Money and relationships: How to talk the talk

Talk to your partner about money. Picture: iStock
Talk to your partner about money. Picture: iStock

Why is it so hard to talk about money with our spouses or partners? A majority of people can talk about almost anything under the sun, but will quickly change the subject when it comes to the topic of money.

Finances can be an emotionally charged issue, but they are a discussion that needs to happen. So how do you and your other half start talking about money without bringing blame, shame or guilt into the discussion?

Set time for a “money date”

By this I mean set a date and time that you both agree on to look through your finances together. It should preferably be when both of you are free from distractions. The goal is for the both of you to be relaxed and calm so that the discussion does not become emotionally charged.

Remember, do not fight one another about your finances, instead come together as a couple and fight the debt or lack of savings.

READ: Are you making the most of your money

If you are in debt, come up with a plan of how you will achieve this goal together. Think about the positive outcomes instead of dwelling on the challenges

Be honest

Lack of communication is what gets couples in trouble. If both of you have agreed on a money date, either you or your partner will have to break the ice, especially if talking about money is a foreign concept in your relationship.

Simple and honest yet powerful statements such as: “I am terrified about our financial situation,” or “I do not know where to begin, but I know we can figure this out together,” can give the both of you a new lease of life.

When you are honest and vulnerable in this way, it encourages your partner to do the same.

READ: How the Money Makeover candidates talked about finances

Budget, budget, budget

The foundation to a successful financial life is knowing what comes in and goes out of your bank account(s). And you can only know this by drawing up a household budget. A budget tells your money where it should go and what it should do.

Agree on how you want to split the expenses between yourselves.

Download your budget template here

Set inspiring goals, but start with small steps

Perhaps your goal is to build an emergency fund; thinking about why this is important for you and your family will help you achieve that goal.

The goal may be that “in three/six months’ time we will have R10 000 in a savings account earmarked only for emergencies”.

It is important that your goals are realistic and have a due date next to them.

If you are in debt, come up with a plan of how you will achieve this goal together. Think about the positive outcomes instead of dwelling on the challenges that might be facing you. When you do this, you will be encouraged to stay the course regardless of how slow or frustrating the process may feel.

READ: How to avoid the slippery slope of credit dependency

Be each other’s accountability partners, not enemies

If you are feeling overwhelmed, do not be afraid to bring in a neutral third-party, such as a financial planner or a financial counselor.

Below is a couple's questionnaire that would come in handy when discussing finances


Talk to us: How do you and your partner stay on top of your finances?

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