Money. It’s one of those subjects which – depending on the time, place and situation – can be a difficult topic to broach, especially with your partner. Indeed, a recent survey found that 44% of people have money secrets they keep from their partner. But in the current climate, talking about money is both warranted and worthwhile.
So how to go about it? In this article, we present some key considerations when it comes to discussing money with your partner.
Been ‘buttoning up’?
While we might share a lot with our partner, details on our finances may not be something that we are candid about. Personal finance worries, and particularly debt, can be a subject that is difficult to broach. But if your partner is exactly that; a companion for your life, then talking about your or their finances can be unavoidable, so it is best to find a way of talking comfortably on this subject.
How to get talking
Often, breaking the ice can be the hardest part. For some, talking about money isn’t easy – it can come with emotional baggage which is entirely unrelated to the partner. From another perspective, some may feel threatened by an attempt to talk about their finances, while for others, talking about money can come across as nagging. Choose a private place and a time with little other distractions to get in the way of your chat.
Asking your partner for money
This is one of the things which people typically find awkward. You might have been earning money independently for most of your life, but due to several reasons – such as being made redundant, or becoming pregnant – you might need to have a tricky discussion. This can lead the person asking for the money to feel weak because their partner has financial control. In these cases, it is important for both parties to be completely honest about their financial attitude and expectations. The sooner you have an open and honest chat, the sooner you can begin to set your financial goals and budget; together.
A disparity in earning power is another reason why personal finance conversations with a partner can become awkward. When important financial decisions need to be made, the questions of “who?” and “how much?” are only natural. That’s why it is important to take a proactive attitude to communication, being as open and honest as possible, and having the right discussions as early as you can. This may avoid complications and frustrations further down the line.
There are ways to simplify who pays for what, in line with your earning capacity. You might agree to take responsibility for different household bills, or to contribute a different amount to your savings each month. Then there are other elements which you may have to consider, such as how you take care of children from a previous marriage financially. The key thing is to come to a satisfactory and fair agreement with your partner, and you can only do this by talking.
Debt: The white elephant in the room?
Anyone can rack up debts on credit cards, store cards or same day loans for various reasons, and debt is nothing to be necessarily ashamed of. However, Debt can be a very stressful issue, and one which some people have a tendency to hide from their partners. But trying to take everything on your shoulders can make matters worse. That’s why it is better to talk about it with your partner, as the longer you hide your debts, the harder it can be to bring up the subject.
Before raising it, think about how your partner might react, and if you are looking for an empathetic ear, prepare to show them that you are serious about tackling the debt problem. It is better to be completely upfront, especially as there are situations in which your partner’s credit rating could be affected by your debt.
Having an addiction to gambling can be a sure-fire way to lose control of your personal finances, which impacts on your partner. By the same token, you might suspect your partner has a gambling problem and want to do something about it. In this situation, the best thing to do can be to seek help – either for yourself, or your partner. There are several organisations dedicated to helping those with gambling problems, and their loved ones. Failure to address the issue can lead to debt problems spiralling out of control. Remember that if you suspect your partner has a gambling problem, you don’t need to be 100 percent sure to seek professional advice, and decide on the best way forward.
Whichever element of personal finance you wish to bring up with your partner, remember that communication is key. The willingness to talk is an important step. Always bear in mind that your partner has a different perspective to you, and you won’t always agree – but by open and honest conversation, we can come to understand each other better going forwards.