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One of the biggest topics to come up in any romantic relationship is money. Whether you’re only a few months into a relationship or you’ve been married for years, learning how to discuss finances with your partner is one of the most the important things you could ever do to make your love life work.

The Love and Money Guide

To help you master the art of talking about money with your partner, today’s Love and Money Guide features expert tips on how to discuss finances in a relationship. From best-selling authors and relationship coaches to financial experts, these 5 must-read tips will teach you how to approach this sensitive subject, how to communicate your needs and wants (when it comes to money matters), and how to effectively work with your partner on financial matters.

The Love and Money Guide: Expert Tips on Discussing Finances with Your Partner

TD Bank’s Second Annual Love & Money Survey examined the correlation between how couples talk about money and their levels of happiness. Their study found that Millennials are happier in their relationship and talk about money more often that their older counterparts. All generations cited a higher level of happiness when they talked about money more often than those who talk about it less frequently. “Talking about money can be uncomfortable,” says Ryan Bailey, Head of Consumer Deposits, Payments and Personal Lending at TD Bank. “Establishing a healthy dialogue about finances can help couples get on the same page from the start and result in happier relationships in the long run.”

Given the inherent link between love and money, it makes it all the more important to learn effective ways in communicating with your partner about finances.

Other key findings from TD Bank’s Second Annual Love & Money Survey show:

  • 48% of Millennials who use digital dating services say they’ve discussed how much money they make with a potential partner before meeting one another
  • 22% of Millennials are currently keeping a financial secret; 52% say their financial secret is a bank account their significant other is unaware of
  • 21% of Millennials would consider breaking up with a partner if they discovered a financial secret such as hidden debt or a bad credit score

The Love and Money Guide: Expert Tips on Discussing Finances with Your Partner

Love and Money Tip # 1: Get Started Early

Even if you’ve only been dating your partner for a few months, Davondra Brown, a relationship coach and author in Baton Rouge, Louisiana suggests that we should get started early. “The key to keeping the lines of communication open is starting the relationship that way. But just in case you didn’t, and find yourself 6 months down the line, completely in love, don’t fret. The best way my clients have found success in this arena is keeping it light-hearted at first. Use a quiz, whether online or in a magazine, and work through it together as a fun date night in the house, over a glass of wine. This lays the groundwork to lead into more intense, focused conversations around things like credit score, portfolios and joint accounts.”

Love and Money Tip # 2: Don’t Keep Secrets

“Secret bank accounts, or major debt not revealed, are secrets that can really impact trust and intimacy in a relationship,” says April Masini, renowned relationship expert and author of the ‘Ask April’ advice column, who analyzed the results of the TD Bank survey. “The damage is never about the money — it’s about the secret. The secret is the damaging dynamic.”

Cary Carbonaro, author of The Money Queen’s Guide: For Women Who Want To Build Wealth and Banish Fear agrees that we shouldn’t keep secrets from our partner. “Money is a litmus test for your relationship. You have to get it out there. I always say get the skeletons out of the closet. Do you have debt? Student loan or credit cards? Do you have a bad credit score? Is one person a saver or a spender? Money is one of the main reasons people get divorced so it is a very important topic for you to discuss openly.”

Love and Money Tip # 3: Communicate Compassionately

Tanja Diamond, a Life Coach and the Author of Riding The Phoenix: The Ultimate Guide To Get Unstuck in Life, Love and Money in a Whidbey Island, Washington suggests that we communicate compassionately. “If you want to bring up something your partner does, that is not working for you, then do so with curiosity instead of accusations. ‘Hey can you tell me about why doing it that way works for you?’, is a non-threatening way to find out about how your partner thinks about things and can lead to deeper conversations. Remember that everyone has valid reasons, in their opinion, to do what they are doing, finding the common ground and asking each other for ideas, is being collaborative on finding solutions. Money and sex are the two most loaded topics there are for couples, and having the ability to speak to each other with respect and compassion will go along way.”

Love and Money Tip # 4: Ask Open-Ended Questions

Suzanne Casamento, a dating expert and the Founder of Fantasy Dating says, “Money, and how each partner handles it, can make or break a relationship.” She suggests that we “Ask open-ended questions like, ‘How important is it to you to have good credit? What is your philosophy around spending? What about saving?’ Then see how your partner responds. From there, you can ask if they’d be open to coming up with a money plan together, in the future, should your relationship go further. When the time comes, do that. That way, you can refer back to the plan you came up with together, and decide how to get back on track, should issues arise.”

Love and Money Tip # 5: Get Down To Details

Rhonda Milrad, a Relationship Therapist and the Founder & CEO of Relationup & in Beverly Hills, California says, “Don’t assume that it will all work out. You have to have a talk about how you want to handle your finances as a couple – share expenses, split things or pay your own way? Come to the discussion with a clear understanding of what works for you and compromise from there.” By discussing the details about how you and your partner will handle money matters, your level of communication will improve and your relationship will be more harmonious as a result.

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