This post is written by Ratehub.ca
It’s no secret that money is widely cited as one of the biggest stress points for couples — but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re feeling awkward about diving deep into personal finances with your partner, consider this: by putting everything on the table and candidly discussing your priorities and values, you’re setting yourselves up for being financially in sync over the long-term. Here are a few steps you can take to getting your relationship on the right financial footing:
Pick the right time and place
The first step to making a financial plan is disclosure, which the personal finance world calls getting “financially naked" for a reason: you’ll be sharing your salaries, debts, student loans, savings, investments, credit scores, and any financial obligations. You might have an idea of your partner’s situation, but you both need to know your respective financial histories, how you make money and how you pay your bills. Make a night of it by setting aside an evening or weekend on the calendar so each of you can get your papers in order. This doesn’t have to be a serious affair — put out drinks, snacks, or even make a playlist (Pink Floyd’s Money, anyone?).
Ask open-ended questions
One of the biggest sources of financial fights is misaligning values and priorities – do you both plan to be homeowners? How do you feel about mortgages? The point isn’t for you to agree on everything, but to have a common understanding of each other’s point of view.
Whether the conversation starts to flow organically or you need some prompts, ask each other open-ended questions, such as:
- What’s your attitude toward managing daily finances?
- What are your financial priorities and goals?
- What’s our plan for managing debt?
- How will we handle emergencies (work, personal, family)?
- How do you feel about joint chequing and savings accounts?
Read books or take a budgeting course
For expert third-party advice, there’s a wealth of great Canadian personal finance books out there that tackle the major life stages couples go through, from buying your first home and having kids to mid-life and retirement. For structure and guidance, online budgeting courses provide video tutorials and downloadable worksheets to help set long-term goals and sort out everyday issues such as combining bank accounts and how you’ll share expenses.
Touch base regularly
This isn’t a one-time conversation — communication in a relationship is a circle, not a line. A financial plan should look five to 10 years in the future, and checking in regularly is a great way to make sure you’re on track and the same page. Financial plans can also change when you add purchasing a home or having kids to the mix — or more unexpected events such as losing a job or a death in the family. But whatever the future holds, making talking about money a regular part of your relationship and lays a solid foundation to build a life together.
And don't forget to make life insurance part of one of those discussions.