How can couples talk more effectively about money?

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Good communication about money can strengthen your relationship 
  • Establishing good financial communication skills can be an important part of a happy marriage or partnership.

  • In fact, studies have found that couples who talk frequently about money matters are happier than couples who don’t.

89% of couples say effective communication about finances is essential to a good relationship.2

what are examples of financial topics couples should discuss?
  • What are our most important life and financial goals?

  • What is our budget, spending, and saving? Are we on track to be where we want financially?

  • What are each of our financial strengths and challenges?

  • How can we work together to make the best financial decisions?

  • How can we course-correct to better achieve our financial objectives?

  • When do we want to retire? What do we most want to do in our retirement years?

  • What are our greatest financial worries? What can we do to have greater peace of mind for both of us?

  • If one of us passes on, will the other be financially secure?

What are some ways couples can communicate about money and finances?
Lay the groundwork

Early in a relationship it is helpful to open up about the basics of your finances. What savings, investments, or debt do you both have? Do you have good credit? Answering these types of questions can help both of you get on the same page. It can also be helpful to openly discuss the fundamentals of how you want to manage your bank and investment accounts. Some couples keep separate accounts, others put their money together, while still others have both separate and combined accounts. Based on your credit ratings and budgeting and spending strategies, your financial advisor may help you determine the approach that best meets your needs. 

Have a heart-to-heart talk

A lot of how we feel and act around money originates with our upbringing and past experiences. Some people spend more because they had little money growing up. Others have cautious investment strategies because of bad investing experiences earlier in life. Having an open and honest conversation about your financial feelings, hopes, and fears help you overcome emotions that sometimes complicate financial decisions, and empower you to be a happier and more successful couple as you work toward your financial goals together.

Establish your financial goals

Determining together your most important financial goals—whether it’s buying a second home, paying for your children’s education, going on your dream vacation, retiring early, or simply having more financial freedom and less stress—is an important step to financial success. Setting spending strategies and measurable milestones on your way to achieve these goals can help you stay on track. Your financial advisor can help you both prioritize your goals and set a course to achieve them.

Determine roles

Many couples fall into financial roles by default. Sometimes, for example, one spouse will take the lead on budgeting and the other will make most of the investment decisions. Some couples will occasionally switch which spouse is responsible for what. Sometimes one spouse will take on most of the financial and investing decisions, while other couples will share financial responsibilities equally. Interestingly, while women have traditionally taken charge of household budgeting and men have led investment strategies, the opposite approach may be better for some couples. Research shows that women often outperform men in investment returns, while men, less prone to impulse buying, can sometimes maintain a more frugal family budget.3 Regardless of your approach, choosing roles based on your respective strengths and interests can help you become the best possible team.

Have money dates

Keeping on track requires regular check-ins and discussions, but just because you are talking about money doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Scheduling regular money dates with your spouse can be a stress-free way to get on the same page and talk about your goals, hopes, and worries. Some couples have a discussion over a bottle of wine at home, others have their money dates at their favorite romantic restaurant, while some couples plan an annual weekend getaway. It’s important to have a positive and honest conversation so that you can be an effective team tackling your financial priorities. Money dates can be a good time to review goals and long-term priorities. Then, check in on your finances and look for unexpected expenses and assess your financial progress. You may want to have a money date shortly before meeting with your financial advisor so that you can identify priorities and topics you need to address during your meeting. Your financial discussions don’t need to be lengthy, but they can be great for clearing the air, aligning your goals, and identify areas for improvement.

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Developing a financial strategy that addresses both of our top goals, worries, and priorities

Improving our communication around our most important financial topics

Optimizing our financial roles and decisions

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1. Washington Post, "Couples are happier when they talk about money." September 19, 2016

2. Life Stage Insights, Client Priorities Survey, 2019

3. CNN Money, "Fresh evidence women are better investors than men." March 8, 2017

This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.