Finance for Couples: How to have the “Money Talk”

Making sure you’re on the same financial page with your partner.

It's important to talk to your partner about money

Every relationship hits that point where it turns serious for both people – you pass the point of casually dating and move to considering how you’ll spend the rest of your lives together. It’s an exciting time, no doubt, but it’s also a time when you need to be taking a few steps to ensure this person is really “the one.”

… And as unromantic as it may seem, finance needs to be a key part of the decisions you make before you move forward. Getting on the same financial page early on helps ensure the success of your relationship – especially given that money problems are a leading cause for divorce and separation. So you have to talk to your partner about money and your financial perspectives if you really want to have a long-term relationship.

The information below gives you eight key topics you should cover in the conversations you have with your partner about money and finance. The sooner you address these potential issues, the less likely you are to face conflicts about your finances in the future.

If you have questions or you need help eliminating debt so you and your partner can start a debt-free life together, we’re here to help. Call Consolidated Credit today at or complete an online application to request a free, confidential debt and budget evaluation with a certified credit counselor. You can get credit counseling together or separately – whichever option works best for you both.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 1: Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the eight pillars of finance

This should be the first topic you talk about, because how you manage your money day-to-day has a big impact on every other aspect of your finances, and the daily management of your money can cause a lot of friction in your household if both partners aren’t on the same page.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 2: Debt

Debt management is a key pillar of personal finance

Conflicts over debt often arise in relationships, so this topic is essential. If you don’t have a cohesive debt management strategy then you can wind up causing tension or resentment. One partner may feel like they’re doing all the work to pay off the debt while the other just spends and charges. Instead, you need to talk about debt – both how it’s incurred and how it’s paid off.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 3: Credit Record

Credit is a key pillar of personal finance

Your credit rating is important, and depending on how you move forward in your relationship, your credit can have a major impact on your partner’s credit, too. Your collective credit scores will also have an impact on your life goals, such as your ability to buy a home by qualifying for a mortgage.

Important Note: Contrary to a common misconception, your credit scores never “combine” into one score, even after you get married. You still maintain your individual scores, but any accounts you hold jointly will impact both partners’ credit profiles.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 4: Savings

Savings is a key pillar of personal finance

Discussing savings and the way you both like to save money is critical, because it will have a huge impact on your ability to reach your life goals as a couple. It can also determine how prepared you are to handle financial disruptions and unexpected life events like a layoff or emergency car repair. Your savings is your financial safety net and your financial lifeline for the future, so you and you partner need to be in synch.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 5: Retirement

Retirement is a key pillar of personal finance

Following right along the conversation about savings, another major topic you need to cover as you get serious is about retirement. This conversation should actually be about more than just your assets. You also need to talk about your retirement dreams and goals to make sure you’re on the same page. After all if one partner wants to travel the world starting at age 65 and the other can’t imagine giving up work entirely, this can definitely cause conflict.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 6: Basic Needs

Basic needs are a key pillar of personal finance

This topic focuses on how you pay for basic services and manage your bills. It may not seem like a big deal, but the habits you’ve developed for daily money management can have a significant impact on the peace and serenity in your household. So you need to get organized together and make a plan – particularly for who pays what and how to balance the bills if you have separate accounts.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 7: Banking

Banking is a key pillar of personal finance

How and where you bank may also have an impact on your financial life as a couple. This topic may come up several times throughout your relationship as your life together evolves. For instance, you may agree to keep your accounts separate and use whatever banks you used when you were single once you move in together, but then you may decide to consolidate to joint accounts after you get married.

Key Money Talk Topic No. 8: Healthcare

Healthcare costs are a key pillar of personal finance

The final topic you should chat about is how you deal with healthcare and health-related costs. This is usually more important as you work towards marriage, since policy enrollment can be impacted by marital status. You should also include long-term concerns in this discussion, such as life insurance.

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