Love: What’s Money Got To Do With It?

Ah, Valentines Day: the holiday designated for warm, romantic talks about cash.

Well, maybe not – but periodic personal finance discussions are one way to keep love alive. Whether you’re freshly smitten or celebrating a golden anniversary, money conflicts can lead to severe relationship damage. In fact, financial differences are one of the top reasons divorced couples cite for their breakups. Communication is critical.

Why: Honest and respectful money talks bring many couples significantly closer. Learning about each other’s issues before problems arise can help avoid future arguments and make financial decisions that satisfy both partners’ needs and values.

When: The best time for a cash-chat is long before conflicts surface. If the discussion is prompted by a problem (a bounced rent check, for example), cool off first. And unless both of you are “night people,” meet during daylight hours to prevent nodding off.

Where: Find a comfortable, private place where you won’t be interrupted by such distractions as the phone, chores, or the NBA finals. The space should be available for a specific amount of time with little, if any, foot traffic. No place meets these criteria at home? Try a quiet café or restaurant.

How: Make a conscious effort to understand your partner’s perspective, and be open to compromise. Have a set start and end time. If the meeting gets heated, take a break. When important decisions are made, jot them down – you may not remember them later.

What: Money is a complex subject comprised of an infinite number of subtopics. Here are some key discussion points to get you started (don’t try to cover all in one sitting!):

  • How you were raised to think about money
  • Your financial fears, goals, challenges, and successes
  • What your ideal spending and savings plan looks like
  • Your salary aspirations
  • Who pays what bills
  • Your individual investing styles
  • When you want to retire – and what your retirement looks like
  • The amount you can spend without the other’s knowledge or consent
  • If you should have separate or joint accounts
  • What to do about kids: college funding, single vs. dual income, allowances, etc.
  • How to treat debt

What to eat: Chocolate. Okay, it has nothing to do with money, but even conflict-free chats about these issues can be stressful. A heart shaped box of bonbons can work wonders to soothe frayed nerves. Happy Valentines Day!

BALANCE is a financial education and counseling service committed to helping individuals and families nationwide take control of their finances and reach their goals. To speak with a financial counselor about your personal situation, give us a call at 888-456-2227, or log onto