How to Have ‘The Money Talk’ with Your Partner

10 February 2023
Philipp Muedder
Head of Partnerships

Not sure how to have the money talk with your partner? Here are some key tips that have helped our clients along their financial journey.

You'll inevitably have to talk to your partner about money. But, that conversation doesn't have to be painful. Instead, it can empower you to work together to reach your individual and shared financial goals.

Yet, one of the most common reasons for breakups and divorces is, without a doubt, financial problems. Research from Universiti Selangor indicates that financial problems are one of the leading reasons for divorces in Malaysia, primarily due to Malaysian households' inability to pay their debts that disrupted financial stability. Nevertheless, there are also other factors that can trigger financial issues for a couple, such as differing perspectives on managing money, or even just a lack of communication.

So, it’s crucial to have the “money talk” with your partner. Here’s how you could approach it:

Understand that everyone has different views on money

Our perspective about money is generally shaped by our upbringing and how our parents handled their finances. If your parents struggled with debt, how would that shape your feelings around money?

On the contrary, if you grew up in a home where money was never an issue, and you could get the things you always wanted, how would that change your attitude towards money?

These experiences shape the way we think and handle our personal finances. Understanding that everyone has different experiences and perspectives with money can improve your empathy and patience when having the money talk.

Talk and plan about the financial goals you want to achieve

Do you want to start your own business? Retire early? Spend more money on the gym and less on eating out? Does your partner know these things?

Aligning on your short- and long-term goals helps ensure that surprises don't arise around your different money preferences.

If you agree on some short-term goals…

Such as saving for an upcoming holiday, a car, or your wedding, you and your partner could create a plan to put your cash to work. Consider a low-risk, high-interest savings account, or cash management portfolio.

If you agree on some long-term goals…

Such as preparing for yourretirement or your child’s education, then you can make a joint plan to invest your money into a diversified investment portfolio, which offers higher risk and return over a longer period.

Here’s more on how you can create a financial plan to achieve your goals.

Share openly and early on about your personal finances

What steps can couples take to have a happy relationship while also being open about their financial and life goals? Here's where an open, mutual communication channel can help.

Whether you're in a new relationship or have been in a relationship for years, it's never too early to have the money conversation with a serious partner. For one thing, the earlier you start, the more comfortable you'll get talking about money and the fewer surprises you'll face later on.

One person might be comfortable enough with just 3 months of expenses saved up for an emergency fund, but someone else may feel more comfortable with 12 months’ of expenses saved up for an emergency.

Everyone has different personal needs and wants, and it's essential to understand these preferences. To empower each other (and keep money arguments to a minimum), have regular conversations, and know that you'll usually have to make compromises.

Even if finance seems boring or you believe your partner can better manage your shared finances, you should still be involved. It's your financial future just as much as theirs.

Not sure where to start? Try asking your partner some of these questions:

  • Are you a spender or a saver?
  • Do you have a budget?
  • What would you cut back on if we had to save money?
  • What’s the maximum amount we can each spend without consulting each other?
  • What are your long-term financial goals?

Have the money chat regularly with your partner

Try scheduling a financial date night with your partner, such as once a month. At this time, you could go over your financial picture, see how your net worth is progressing, and decide how much to save or invest towards your financial goals. It’s an easy way to eliminate any major surprises down the road, and lets you work as a team.

Empower each other to have the money talk

We've all heard friends and family say things such as: "I'm not good with numbers," "My husband takes care of the finances," and "Talking about finances always leads to arguments."

The reality is that money doesn't have to be a hindrance. Remember, managing money with your partner is a means to just about every one of your life goals. So, talking about money shouldn't be scary. It's something that affects every single person in the world. And, when we talk about money with those we love, we can reach our goals sooner.

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