Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day always increases conversations about relationships, dating and love. One thing people rarely discuss about relationships is their finances. I think this needs to change. So, to start the conversation I’m going to tell you how I handle money in my relationship.
Every relationship is different, as are everyone’s finances. Yours may look very different to mine and that’s ok. Mine are by no means a model to follow. However, I believe transparency is so important to personal finance, so am taking the leap and sharing my own thoughts.
In this post I’ll cover:
- Short term finances
- Long term goals
- Having difficult conversations
- How this helps my relationship
Short term finances
The short term finances are the easy part to deal with in a relationship. You can’t really avoid conversations about this because you’ll have to deal with it on a daily basis.
Simply put, you have to decide who pays for what.
This will come up as early as the first date. Personally, I’m not a fan of the antiquated idea that the man has to pay. It makes me feel uneasy and as if they are trying to buy my time. I would only agree to the other person paying for the first date if I was confident there would be a second date and I’d get the opportunity to pay them back.
As a relationship develops, these conversations become more and more frequent. I think it’s important to keep it as even as possible. But remember, equity does not mean equality. If one of you earns significantly less than the other, or has much greater expenses, then splitting everything 50/50 would not be fair.
We have a fairly relaxed approach to everyday spending. We tend to apply the ‘I’ll get this one, you get the next’ approach. It’s worth noting, we don’t live together at the moment. When we do, I fully anticipate we’ll have to formalise an agreement on splitting bills and food shopping.
I like to treat those I love and don’t like to count every single penny. Fortunately, we’re both in a position where we can afford to do this. This relaxed approach works because we trust each other and try to be as fair as possible when it comes to splitting costs.
Long term goals
Long term goals can be harder to discuss. But, it’s so important to have these conversations.
You probably won’t have these conversations on a first date – I certainly didn’t. If there are big deal breakers, it may be worth bringing them up though. For example, if you’re planning on saving every possible penny so you can quit your job and travel the world in six months’ time, it might be worth mentioning early on!
As your relationship develops, you’ll probably find long-term goals come up in conversation naturally. From discussing a new job, to where you want to live, these are all normal things for couples to discuss.
It’s really important to me for my partner to be supportive of my own ambitions and for our goals to be aligned. Luckily for us, they seem to be at the moment!
For me, developing my career is very important. My boyfriend is very supportive of this and is also very career focused. We talk about our job-related goals and how we hope to achieve them. Having a supportive person to talk to really helps me stay focused and positive about the future.
Having difficult conversations
It’s not easy to have these conversations. Talking about money in a relationship is not easy. We’ve been conditioned for so long to be embarrassed and ashamed of talking about money. It is hard to move away from these ideals we’ve been brought up to hold.
Personally, I’ve found not forcing these conversations helps. If you’re open in your relationship, it should be relatively easy to start them naturally.
Make sure you’re both relaxed and won’t have any distractions. Some couples opt for a ‘money date’. I find it can be easier to discuss these things over a glass of wine!
I also try to frame it round something positive or exciting. This won’t always be possible, but I’m currently at a stage of life where the future does seem exciting. I’m fortunate to have a steady income and decent prospects ahead – if all goes to plan.
Talking about when we might be able to buy a house, holidays we might want to go on, and what we want to prioritise our spending on makes difficult topics fun.
How this helps my relationship
Making sure you’re on the same page as someone you’re in a relationship with is very important to me. Sharing goals and visions for the future is key to a successful long-term relationship.
While it isn’t all about money by any means, you can find out a lot about what a person values and the kind of life they want to lead by discussing personal finances. For me, it’s helped confirmed that we are on the same page and do hold similar values.
Sharing goals and values can bring you closer together and gives your relationship stronger foundations. It almost certainly won’t all be plain sailing ahead, but I’m confident we’ve now got the basis to weather any storms.
Don’t forget to follow me on social media @Katie20Percent to keep up to date with all my latest posts.
Did you know I offer freelance writing services and personal finance workshops and talks for schools, workplaces and organisations? I also regularly feature in the media. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Twitter @Katie20Percent if you’d like to find out more.
If you found this post about how I handle money in my relationship interesting, please ‘like’ and share it on social media or with your friends. How do you handle money in your relationship? What are your thoughts on discussing money with your partner? Comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!