A new relationship. When do you talk about money?

I was presenting at a women’s conference recently about money and mindset.  At the end of the presentation I was asked this question.  “My daughter is in a new relationship, when she should talk to the new boyfriend about money?” 

money relationship compressed “As soon as possible!!” I said.

I continued: Just let me clarify what I mean.  You probably wouldn’t talk about your financial situation or expectations on a first or maybe even second date.  But once the toothbrush starts moving and you are planning further ahead than the movies or dinner next week; the relationship is looking a little more serious.  Maybe you are planning a holiday away together.  Whatever the trigger is for you that gets you thinking things are moving beyond the dating stage and a longer term relationship is looking likely then you need to have a conversation about money management.

Money can cause huge stress in a relationship.  It is hard to pin down the statistics, but some reports say that up to 70% of relationship breakup is due to money.  So get it out in the open early. 

Now that I had everyone’s attention, the questions continued.

“Why do we need to do this?”

Well, we come into a relationship with our own beliefs and behaviours around money.  Whether it is your first, second or third relationship and particularly if you have had money issues in the past, you bring that baggage with you and it needs to be dealt with.

“Where do we start?  What do we say?”

I call it the ‘the money conversation’.  Don’t just spring it on your partner; let them know you want to have a conversation about money and plan for it.

Set aside a time and place to have the conversation.  If you are tired and have had a stressful day don’t even attempt to have the money conversation.  Find a favourite park, or beach away from all other distractions where you can be open and talk to each other.  Don’t forget to turn off the phone!

If the discussion starts to get heated, or goes round in circles, stop.  Take a break and pick it up again another day.

Some of the issues you bring up will have nothing to do with money; they will be about self esteem, control, security and so on.  You need to listen carefully for the tone of the conversation changing.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes.  Men and women see money differently, generally women want security so like to save, whereas men are more risk takers and see money as power and identity.

Some of the questions you could discuss are,

  1. How did your parents handle money?
  2. Does debt scare you?
  3. Are you comfortable managing your own money?
  4. How was money handled in previous relationships?  Did that work?

Also discuss some different money scenarios and see how you each would handle the situation.

  1. What happens if one of you lost your job.
  2. How do you deal with an overdrawn bank account, or credit card debt.
  3. Wanting an overseas holiday.

If you have concerns about your partners spending habits, now is a good time to discuss them.  You also want to find out if your partner has debt, as this could affect your joint ability to borrow money in the future.

Some people are very reluctant to talk about money, so don’t expect to have the whole conversation at once; you may have to come back to it several times.  Once you have had the conversation, then set some guidelines about spending thresholds; who is going to manage the money, will you have joint or separate bank accounts.

Keep in mind your goals as a couple so keep the lines of communication open, understand and respect each other’s beliefs about money and both be prepared to compromise.

You will have a much stronger foundation for your relationship moving forward once you have got the money ‘stuff’ out of the way.

As I was packing up, I couldn’t help wondering how many of the ladies in the conference were heading home to have their own ‘money conversation’ with their partners….

To see this all on video, have a look here.  Lynda Moore


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