It’s kind of ironic how we easily spend more time planning a three-day weekend than we do for our retirement and we spend a good portion of a year planning for a wedding and less time towards our own personal budgets. Money management may not seem like a sexy subject, but what is even less sexy is being in debt or arguing about money with your partner. Drowning in financial woes can get downright ugly!

According to, one in three couples say that finances cause the most stress; more than a third of millennials in relationships fight about money at least once a week; and, couples that disagree about money once a week or more were 30% more likely to get a divorce than those that disagree only a couple of times a month about money. In many studies, there was a direct correlation between the number of times a couple argues about money and the likelihood of the relationship ending in separation or divorce.

The Talk

Talking about money and money questions can be difficult because oftentimes we’re taught that it’s an impolite subject for conversation. Many folks were taught by their parents or caregivers that money was not to be discussed. It’s no wonder that talking about money with your partner may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

Summer Watson & Jen Fontanilla
Summer Watson & Jen Fontanilla

So, we asked Summer Watson, a doctor of psychology and co-host of The Life, Love & Money Show with Summer & Jen and Jen Fontanilla, a former financial adviser and certified money coach to understand more about how one can set the tone for a healthy and respectful conversation about money with their partner and here’s 5 things they recommend to keep in mind.

  1. Be ready for open dialogue.
  2. Set your judgements aside.
  3. Be prepared to understand your partner’s money values.
  4. Know that money talk can come with a lot of feelings and emotions, because of what we were taught, what was modelled for us, and our personal thoughts about money.
  5. Be honest and transparent about how you feel about money and how, as a couple, you can navigate the money conversation in healthy ways that will benefit your relationship.

Summer and Jen further said,

When you get to the point in a relationship when you want to take it to the next level and you are thinking this person is ‘The One’, it would be wise to start opening up the money conversation. You do not want to be in the dark about how your partner feels and responds to money. As a matter of fact, when you begin to date someone, it is important to observe and listen to how your partner talks about money and your partner’s patterns of behaviour when it comes to their money habits.

Questions To Consider

How do they feel about money and their beliefs about money? Did anyone ever talk to them about money, the value of money, and how to spend and save it? It also means asking them how they align their money habits with their core values and beliefs.

2. What is their money story?

Who modelled money management in their home or was there any management of the money? Who managed the budget? Did your partner feel anxiety about money growing up? Were there struggles with money or did they live a lavish lifestyle? And how and if money matters were ever discussed?

3. What’s their current financial info? What do you earn, what do you own, and what do you owe?

This is getting serious! This is when you know that a pivotal shift is happening in your relationship. It will take a lot of courage and honesty as well as a non-judgemental approach for the conversation to openly flow. Write out your information and take it from mind to paper and get clear about both of your situations.

Communication must be open and honest. This is a question that is asking a lot of your partner, which could make your partner feel very vulnerable. Did you know that four out of ten couples don’t even know what their partner earns? These questions are not meant to be intrusive but are more about knowing the facts and what you are both bringing to the relationship financially.

4. Ask one another to discuss the story behind the numbers

This is an opportunity for each of you to talk about the story behind the financial profile with an open heart and mind and with respect for one another’s financial history. You want to foster an environment that is safe to talk about money. The issue of money can be something that causes a lot of feelings and emotions based on how one saw others in their lives spend and save money. The modelling that people see when it comes to money is usually how they develop their own money habits.

5. Establish what is mine, what is yours, and what is ours.

Lay out how you will pay bills and if you will have joint or separate accounts. This is setting the stage for how you both want to financially function. Talk about one another’s expectations, financial goals, and money priorities.

When you have an open dialogue and can do a bit of reflective listening about money and your money values with your partner, it will lead to a positive and lasting relationship. As mentioned previously, money is the cause of significant issues in many relationships. Don’t start your relationship in bankruptcy when you have the opportunity to build and invest in a successful partnership from the very beginning!

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