Bringing debt into a relationship can be complicated…
And taking on a partner’s debt can be both emotionally and financially draining. With a recent finder.com study revealing 1 in 3 Americans has contracted sexually transmitted debt, acquiring an estimated $250 billion collectively, the issue is certainly widespread and costly.
To avoid draining your bank balance while filling your love tank, consider the below tips to discuss with your partner.
Set an agenda
Sparking the financial conversation isn’t always easy. As with most things, the more you do it the easier it gets. Set aside a dedicated date and time, with an actual agenda to make sure everything is covered. You might consider setting a regular financial date with your partner, to check in on any plans that were set.
Share past experiences
You can start by discussing your family’s views on money and spending and share how they played a role in your experiences growing up. Considering 28% of Americans have contracted sexually transmitted debt through matrimony, it’s possible one or both of your parents overcame this same or a similar situation.
Remember to keep an open mind, and set aside any judgment if you find you were raised to view money and finances differently. Not only can you both learn from your family’s experiences, but you can also learn a lot about each other’s ingrained financial values.
Cover with the basics
You may be surprised by how much basic information you had assumed about your partner and their financial situation and habits. See if you actually are on the same page by covering information such as if your partner has a budget or tracks his/her spending each month.
Find out if they have ever been in debt, how they have dealt with it and how they plan to address debt in the future.
Talk about your financial goals such as where you see yourself financially in five years and when you would like to retire.
It’s a great sign when somebody has put thought into these situations, despite it being so far from the present.
Don’t stop talking
Personal and joint finances should be an ongoing conversation in your relationship. Just because you’ve made one major decision, like opening a joint account for shared expenses, doesn’t mean you’ve answered all of the questions.
The future will bring a lot of financial successes, and likely some downfalls, and you and your partner will need to be prepared. Communication is key, and it will also keep the stigma or stress out of discussing your finances as it becomes more of a routine.
More importantly, an ongoing conversation leaves little room for lies or spending that is unknown to one another. While nobody wants to think about financial infidelity arising in their relationship, you should be aware that it does occur.
Finder’s study showed 25% of people took on unwanted debt due to purchases made in their name and 20% through a joint account.
Most importantly, talk finances when you’re ready. It is an extremely important conversation to have, and one that should not be put off for too long, but having the conversation before you’re ready could cause you to leave out important details or questions that you need to know before moving forward with serious commitments.
To prepare, sit down and make a list of what’s important to you when it comes to personal and joint finances, then write down all of the information you need to know to feel comfortable sharing confidential information with your partner.
Never feel bad about setting financial boundaries or even saying no. After all, the key to prevention is first and foremost protecting yourself.
Jennifer McDermott is the Consumer Advocate at personal finance comparison website
finder.com. She has more than 12 years’ experience under her belt in the finance, lifestyle
and travel industries where she’s analyzed consumer trends. Jennifer loves to uncover
interesting insights and issues to help people find better.