For love and money
Talking about money in a new(ish) relationship.
Growing into a relationship is partly about discovering the things two people have in common – from favourite activities and hobbies to shared attitudes and beliefs. And, while it may not be one of the first subjects to come up, the topic of money is bound to surface as a relationship gets more serious. Here are some things to consider when beginning to talk about money in a relationship.
Every romantic partnership is unique and progresses at its own pace. Talking about money at a level that’s appropriate for the relationship can help a couple develop a deeper understanding of one another. And, as the relationship develops, it can make it easier to move towards long-term financial harmony. While it might not be the best idea to ask about salary or bank account balances on a first date, it’s important to get into money specifics before any milestone that has financial implications, such as opening a joint bank account or moving in together. Laying the groundwork through more general conversations will make it easier to broach topics such as income, assets, debt, other financial obligations (for example, to family members) and credit history.
It’s possible to learn a lot about how someone views money just by paying attention to their spending habits – for example, where do they enjoy going on dates? When you’re ready to bring up the subject, consider how you best communicate on other topics. Some people may feel more comfortable easing into the conversation slowly or talking about hypothetical situations. Inquiring about their family’s situation and attitudes can also help spark a conversation. Did they go on family vacations, or do chores to earn an allowance? Other couples may find a frank discussion works best for them. Asking about and sharing your own financial goals, career aspirations and how you feel about debt can be very revealing.
Be open to differences
It’s likely there will be places where two people’s current habits, past experiences and future dreams overlap – and points of difference too. But even a penny-pincher and a free spender can still enjoy a harmonious relationship with each other. By steering clear of judgment and keeping an honest, back-and forth conversation going, it’s easier to find common ground and negotiate differences.
As a relationship deepens, it’s helpful to build a future together on a solid foundation of positive communication about money. And openness about finances sets the tone for wide-ranging conversations that will help couples reach their life goals, hand in hand.
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