Money is an important part of our daily lives, but not necessarily something people like talking about. It’s still considered a taboo topic for many, so much so that some people won’t even discuss their personal finances with their significant other or spouse. And it’s no wonder: arguments about money are one of the top causes of stress in relationships and can be a strong predictor of divorce.
However, romantic couples may want to reconsider avoiding the “money talk.” One Australian survey found that 61% of couples who like talking about money reported that they rarely or never fought about their finances. It seems that regularly discussing your finances with a spouse or partner could lead to a happier relationship.
If you and your significant other are ready to talk money—whether you’re beginning a new romance or have been together for years—here are five questions to get you started.
How do you use your paycheck?
This simple question can actually reveal a lot about a person’s money habits. Some people stick to a strict budget and know where every cent goes each week. Savers may prefer to put a good portion of their salary into the bank or invest it. Spenders might find themselves living paycheck to paycheck, splashing out for shopping trips, dinners out and other splurges most months.
Discussing how each partner uses their paycheck can help both identify possible areas of conflict, and find ways to compromise.
What accounts or financial assets do you have?
Hiding bank accounts and credit cards from a romantic partner may be more common than we think. Around 1.2 million people admitted to doing so in a 2015 survey of Australian adults. They may be keeping secret accounts to hide spending from their spouse, or to have a fallback plan “just in case.”
Secrets have a way of revealing themselves, and your significant other could eventually discover any hidden accounts, cards or assets you’re keeping. They may feel hurt or even betrayed—emotions that may not easily heal. It might be best for both you and your partner to come clean about your full financial portfolio.
Do you have any debt?
Along with hidden financial accounts or assets, hidden debt is another issue that can strain a relationship. Some 28% of New Zealanders revealed that they have been financially hurt by a partner, including discovering that a significant other was hiding debts. This might include credit cards, personal or student loans, or even properties headed for foreclosure.
Debt can often set people back financially. Letting your partner know about your debts could help you build a clearer picture of your shared life.
What are your plans for the future?
Many couples discuss money to help plan their future together. A lot of major milestones require some level of financial planning—getting married, buying a house, starting a family, retirement. Talking about how you each imagine the future could help determine how you may need to manage your shared money.
Your future plans might include setting short and long-term savings goals, pursuing investment opportunities or selling off assets. Hammering out what you want to achieve and when could help you decide what financial moves to make each year in order to reach these milestones.
Do you have a will?
Thinking about death can be difficult, especially when it comes to ourselves and the ones we love. However, a legal will could be an important way to protect your significant other, particularly if you’re unmarried. A will naming your partner as a beneficiary may help protect them financially if you were to pass away suddenly. Otherwise, they might have no legal right to your estate, with it instead going to your parent or other family member.
Ask your partner if they have a will, and if not, consider drafting one for each of you. If either of you do have a will, it may be wise to review it and make any necessary changes to reflect your current financial situation.
Start the money talk today
If you and your partner don’t regularly talk about money, consider starting a conversation today. Making sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to shared finances could help strengthen your relationship. It may take some time and compromise, but the potential benefits could outweigh any discomfort you each may feel.