In the spirit of all things heart-shaped, it’s only fitting that we extend the spirit to our finances this month. I know money isn’t the most romantic topic of conversation, but it’s one of the most important and overlooked chats you can have with your partner. Whether you and your S.O. share kids, a home, or even just your time, being on the same page about money can prevent more serious obstacles and disagreements down the road. Keep scrolling for some money conversation starters that will lead to an open and honest discussion about your financial lives together.

image by kristen kilpatrick

image by lauren riboldi

1. Understand your partner’s debt situation.

This may seem like an invasive place to start, but if you feel comfortable enough with your partner, it’s so important to understand what their money situation looks like. Do they have student loans? Credit card debt? What do their repayment plans look like? Recognizing your partner’s current financial picture, even from a high level, will give you a glimpse into how they think about money. More importantly, as your relationship progresses, their debt burden could very well become yours (and vice-versa). So it’s important to understand exactly what the situation is. If it makes sense, you can even start working together to create a debt paydown plan.

image by kristen kilpatrick

2. Decide together how to manage your bank accounts.

Some couples prefer to keep their bank accounts totally separate, some combine everything, and others take a blended approach. Many of the couples I see maintain one shared account for joint bills and separate accounts for individualized, discretionary spending. This approach streamlines your joint expenses but gives you the flexibility to buy what you want (within your budget) without consulting someone else. Some couples have also found success imposing a price threshold that requires the other partner’s approval before making a purchase. There is no right or wrong way to manage your accounts with your long-term partner, but it’s a decision you should make together as a couple.

image by buff strickland

3. Discuss your retirement goals.

Retirement may seem like a distant concept for those of us in our twenties, thirties, and even forties. But the money decisions we make today can have a major impact on when and how comfortably we can retire. Within this conversation, ask your partner whether they have a 401(k), IRA, or investment account. The objective here is to understand how achievable your joint retirement goals are. If you’re both mid-30s without much in retirement savings, the time is NOW to start tucking away a portion of your paychecks. Compound interest is a powerful tool that literally turns time into money as you earn interest on top of interest. And the more you save today, the more time your nest egg has to grow. Let’s put it this way: if one couple starts saving at age 25 and another at age 35, the younger couple can have double the savings at age 65. And after decades of hard work, we all deserve to live our best retirement lives without worrying about money. Cheers to beachside living!

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