One of the biggest contributors to terminating a relationship is finances. We can all pretend that if we live in this fantasy world and our partner's finances are not a concern of ours. However, if we plan on building something concrete, their finances are a cause for consideration. And so are our own. It can be a challenging conversation to have, but it is a very necessary conversation.
Typically, financial conversations should be reserved for individuals you are trying to build with. This isn’t the nightcap conversation after a fling nor is it the introductory conversation on date one. This is the conversation you have before you decide if you want to take it to the next level of commitment.
Finances are more than annual salaries and bonuses.
And the conversation should reflect that. Finances include spending habits, credit, investment strategies, child support or alimony orders, liens, spending priorities, savings plans, and debt-to-income ratio. Think of finances as everything to do with money coming in and out of accounts. And yes, how your partner deals with their finances matters.
If your partner wants to have a joint account and your partner has debt, assets in the joint account can be subject to the debt. If you take it a step further and file joint taxes, but your partner has outstanding child support, the attorney general can come after your finances.
Always begin the conversation with an open mind and outline of what you plan to learn or accomplish. It is a serious conversation, but have it in a familiar place that offers privacy and a casual tone to help your partner and you relax.
Start with general questions about finance.
Talk about your investment strategies. If you do not have any, this will be a great way to ask for tips or financial advisor recommendations. Be sure to ask about what things are important to your partner financially? A person that has big life purchases has different responsibilities than a person who is just getting started.
As the conversation progresses, dig a little deeper. Note how your partner responds to your questions and the type of question your partner asks in return. If you or your partner becomes apprehensive, revisit the conversation at a later date. If your partner is avoiding questions, there is a good chance that your partner is not financially mature or may not have looked at their finances in such a way.
If your partner is having an open conversation, listen.
The goal is to have financial power between the two of you so wherever either of you lacks, the other should have pointers to strengthen. After you all have poured your financial truth, set goals and a plan both collectively and individually. Before you add names to accounts or form joint accounts, get the legal necessities in order. This is a huge deal. Knowing your partner's finances helps the two of you properly prepare for your future. The worse time to find out is during the homebuying process or when you two are attempting to secure a loan for the business venture. You definitely do not want to find out about your finances during your late years in life when you think your partner has everything taken care of, but you realize that the 401K was dissolved throughout the course of your relationship.