40% of Americans Don't Want to Talk Finances With Their Partners. Here's Why That's a Bad Thing
- A new survey reveals a large portion of Americans would rather avoid money talks with their partners or spouses.
- By discussing financial matters openly, you can work to avoid problems while targeting specific goals.
Money matters shouldn't be kept in the dark.
Being in a relationship often means having difficult or uncomfortable conversations. Those might include topics like health matters, children, religion, and money.
But the latter is something a large chunk of Americans would rather not talk about with their partners. In a recent NFCC and Wells Fargo survey, 40% of respondents say they'd rather avoid the topic of money with a partner or spouse. But that's a big mistake -- one that could have serious consequences.
The importance of syncing finances
Some people who get married or decide to share a life together get joint bank accounts and pay their expenses that way. Others retain more independence in both regards. Either way, it's important to talk about money with your partner to not only avoid financial problems, but also make sure you're working toward mutual or even individual goals.
Imagine your partner comes into your relationship with $20,000 in credit card debt. That's the sort of thing that could make it difficult to buy a home together or meet other goals. If your partner covers that up or simply keeps quiet about it, you may not know that debt exists until you apply jointly for a mortgage and find your application gets rejected. The result? A financial blow, but also, a potential blow to your relationship.
That's why being open about money matters is a better idea. Specifically, you and your partner should make a point to talk about:
- What your income entails
- How much money you each have in savings and investments
- How much debt you have, and what type
- What your respective credit scores look like
You should also, if you're living together and splitting expenses, get on a joint budget that outlines what your various spending categories look like. If you don't plan to pay expenses from a joint account or split them evenly, then you'll need to make a clear plan that maps out who's responsible for which bills.
You may decide if one person earns a lot more than the other, they'll pay a higher portion of the rent and utilities. That's fine, but it's important to have that talk and arrive at that arrangement together.
Don't neglect your financial goals
You may have certain financial goals in mind, like buying an income property or building a nest egg that allows for an early retirement. Your partner may have different goals, or some that overlap with yours.
It's crucial to talk through those goals so you and your partner can work together to meet them. Just as importantly, you don't want to end up in a situation where one of you accidentally does something to sabotage the other's goals.
Let's say you've been saving up diligently to start a business. If your spouse decides to embark on a home renovation project without talking through the numbers with you, they might rack up such a large tab that you need to raid your slush fund for your business to cover those costs. That could result in a world of distress for you -- and a lot of needless arguing.
It's often said that honesty and openness are the key to a solid relationship. That extends to money matters. Talking about finances may not be your preferred way to spend an evening, but it's an essential thing to do with your partner, and on an ongoing basis.
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