Managing your finances as a single person is hard enough. But when you're making financial decisions as a couple, there aren't just dollars and cents to worry about—there are also feelings and relationship dynamics.
If you're thinking about getting married, merging finances for the first time, or just looking to iron out some wrinkles in your financial communication, here are some tips for navigating money in your partnership.
1. Invest in communication
Strong communication can be a key to lasting success in a relationship. Being open and honest is especially important when it comes to money and finances. Although it may be a sensitive topic, it is important to foster open communication about issues like spending, budgeting, and financial goals to help make sure you and your partner are on the same page.
If money isn't something you are comfortable or used to talking about, consider starting with a money date. Perhaps you'll already have some financial agenda items to discuss, but if not, consider beginning with an open discussion of your financial history, and any attitudes about money you may each be bringing into the relationship. If you need an icebreaker, try taking our Money Personality Quiz and sharing what you've learned with each other.
Acknowledge the feelings you both have around money. Try to understand what's important to your partner, and communicate what's important to you. Most importantly though, be honest and transparent. Remember that you're on the same team.
For more tips about how to communicate about money, read Viewpoints at Fidelity.com: Tips for couples: Improving money talks.
2. Come up with a plan
Once you understand what your and your partner's financial goals are, the next step is to build a plan together. Make these goals and plans as specific as possible by adding timelines, the approximate dollar amounts you'll need for each one, and the relative priority of each goal.
Consider writing down all financial goals and plans and posting the hard copy somewhere you can see regularly to have a visual reminder of what you are working toward. It could also be a good idea to set time aside every month to meet with your spouse or partner about your financial goals.
For resources on setting goals and keeping track of progress, visit the Fidelity Goal BoosterSM homepage.
3. Look for blind spots
A blind spot is a financial habit that could cause conflict. For example, in many partnerships, one person tends to spend more than the other. In that case, try to work as a team to better understand the habit in a nonjudgmental way. Some good questions to ask could be: What do they tend to spend money on? Are these purchases planned or impulse buys?
Once you've established open communication about your money habits, come up with a plan together to make sure you're both managing money in ways that move you toward your goals.