Our money beliefs are often developed very early on in our lives and stay with us through adulthood. These beliefs can be difficult to change, which is why it may be important to compromise with your partner when it comes to money matters. This doesn’t mean you have to agree on every money decision you’ll ever make together, or that you (or your partner) need to change your point of view to match the other. It does mean, however, that you need a mutual foundation of financial beliefs.
Discussing finances is a common issue that can lead to tension, so having common ground when approaching these conversations with our partners is important. Take time early on in a relationship to talk about a financial belief system. (And continue to evaluate!)
Here are three key financial beliefs that you and your partner should agree upon, and exploring these beliefs and discussing how they impact you, your relationship, and your life will only help you grow as a couple.
Initially, agree to talk about money.
Talking about money is an essential part of building a relationship. Communication here is key, and the bottom line is to have money talks in your relationship early on and often. Some of the key topics you need to address include overall savings and retirement strategies, spending habits, debt, and budgeting practices. You should also review long-term asset acquisition goals, such as buying a home.
You don’t have to share your partner’s entire financial belief system, but it is important to understand what shapes your partner’s views—and be sure you are really listening to him or her. Experts have found that arguing about money can be a predictor of divorce, making it all the more important that you learn how to have productive financial conversations with your partner.
It’s also important you continue these conversations as your life situation changes. Sometimes we can be tempted to have the money talk when major life events occur (such as moving, getting a raise, deciding to have children). Instead, agreeing to talk about money, even during the mundane moments, make it more likely these money conversations will become a routine part of your relationship.
Next, agree to what is “yours, mine, and ours.”
Every family does things a bit differently and your core financial beliefs may be influenced by what you saw your parents do or how it has worked historically for you or with another partner in another relationship. So be sure you aren’t automatically applying a past belief system to your current partnership, and take time to explore the pros and cons of different financial systems with your partner.
For example, some couples pool all income together and equally share bills and expenses. Others divide their accounts and thus divide financial responsibility. Others agree to a specific savings plan, such as living off one income only. Can you guess the right answer? Whatever works for you and your partner! Being a committed partner doesn’t mean you need or have to combine all finances—whatever you and your partner agree upon is the right way to move forward.
Now, agree to an ideal financial future.
As mentioned, you don’t need to (and probably won’t!) agree to every little money detail. But be sure you are on the same page when it comes to your financial future and big picture, long-term goals.
For example, if you dream of buying a vacation home and retiring at age 60 but your partner likes living a little more lavishly now and wants to put off long-term savings, you might need to have a serious conversation about financial goals. To find a shared vision, have regular conversations about financial priorities and how you can achieve them. Sharing a similar picture of your financial future ensures you are well-prepared for all your life goals.