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While talking to your partner about money may not be at the top of your to-do list, it should be. Financial issues can wreak havoc on your love life. Not being open about your financial habits can get in the way of your relationship later on. While, you may be thinking you don’t want to startle your partner by talking finances, putting off this talk may cause bigger issues down the road.

If you have become serious with your partner and foresee a future, here are tips when the subject of money is broached.

Set a Date

If your partner randomly starts asking questions that you feel uncomfortable with, ask to set a date and inform them you want time to prepare for the conversation. Talking about money with your partner can be intimidating, in order to avoid any awkwardness set some time aside to have the “money talk” so nobody feels caught off guard. The whole point of discussing monetary matters with your spouse is ensure you’re on the same financial path. If your significant other has a bad spending problem that you are unaware of, this can cause a rift in your relationship when you’re ready to take the next step. You both need to agree on a number of financial goals such as saving for a down payment, paying for a wedding, retirement plans, etc. Setting time aside is half the battle and it’s important for both parties to maintain a positive and open-minded attitude and refrain from judgment or criticism.

Have a Positive Attitude  

Again, you want to keep the conversation as positive as possible. The best way to see if your financial goals will mesh is by asking questions. If you’re the one initiating the conversation about money, your spouse may get defensive and may think you intend to scold them for their financial habits and decisions. Make your partner comfortable. Let them know that you aren’t initiating the conversation to scold them and your intentions are to get an idea of what the future can hold for the two of you. Let them know the reasons you want to have this talk. Maybe it’s because you want to move in together soon, but be open and honest.

Come Prepared/Create a Plan

When preparing to talk to your spouse about money, have a solid understanding of your own finances before you start talking about combined goals. Gather all your financial statements from credit cards, mortgage, car loans, and investments – anything you have so you can get a better sense of the big financial picture. You may want to create a set of short-term goals for yourself and long-term goals to work towards with your partner. This will help you think of your spending and money in terms of goals, rather than just an abstract concept, and can help you stay in financial shape together. Remember, you are working towards your future collectively with your partner and you both should help motivate each other to stay on track with your goals.

Keep the Conversation Going

The key to your continued financial well-being is regular communication. Don’t let talking about money be a conversation you are afraid to have. Agree to hold a monthly meeting. It doesn’t need to be long or arduous, just a quick check up on your spending, and perhaps acknowledge a goal you have achieved or share something you are still struggling with. Being able to have real financial heart-to-heart talks with your spouse will show whether you are on the same page with one another and help you work towards goals and lessen the chance of a financial (and relationship) disaster.

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