There’s no doubt about it: It’s tricky to talk about money with your spouse/partner. How difficult is it? According to an Associated Press poll of Americans in a romantic relationship, 67 percent said that is was harder to talk about money than any other topic, while just 29 percent thought it was harder to talk about sex. How can you tackle the emotion-laden and sometimes taboo topic of money? Set aside a specific time and place to talk. Try to reduce emotions by setting ground rules: No judgments -- just open dialogue. Use “The Talk” to share financial information, starting with disclosing all accounts, debts and basically coming clean. Research has shown that couples often keep financial secrets, like a hidden bank account or a credit card that carries a big balance. Like most secrets in a relationship, these can be damaging when they are ultimately disclosed.
You should also discuss your financial priorities to ensure that you are on the same page with your partner. This is especially important for younger couples, who may be juggling competing goals like paying down student loan debt and saving to buy a first home or those who are trying to rebuild their financial lives after the Great Recession.
This conversation should prompt you to create a joint spending and debt reduction plan, together. I am all for working toward each partner’s strength. If one is a spreadsheet queen and likes to track money, perhaps she should manage the day-to-day bill paying. If the other is more inclined to manage the investments, that’s ok too. But you must understand the game plan together and then allocate the tasks appropriately.
Sharing financial information and responsibility and working together can ease the burden if one partner is carrying the load. One way to keep an uninvolved partner in the loop is to have a quarterly meeting to review your progress.
Other important areas of communication are insurance coverage, retirement and estate planning, but for now, get cracking on sharing the basics!