How to talk to your partner about money and credit
SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Money, credit and debt can all be tricky topics. Still, having honest conversations about your finances is essential when it comes to romantic relationships. According to a 2021 poll, 18% of divorced couples regret not talking about finances more often. Meanwhile, couples who had more open financial conversations tended to be happier.
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If you’re not already used to talking about money and credit with your partner, it can be hard to know where to start. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to these important conversations. But consider the following three ideas and see if they seem right for your relationship, from myFICO:
Idea #1: Plan a financial “date night”.
For many people, talking about money can feel uncomfortable. Even if this is not the case for you, it could be the reality for your partner. Therefore, it is important to be sensitive, especially when bringing up the subject of finances with your partner for the first time.
Instead of asking your partner questions about money, debt, and credit out of the blue, you might consider scheduling a time for a conversation. Explain to your partner that you want to discuss your financial life together and see if he is open to the idea of a financial date.
If your partner is on board, choose a perfect time for both of you. Try to avoid times when you might feel rushed or tired (like just before or after work).
You may also want to incorporate a nice meal or other treat to set the mood for conversation. Adding a special element to your silver date can be a nice tradition to establish, especially if you hope to repeat the experience (perhaps on a monthly basis) in the future.
Idea #2: Talk about the future and the past.
As partners, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to your future financial goals. But you can’t reach that point unless you make the effort to open up and talk about what matters most to you, and find out what matters to your partner.
One way to find out your partner’s financial priorities and share your own is to discuss your hopes and goals for the future. Below are some questions that can guide you through this conversation.
What are your big financial goals (i.e., becoming a homeowner, being debt free, retiring early, starting a business, funding college education for the kids, etc.)?
What short-term financial goals are also important to you (eg, travel, creating financial space to pursue a hobby, donating to charity, etc.)?
Do you tend to be a saver or a spender (and are you happy with these past financial choices)?
Are you used to using a budget to manage your money and do you like the budgeting system you have in place?
Are you open to reducing spending in certain areas if it can help us achieve our common financial goals?
What is the status of your FICO® scores?
Are you working to pay off your debts? If that’s true, what are they?
How do you feel about working together to achieve our financial goals?
In addition to talking about the financial goals you hope to achieve, it can also be helpful to discuss your financial background, such as experiences you had with money as a child.
How your family handled finances when you were growing up can have a profound impact on how you feel about money and credit as an adult. The same is true for your spouse. Understanding where the other person in your relationship is coming from can help you develop a financial management plan that works best for both of you as a couple.
Idea #3: Share responsibility for the monthly financial to-do list.
Not only is it important that you and your partner have a say in financial decisions, but it can also be helpful to share equal responsibility for your financial to-do list. You may want to consider dividing up monthly financial tasks such as:
Pay bills and debts (or confirm that scheduled automatic drafts are taking place).
Balancing bank accounts.
Review of credit card statements.
Tracking of debt elimination and savings progress.
If you each manage some of your household financial responsibilities, you can discuss these areas together during your monthly meeting. You can also check your individual FICO® scores and credit reports monthly or at least quarterly to make sure your credit health is in good shape as well. Finally, you might consider using a common expense tracker to make sure you both stay on track with your budget goals during the time between your money conversations.
Talking about money and credit can be intimidating at first. Yet many couples find that financial transparency and openness strengthen their relationship. Working with a partner towards common goals can be powerful.
It’s also important to note that you don’t have to try to navigate this process alone. A financial therapist can help you and your partner if you can’t start (or continue) the conversation about money on your own. And if you’re comfortable talking to your spouse but feel overwhelmed with financial decisions, a reputable financial or credit counselor might be able to offer professional advice, depending on your situation.
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