You’ve fallen in love and everything is perfect. You two agree about everything, you get along swimmingly and you’re permanent residents of lover’s paradise. It’s a match made in heaven!
Then you realize that you’ve never really figured out the finances thing. Sometimes you pick up the tab and sometimes your partner does. You’ve got some debt, your partner has some debt and you each use credit cards. All of a sudden you realize: this is sort of a big thing that you haven’t ever really talked about. You decide to get on the same page once and for all…but how?
We’ve talked on RDS before about what a surprise it can be to learn how your partner handles money. Maybe they have debt they never told you about, maybe they get a monthly stipend from their family, maybe they’re the most frugal person on the planet.
It’s important to have the money talk sooner rather than later. Money is an important part of all of our daily lives. If you’re dating or in a relationship with someone who is on a totally different page than you your relationship could get really messy really fast.
Figure Out What Page You Are On First
You have to know where you stand before you can get on the same page as your partner.
Figuring out your own priorities will lead you to an open and honest conversation. Being able to articulate yourself will show your partner what you care about and leave them with a clear picture of how you want to run your life and money.
When I decided to do a spending fast for the month of October I told my boyfriend. I let him know that I needed to come up with some extra cash this month for a reason and that I decided a spending fast would be the best way to do it. That meant no dinners out, no quick jaunts to the store for late night ice cream and no date nights that cost money. Since I had a clear timeline, reason and an intent for my frugal tactics it was easy for him to get on board.
Yes we’ve talked about honesty before here and you’ll find this advice on any good personal finance site. That’s because it really matters! Lying about any aspect of your relationship is a bad idea. The same rule goes for your finances.
Don’t sugar coat debt. Don’t lie about your spending habits and preferences. Don’t commit financial infidelity. If you hate cooking and eat out every night, let your partner know! There’s no wrong way to be. There’s just a wrong way to communicate that to your partner and lying is it.
My boyfriend has a fairly large amount of student loan debt. I paid off all my debt this year and remaining debt free is super important to me. It’s not a problem for us that we are different situations though. Why?
He was honest. He didn’t cover it up when he learned I was in the process of paying mine off. He is not prioritizing debt payoff right now and he told me that pretty early on. So we both came into this relationship knowing we differ on this subject and we’ve both decided it’s ok.
Agree to Disagree…But Revisit Later
Let’s go back to my boyfriend for a second. If things were to ever get really serious between us I would want him to take action on those loans in a big way. We both know this and we’re both on board with that plan.
Paying off my loans was the driving force in my life for months. I wanted to do it and I was willing to do anything to get there. My boyfriend doesn’t feel the same way. Right now, while we’re in a semi-serious relationship and each separately managing our money, this difference is not a problem. We’ve discussed it a few times and it doesn’t effect us right now so we don’t think about it.
If we were moving forward in a real, concrete way, we would have to revisit this topic and come to a new arrangement we both felt comfortable with.
Take the time to get on the same financial page as your partner. It will bring good things to your relationship and make it even stronger.
Have you had to address finances with your partner? How did you do it?