Despite how much you love your partner, having a financial talk is not exactly fun. There are quite a few reasons why you might be nervous about discussing finances with your partner. Perhaps there’s an “elephant in the room” on the topic of debt, spending, or differences in income levels. Or maybe you simply feel uncomfortable talking about the topic. Even if your relationship has no financial hurdles, talking about money can be difficult and uncomfortable.
The Reality of Financial Transparency
Due to its uncomfortable nature, too many couples fail at financial transparency. According to a Qualtrics survey, 45% of recently married couples reported they didn’t discuss their debt before marriage. Not to mention, financial disagreements are often a cause of divorce for many couples. A 2012 study reported that 40% of participants stated their reason for divorce was related to how their spouse handled money.
Don’t let this happen to you and your partner! Start your marriage off with financial transparency. Financial transparency includes being open and honest with your partner about financial matters. Though you may be concerned about discussing finances with your partner, the process of sharing and being truthful can actually set you and your partner up for financial success.
By having the financial discussions required to create a prenup, you and your partner get everything out on the table way before you even get married. Ultimately, this ends up benefiting both parties in the relationship and can pave the way for a financially successful marriage!
Importance of the “Talk” and How Prenups Force It
While having a conversation with your partner may seem daunting, it’s especially important. Not only is having the discussion important but having it before you get married is even more important. Before you join forces as one under the law, you and your soon-to-be spouse need to get on the same page. This includes discussing how you’ll manage your finances and creating boundaries for spending, debt, and more.
For some couples, creating a prenuptial agreement may be a good idea based on your “talk” about finances. A prenup is a premarital agreement where both parties agree to terms that you’ll both abide by in the event of a divorce. While many couples choose to create a prenuptial agreement to protect their assets, it can also be used as an excellent financial planning tool.
An important part of a prenup, known as financial disclosure, requires that both partners in a relationship must disclose all of their assets. This requires honesty and transparency from both partners. During the creation of a prenuptial agreement, you and your partner can create a “financial schedule” that basically discloses each of your assets and debts. This includes real estate, income, investments, bank accounts, credit card debt, student loans, and other financial assets and debts. In some states, if you aren’t honest about all of your assets, your prenup might even be deemed invalid by the court.
Throughout your financial discussions, it is also important to keep an open mind. Many financial behaviors we learn are often based on how we grew up and the examples our parents set for us. Differences in economic status or class can also alter someone’s beliefs when it comes to money. Be mindful not to pass judgment as your partner explains their financial background.
Understanding your partner’s financial background can help you better understand their decision-making and vice versa. Then, you can find a way to meet in the middle to find a spending and saving plan that works for both of you.
Each partner should identify their individual financial goals and the steps or actions needed to achieve them. With that in mind, you and your partner can then discuss how to integrate these goals into a set of common or shared goals.
Discussing short and long-term goals as a couple can give you hope and set goalposts to achieve. Perhaps this includes a savings plan or account for your future children or starting an investment account together. Some examples of financial goals include:
- Plans to pay off student debt/loans
- Plans to save for future expenses
- Retirement plans
- Health Care plans
- Travel and Vacation spending
- Recreational Spending
Arguments surrounding recreational spending can often be problematic for couples. Advertisements surround us everywhere we go, left and right. From YouTube ads to TikTok-targeted ads, it can be difficult to curtail recreational spending. While spending some money on things you love is a great form of self-care, overspending is easy. The world of online shopping certainly doesn’t make it easy to practice good spending habits.
Creating a monthly budget allowance for each partner can help to curtail excessive recreational spending. Each partner can allocate their “allowance” on spending that brings them joy. This could be buying drinks at the bar on a Friday night or that new TikTok trending makeup item.
You and your partner can come up with a comfortable “extra” spending amount that works for your budget. In turn, you’ll experience fewer arguments when that monthly credit card bill comes each month. In addition, it helps encourage financial transparency from both partners in a relationship.
Getting On the Same Page
A discussion surrounding financial transparency should include an overview of several financial matters. To begin with, you and your partner should be open and upfront about existing debt and create a plan together to manage it. This can be a touchy subject, however, approaching it as a team can bring you and your partner closer together. Other financial matters to discuss include income, debt, investments, and more.
In these financial discussions, you and your partner may wish to come up with a plan for joining incomes. Some couples wish to create a prenup to detail each person’s individual assets and debts before marriage to keep them separate from one another. This can help protect you from splitting up certain property, such as real estate or inheritances, in a divorce.
No matter what your financial situation or goals entail, use these financial discussions as a chance to plan for the future. If you’re not sure how to start a financial conversation, start with honesty! Approach your financial discussion at a time when you and your partner are comfortable and relaxed. When it comes to having difficult conversations, timing is everything.
Also, it is important to remember that these conversations don’t always need to be uncomfortable. Dreaming of a future with your spouse and growing old together can be quite romantic too. Despite what the bad rap surrounding prenups say, we think creating a prenup can be quite romantic.
Move Towards an Honest Relationship
Each couple’s financial goals and vision will differ. However, the purpose of this conversation is for both of you to get on the same page. As such, you owe it to yourself to be open and honest. Many relationships suffer from dishonesty. Lying can also spiral out of control quickly, causing a major divide between you and your partner.
Even if you’re embarrassed about your financial situation or debt accumulation, remaining honest with your partner is certainly the best policy. Use these tips to set the tone for a financially successful and honest relationship.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]