Discussing finances with your significant other during the best of times can be challenging, but living in economic uncertainty can put additional strain on those conversations.
BNN Bloomberg spoke to financial experts who shared insights on how couples can talk to each other about their financial situation and find strategies for success.
FIND THE RIGHT TIME
The consensus among money experts is to discuss finances with your partner sooner rather than later. However, one advisor said the best strategy is to let these conversations arise organically.
“Rather than offering a specific schedule, I suggest that couples engage in those parts of the financial conversation as they arise naturally,” said Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, finance expert and host of the Money Confidential Podcast.
She explained that when couples book a trip or plan to move in together, conversations about money usually come naturally. However, she said that doesn’t mean it’s forbidden to talk about money on a first date.
“You can ask someone on the first date what they like to spend their money on and what goals they are working towards. That way you can feel your financial compatibility early on,” she says.
DEALING WITH COMMON EXPENSES
At some point in a relationship, couples will likely start sharing expenses. That setup will look different for everyone, Rodriguez said.
Some couples are comfortable with a 50/50 split, while others prefer to approach expenses in relation to their income, she explained.
Some ways to track a shared budget can be an Excel spreadsheet or digital apps that help couples keep a monthly overview, such as B. Splitwise or Buddy.
It’s important to remember that what’s financially “fair” is different for each couple when splitting expenses, Rodriguez noted.
“A significant other who was once the breadwinner may lose their job or someone in the relationship may be promoted. Situations like this mean what is financially fair is changing,” she explained.
There’s also the reality of budgeting for possible pre-existing debts from both partners when entering into a relationship.
One in three Canadians (31 percent) took on debt with a partner when entering into a relationship, the latest data from Finder Canada shows. The average amount of debt inherited in a relationship was $17,417, according to the report.
“It’s critical that couples practice full financial disclosure — with each partner sharing their income streams, debts, assets, etc. before a marriage,” she said.
When financial circumstances differ significantly between partners, or when there are uncertainties about income, compassion and money sharing can be key to the solution, one consultant said.
“It’s not always about how much you make, sometimes it’s about how you spend it,” says Jessica Moorhouse, money expert and accredited financial advisor.
There’s a way to make both people feel like they’re contributing to the larger financial goals you both share, despite an income gap, she said.
Moorhouse explained that talking about money can be challenging because people bring their financial trauma to relationships. Because of this, she advised each partner to bring compassion into these discussions and to remember that there is a human on the other end.
There is also the option of seeking external help if couples are feeling unwell.
“If you’re struggling to find common ground with finances, you may consider bringing in a third party like a financial advisor or even a therapist,” Moorhouse said.
One tip she gave was to set a specific time and day of the month to talk about finances. This can look like tracking your financial goals or seeing where things may have gone wrong in that 30 day period.
“Talking about money is always going to have its ups and downs, but as you keep talking it gets easier,” Moorhouse said.