Learning how to manage your own finances is a great way to learn more about yourself as an individual. While there is a myriad of money management tools and resources, once you find something that sticks, managing your own finances can actually feel quite empowering.
But what happens when your significant other comes into the picture?
When you reach a point in your relationship where you both decide to move in together, start travelling together, or discuss long-term plans for the future, it is important to have a candid conversation about both your finances before entering a common-law partnership or marriage.
While every couple deals with different pain points at any given time during their relationship, a survey by CIBC suggests that “financial disagreements are a strong predictor of divorce [or separation], particularly among younger couples who are more prone to experience financial stress in their relationships” (Global News, 2016).
To combat some potential strains on your relationship caused by financial disagreements, here are some tips on how to discuss your finances with your significant other:
1. Be upfront and open about your personal debt
The same CIBC survey reported that “two-thirds of Canadian couples enter marriage or common-law relationship in debt” (Global News, 2016). While talking about how much debt you owe may seem embarrassing, having an open conversation about where you stand with your personal finances can be a great way to build teamwork with your S.O.
Perhaps your partner can help suggest additional sources of income to pay off that debt or step in if you need help. Either way, a relationship is a partnership — not a contest to see who makes more than the other.
2. Discuss your short-term & long-term goals
There’s no doubt that being in a serious relationship takes a lot of work, but discussing your short-term and long-term goals together can help set up the building blocks for your life together.
If you or your S.O. want to learn a new skill, or you want to plan for an upcoming vacation, start by laying out the costs required to reach those goals. Whether they be individual or shared goals, having a clear idea of what you both want to achieve is a great way to strategize for the future.
3. Leave your ego at the door
It is inevitable that at certain points in your relationship, you and your S.O. may not be at the same level of income. However, it is important to never shame your partner into how much more or less they make than you. Shaming your partner will only cause more tension and using money as a form of dominance is a big red flag in any relationship.
While the decision to have a joint account or not is completely up to you and your partner, avoid questioning every single purchase your partner makes (even if it’s something you may not agree with). If there is ever a disagreement about your shared finances, leave your ego out of the equation.
There’s no such thing as a “perfect” relationship, and having the discussion about money can be uncomfortable. But having honest and transparent conversations about money is an investment for your future together.
We hope this helps in having a healthy discussion about your finances with your significant other, and how teamwork really does make the dream work.