Top tips for discussing money as a couple
Discussing money as a couple can be challenging. But learning to communicate with your partner about your shared finances is possible — and doing it well can even deepen your relationship! Here’s how.
5 min read
Across many cultures, talking about money as a couple — or even among friends and family — feels pretty taboo. This attitude can be a product of our childhood, culture, and experience. Ultimately, we all have a unique personal relationship with money.
The good news?
Although identifying and communicating our beliefs to our significant other can be tough, it’s not impossible. With practice, you and your partner can learn how to navigate conflicts around money and better manage your finances together. Here’s how to break through the taboos.
Get to know your money blueprint
Before you can effectively discuss finances as a couple, you’ve first got to understand your own relationship to money. We spoke with Daniele Coda, Global Director of Product Marketing, Partnerships, and Insights at N26 to shed some light into the matter. “Knowing and understanding your spending and saving habits and their motivations, benefits, and risks are the basis for healthy, sustainable, and constructive conversations around money in relationships,” he explains.
So, where to begin? Well, right at the beginning. We start forming our relationship with money in childhood, taking cues from how our caregivers react to and behave around money. Even after we start earning money of our own, those early experiences can form a behavioral blueprint that shapes how we approach our finances.
Fast-forward a few years and without many of us realizing it, we’ve developed a complex relationship with our bank account based on a wealth of past experiences. That’s why observing our current financial behavior can offer great insights into our financial preferences, needs, and non-negotiables.
Get to know your partner’s money blueprint
To better understand how you and your partner relate to money, ask yourselves:
- When are you most likely to spend money?
- How do you feel when you spend it?
- How do you feel when you save it?
- How do you feel about checking your bank account, creating a budget, or setting financial goals?
- Do you notice any patterns in your spending habits?
- Do you tend to overspend or are you hesitant to spend money on yourself?
Budgeting made simple
Good communication is a learned habit
If discussing these questions with a partner is too difficult right now, just knowing how you personally relate to money is a huge step. Learning to communicate about money can take time, but with patience and perseverance, you’ll get there. There might be significant barriers that make financial communication tricky, from embarrassment, fear, or disinterest to different views on whether money should be discussed at all.
Even if it’s uncomfortable, introduce regular money talks — the earlier, the better. The longer a couple waits to open up about their financial beliefs and habits, the harder it can be to find common ground and align on goals, needs, and expectations. Daniele has noticed that the cause of financial disagreements even varies between generations:
“While big expenditures without prior discussion top the list of conflict reasons among Gen Z and younger Gen Y couples, hiding debt is a particular red flag that’s typical for older Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer couples. Of course, this can vary from person to person, which is why transparent and honest communication is key.”
How to reduce financial disagreements:
The path to simpler financial communication is made up of many smaller conversations, rather than one big on. Not only can this approach reduce conflict, but it can also make talking about money more of a regular habit. Here are some topics that you might want to focus on:
- Understand what you want to spend money on as a couple. For example, if one of you prefers buying shared items for your home while the other likes splurging on expensive dinners out, try finding a middle ground. For example, you could purchase a new kitchen appliance and use it to try out a decadent recipe.
- Discuss who pays for what. Before any expenditures, make sure it’s clear who is paying for what and which purchases will be shared. This can help to deal with awkward moments, growing resentments, and chronic conflict.
- Decide how to share household expenses. If you live together, there are many household expenses that could cause arguments. Make sure you know how to split these expenses in a way that feels fair to you both.
Work toward a shared goal
Saving toward a shared goal can be great for understanding each other’s relationship to money and improving your financial communication. “A good way to kick-start and practice open communication and foster alignment can be setting a common financial goal and regularly tracking, discussing, and celebrating its progress,” says Daniele. “This can be especially powerful when partners spend and save differently. A joint goal can make the conversation more tangible, because the couple has an actual savings project to discuss. And opening up might come more naturally since everyone involved has a right to full transparency.”
There are several benefits of saving toward a shared goal:
- It can deepen your relationship. You’ll reach and celebrate new milestones together and learn how to support and motivate each other.
- You can better understand each other’s relationship to money. You’ll see each other’s beliefs and habits in action, and you can learn from each other.
- It can help you better communicate about money. You’ll need to check in regularly, track your spending, and make any necessary adjustments to your budget as you move towards your goal step by step.
How tech can help you manage shared finances
If this sounds like a lot, don’t panic. Managing shared finances doesn’t have to be a huge burden. Although honest and transparent communication around finances is important, money shouldn’t rule every aspect of a couple’s daily life — nor the majority of their conversations. And in fact, there’s tech that can help make it easier to manage your finances with a partner. Daniele notes: “Nowadays, there are various automatic money management and saving features that allow couples and individuals to take a break from active money management, while still working towards their financial goals.”
Your money at N26
With N26, Shared Spaces makes saving together for joint goals or managing household expenses a breeze. Use Insights to gain a detailed understanding of your financial habits and behaviors. Plus, get instant push notifications each time money leaves or enters your account so that you have an up-to-date picture of your financial health. Find the right account for you today.
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