Imagine this: Your date takes you out for a fancy omakase dinner. After getting home from a romantic evening, you check your phone for a sweet “goodnight” text, but instead, you’re hit with a Venmo request for your half of the bill. Although you were planning to use that money to pay off your car, you fulfill the payment anyway and feel frustrated since you’re low on cash.
Awkwardly dancing over the bill at dinner doesn’t have to be a thing anymore. Being upfront about where you stand money-wise with your boo can totally be the new norm – and for good reason. A 2015 study published by TD Bank found that 42% of couples who spoke about money once per week described their relationship as “extremely happy” compared with 27% of those who talk about money less than once per week.
There are many reasons why people get weird about money, and it comes down to what money represents; socioeconomic status, belief systems, daily behaviors, power, and values. Your attitude toward money can often reflect how you grew up and how you think about the future. That’s why being able to talk about how you view and manage money is essential – yes, even if your relationship isn’t that serious yet. After all, you’re still splitting the tab and spending money on the relationship, even if you aren’t living together or sharing a bank account yet. After a while, the numbers add up.
As a certified relationship coach, I’m all about radical honesty and coaching my clients to handle tough conversations of all kinds – financial topics included. If you’re unsure where to start, I’ve compiled tips from my own experience (I’ve been there and done that – personally and professionally) along with best practices from fellow experts. Here’s everything you need to know about smoothly navigating financial conversations with your partner, why it’s so dang hard to talk about money in the first place, and why it’s important to do it anyway so you can co-create healthy money habits with your S.O.
Why Is It Uncomfortable To Talk About Money With Your Partner?
First off, let’s address the elephant in the room. It’s tough to talk about money – period. We’ve been heavily conditioned to keep financial matters to ourselves. It’s so pervasive that according to a 2019 eMoney survey of 2,500 American adults, nearly half (43%) report feeling stressed, embarrassed, or confused when talking about their personal finances and 20% never talk about money with other people. Transfer that over to your relationship and you’re basically opening up Pandora’s box.
In addition, Talia Bombola, licensed family and marriage therapist and business coach, tells Elite Daily that it’s common to grow up in a household where money isn’t discussed openly – and if you did hear conversations at home, those discussions might have been surrounded by arguments. I can back this up: throughout my twenties, I lived with two different boyfriends, and it was always stressful to let them into how I managed my finances because of my immigrant upbringing. I grew up in an environment where discussions about money were hush-hush and a little shameful to share, which carried over to my romantic relationships.
Nobody wants to repeat their parents’ mistakes. “Yet, unless we learn how to discuss money healthily, that is what inadvertently happens,” Bombola says. “By avoiding discussing money, we fight and recreate the conflict that was modeled to us.”
How Soon Is Too Soon To Talk About Money?
Bombola recommends talking about money early and often. “It’s a part of life, and the more you talk about it, the easier it gets.” However, talking about money is a different story than working on financial goals together. Building healthy financial habits can be as casual or as serious as you want it to be; it just depends on what you’re both looking for, and where your relationship stands. As you’re figuring things out, it may be useful to begin a baseline discussion of your personal financial goals and timelines as a good starting point.