How To Communicate With Your Partner About Money: Advice From An Expert

Mar 27, 2024 | Communication, Finances

Oof, money. It’s a topic that makes most of us squirm. And, if you’re like me, you were taught to avoid talking about money, politics, and religion explicitly. Well, it’s time to challenge that teaching (at least concerning money), especially talking about it with your partner. 

No matter how you spin it, joining together in matrimony means intertwining your finances in one way or another. Working with individuals and couples, I see time and time again how money matters trigger misunderstandings, conflicts, and power struggles. However, discussing money with your spouse doesn’t have to be stressful and draining. In this article, I’ll share practical tips on communicating effectively with your partner about money and other financial matters. 


The Role of Money

Before diving into a conversation with your partner, take some time to answer a few questions: 

  • What does money mean to you? 
  • What beliefs do you have about money? 

At first, the answer may appear obvious, but spend a little more time digging into it. For each of us, money symbolizes different things or can represent the same value but with varying degrees. 

Here are a few examples of what money can represent: 

  • Stability 
  • Safety 
  • Power
  • Confidence 
  • Symbol of hard work 
  • Status 

All these are valid meanings and values. What money represents to us is heavily influenced by our culture and upbringing. Be honest with yourself because it will come up as you discuss money with your partner, whether you want it to or not. 

Expanding your insights will result in more beneficial conversations about money. You’ll be more confident in sharing your opinions, feelings, and requests because you understand what drives your financial decisions. And you’ll be more aware of your blind spots! 

The same goes for your partner – they should also take some time to do the same exploration. While you can start conversations about finances before doing this, this will make the process much easier and more productive. Ultimately, this exercise will allow you to move away from pure numerical calculations and foster a more honest understanding of each other. 


Start Small 

Begin with small steps – remember, managing your finances is a long-term endeavor. You may be anxious to start and dive in, but trying to cover it all at once is setting yourself up for failure. Don’t overwhelm yourself and your partner!

Instead, initiate a discussion about something manageable and gradually increase the breadth. What’s a good starting point? Consider:

  • Broad objectives
  • Personal financial concerns 
  • General financial goals 

With each conversation, you and your partner will gain confidence and momentum to continue. 


Use Numbers

Once you’ve identified goals and first steps, don’t be afraid to discuss the numbers. While starting with broad topics benefits the process, focusing on the specifics is crucial. 

Using numbers helps bring objectivity and clarity to the conversation. What exactly does the goal of “being in a good financial place” mean? The easiest way to be on the same page is to define that goal with a number. Experiment with different approaches—filling out a spreadsheet, writing out goals separately, or collaborating. 

It’s important to remember that for some individuals, this may alleviate stress, and for others, it can increase their anxiety. Make adjustments as needed for you and your partner.


Conversational Tools 

If your worries are more centered on how to have conversations about money, here are some tactical tools to try. 

    • Use “I” statements. Framing your thoughts with “I” statements can foster a more open and less aggressive conversation. For example, instead of saying, “You’re spending too much on groceries,” try saying, “I feel worried about our grocery bill budget.” This change can help decrease defensiveness and blaming.
    • Active listening. Practice listening fully and listening to understand. Active listening means trying to understand the other person without interruptions or judgment. 
    • Reflections. Using reflections during the conversation helps your partner to feel heard and understood. It also helps decrease misunderstandings by providing opportunities to correct them early on. Reflections often follow the structure of: “What I’m hearing is…” and ask the speaker if the reflection is accurate.
    • State viewpoints as opinions, not as facts. When expressing viewpoints or opinions, preface them as personal perspectives, not as absolute truths. Doing so helps acknowledge that (even with numbers) there is subjectivity. Avoiding stating things as facts (e.g., “Well, everyone knows you’re supposed to save 40% of your paycheck”) will help encourage a collaborative discussion. 
    • Share your feelings. These conversations can trigger intense feelings, and acknowledging these emotions can be helpful. It can help increase empathy and overcome barriers. For example, you might share, “I’m feeling anxious thinking about our financial future,” instead of that anxiety manifesting in behaviors such as overcontrolling the budget or turning down all ideas. 
    • Brainstorm together. To help expand each person’s perspective and create a more collaborative space, try brainstorming together solutions. To help get the ideas flowing, go analog and use Post-its! Write down any idea (even if you know you’ll discard it) and put it up. Then, together, discard ideas to find those that remain. 

Incorporating these communication tools into your discussions about money can create a more constructive and supportive environment for addressing financial matters together.



Be transparent and honest about your income, expenses, debts, and financial goals. Sharing the relevant financial information in any way you feel most comfortable is crucial. One way to do this is by verbally communicating, of course. But also through a prenup. The process of getting a prenup entails financial disclosure, which legally requires the sharing of finances. Building trust through transparency can lay the foundation for a healthy financial partnership. If this feels difficult, read my next tip!


Celebrate Disagreements! Then Compromise

Okay, this may seem odd, but celebrate the disagreements in the conversation. You might ask, but why?! Disagreeing with each other and bringing it up in discussions together means you are honest with each other. Partners rarely have identical views on money and spending habits. So, disagreements will happen, and it’s better to bring them to light early on. 

The key is learning to compromise. Instead of focusing on convincing the other person to adopt your viewpoint entirely, find common ground and compromise when necessary. Negotiate solutions that respect your priorities; share the hard “no’s” and the areas you’re willing to compromise. 


Call In The Professionals

If you’ve tried it all and still struggle to communicate effectively or resolve financial issues, it may be time to bring in some help. In this case, a financial advisor or a couples therapist would provide the most support. A financial advisor can support you both in making sound financial decisions; they can provide guidance, information, and resources. A couples therapist will offer a different value; they will be able to help improve your communication, provide coping strategies, and support your growth as a couple.  


Talking about money is hard but worth the effort. Choosing to intertwine your lives together inherently means you are intertwining your finances. Take the time to understand what money means to and what it means to your partner. That clarity of insight will set you up for success along with the other strategies and tools listed in this article. You can collaborate with your partner to reach your financial goals by leaning into empathy, curiosity, and transparency. Ultimately, the work will be worth it; you will be able to address financial topics and build a solid relational foundation that will make you a stronger couple. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Communicating With Your Partner About Money

Q: My partner and I have very different attitudes about money. What do we do? 

A: First, that’s okay! Acknowledge and respect that differences don’t have to be a bad thing. Second, focus on identifying common goals for you as a couple. Then, work backward on how you’ll reach those goals; compromise and be transparent. If you feel the differences are too significant to address, seek help from a financial advisor or couples therapist. 


Q: What if one person earns significantly more than another person? How do we make it fair? 

A: This situation is tricky and varies depending on the couple. Have an honest and transparent conversation about how you each feel and what you each request from the other. Answering questions such as, “What does fair mean to you both?” or “What can we each contribute financially?” or “What gets us (as a couple) to our financial goal?” Discuss joint and individual accounts, with each partner putting in the same percentage of their income. These are all ideas to consider. Remember that financial status can be dynamic; your income and expenses can change over time. So, planning to re-assess and make modifications regularly is good practice. Of note, consider the value each of you brings to the relationship, even if the value is not monetary (e.g., one partner being a stay-at-home parent). 


Q: How can we share about our finances without feeling like we’re invading each other’s privacy?

A: Find the balance that works for you both to reach your mutual financial goals. This doesn’t have to be done overnight—you can both build up to the ideal level of transparency. Respecting each other’s autonomy and privacy can co-exist with open communication.

You are writing your life story. Get on the same page with a prenup. For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.
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