When should you talk about money in a new relationship?

When should you talk with your significant other about finances?

To get a pulse on how millennials are broaching the topics of finance and savings, we surveyed 1,000 people from across the United States — of all backgrounds and gender. While the majority of millennials find money to be a critical topic, most actually don’t bring up the conversation. We found that nearly 68% of millennials haven’t asked their partners about their savings, credit score, or debt.

We also found that:

  • About 65% of millennials agree that talking about finances is necessary for a successful long-term relationship
  • Yet more than half wait to talk about joint accounts until they’re married
  • 37% of millennial women have asked their partners about their finances, compared to 26% of millennial men

Most Millennials Don’t Talk About Money with Their Partners

Discussing finances is crucial

Bringing up savings and credit scores can be uncomfortable.

Will your partner be open to questions about their finances? How will your views differ on money? The unknowns can make it tough to bring up the topic, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you’re not ready to share everything, it might be a good idea to start small.

Chandler Williams, a 24-year-old project manager in San Diego, California, began to talk with her boyfriend about money out of necessity.

“About eight months into our relationship we moved into our first apartment together, so we had to talk about credit scores and housing budgets. My (credit score) was pretty low and his was super high. Honestly, his score was what helped us get the apartment. We don’t necessarily talk about every (financial) detail, but we do have a general idea of the other person’s finances.

When people move into together, they should be open about money. You don’t want to stay in a long term relationship with someone who you don’t know anything about.”

We found that older millennials are more likely to have a conversation about finances. Perhaps due to increased experience and the ability to save more, those slightly older feel more comfortable to discuss finances. They might also feel like they’re closer to engagement or marriage — prompting them to have more proactive conversations about their future ahead.

Approximately 7 in 10 Millennials Think Talking About Money is Crucial For Relationship Success

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When we surveyed American millennials, we asked if they believe talking about money with a significant other is necessary. Approximately 7 in 10 people answered that after six months to a year, asking about a partner’s credit score, savings and debt contributes to a successful long-term relationship.

Financial standing plays into the future vision of a life together — including how you might combine finances down the road and what retirement goals you have.

While every couple should decide the financial arrangement that works for them, having a conversation opens up the door to talk about important topics and avoid future conflicts or surprises.

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Don’t worry if your finances aren’t crystal clean, either.

Over 86% of respondents said if they found out their partner had a low credit score, they would try to help improve it.

When Stacey Bishop, a 28-year-old engineer from Cincinnati, Ohio, first swapped credit score numbers with her fiance, she felt self-conscious that hers was lower.

“For about four years of our relationship, I had a much lower credit score than him and it wasn’t just as a result of poor financial management. If the situation were reversed, I would definitely give him the benefit of the doubt.

If anything, I felt guilty for being the partner that had more of a financial struggle. I felt like I couldn’t contribute to our overall financial security as much. But he was very supportive and did what he could to help me improve my situation and generally reassured me that it was fine and we that would get there, and we did.”

El explains, “It’s important to build credit together. When you have a spouse with poor credit, then you should do all the tasks necessary to build their credit out so it matches yours because (a low credit score) can harm your joint finances.

I had a lower score than my husband and I didn’t care. It wasn’t that I had bad credit; I had none. As a real estate agent, (my husband) dealt with credit all the time. He taught me and helped me grow mine.”

Over Half of Millennials Would Wait Until They’re Married to Talk About Joint Accounts

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It may not be too surprising, though, that the majority of couples wait to talk about joint accounts.

It’s rare for a couple to have a joint account before marriage, although it does happen and can make financial sense. Even after marriage, not all couples decide a joint account is right for them. Others choose to have one joint account, while also keeping separate accounts for themselves.

Millennials agree that discussing finances with a partner is important for a healthy, long-term relationship. However, many aren’t bringing up the topic proactively.

Having a conversation with your partner about savings, debt, and credit score can help solidify your bond and give you a better plan for the future. It can also help encourage a positive method for improving credit scores or building savings.

By approaching these topics together, you’re more likely to be on the same page and design a strong financial outlook for the future.

By Jeff Smith, Editor of the Self Lender blog

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