Did you know that 38% of divorced couples cite financial problems as the reason for their divorce?

Sorry, we don’t mean to scare you. Of course, it’s not money in itself that is causing divorces. It’s power struggles over money, secret spending behind a partner’s back and monetary worries about what you can afford.

But it all boils down to communication: Are you talking about money with your partner? If you’re not, you need to be.

As a society, money isn’t something we generally feel comfortable talking about. We don’t go out to brunch with our friends and all pull out our credit score reports or start talking tax filing with our local barista.

But it is an important conversation to have with your partner, even if the idea of talking money makes you cringe. You want to be on the same page about your finances so you can use your money to plan your future together, not allowing money secrets to lead to resentment.

To make that conversation a little bit easier, we’re sharing 10 tips for discussing banking with your boo, spending with your sweetheart and dollars with your dearest!

10 tips for talking about finances with your partner

1. Talk about money early in your relationship

The best time to talk about money with your partner is as soon as possible. It’s surprising how many couples have no problem getting intimate in other areas of their lives but when it comes to money, they want to hold out until the last second.

Talk about money with your partner before a problem comes up. That way, you can have a calm and neutral discussion, instead of waiting for a big credit card bill to show up and having a screaming match with one another.

That said, you don’t have to swap credit reports on the second date. Your money conversations should be appropriate for the stage of your relationship. If you’re considering marriage (or already married), that’s a very good time to put all of your financial cards on the table.

2. Talk about money often and regularly

Talking about money with your partner isn’t a one-and-done thing. It’s a conversation you’ll need to have often as your financial situation and future plans will always be changing. Don’t worry, the conversation gets easier the more often you have it!

Schedule specific times with your partner when you will talk about money; we like to call these your money dates. That way, you both know exactly when you’re going to sit down and chat dollars and cents, instead of waiting for someone to bring it up.

You can both come to the table prepared and in a good headspace to talk. If you wait until one of you has to bring it up, someone is always going to feel like the bad guy and someone is always going to feel defensive about their spending. We recommend scheduling a money date at least every quarter, if not every month.

3. Be open about your finances with your partner

One of the keys to success in money conversations – and truly in any conversation with your partner – is openness and transparency. It does not pay to keep secrets!

Be honest with your partner about where you’re at financially. Tell them about any debt you have, on-going expenses they may not know about and your income. You’d be surprised how many married people have no idea what their spouse makes!

If you come to the table with all of your finances laid out for your partner to see, you’ll be able to start your money talk from a place of honesty. And you’ll be able to continue that trend with any future money decisions – being open and keeping your partner in the loop about any big transactions before they happen.

Calculate and open pen on top of a budget spreadsheet, how to talk about money with your partner

4. Respect your different histories with money

Everyone’s money history is different. You may have grown up in a frugal household where you were never allowed to buy something that wasn’t on sale. Your partner may have grown up without very much money and have no idea what discretionary income looks like. You may have had an allowance as a kid. Your partner may have learned to budget from their mom who was an accountant.

Everyone has a different money story and a different way that money affected their upbringing. Start to learn about your partner’s history by trading stories about your first money memories, how money was handled in your families and what financial lessons you want to remember vs the ones you want to forget.

Learning about each other’s money histories allows you to understand your partner better and develop compassion for where they’re coming from and how that still impacts them today. Plus, by talking about your histories, you’ll gain a better sense of what you want to see in your shared money future.

5. Keep in mind that there is no one right way to manage your money

Repeat after us: There is no one right way to manage your money! There is no perfect universal solution that is going to work for every couple out there. Just because your sister-in-law and her partner have one joint account that they use for everything doesn’t mean this is the right way forward for you and your partner.

Be open to alternatives and do your homework on the different money management styles available. Take the time to discuss the options with your partner so you can discover what style of money management is going to work best for you two.

6. Make talking about money fun!

Many of us have negative feelings when it comes to money. The word “budget” might make you shudder or you might cringe whenever you have to look at your credit card bill.

But the truth is, money doesn’t have to be scary or evil. The point of talking about finances with your partner is so you can get to a place where money is exciting, empowering and even, dare we say it, fun!

Put that into action by making your money dates fun. Instead of looking at your money meetings as a stressful time when you have to come clean about your spending or worry about expenses, think of them as tools that will help you achieve your shared goals. Even if they feel far away, spend time dreaming about what you’ll do once you reach them.

You can also make your money dates feel more like dates and reward yourselves for talking finance. For example, after your monthly money check-in, you and your partner could treat yourselves to ice cream cones from your favourite shop. Or, you could curl up with a movie on Netflix once you’ve gone over your holiday gift budget.

You can keep track of all of your money talk in a pretty coloured notebook or even burn nice smelling candles during your chats. The more you can associate happy things with your conversations about money, the better!

Pens and coins stacked up on a spreadsheet, talking to your partner about finances

7. Be supportive of your partner 

As much as we want to make money fun, money can be hard. Some people have very difficult relationships with money and a lot of money-related trauma that they need to work through. That baggage can make what sounds like an easy budgeting task extremely difficult.

Make sure you enter your money dates from a place of compassion. Remember, you’re sitting down with someone you love, not some stranger who has debt or doesn’t know how to file their taxes. Hold hands, hug and give smiles to let your partner know you support them, no matter what money talk they bring to the table.

If your partner is feeling anxious about your money conversations, it can help to lay some ground rules. Remind them (and yourself!) that this isn’t a place of judgment. There’s no need to feel guilt or shame. The purpose of your money dates is so you can use money to achieve your goals together and not let it be something that hurts your relationship. It may also help your partner if you open up about your finances first, so they can witness your vulnerability.

8. Take breaks from your money conversations

While talking to your partner about money is important, it might not be easy. These conversations can get very emotional, overwhelming and heated. If you and your partner have very different money histories and philosophies, you may find yourself butting heads more often than not as you figure out how to manage your money.

Like any other conflict in your relationship, know when to take a timeout. If you find yourself flushed in the face and ready to cut your partner’s credit card in half, put the scissors down and take a break.

Cool off and revisit the conversation when you can calmly talk about the root of the problem and how you’ll move forward together. Restate your ground rules (i.e. this is not a place of judgment), remember why you’re having these money dates, and rest easy knowing that it will only get better from here.

9. Know when to bring in an expert

When money problems are too big for a couple to handle on their own, sometimes the best thing to do is bring in an expert. Not only can an expert help you to work through any big problems, but they can also put you on the right path if you’re not sure where to start.

For money expertise you can meet with a financial advisor, go through a financial workbook or course together, or even ask a trusted friend or family member. If you think it’s less about the numbers and more about your relationship, you may want to reach out to a therapist or counsellor.

If you’re looking to get on the same page about money and other important aspects of your life together, consider relationship coaching.

10. End every conversation about money on a good note

At the end of every money date, ensure you and your partner leave things on a good note. You don’t want to build resentment by ending these money talks with one person storming off or breaking down in tears. It can help to end these dates on a positive note, such as dreaming about your next money goal, looking at what you’ve achieved and thanking each other for sharing. Of course, you should always end with a kiss!

Even if you don’t agree on everything or if you haven’t solved all of your financial problems, you’ve still made progress towards your shared financial future. Remember, the goal with these money talks is progress, not perfection.

Celebrate the strides you made and agree to revisit any lingering issues at your next meeting. Then, head out for that ice cream or get your Netflix movie queued up. You deserve it!