You and Me: Conversations Couples Should Be Having About Moneyle
Conversations about financial stability can have a positive effect on your relationship.
But sometimes starting the conversation is the hardest part. Here are some good basic guidelines to get you started:
1. Be up front:
Many say trust is the most important factor in a healthy romantic partnership. Yet many couples struggle to be straightforward about their finances. People hide debt from their partners, with secret credit cards, student loan debt and overdrawn bank accounts undisclosed. This kind of hidden financial shame is common enough to warrant its own terminology: “financial infidelity.”1 And it’s not good for your relationship. Start with a clean, honest slate.
2. Discuss all your dollars:
Avoiding communication with your partner about money, according to statistics, can put you at higher risk of finance-related divorce—one more reason to push through the awkward feelings and make sure to talk about money.2 And that means all your money—both what you have and what you owe.
3. Get on the same page:
People who share ideas and talk openly about spending and saving have healthier relationships.3 Conversely, couples who don’t talk about money tend to have their fair share of falling-out issues. Long story short: getting on the same fiscal page with your partner is crucial. In fact, it can even boost happiness levels between you. “Talking about money with your significant other doesn’t sound very romantic, but according to a study, 78% of those who talk about money at least once a week have a higher level of happiness in their relationship.”4
So, let’s talk.
The easiest way to get on the same financial footing as your partner is to have honest, open conversations about money. It might feel intimidating, but here are some ways to approach it:
1. How will we manage and share finances?
Admittedly, if you’ve just begun dating someone, money will not likely be an early topic of conversation. However, certain financial experts advise that you should start exploring this information earlier rather than later in a relationship. It turns out, if you feel comfortable enough to glean certain financial information from a person you’re seeing, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you have a future with them.5 This can be as simple as noticing whether they pick up the tab or split it with you, whether they will want to eat out or shop more often at more expensive places or if they tip well for services. It’s just one early gauge of how a potential partner happens to spend and/or treat money and it will give you an idea if you’re in alignment.
2. Do financial background and upbringing factor in?
They do. Opinions, attitudes and theories about money tend to start in the home. Our families have a huge impact on how we view earning, spending, saving, investing and wasting money. It behooves you to talk to your significant other about your basic approaches to money. Will we be people who have a spend/save/invest plan? Or are we more relaxed in our approach? Deciding early on can save you from a lot of unmet expectations later, as well as a lot of disagreements.6
3. What are your/my/our priorities?
Despite your spending and saving differences, you might find a partner who’s able to help you improve upon your weak spots—and vice versa. If you care a lot about someone and want to develop a real relationship with them, it’ll be important to understand how they think about money, as well as ways you can help each other do a good job of balancing all the moving parts.5 It can also be a great opportunity to learn new ways of looking at finances—you may each have knowledge that the other doesn’t and be able to make each other smarter about money.
I’ve met with my significant other and we’re in financial alignment. What’s next?
Personal finances should be a team effort for couples. Getting on the same fiscal page is phase one. Now you can start to work together to reach your financial goals.
1. Budget as a couple.
It can be awkward to share finances, especially if it’s your first time doing it. Try to treat it like a fun challenge and something that sets you and your person up for the future you want. What are we looking to do with our money? Make a plan and figure out your shared financial goals and dreams.6 Are we going to travel a bunch? Buy a house? Adopt five kids? Send them all to college? Decide on your big expenses together and work on ways to achieve the things you both want.
2. Set priorities as a couple.
Much like religion and politics, finances are a touchy subject that people should broach before deciding to make a life together. What are your monetary priorities? Whatever your spending or savings goals are, share them with your partner. It’s the only way you can start working toward them together.7
3. Manage debt as a couple.
While debt may only be tied to one half of a couple, it’s important to openly discuss with your significant other how much debt you have. Open, honest communication allows couples to work together to eradicate that debt as a team.7 Not sure where to begin? Our calculator can help.
4. Listen as a couple.
Supporting your partner, keeping an open mind and compromising on what takes priority are good ways to take care of your finances and your relationship.8 If you listen properly and truly absorb what your partner wants to spend money on, you’ll start to get an idea of how you can treat money as a couple.
5. Make use of Flagstar resources that can help:
We’re dedicated to providing the right tools and insights that can help you decide how to move forward as a team. And if you’re ready to take that next step and share your finances, we can help you get started with the right joint account. Learn the benefits of joint checking and then come visit us at your nearest branch to discuss the ideal option for you.
Get all your goals in a row.
If you’re sharing a life and home with someone, you should be aligned on how you approach financial goals and decisions. Here are some ways to consider your partnership, think about long-term goals for your relationship and your money, and make future-focused decisions in tandem:
1. Create goals together.
The couple that plans together, stays together. But that doesn’t mean all of your dreams have to be the same. Start making a list: What do we want to do together? How fast can we eradicate our debt? How can we budget as a team? Start turning your individual passions into shared effort with the person you love.9
2. What do we want long-term?
Let’s be really straightforward: Children are one of the biggest expenses a couple will ever take on. “Financial experts say a home is the biggest investment most people will ever make, but they're forgetting about the cost of raising children.”10 Get on the same page about children early, because they are the most expensive game-changer, and the one that requires the most attention. Find out right away if the person you want to be with shares your vision—with or without the kiddos.9 And whether or not you already have children at home, discuss priorities about how you’ll provide for their expenses, entertainment, enrichment and education. You can explore different scenarios using our savings calculators.
3. How will we make decisions?
Sometimes making choices as a couple is as simple as delegating certain decisions to one partner or the other. Talk with your partner about what you think that party/remodel/trip/child plans will be, how roles could/should be assigned and how you can work together to help one another. “In a relationship, one person might be more interested in managing finances than the other. But CFP Michael Hackler of Horizon Financial Group says, ‘It’s important to maintain a team mindset and share financial responsibilities.’”10 When both partners feel equally involved, committed and responsible for the future of their joint finances, everyone wins.
The most essential thing to keep in mind is that open, clear communication between partners to delineate or delegate decisions and expectations simplifies your day-to-day tasks as well as the workload. It also takes strain off your relationship. Equally important is listening and respecting the lifestyle, financial and aspirational goals of your partner and working together to achieve each of your unique goals in addition to the ones you share.
The most essential thing to keep in mind is that open, clear communication between partners to delineate or delegate decisions and expectations simplifies your day-to-day tasks as well as the workload. It also takes strain off your relationship. Equally important is listening and respecting the lifestyle, financial and aspirational goals of your partner and working together to achieve each of your unique goals in addition to the ones you share.1. How will we manage and share finances?
Visit a branch
We’ll walk you through it. Stop by the nearest branch to open an account in person.
1“Why Couples Should Talk About Finances—and How to Do It.” Washington State Employees Credit Union. January 13, 2020.
2Scott, Shelby B. et al. “Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. June, 2013.
3Bahney, Anna. “Talking About Money Improves Marriage Satisfaction. So Why Don’t We Do It?” CNN. March 3, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/03/success/money-marriage/index.html
4Morad, Renee. “Frequent Money Talks Could Lead to a Happier Marriage, Study Suggests.” Forbes. October 31, 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/reneemorad/2016/10/31/frequent-money-talks-could-lead-to-a-happier-marriage-study-suggests/
5Dumais, Eliza. “We Should Be Talking About Money with Our Partners—Here’s Where To Start.” Refinery 29. April 19, 2019. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/how-to-talk-finances-in-relationship
6Lusinski, Natalia. “8 Ways to Talk to Your Partner About Money, Especially When You Just Started Dating.” Business Insider. April 29, 2019. https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/money-relationship-advice-2019-4
7Alexander, Fo. “Budgeting for Couples: How to Budget as a Couple.” Clever Girl Finance. January 17, 2021. https://www.clevergirlfinance.com/blog/how-to-budget-as-a-couple/
8Stritof, Sheri. “Financial Advice Married Couples Should Not Ignore.” The Balance. March 29, 2020. https://www.thebalance.com/financial-advice-for-married-couples-2302874
9“Financial Tips for Couples.” Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. https://www.cambridge-credit.org/financial-tips-for-couples.html
10Fowles, Deborah. “The Complete Money Guide for All Types of Couples: Financial Resources for Unmarried, Married, and Divorced Couples.” The Balance.January 23, 2021. https://www.thebalance.com/money-guide-for-unmarried-couples-1289690
11Abramson, Ashley. “8 Money Tips Financial Planners Always Give to Couples.” Business Insider. January 29, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/money-tips-financial-planners-always-give-to-couples