The more you and your romantic partner get on the same page financially, the less likely you are to fight about money matters. But data published earlier this year by The Ascent reveals that American couples may be waiting too long to talk money, and, as such, are compromising their relationships.
In a study titled The Financial Timeline of Relationships, U.S. adults, on average, feel comfortable disclosing their full financial situation to their partner after a year of dating. But waiting that long could result in a world of tension -- and distrust.
It pays to be open and honest
Talking money isn't an easy thing to do, especially if you're less than thrilled with your financial circumstances. But the sooner you discuss money matters, the better equipped you'll be to sync up with your partner and avoid conflict.
According to the Ascent, it takes couples 10 months, on average, to share information about their debt, and it takes 15 months, on average, to reveal their credit scores. But having this information earlier on could prove quite important, especially for couples looking to make joint financial decisions.
Imagine you and your partner decide to move in together after 10 months, only at that point, you've yet to disclose information about your finances. If your partner has terrible credit, he or she could hurt your chances of qualifying for a mortgage or apartment lease. And, if your partner is bad with money, and is juggling a huge level of monthly debt payments, it could leave you in a situation where you're stuck covering more than your fair share of the bills.
Another surprising finding from The Ascent? It takes couples nine months, on average, to reveal their annual salary. But again, that could prove problematic if you're merging finances in any way, or making money-related decisions that impact both of you.
Imagine your partner is a higher earner, but you aren't. Knowing about that salary gap might inspire your partner to choose lower-cost activities for the two of you to take part in so as not to drain too large a percentage of your limited financial resources. But if you withhold that information, your partner won't know to make adjustments.
Don't hesitate to talk money
The sooner you and your partner are able to discuss your finances openly, the sooner you'll be able to see if you're aligned on goals and habits. And if you aren't, you'll know to work through those differences rather than let them fester and eventually wreak havoc on your relationship.
Imagine, for instance, that you're a natural saver, but your partner is more of a spender. While you may be pinching pennies and sticking to a tight budget to carve out money for your emergency or retirement savings, your partner might be whipping out a credit card freely to buy the latest gadgets or frequent the hottest restaurants in town. After a period of time, that's bound to wear on you, even if you and your partner haven't yet merged finances.
A better bet? Have those conversations early on. That doesn't mean you should reveal your bank account balance on your third date, but it does mean having open conversations before your relationship reaches the one-year mark. Remember, you and your partner don't have to agree on everything -- with regard to money or anything else. But you do need to learn to be mindful of each other's habits, challenges, and goals so that if your relationship moves forward, it doesn't wind up on course for disaster.