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start early

Most people don’t want to talk about money on a first date, and it can be a bigger taboo in relationships than sex, politics, or religion. But even if it’s not romantic, it’s important to have conversations about how you manage your money.

Money worries are the most common reason for relationship difficulties, according to counseling service Relate. “Bringing the subject up early avoids the risk of resentments emerging later and leading to more destructive arguments,” says Relate adviser Peter Saddington.

At the beginning, you could start, for example, by asking someone if they are a spender or a saver, or what they dream of achieving with their money, in order to understand your respective financial situations.

“If there are issues later – debts, bills or how much you want to save, or not – it’s more likely to be something you can do successfully, without breaking the relationship, because the money is already something you discuss,” Saddington adds. .

Write ano agreement

As a relationship becomes more serious and your lives intertwine, there will be conversations about what money to have. You’ll need to find a way to be clear about your expectations – for example, if and how much you want to merge your finances, and what expenses will be shared.

If you’re having trouble starting those conversations, take the pressure off by suggesting that the two of you write down, separately, how you want to handle your finances as a couple, before you sit down to compare and agree on whatever. it would be.

“Money can be an emotional issue, so it requires a hands-on approach, where each partner feels heard,” says Arabella Russell, couples psychotherapist. “I encourage you to make a plan of the things you need to cover so you’re ready for the conversation, and approach it almost like a business meeting.”

Money dates: how to talk to your partner about your finances |  Money
Talking about managing your money is an important part of a relationship.
Photograph: MBI/Alamy

You might eventually agree, for example, to have a pot for common expenses and bills, and calculate your contributions, although these may change over time. You can also set spending limits, where anything over a certain number requires a joint decision.

If you are not married, this may be the subject of a cohabitation agreement when you move in or later. This is a legal document setting out financial contributions and who owns what.

Set money “dates”

Schedule a time to talk to your partner about money — maybe once a month — and use the conversation to cover everything from bills and expenses to savings.

However, keep these “dates” brief, ideally around 20 minutes. “It’ll increase your chances of sticking to the points and avoiding old arguments,” says Saddington, who points out that talking about money can feel threatening and put us on the defensive. “Limiting the time potentially avoids it becoming a heated conversation, and don’t have the discussion late at night, or when you’ve been drinking alcohol.”

Avoid bringing resentment into the conversation, or shame if your partner struggles, and stick to the facts.

You can also use this time to work through money worries and future goals, such as where you want to live and what you want to do, and create a long-term plan together. Make sure you have enough time to talk and listen to each other.

Be honest and open

The foundations of a relationship are built on trust, so lying about finances is never wise. However, two-fifths of Britons keep ‘financial secrets’, including hiding debt problems, according to research by the Money and Pensions Service.

James Jones, head of consumer affairs at credit agency Experian, says shared accounts can make it harder to hide debts.

“Although credit checks are for the person, not the address, many couples’ credit history will be linked through shared accounts, such as a joint mortgage or checking account,” he explains.

“Hidden debts could surface during a future credit application and, therefore, cause an unpleasant surprise.”

Remember that you may very well take a different approach to your partner’s money. You may be a cautious saver, for example, while your partner is a spontaneous, impulsive spender, and being honest about your personal situation will encourage your partner to do the same.

Recognize “money stories”

We all have different “money stories” that tie into our upbringing and play out in our relationships, says Russell. But, she adds, couples often don’t realize this, which is why conversations about the issue sometimes go awry. “Perhaps a partner was brought up with stress around money and financial struggles, and that could lead to a fear of living in that uncertainty again,” she says.

Money dates: how to talk to your partner about your finances |  Money
You may have had different money experiences than your partner growing up.
Photograph: Park Dale/Alamy

She suggests asking about your partner’s experiences growing up and, if you have repetitive arguments, trying to find out what’s causing them.

“The more conversations you can have that go well and where there’s understanding and no shame, the easier it is to be honest,” she says.

You’re also more likely to reach out to each other for help with a problem if you understand where you’re each coming from.

Ask for help

If you are having difficulty solving financial problems as a couple, help is available. Visit your local Citizens’ Council to discuss practical issues together, such as the inability to pay rising bills and debt management.

You may want to try a counselor or couples coach who specializes in financial matters. Use the Counselor Directory search tool to find a couples counselor, with sessions online, over the phone, or in person.

You can listen to a relationship counselor who helps couples talk about money on BBC Radio 4’s The Money Clinic.

There are also plenty of free financial lessons and budgeting tools you could do together. The Relate website offers quizzes, while the government-sponsored MoneyHelper website offers guides to help you spark conversations with your partner. “If you can work on improving communication, it will have benefits for your whole relationship,” says Russell.

Your relationship and bank balance will hopefully be stronger for it.


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