Keeping your partner in the dark about finances can hurt your relationship. But can sharing too much hurt your relationship, too?
One in five couples say they don’t spend money without telling their partner, according to Policygenius’ Couples and Money survey. Here’s what happens when couples share too much money information.
Can financial oversharing hurt your relationship?
Financial oversharing won’t hurt your relationship. But a lack of autonomy can.
“The biggest issue with financial oversharing is feeling like you have no independence, if every purchase must be approved with your partner,” said Patrick Hanzel, advance planning specialist at Policygenius. “While a strong relationship is often built on trust and openness, a feeling of independence can also be just as important.”
Members of couples who share too much may feel they aren’t trusted to make money decisions on their own and may feel financially smothered.
But most couples shouldn’t worry too much about oversharing, said Dennis Nolte, certified financial planner and vice president of Seacoast Investment Services.
“I’ve never heard of oversharing ending a relationship,” said Nolte. “It’s actually a good idea to be on the same page.”
Undersharing is a more common problem. According to the Policygenius survey, almost 50% of couples don’t know each other’s credit scores. Around one-third don’t know each other’s salaries.
Not knowing financial facts about your partner can make it harder to reach money goals, like buying a house or car.
For example, not knowing your partner’s credit score can make for a nasty surprise when it comes time to secure a mortgage on a new home. (Also, our survey found that couples who don’t know each other’s credit scores are seven times more likely to break up.)
No matter how a couple chooses to manage their money, both should be on the same page for major financial decisions. Talking regularly with your partner about money encourages transparency, which promotes trust.
The healthy way to sharing finances
There are no set rules on how couples should do money together. But keeping your partner in the loop financially will benefit the relationship in the long run, said Mike Miller, certified financial planner and founder of Integra Shield Financial Group.
Here are some tips for staying on the same page:
Figure out your debts.
Total up all debts, including student loans and credit card bills, preferably before you merge finances. Create a plan to tackle the debt together. Miller recommends each partner contribute to a joint account dedicated to paying off debt.
Don’t let savings fall to the wayside. It’s essential to have a healthy emergency fund in case the unexpected happens. Set up automatic transfers to your savings account so you never forget.
Set your goals.
Sit down with your partner and map out financial goals. Maybe you want to buy a home or car, or pay off your debt in a certain number of years. Couples can save up for shared goals in a joint bank account, and have separate accounts for individual goals.
“They have the ability to spend from their accounts with no questions asked,” Miller said. “They don't have to share how they are spending in this account, so they feel don’t feel judged or criticized.”
Organize a monthly money talk.
Talking about money regularly can help couples stay on the same page and avoid any surprises. Set aside a time each month to sit down and revisit your budget and goals, making adjustments if necessary.
Having the money talk might initially be difficult, but the worst thing you and your partner can do is nothing, said Miller.
“Money conflicts, when left unaddressed, can lead to divorce,” he said. “I encourage couples to be very transparent about money, no questions asked.”
Don’t know where to start? Consider tapping a financial professional. An adviser can walk couples through their finances and help them reach money goals together. We have a guide to finding one here.
Image: Nastia Kobzarenko