also a great way to teach your kids about money.

Less chance of money fights: Money stress is the leading cause of divorce. Talking about money more will strengthen your relationship. It also reduces guilt and resentment around earnings, home roles, etc.

Stronger position to give: Charitable giving is a wonderful thing! It can allow you to funnel your dollar towards causes that matter. Getting on the same page financially can often allow you to give even more, allowing you to both benefit substantially.

The Bottom Line:

There’s no single winning formula to get on the same page financially with your partner. You’ll need to create a custom one. Every couple has different backgrounds, mindsets, and ways they approach money.

By introducing money discussions slowly and in a safe environment, you’re bound to make progress. Your relationship will be stronger, you’ll achieve family goals more quickly, and have less stress in life.

**Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

During this episode we enjoyed a Zoose Joose by Westbrook and Angry Chair. And as we have ramped up the podcast with an additional Friday episode every week, we could really use your help to spread the word- let friends and family know about How to Money! Hit the share button, subscribe if you’re not already a regular, and give us a quick review in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Help us to spread the word to get more people doing smart things with their money in these difficult times!

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