When love is in the air and you’re trying to build a life with a partner you deeply care about, talking about each other’s finances—and finding ways to merge your financial lives together—can be a really uncomfortable topic. However, with the right approach, talking about money in a serious relationship doesn’t have to be awkward. In fact, you’re better off being honest about your incomes, expectations and long-term financial goals to reduce stress and avoid future money problems that could pose a risk to your relationship.
Here are some tips on handling money with your boo to get (and stay) financially happy and healthy together:
1) Put It All On The Table
Discuss your financial situation, including your credit score. Be honest about your credit history and discuss how you’ll finance a big ticket item (like a home) with your partner, including how you will repay the loan. You and your mate should be open with each other about the things that matter: your income, your debt, your credit score, your retirement savings, the costs that you’re dealing with each month. If done with sensitivity, discretion and respect, having that kind of transparency and awareness of each other’s financial situation can diffuse tension over money that might be there otherwise.
2) Stay On Top Of Your Household And Personal Finances
Know what’s coming in, what’s going out, and when transactions are taking place. Monitor your accounts carefully to catch any overspending or unusual activity. Also, check in with your spouse if you notice anything suspicious on your statements before canceling cards or ordering a stop payment of checks. That suspicious purchase could end up being a surprise weekend getaway your boo was planning for Valentine’s Day.
3) Look For Free Entertainment
You don’t have to drop $200 every time you spend time with your partner. Simple things like working out together, taking neighborhood walks to the park, or finding free events is an easy way to keep things fun while giving your wallet a break.
4) Consider A Shared Account
Once you and your boo are married, having a stash of money that you’re collecting together can make it much easier to accomplish shared goals. Figure out which bank and what kind of account works for both of your needs and interests. Many banks offer account alerts that can inform both of you when there’s a low balance or when a paycheck clears. Again, having full transparency over the money that you and your partner share can prevent arguments over finances in the future.
5) Be Up Front When Your Needs Are Different
If your boo is trying to buy a house and you’re still struggling by living paycheck to paycheck, clearly there are some things that need to be discussed. Plan a realistic budget together. Calculate your income, expenses and savings goals. Then talk to each other about what’s important to you as individuals, how you’re thinking about nailing those goals, and then how you can integrate your plans of action and your personal goals together to make a more harmonious relationship.
6) Confront Each Other About Bad Fiscal Habits
Being in a healthy relationship can be good for kicking unhealthy behaviors because we have a partner who has our best interest at heart and who will hold us accountable when necessary. Money is a hard topic, but don’t ignore your partner’s bad money habits just to keep the peace. Likewise, don’t be overly defensive if you find yourself being criticized about your financial lifestyle. Set financial rules. Track how much you’re spending as a couple and set parameters to help you save and plan for emergencies.
7) Avoid Borrowing Money From Each Other
Being in debt to your own partner is probably the easiest way to start brewing tension in your relationship. Bae should be there to support you and vice versa. However, don’t let bae (or yourself) turn into a crutch for an unhealthy financial situation.
8) Save Your Monetary Gifts
If loved ones give you and your partner money as a gift, don’t blow it on a night at the Ritz-Carlton without thinking about a wiser way to use it first. If you plan right, that cash present could blossom into a down payment on a home over time.
9) Make Dates With A Financial Advisor
Having an expert, objective perspective on your money situation could be just what you and bae need to healthily blend your financial lives together. If you have an advisor already, set up an appointment together or get references from trusted family and friends.
10) Maintain An Open And Ongoing Dialogue About Your Credit
Your credit score can change rapidly and even missing a single payment can affect it. Be sure to inform your partner of any changes with your credit as it might also affect them. It’s not easy to talk about money with someone you love, but it’s necessary so you can develop your financial goals together.