Whether you’re married or just getting serious with your main squeeze, being on the same page financially is key to a successful relationship. And yes, sometimes asking the tough questions can really make or break you as a couple. But they are still necessary when you partner up.
So, if you’re trying to figure out your financial footing, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve created a quick guide to help you navigate the trials and tribulations of love and money – because money shouldn’t come between you and your happiness. After all, it’s till death do us part and not till debt do us part.
Table of Contents:
Romance and Finance
Whether you’re getting ready to say, “I do,” or if you’ve already jumped the gun, tackling finances as a couple shouldn’t feel daunting. Discussing budgets, savings and retirement goals should be part of every couple’s conversations prior to a union. There’s a reason “For richer, or poorer” is used in marriage vows. So, don’t shy away from opening up the discussion.
Romance your personal finance
You can set time aside and meet together, or even have a date night, to discuss budgeting as well as your short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. To make sure you both stick to your goals, you can set time-bound goals to ensure you meet your deadlines. For example, try setting short-term goals at less than a year and give long-term goals over five years to flourish. This will help you stay on track and avoid losing sight of the goal at hand.
If you do take a date night approach to budgeting or setting goals to make it more fun, make sure you keep the libations to a minimum. That way you’ll both be focused. You may even want to try treating yourself to a second glass once you’ve set your financial goals together. If there’s an incentive, then there’s motivation to accomplish said mission.
And if you or your partner have poor credit history, there are ways you can help each other boost credit scores.
Tips for building each other up when it comes to credit
Add your spouse to your credit card as an authorized user
This is one surefire way to ensure your partner gets the credit boost they need by either beefing up a thin credit file or helping them recover from past credit mishaps. When you add your spouse as an authorized user to a card you own, they inherit the history of that credit card account.
Help your partner apply for a small personal loan
Qualifying for a small personal loan with low interest rates can help establish credit or improve credit scores – so long as you make payments in a timely manner. Two of the most popular types of personal loans are debt consolidation and credit-building loans.
- Debt consolidation loan: This is one of the more popular methods of using a personal loan. Instead of paying multiple payments for various credit cards, you would take out a loan to pay off all your cards and then pay the personal loan back with one monthly payment. If one or both of you have credit card debt you need to pay off, this could be a great solution for tackling it together.
- Credit-builder loan: A credit-builder loan requires you make monthly fixed payments toward the amount of the loan without receiving the money first. So, once you have paid everything off, plus interest, you’ll have access to the funds. The main benefit is that you establish a history of timely payments, which lenders report to credit bureaus. You also get the money from the loan back at the end of the term, so it can be a great way to save if one or both of you aren’t savers.
Have your spouse apply for a secured credit card
A secured credit card is a useful method of credit building because it is not required that you have good credit to qualify. The way a secured card works is you put money down for a deposit that established your credit limit. Sometimes, secured card issuers may go so far as to allow you “to graduate” to an unsecured card after you’ve made multiple on-time payments.
Review credit reports together
If you and your spouse are responsible with your credit but still have a low score, you may want to double check your credit reports together for any credit reporting errors. Thankfully, every consumer is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can also obtain your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
So, once you’ve checked for any credit reporting errors, file a dispute if you encounter any mistakes. Once the error has been removed, any deduction of credit score points due to the mistake should soon be restored.
Be frank about managing money
Often, couples have different styles of managing money – one spouse may be the penny pincher, while their partner may be a free spender with a couple of credit mishaps. Avoid any confrontation or patronizing accusations. Instead, focus on having an open discussion about how best you can manage your money together.
Dating your debt
A fundamental aspect of being in a relationship is being able to communicate openly with your partner. Strong communication is key to a successful long-term relationship, and it helps couples find their financial footing.
Here are a few suggestions for starting and maintaining healthy dialogue with your significant other:
- Air out your aspirations: Be completely open and honest about your life aspirations to help establish common ground. Set clear goals and envision the type of lifestyle you want for yourselves currently as well as years down the line.
- Take things seriously: Make sure each person has an opportunity to express their goals and priorities in a non-judgmental and non-threatening manner.
- Take a gradual approach: It’s not a requirement that you figure out your entire lives in one sitting. Just make sure to schedule time for another conversation once you’re both done airing out your goals and priorities.
- Practice makes perfect: Everyone knows that the more time and effort you put into an activity, the better you get at it over time. Having constructive money talks with your partner is no different. It takes practice to get it right. So, just take your time and find your footing on your own terms.
- If the conversation gets heated, mutually table it: Never be afraid to table an issue you both may have for another time. Giving yourself a cooling-off period will help move the conversation forward when you revisit the topic.
- Share resources: One of the best ways to get on the same financial page with your partner is to use common lingo. You can also make use of finance apps, like Mint, to help you develop common ground.
- If you have kids, get them involved in budgeting: Talking about simple money issues like budgeting and saving is a great way to get your kids involved in the financial decision-making process. It can also give your kids a head start for their financial future. Think of it as an exercise in teaching your kids how to manage money.
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Toxic vs healthy relationships with your debt
When you start a romantic relationship, the very last thing on your mind may be whether or not your relationship will turn sour or if it will blossom. Sometimes people don’t even see the red flags because they’re looking through rose-tinted glasses.
So, if you’re unsure of what constitutes a healthy versus toxic relationship, here are few things you should get clear:
- The truth will set you free: Honesty is key to any successful relationship. So, hiding spending or any debt from your partner could lead to disaster. Be honest about your slip-ups, credit mistakes, and even your financial goals. But more importantly be honest with yourself about what incentives may motivate you to accomplish your financial goals.
- How to address financial infidelity: Often when people think of infidelity, they first think of secret bedroom liaisons. But often the less salacious yet equally catastrophic form of disloyalty rears its head in the shape of financial infidelity, which can lead to a divorce.
- Take responsibility for your finances: One easy way couples let financial infidelity creep in is by leaving all financial responsibility to one spouse. Instead, make sure you are doing things together because two pairs of eyes are better than one.
- Set meetings with each other regularly: Take the time to schedule meetings where the two of you can sit down and discuss finances. Whether you need frequent monthly meetings or quarterly sessions, is up to you. Figure out what works best through trial and error.
- Reassess goals together: People’s goals change from time to time. So, it’s always a good idea to check in with your partner to make sure your goals still align. It’s always best that you are on the same page financially to help maintain a working family budget.
Love your own finances before you love someone else’s
Being single can seem like the worst, especially during Valentine’s season. The lovebug may have skipped you this time around, but that doesn’t mean it is the end-all-be-all of your love life. Instead of mulling over why you’re enjoy a glass of wine on your own, focus on getting on the right financial foot so you can get a head start in your next relationship.
Since inflation can take a big bite out of your budget, start by adjusting your budget to help the ease of inflation. Ironically, the best way to beat inflation is to follow a budget. Take the time to set a budget on items that inflation will most likely affect: Food, gas, clothing, and housing. Set your spending limits and allocate your money at the beginning of each month. Start by cutting any unnecessary expenses and try finding free alternatives. You can also try shopping at different stores, looking for cheaper alternatives or buying in bulk to help that dime stretch just a little farther. Don’t shy away from using coupons either!
Sometimes, life comes at you fast. Picture this, it’s a dark and stormy night and the wind just blew a tree over that took a chunk right out of your emergency fund…err, roof. If you’re prepared, you have that emergency fund to dig into. But if you’re not, then you’re looking at a poorly designed ceiling light and a hefty bill to pay. So, instead of taking out a high-interest loan or credit card, an emergency fund allows you to pay for whatever life throws at you interest-free.
Ghosting your student loans
You may want to ghost your student loans because they’re a “stage 5 clinger,” someone who gets overly attached in a very short amount of time, but you’re better off establishing healthy boundaries. So, start by paying off what you can so those pesky student loans don’t keep creeping up. Your goal here is to build a better you by developing healthy financial habits all while boosting your credit score.
Financial love languages
Managing money isn’t always easy, but by getting to know yourself better you can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in your financial relationships. One effective method of doing so is by figuring out your financial love language. Not only will this help you strengthen your romantic relationships, but it will also help you improve other areas of your life.
You may love receiving gifts, but what you’re known for is being the ultimate gift giver – a gift guru, if you will. But keep in mind that you don’t have to blow your budget to make sure you or your partner are aware that they are loved. We recommend treating yourself after reaching a savings goal. And stop buying gifts just because. Get creative and personal with your gifts by getting crafty or using handy at-home do-it-yourself options.
For those of you whose love language involves quality time, you’re the type of person that is great at planning outings – especially since you have a penchant for finding fun, free activities to partake in. Continue finding ways to spend quality time with your loved one without feeling the need to overspend on outings.
You’re the type of person that is generally more careful with money you can physically touch. So, you also go out of your way to pay in cash whenever possible so you can avoid using your credit card for big purchases.
Here’s a thought: If you want to gift your spouse money, you could “make it rain” and shower them with dollar bills when you’re alone together or you could get creative with origami!
Acts of service
If your love language involves acts of service, then you love helping others stay on track financially. But what you want to avoid is neglecting your own goals or losing your sense of financial responsibility in the process. An app to manage your finances would help you keep track of your spending so you can better help your loved ones. You might even want to consider investment apps so you can gift stocks that will flourish to the ones you love or giving a significant other money for an extra student loan payment.
Words of affirmation
This means you’re the type of person who achieves financial goals faster when they are written down. You’re also the type who likes to communicate openly and often with your partner about money. So, make sure you don’t bottle up those concerns about your financial health.
The important conversation if you’re considered marriage: Prenups
Prenuptial agreements, or prenups, are contracts couples enter prior to or in anticipation of a marriage union. The purpose of a prenup is to set the rules on how a couple’s assets—and debts—will be divided, including property, future earnings and how the earnings should be distributed in case of separation or divorce.
A prenup isn’t just for the rich and famous. If you’ve got a small business, significant assets that need protecting, or if this is a second marriage and the well-being of your children is your top priority, then you might opt for a prenup. If one partner has a significant amount of debt, say from pursuing going through law school or becoming a doctor, there are prenups for those, too.
Many people are often turned off by the idea of a prenup because they believe it kills the romance and ruins the fun of wedding planning. And no, prenups aren’t sexy. But discussing a premarital agreement should be an openly discussed as part of the wedding planning process.
After all, people enter into contract agreements with people they trust, right? So, use this opportunity to be candid with your partner knowing that this difficult discussion may end up with you understanding each other that much better.
If your finances are down in the dumps, call on Debt.com to make things right.
Article last modified on August 18, 2022. Published by Debt.com, LLC