Love & Money: Our Ultimate Guide to Talking Money with your Partner

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Let’s set the scene: You’ve finally found a partner you’re excited about. You see a future together but you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. But this really could be the one!

Except…you have a weird feeling in the back of your mind that just won’t quit. It seems to come up every time you need to pay for something together. It started out with dates, then little weekend trips and the next one is putting a deposit on a place to live together. You’re excited, but your spidey senses are tingling.

That feeling you’re having is actually a concern about their financial health, and it happens anytime love and money collide!

Don’t fret – it’s totally normal. It’s a sign that you are thinking ahead, optimistic about the future, and responsible enough to know these feelings need to be addressed. Not sure how? We’re here to help!

Instead of sweeping your feelings under the rug, learn these lessons and use our vast list of questions to do the work.

Part 1: The Lessons

These lessons are a collection of all the sentiments we’ve heard from couples breaking up. It’s all of the nuggets of wisdom that they wish they had taken to heart before they started the doomed relationships, and it has all the tips they plan to implement in the next relationship.

Lesson #1: You both need to understand your relationship with money. How do you each spend? Why do you each save? What does security mean to you both? What are your expectations of one another? Financial and otherwise?

Tip: A money story is a personal narrative about money. It makes up your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about money – and affects your financial behaviours.

Lesson #2: Don’t ignore red flags, financial ones included. I knew about issues relating to financial abuse and financial infidelity, but I didn’t know what that could do to my own financial health.  These include signs of financial abuse and financial infidelity.

Lesson #3: That which gets measured, gets managed. Align yourselves on goals, weekly and monthly spending and create a system to check in – this is the real self-care!

Lesson #4: Don’t fear the legal paperwork. That’s right. Prenups, postnups, cohabitation agreements, insurance, wills, powers of attorneys…they’re all important. It’s not about being greedy – it’s about using these documents as tools to open up a discussion around a whole bunch of what-ifs. Then, you can take steps to make sure you both are protected and aware of the risks.

Lesson #5:
The three D’s – divorce, disability, and unexpected death – are most likely to decimate a woman’s financial health if she isn’t prepared for them. So make sure you are prepared!

Lesson #6: Death (inheritances), debt and taxes – they can all become “ours” – even if you don’t intend for that to happen.

Bonus note about triggers:
You’ll find that as you explore these topics with your partner, a lot of different emotions will come up. These emotions include anger, confusion, fear, avoidance, sadness, regret, hope and excitement. If you find any particular topics especially triggering for you or your partner, take a moment to explore that feeling. All of us have experiences with money that have created patterns and scripts in our minds. In many cases, these patterns are born from a trauma (big or small) that we experienced around money. Money is emotional – even though it seems logical. The triggers we feel are an opportunity to go down a path to explore that particular trauma, and we may be able to find a solution on that path. Try seeing your triggers as cues and listen to what they are telling you.

Part 2: The Questions

This is a set of the most impactful and helpful questions to ask in order to identify your partner’s money story and complete a full financial disclosure. If this looks scary to you, don’t fret! It’s organized in sections and we recommend one section per session. Make your money date nights fun, order some food and make it a playful occasion! You can take turns answering, you can write your responses down and share them – do you!

Remember: The conversation when a partner is sharing about their finances is not a time for judgment or reactions. It is a very vulnerable experience for many. As a partner, try to be supportive, encouraging and hold space for whatever might come out. If you’re noticing you are more stressed out after your partner shares, that’s a trigger and a good opportunity for you to explore why you’re feeling that way.

Section 1: Money Stories

  • What are my earliest money memories? How do they make me feel?

  • When do I notice my money behaviours most?

  • What does my partner do that triggers my financial anxiety?

  • What financial behaviours make my parents/partner/circle most proud?

  • Whom do I rely upon for money knowledge

  • Out of 10, what is my confidence with money?

Section 2: Money Values and Beliefs

  • When do you think it’s ok to spend money?

  • How do you feel about savings?

  • What do you think is the purpose of money?

  • Should money be discussed with others?

  • What money behaviours do you judge in others?

  • Is there somebody who I think has taught me my money beliefs?

  • How do I feel about debt? How much is ok and in what cases?

  • Am I comfortable investing? Why or why not?

  • How much risk do I think I can handle? What kinds of risk?

  • Do I believe in charity? Which charities? Why?

  • If I won the lottery, what would I want to do with my money?

  • Do I have any past regrets about my money?

Section 3: Money Goals

  • Is there somebody whose life you hope to emulate? What are the financial aspects of that goal?

  • If you could go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow morning in your dream life, what does it look like?

    • What is your work life?

    • What is your family life?

    • What do you own?

    • How do you spend your time?

    • Which of these items are, in your mind, essential for happiness?

  • How much money do you think you need to earn in order to achieve the goals you have for yourself?

    • From the items in the last question that are essential to your happiness, which of them are real goals for you?

    • If you don’t earn what you need in order to achieve those goals, what can we do to help you get there? Do you want to get there?

  • What does financial freedom mean to you?

  • What does financial security look like to you?

Section 4: Money Behaviours

  • Do you currently have a budget? What is your system around monitoring your finances?

  • How do you make decisions on spending and saving?

  • What are areas of your finances that you think are going well? Areas that need extra work?

  • Do you share money with family and friends? When and why?

  • Do you have any regrets about spending you have done before?

Section 5: Merging Finances

  • For each of us individually, what are our strengths and weaknesses around money?

    • ie: One may be an everyday saver and the other better at spending on high-quality items

    • How can we see each other supporting one another’s strengths and weaknesses?

  • As potential (or established) life partners, how do you see us sharing our money? (Options below)

    • Totally separate accounts and sharing expenses equally

    • Totally separate accounts and sharing expenses proportionately to our incomes

    • Totally separate accounts and a joint account for joint expenses

    • Joint accounts for most items, but a separate account each for personal spending money

    • Keep our business accounts (if we have them) separate

    • Discuss all purchases over X$ with one another

    • Only discuss joint purchases together

    • Who pays for dinners out? Gifts? Kids items? Each other’s families? Trips and holidays? Solo trips? Hobbies? Schooling?

Section 6: Preparing for the Future

  • What-if scenarios. How would we manage the following:

    • What if one of us couldn’t work any longer?

    • What if one of us stays home with the kids?

    • How do we want to prepare in the event one of us passes away unexpectedly or suffers a severe health incident?

    • What if one of us had to move for work?

    • What if our aging parents need help and care?

    • What if we break up?

    • What are our earning expectations from one another?

Section 7: The Paperwork

  • Taking care of one another?

    • When we create/update our wills, how should we structure them?

      • Beneficiaries of our estates?

      • Do we include our families?

      • Any other dependents or recipients?

    • Life insurance:

      • Do we want to obtain life insurance? How much? Who should be the benefactor?

      • If we separate, will we keep one another on the policies?

  • Legal agreements

    • What are our thoughts on the concept of a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement or a cohabitation agreement?

    • Those documents address what would happen if we split. Let’s each take turns explaining what we think would be a good way to proceed.

    • If we broke up, what do we think is a fair way to handle the following:

      • Spousal support

      • Child support

      • Health insurance

      • Assets

      • Debts

      • Taxes owing

      • Savings

      • The family home

      • Other investments and real estate

      • Our corporations/business lives

      • Our insurances

      • Our joint bills

      • Our financial documents

      • What do the first 100 days look like in this scenario?

      • What would we put into an agreement in order to solidify these intentions?

      • beneficiaries on life insurance

      • wills

Section 8: Financial Disclosure

  • What does your budget look like and how do you approach it?

    • What do you spend each month and what do you bring in?

  • Do you have an awareness of your net worth? (Net worth building blocks below)

    • List your assets (anything you own) and their values next to them

    • List your debts (all loans of any kind) and their values next to them

    • Include monthly payments if relevant in the items above

  • Do you have any insurance policies (life, disability, critical illness,

  • What are your earnings?

  • What assets do you own?

  • Insurance, wills, accounts, investments, organized docs, disclosure, assets, debt and net worth, dependants, credit.

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