Valentine’s Day: How to Talk to Your Partner About Money - Blog - BetterSaver
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Valentine’s Day: How to Talk to Your Partner About Money

February 13, 2022

Valentine’s Day is upon us. Dinner is booked, outfits selected, and you’re looking forward to a romantic evening with your partner.

But who’s picking up the tab? What if they expect to split the bill and you know you can’t afford it? Are you worried they’ll order an expensive bottle of wine that you’ll end up paying for?

You could avoid this awkward situation (and future ones) by having the money talk.

We feel your anxiety. Whether you’ve been on a few dates or have been going out for a couple of years, having a money talk brings on feelings of dread. Where do you start? How much do you share?

A survey of NZers aged 18-34 revealed that almost 1 in 4 experienced strained relationships due to money. With money issues as the second-leading cause of divorce, it’s not something to sweep under the rug.

Let BetterSaver put your fears to rest. Here are our top tips on talking to your partner about money.

Don’t drop a bomb on them.
You might be wound up about a particular incident, but don’t let that fuel a fight. Give your partner a heads up that you want to chat about finances. Try something like, “I’m trying to learn to budget. Do you think we could chat this weekend about ways we can work on it together?” Set a time when neither of you will be stressed out (like not right after work).

Keep calm and carry compliments.

If you come in hot, the discussion will be heated. Start out by thanking them for something they’ve done - taking care of dinner, picking up the tab for brunch, giving you a relaxing back rub. Starting from a place of appreciation will cushion the rest of the conversation.

Be a better listener.

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Most of us listen to respond, not to understand. Give each other space to speak and be heard. Put yourself in their shoes. Talk about what money was like for each of you growing up. It can give a lot of perspective on where your views come from.

Don’t expect to solve everything.

Money issues run deep, back to our childhoods and the way our families behaved, so talking about it can raise some touchy issues. Let each other know that you’re not trying to resolve all of your issues at once (like massive debt, caring for aged parents, and making up for a childhood lived without any “extras”). But you have to know where each other comes from to set the scene for the financial talk. It will create a bond of understanding without pressure to come up with immediate solutions.

Go back to the future.

Once you understand where each other is coming from, discover where you both expect for the future. How important is it to you to own a home? Have children? Save for retirement? Travel? What do you each believe is worth spending a little extra on? From gourmet cheeses to sporting events or the perfect coffee, you’ll have some differences you can agree to allow each other to indulge.

Broach the subject of a joint account.

If you’re sharing expenses, having a joint account that you each contribute to can relieve a lot of money stress. Together you can make a budget and decide what you will each contribute. This can include savings too, like extra KiwiSaver contributions or a joint emergency fund. Beyond that, you have your individual accounts to spend on a night out with friends or those shoes that finally went on sale without arguments or guilt.

Do it regularly and it won’t be weird anymore.

Maybe you picked up the tab the last couple of times you went out, and you bought the last round of groceries, AND you paid the last power bill. If you set a regular time to talk about money, it will avoid any heat-of-the-moment frustration from taking over. You’ll both have peace of mind knowing you’ll address money issues at a time when you’re both prepared for it. Make your regular money date enjoyable. Review the past month and set goals for the next over your favourite takeaways or go for a relaxing walk after.

Get help getting started

A financial adviser can help you both to navigate the financial waters together. They will give you an objective view of your situation, without letting emotions get in the way. With an adviser, you can develop goals for your shared future and map out a plan to get there. They’ll make sure you take into account life changes like having kids or paying for school, so you’re ready ahead of time.

Remove awkward money situations from your relationship. Take a deep breath and broach the subject. If the two of you can come together and get on the same page financially, it will save a lot of stress (and maybe avoid a divorce). For even more tips on talking to your partner about money, watch our interview with relationship coach Nikki Bray.

The BetterSaver team is here to answer your questions and help you sort your KiwiSaver. Your KiwiSaver funds can be combined for a deposit on your first home and ensure you’re both set up for a comfortable retirement, solving two major relationship stresses. Make sure you’re in the best fund for your situation by taking BetterSaver’s Fund Finder quiz.