Talking about money with your partner might be the LAST thing you want to do. Whether you’re married, engaged, or just dating..it is still such a difficult conversation. Money is still a taboo topic (but not sure why) and there are sooo many emotions tied to it.
If your financial situation isn’t really where you want it to be, it might make the conversation even more difficult. Trust me. I’ve been there. I talked about money early on when I was dating my husband and I learned he had “around $100k of debt” which were his words. When we actually looked at the numbers when we were engaged it was actually $154k. He didn’t lie to me. He genuinely had NO IDEA.
I am so glad we had this conversation early so that we could make sure we could get on the same page. I didn’t necessarily care that he had debt (I was debt free at that point) but I cared about his habits, desires, dreams, and goals. I wanted to make sure we could get on the same page.
Money is in the 2nd leading causes of divorce (not shocked at all). While it may be an uncomfortable conversation, it is a conversation you NEED to have. Take it one step at a time.
Here are some topics you should discuss before you’re married. If you’re already married and haven’t really talked about money, you should talk about these too.
Before you do anything else, remember you should not make anyone feel guilty or shameful about their current financial situation. You are a team. You want to approach this conversation in a way that is supportive of one another, but also honest about where you are.
Here is what you’re going to do. You don’t necessarily need to share all of this information if you aren’t married, that is up to you. But if you are married you want to know exactly where you are. If you are dating, you can just talk about your values, financial goals, and overall financial situation.
Write down all of your debt: type of debt, interest rate, current balance.
Write down how much you have saved/invested: retirement, other, sinking funds, EF, etc.
If you don’t have a budget already, write down all of your individual expenses (if you already share expenses you’ll know those.
Every marriage approaches how they handle finances differently. Even if you don’t combine accounts, you should know each other’s numbers. Be kind to one another as this can be a sensitive topic. You are there to support each other and work together.
2. Short Term Goals
Once you have the numbers written down and you know exactly where you are financially, you can take a moment to discuss your short term goals.
What do you need to save for this year?
Are you saving for Christmas or the holidays?
Do you need to save for summer vacations?
Are you planning on starting a business?
Are you taking maternity leave for a new baby?
Are you saving for a house?
These goals may have a higher priority because they will happen more quickly. What short term goals need to be accomplished first? You may save $75 every month towards Christmas all year round, but you save $200 every other month towards a summer vacation.
There also might be some individual goals you have. Maybe you want a day at the spa and your partner wants a new set of golf clubs. You can still save for both of your individual goals.
3. Long Term Goals
Short term goals are usually things happening within the next year but there are many things that you need to discuss with your partner that are further out.
Where do you want to be financially in 5-10 years?
Are you saving for your children’s education?
Are you wanting to splurge on a huge celebratory vacation on your 10 year anniversary?
Do you want to buy a bigger house or go back to school?
What are your retirement goals?
Sit down and take some time to dream and think about what your long term goals are. Often in a marriage, you have a dreamer and a doer. A spender and a saver. Be sure that both people are able to share their goals and can voice their desires.
Finally, and this is a big discussion, it is time to discuss children. It goes beyond just do you want kids.
What does your financial situation look like if you have 1 child vs. 4 children?
Do you want to pay for their college?
Do you want to save for their future?
Will you pay for childcare or will someone stay home?
How will you adjust for loss of income?
Children are a big expense and can create so many different dynamics in your home. Childcare costs are significant. Take time to research the cost of having kids and decide for yourselves.
Now, having children isn’t just a financial decision obviously but having your finances in order makes it SO much easier.
There are so many things that you can discuss regarding money in your marriage, but these 4 topics will lay a strong foundation. If you can both get on the same page regarding your current money numbers, short term goals, long term goals, and children… You will be able to approach your finances as a team.
Need help getting on the same page? Sign up for my course Money & Marriage to help you get on the same page financially.