Finances: Is your partner your money match?
Talking about money with your partner isn’t “necessarily easy or fun,” said Kathleen Elkins in CNBC.com. But it’s vital for the health of your relationship, especially if you plan to get married; arguing about money remains “the top predictor of divorce.” The sooner you can figure out whether you are financially compatible with a potential mate, the better the chances your relationship will survive. “A good start is to understand your partner’s financial background and philosophy, by asking such questions as ‘How do you approach money?’ ‘What did your parents teach you about spending and saving?’” From there, you might learn about more nitty-gritty details, such as each other’s credit scores. Those “really matter,” since they can enhance or diminish your ability to “borrow money for bigger purchases” down the road—such as cars and houses—affecting your long-term financial goals.
“It’s actually quite common for financial opposites to attract,” said Lynnette Khalfani-Cox in USA Today. You might be more of a spendthrift while your partner is more frugal. That doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed or that you have endless money battles in your future, “as long as you’re both willing to compromise.” And for that to happen, you need to be open to communicating regularly about spending, saving, and long-term goals like retirement. Honesty is key, said Holly Trantham in NBCNews.com. It helps set the pattern for the rest of the relationship. You should let your partner know how much debt you have incurred (whether it’s student loans, credit cards, or other debt) and also how much you typically spend and save each month. “Remember that the sharing goes both ways—whatever you want to learn about your partner, they should get to learn the same about you.” Continually revisit your financial aspirations to make sure they align.
“Money is fluid, and your conversations about it should be as well,” said Anna Bahney in CNN.com. As your relationship evolves, continuing a policy of honesty and transparency around money will help preserve your bond. The alternative is grim: Financial infidelity is a growing problem among couples, with roughly 15 million Americans “hiding credit cards, checking accounts, or savings from their live-in partners.” If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s not irrecoverable, said Ben Luthi in MarketWatch.com. Get back to basics and try to set a budget together. “Be open and honest about all purchases you make.” Rebuilding trust works in the same manner as building it did in the early stages of your relationship: You both must be “willing to move forward.” ■