What's a perfect addition to chocolate and roses on Valentine's Day? Learning more about your darling. It's time to open up about money and credit. Not only can the discussion be romantic (yes, really!), it's practical. As long as you communicate with care, it can be a celebration of your mutual love and commitment. Topics such as credit history, spending and socking money away warrant more than a single discussion, so these chats should be as much a part of your routine as a steady supply of candy and flowers.
Commit to Transparency
According to a recent Policygenius survey of 1,500 adults across the U.S., 24% of people keep their bank and credit account activity from their partners, and nearly 30% are unaware of each other's salaries. Why? "There is a lot of shame around these subjects, and people don't want to be judged," says relationship expert Rachel DeAlto. But, she adds, getting financial talk out in the open may reveal a compassionate and empathetic side of your partner you may not have realized was there—and may remove the fear so you can begin building your financial future together.
How to Start the Conversation
Talk about money and credit issues when you're both in good moods, and introduce the subjects gently and with validation. "Start with, ‘I love and respect you, and think you're amazing,'" says DeAlto. "Then explain that you want to have a conversation about financial matters so you can plan for all the wonderful things you can enjoy together."
What to Discuss
- Cash flow. If you're married or living with your partner, or are beginning to make financial decisions together, review your income and expenses to know where your funds are going. Identify a bill manager if you don't already have one, and discuss ways to cut costs.
- Credit cards. Know which accounts are open and decide on best usage. If the cards have a rewards program, talk about the fun you'll have with the earned points and cash back. At the same time, discuss how you will use your cards wisely to avoid getting into credit card debt.
- Credit reports. Pull your free credit reports and share them with each other. It's important. You'll find out if improvements are necessary, such as dealing with debt, and can make fixing them a team effort.
- Saving. When you're clear about cash and credit issues, decide how much money you can set aside for pleasure and security.
If It Gets Hot (and Not in a Good Way)
Even with the best intentions, conversations about money can get heated. If that happens, take a break and return when you've cooled off. "Remember your goal," says DeAlto. "You're doing this to become more united. Maybe you want to get married or buy a house. Be kind and keep it positive."
Feeling the Love
Being candid about financial mistakes and aspirations with a caring partner will bring you closer together. You may dive deep into your backgrounds, value systems, fears and hopes. It's an intimate experience. "You're going below the surface when you talk about money and credit," says DeAlto. "And that's more romantic than any Valentine's Day gift you can buy in a store."