Money can be emotional, especially when discussing it with the people we love. Discussions about finances can be tough or even intimidating for many couples, but having these conversations and having the “money talk” is so important for a healthy relationship.
Here are some tips for having the money talk with your partner:
Approaching the conversation
Honesty is key. When you’re having the conversation about finances, it’s important to be completely honest and lay everything on the table. Even if it’s uncomfortable, you should share the good, the bad and the ugly with your partner. Sit down together and take a full inventory of your debts, savings and investing accounts. This should include any credit card debt, student loans, retirement savings, brokerage accounts, a car loan or lease, and mortgages.
Throughout the conversation, make sure to be kind to one another. Money can be an emotional topic. It’s important to be considerate, treat each other with respect and avoid judgment, even if there are moments where you disagree with each other’s decisions.
Discuss your goals
Our financial motivations are so closely tied to our goals. If you haven’t already, take a moment to think about your own goals and what you want to achieve in the short and long term. Whether that’s a big vacation, buying a home or investing for your dream retirement. Once you have an idea of your personal goals, compare them with your partner’s and discuss your visions for the future. You might find overlap in some areas and differences in others. If you share some goals, you can create a plan to help you work toward achieving them together.
You should touch base regularly with your partner on your shared goals to see if you’re on track toward reaching them. Along the way, you can act as a team by celebrating each other’s financial wins together and helping each other identify your blind spots.
You should also discuss your investing approaches, which can play a major role in your financial strategy. It’s important to discuss how much you’re investing each month, your tolerance for risk and your short-term and long-term goals.
Navigating your differences
If you have a different approach to financial planning from your partner, that’s okay. You can find ways to divide and conquer by leveraging your different strengths. Many couples thrive due to their differences. Maybe one of you excels at carrying out the day-to-day finances while the other is better at long-term planning. You can team up on your common goals and keep some of your investing activity separate.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it’s important to figure out what works for you. Some couples prefer to combine their finances after marriage while others prefer to keep them separate. Some couples are able to find a middle ground.
Lean on a professional
We all have our personal preferences for investing. For some couples, a financial advisor can act as an unbiased third party who can help neutralize some of the emotional talk around money. It’s important that you and your partner both have a good working relationship with the advisor and play an active role in the discussions.
An advisor can help you and your partner create a plan that is tailored to your unique goals and priorities. You should check in routinely with your advisor on your financial strategy and adjust it as needed over time, especially if your goals shift. An advisor can also be helpful during times of market volatility, when emotions can be especially high, by providing an unbiased perspective and helping you stay focused on your long-term strategy.
Author: Tequilla Swan is a Private Client Advisor at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management based in Phoenix, Arizona. She was just named a Forbes 2023 Top Women Wealth Advisor Best-In-State earlier this month.