The money talk.
It’s not the most romantic topic. But it’s necessary, especially in these recessionary times. According to a survey we conducted in September 2022*, talking about household finances is a sore spot for three out of ten partnered Canadians. But it doesn’t have to be.
Before taking the next step with your one and only, it’s important to think about how you can align on your financial goals. In this blog post, we share some tips to help take the edge off the money talk.
Schedule a money date.
Raia Carey, 3X certified Life Coach, doesn’t recommend going into the money chat cold. “Give advance notice before you have the talk and maybe even call it a ‘money date.’ Be sure during your financial heart-to-heart that you practice active listening. Stay present, really hear the other person and get to know where they’re coming from. Look to these conversations as opportunities for connection.” She also suggests starting the money conversation early on in your relationship so you can understand each other’s goals and expectations – especially if you plan on getting married.
When it comes to challenging topics, Carey says, “It’s important to have this conversation in a calm and comfortable space.” So, avoid a crowded café for your first chat. Reserve some spots on your couch, and make yourselves at home.
This isn’t the time to judge or get defensive. If you feel the urge to interrupt while your partner’s opening up, take a deep breath and continue listening. You can set ground rules to prevent over-talking or interruptions. It’s important to be respectful of your partner’s financial situation and avoid judging or criticizing them. Remember that you’re in this together and that financial issues can be resolved with open communication and compromise.
Your values around money are shaped by your past – how your parents handled money, or how money has impacted your life – for better or worse. Understanding your partner’s motivations around finances (and your own) will help set you up to overcome future challenges and disagreements. If you have any debt, this is the time to lay it all out on the table. Money secrets can fester, and it’s better to be open about your situation to avoid resentment in the future. And remember, everyone’s got baggage – you’re not defined by your financial setbacks.
Share your values before making a plan.
Sharing your values is a necessary step before you get down to the numbers. Do you value experiences over material things? Does leasing a car feel like throwing your money away? The point is to gain an understanding of your partner’s perspective around money, so you can meet each other halfway while planning for your future. Carey suggests talking about your short- and long-term financial goals as a couple so you can work towards a shared financial future together.
Here’s some things you might want to cover during your talk.
Figure out how you’ll manage your money – will you be merging your accounts? Will your expenses be split 50/50 or based on a percentage of your income? There’s no right answer. This is about making a plan and sticking with it.
Discuss how you’ll handle life events, such as the potential loss of income, having kids, or how your goals might evolve should one of your incomes increase or decrease.
Make the debt conversation a regular one. A budget can help you keep track of your debt repayment goals.
Make a point to check in regularly with your partner. Your financial situation may change over time, so it’s important to keep the money conversation going. After all, you’re in this together.
* Finding from Leger survey issued by Capital One and FleischmanHillard HighRoad on how finances impact Canadians’ mental, physical and financial well-being.