There’s no doubt that talking about our finances can be difficult, and when you add a partner into the equation it can feel even more daunting. But often, not talking about our finances at all can lead to pent-up feelings of frustration and stress, sometimes even resentment. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach, with every relationship, financial situation and dynamic being different, but here are some ways to talk to your partner about your finances productively and healthily.
1. Identify what you want to talk about
When we have a broad topic - like personal finance - in mind, it’s easy to blurt out numerous different concerns or areas we want to address and while it can be cathartic to get it off our chest, it’s not always the most helpful doing it all at once. Pinpointing what you want to talk about will seem less daunting for both you and your partner.
You might want to chat about how the cost of living has left you feeling anxious, or practical ways you can cut back on expenditure without feeling like you’re compromising on the moments and things that make you happy. Looking at how to tackle debt is a popular topic of conversation, and Incredible gives a transparent overview of your existing debt but also how long it will take to pay it off at your current rate. Having apps like this in your arsenal can take the guesswork out and give you the full picture when chatting it through.
2. Choose the right time to talk about it
In between the school run and dropping off children to clubs probably isn’t a great time to talk about finances. Instead, choose a quiet moment when it’s the two of you, and make sure it’s free from distractions. Try to avoid airing your concerns and thoughts about finances during any arguments, as your emotions are likely to be heightened during these times. Instead, make note of any concerns and thoughts that come to mind during heated moments as these situations can actually help indicate what specific concerns and thoughts are impacting you the most.
3. Suggest a couple of solutions
Once you’ve identified what it is you want to talk about, try to have some suggestions up your sleeve. They don’t have to be ironed out completely but be realistic and be open to chatting them through with your partner. It gives the chance for a possible next step in working towards a desired outcome that works for you both.
4. Remember it’s a conversation
Whether you are the one instigating the conversation or your partner is, the chat shouldn’t make either of you feel like you are being interrogated. If your partner has money habits and behaviours that are bothering you, then it may feel very easy to play the blame game. But this won’t help anyone, and it certainly won’t encourage a healthy conversation or make both parties feel heard. No one is perfect with their money 100% of the time, and finding financial compatibility isn’t always straightforward. Consider your conversations as a chance to become more aligned with your finances.
5. Review how it’s going
Now that you’ve figured out some next steps, give it time to see whether these solutions will work. As with anything, there will be obstacles and setbacks but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong solution. Something like tackling debt or combining your finances with a partner will take longer to figure out than if you’re looking to cut back on date nights and overall expenses. Have an open dialogue with your partner about how it’s going, listen to their concerns, and use this as a chance to see how you can continue to move forward.
6. Watch out for any red flags
The conversation may be tricky depending on what you want to talk about. It might bring up some long-held fears or shine a light on some less-than-ideal habits. But any partner who is worth their salt will be respectful, and it’s important that you don’t ignore any red flags. These might look like, but are not limited to: a refusal to engage in any conversation about money, attempts to control how much money you can spend and what you can spend it on, or managing your finances entirely for you. If alarm bells are ringing in your head, confide in a trusted friend, family member or seek help from dedicated charities such as Surviving Economic Abuse.
Talking finances - no matter how seemingly small - is a big step in any relationship, and it should make you feel more aligned with your partner and hopefully, empowered to work towards your desired goal, as opposed to pulling you further apart.