Talking Money Management With Your Boo: First Steps
Updated: May 12, 2022
Last month, it was all about Valentine’s Day – which is, of course, the most romantic time of the year. The day for dinners, roses, and pink balloons! However, while all these things are amusing to give and receive, Valentine’s Day only happens once a year – and in the remaining 364 days, relationships also involve a ton of more practical components. One of them, of course, is money management – and that’s exactly what we’d like to talk about now that March has begun and we’re done with balloons for a while.
It’s too late to start talking about budgeting when you move in together, and your bills arrive, but no one likes asking or telling about it on first dates, either – so when is the right time to bring it up, exactly?
While discussing money early on can be tricky, it’s necessary. According to statistics, 48% of Americans who are living together with their significant other say they have regular disagreements over money, and 41% of divorced Gen Xers agree that finances were one of the primary reasons for the split. How can you prevent this in time? Here’s a handful of tips to help you navigate money management talks in a practical but not intimidating way!
Light-hearted questions reveal hard truths
Once you start dating, you typically discuss a ton of random things just to see how the other person is thinking and compare your views on life. If you were an animal, what would you be? What three things would you take with you to a desert island? What meal would you choose if you had to eat the same one for the rest of your life?
These types of questions are a double win: they’re both entertaining and let you understand the way someone thinks a lot deeper. Why not add some money-related questions to the list? Here are a few casual suggestions that can help you understand the way they view money management without intimidating them by direct questions:
What would you do if you won $1,000,000 in the lottery?
Would you rather work 6 months a year and earn $50,000 a year or have no paid time off but earn $150,000?
What would you grab first if your house was burning and you could only save three things?
Since questions like these are based on make-believe scenarios, you won’t be asking for personal information, hence there’s no intimidation. Nevertheless, you will learn a lot about the part money plays in their lives and get a much clearer idea of where their priorities lie - which is a necessary foundation for budgeting for couples.
Notice their everyday habits and family background
Here’s a thing: the way someone handles money is often clear without asking directly – you only need to pay attention. Do they tend to scramble before they get their paycheck and splurge generously after? Do they give in to lifestyle inflation and waste money on things they don’t actually need (e.g., luxury shoes), or maybe they live on 1-minute noodles even though they could afford a healthy diet? When it comes to budgeting for couples, it’s important to notice the red flags in time and align your preferences.
Once you get a little closer, you’ll also get to know each other’s family members. We’re not saying you should draw conclusions from the financial situation your crush’s family is in – after all, money comes and goes. The important thing is the way finances are handled and the money management they’ve been seeing since childhood.
Does the family discuss money issues openly? Do their parents have a shared budget or not? Do they plan their expenses, or do they tend to splash out spontaneously without thinking twice? If there are bad money habits in the family, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker – just focus on whether your crush has worked consciously on changing the pattern!
Don’t leave open discussions to last minute
We were all pretty flabbergasted when on Love is Blind, Shayne told Natalie he didn’t 'believe in 401ks’, right? That’s really not a surprise you’re looking for when you’re getting married in a few weeks! Fortunately, real life is not a Netflix show, and you will typically have a lot more time to discuss money management in advance – the important thing is to actually sit down and do it.
Understanding where each of you stands with money management is a necessary step to take before moving in together: even if you decide not to have a shared budget, you’ll have to share rent, utility bills, and maybe even get on with shared savings. This means you have to be open and honest about what each of you is earning, what debts you’re paying off, how much you’re saving and what are your overall financial capabilities and goals.
Find your own best budgeting app for couples
Budgeting for couples can sure be challenging if you’ve never done that before – but remember you don’t have to rely on the old-fashioned way of filling out data tables in a notebook. Budgeting apps are not only great for individuals: some of them are great for tracking shared expenses and better understanding your financial situation at any given time.
Of course, there’s no one best budgeting app for couples – you might need to try a few before you stick with your favorite. Zeta and Honeydue are a few great options that are available on both Android and iOS and can help you save a ton of time and misunderstandings. Money management is no joke, so take all the help you can get from technology!
In fact, when it comes to apps, don’t limit yourself to planners: money-making apps can also help a lot with your finances. Not only do passive income opportunities help you have more money between the two of you, but they also don’t take away any of your bonding time!
Honeygain is a great example of an app that lets you earn effortlessly by simply leaving the app running on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. All you need to do is register on the website, download the app on your device, sign in, and let the app do the rest for you!