November 4th, 2013
4 Conversations Couples Should Have About Money
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Let’s face it. There are more romantic conversations to have with your partner than one about finances. But the “money talk” is important to have, no matter what stage your relationship is in. Financial problems can cause tension between partners– surveys often find money is the number one reason couples argue. So how to do you know what money conversations you should be having with your partner? This really varies depending on how long you guys have been together. Here are some suggested conversations for different stages of your relationship:
When You’re Dating
In the beginning of your relationship when you are getting to know each other, focus conversations around financial habits. One conversation gaining popularity these days is the “what’s your credit score” talk. It might sound a little personal, but this question can lead to a larger conversation around money. A person’s three digit number can reveal a lot about their financial history. It can tell you if your partner is good about paying their bills on time or how much outstanding debt they may have. If you don’t know your credit score, use Credit Karma to get your credit score for free. Of course, you don’t need identical scores to be soul mates, but being open and honest about to your money habits will help when the relationship gets more serious.
Before Moving In Together
Before you start packing up your stuff to move in with your significant other, make sure you have the “how are we going to split up and pay the bills” conversation first. Moving in with someone is a big commitment, so before you do anything, figure out how you and your partner will divvy up the household bills. Maybe you guys will decide to each take ownership of different bills. Or you’ll open a joint account—each contributing to the account and paying all joint bills from that account. Remember, there is no right or wrong way, as long as you both are comfortable and agree with the plan.
When you both realize it’s time to make your relationship “official” and get married, you should have the “how are we going to manage our money” conversation. Before the wedding, take the time to sit down and discuss if you will merge your money, keep it separate or do a little of both. Again, there is no right or wrong way, but it is important to find what works for your family and stick to the plan. Another part of the money management conversation should be discussing your budget. First, talk about what has to be paid each month—household bills, debt and savings contributions. Once that is done, discuss together what you want to do with the extra money. It is OK to set money aside to splurge every once in a while, but those splurges should probably be on something you can do together.
Planning for the Future
Providing for a family and especially children is very costly these days. Once you’ve decided to start a family, it is a good time to have the “saving for college” conversation. This is a big financial decision that will affect the entire family’s future, so you both want to be on the same page. First, ask each other how much of your children’s tuition (if any) you’ll want to cover. Then, look over your current financial situation and see how much you can reasonably put towards a college fund. Having this conversation early will give your money more time to grow through a college savings plan like a 529 plan.
Bottom Line: Having money conversations throughout the different stages in your relationship can help minimize financial surprises. Start today and your relationship will thank you later. Good luck!
Amy Leone is the Public Relations Coordinator at Credit Karma. Before joining the team in June 2012 she spent most of her career as a TV news producer. When she’s not helping promote Credit Karma on a variety of media outlets, she’s probably out running or exploring her new state of California.
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