Article written by Hector O. Banegas, Senior Wealth Planning Strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors
Thinking about getting serious? You may be surprised to hear this, but one of the most important things you can do for your relationship is talk about money with your significant other. Talking about money:
Makes couples happier
In fact, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, almost a third of adults with partners reported that money is a major source of conflict in their relationship. Learning how to resolve disagreements about money – and there will be disagreements – is a skill that will be valuable both at the beginning of your partnership and likely for your entire time together.
Helps couples connect by understanding what’s going on
According to Wells Fargo research, about half of couples commingle accounts, while the other half keep separate accounts. Regardless of what you decide with your significant other, both people in a relationship should understand how their financial habits impact and contribute to the life they are building together.
Helps couples track their short and long term financial goals
Be open with your significant other about your full financial picture. Financial topics that can help ensure you’re covering your financial bases include:
1. Pay yourself first: Set aside some income for savings, about 5 to 10 percent.
2. Track your spending: Make sure you know where your money is going each month.
3. Create a safety net: Build up emergency savings to cover 3-6 months’ of expenses.
4. Pay down your high-interest debt: Pay down the debt that costs you the most.
5. Pay on time, every time: Pay bills on time to improve and maintain your credit score.
6. Know where your credit stands: Check your credit report annually.
7. Review your insurance annually: Protect what counts by checking coverage annually.
8. Save for a better retirement: Save at least 10 percent of your income each year.
Helps couples afford the “extras” that make life fun
Having fun together is important. When couples have a common understanding of how they’ll prioritize and manage their day-to-day finances like housing costs, grocery, and utility bills, it’s easier to figure out where splurges fit in.
Helps avoid financial surprises
Being up front about money issues and sharing complete financial information with your significant other helps avoid financial surprises that can add unnecessary stress to a relationship.
While discussing money may not feel romantic, it certainly is emotional. So how do you get started? Here are tips:
1. Admit the conversation can feel awkward, but commit to having it anyway.
2. Pick a mutually agreeable time. Your candle-lit Valentine’s dinner may not be the right setting. Pre-arranging the conversation will help ensure both people are mentally prepared.
3. Be open with your significant other. Share your values and opinions about spending and savings habits and goals you would like to achieve together.
4. Work at it. Commit to an annual meeting to talk about money, credit, and whether you’re on track to achieve your financial goals.
By opening the lines of communication, you can get on the same financial page before joining financial forces.
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company. Wells Fargo Consumer Lending Group provides products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and its various affiliates and subsidiaries. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.