We’ve often shared our view that creating a budget shouldn’t be looked at as a chore, but an opportunity to prioritize where your money goes. Budgeting helps you cut out the spending that doesn’t matter to you so that you have more money for the things you care about it.
Of course, that’s why it’s can be difficult to start a conversation about money with someone else. It’s not just about the numbers—it’s about your individual priorities and values. It gets even more complicated when the financial choices of the other person impact your decisions and vice versa.
Here are our three favorite tips for talking money with your partner:
Ease into it
If you’re currently furious at your partner for spending you consider frivolous, it’s not the time to talk. Instead, wait until you’ve cooled off. When you’re ready, don’t start with accusations. Ask your partner why he made the choice he did—and focus on hearing him out. His reasoning may make more sense than you expected.
Work with the facts
If you and your partner don’t currently track your spending, it’s a good idea to do so for a month. You may think you’re on target to hit a financial goal you’ve been working toward (say paying off the last of your student loans), but not realize you could be doing so even more efficiently if you change some of your spending habits.
Tracking your spending can also help you better align your own individual goals and inspire impromptu conversations about your financial goals, as you learn more about each other’s habits.
Remember it’s not just about your spending
When budgeting, we tend to focus on where our money goes—how much to savings, retirement, groceries, etc. How we get that money—and how that affects our relationship with our partner—is just as important.
Those discussions can involve a constant tradeoff. Is it worth it for you to work longer days for extra income, but less time to enjoy it? What about your partner? Does one of you dream of opening a business, which might mean taking a pay cut until it takes off?
The more you and your partner get in the habit of talking about money and what it means to you, the easier the conversation will get.