Can money buy happiness? Maybe not, but for millennials, talking openly about money with a romantic partner might be the key to relationship satisfaction.
According to the fifth annual Love and Money survey from TD Bank, millennials discuss money more often than older generations, and they're having money conversations earlier in their relationships. Six in ten couples broach the topic within six months of entering the relationship, and 94% of millennials discuss money with their significant other at least once a month. The study also found that millennials are happier in their relationships than their older counterparts.
Money can be a source of relationship stress. But having more open communication about something that impacts decisions such as buying a home, having kids, taking certain jobs and when and where to retire may be a good thing.
Want to open the lines of communication around finances in your relationship? Here are a few areas to consider discussing with your significant other.
Discussing goals may be the most comfortable place to start, because they tend to focus on hopes for the future instead of diving into your history with money.
It's a good idea to talk about what you want out of your life from a financial perspective. Some questions to consider include:
- Do you want to buy a home or do you prefer renting?
- Do you prefer to buy a new car every few years or drive the same one for a decade or more?
- Do you want to travel around the world or take big vacations every year?
- Do you envision yourself retiring early or working well past normal retirement age?
History with Money
For most people, the past has a significant impact on the present. Once you get more comfortable talking about money with your partner, you may naturally find yourself talking about your family's financial situation while you were growing up or debts you may have accumulated in the past.
Framing these conversations as genuine learning opportunities rather than dredging up old mistakes can yield better results. Questions might include:
- What are some of your earliest memories of money?
- What kind of messages did you receive from your parents about finances while growing up?
- Have you ever had trouble with debt?
Current Financial Situation
Now that you've gotten a little more comfortable talking about money with your partner, you can start sharing details about your current earnings, expenses, assets, debt and credit scores. As your discussions get more detailed, look out for situations that might call for more in-depth conversations.
- If one partner has a lot of debt or a poor credit score, what is the plan to pay off the debt or improve their score?
- If one partner earns significantly more than the other, how does each partner feel about the disparity? How will you split expenses when the time comes?
- If one partner is a saver and the other is a spender, how will you get on the same page when it comes to budgeting and saving?
Remember, you don't need to cover all these areas in one fell swoop. You can start wherever it feels comfortable and move onto the tougher subjects as your relationship and trust levels grow.
Money should be an ongoing topic of conversation in a relationship, especially as it gets more serious and you start thinking about combining accounts or sharing expenses. You might feel uncomfortable talking about money with your partner the first time around, but practice makes perfect, so keep going!