Money and relationships - Our tips on how to broach the subject of money with your significant other


How do you start discussing money in your relationship?

Laura Whateley laid out a fairly common money dilemma for millennials in a relationship at the moment in her book Money: A User’s Guide (an extremely helpful bible on all things money and a bit of a godsend if you are trying to get your head around your personal finances). 

It goes like this: 

I’m moving in with my boyfriend who owns his own flat, he has suggested that I pay him rent. We will then split the bills fifty-fifty. My friends say he is profiting off of me because my money will go towards paying off his mortgage. He owns a one-bedroom flat, so it’s not like he was going to rent a room to another person. I can’t afford to buy into his place as I have no savings, and I think it’s a bit soon for that level of commitment anyway.” 

There is no exact hands-down solution to the problem that the person in Laura’s book is facing, as money is not something that many of us will happily talk about with our friends or loved ones. It might be that if you are at the point where you are thinking of moving in with your significant other, then you probably know how much they are bringing in money wise every month and any major out-goings they might have. But it is unlikely that you have combed through their full financial history, any debt they might have and made yourself aware of any other potential financial skeletons that they have in their closet. 

Not doing this, however uncomfortable it may be, could mean that you and your partner could run into financial issues in the future.

So, how do you tackle the subject of money with your partner, here is what I have found works from my own personal experience:

1. Communication is key

Depending on what your relationship is like, try and broach the money subject with your partner as early as you can and a point where you feel that is it comfortable to do so. If it’s something that you both struggle to talk about, think about scheduling a specific chat to discuss it where you can both prepare what to talk about beforehand.

2. Take the emotion out 

Money is a highly emotionally charged topic, likely due to the large amount of stigma and taboo that surrounds it. When talking to your partner about money, especially if this is not a subject you have broached with them before, try and approach it without emotion or judgement. Give them the cold hard facts of your current financial situation and ask them to do the same for you. 

Removing the emotion will make it an easier topic to talk about, especially if the amount you are each contributing to the relationship financially are not equally matched. 

3. Know your rights

If you break up with your partner but are living in their property (and have no financial stake in it) and have not drawn up an official legal agreement or are married, then - according to current UK law - you will have no rights to any part of the property. This is also the case if your partner dies and you are not included as part of their will. 

4. Honesty is the best poilcy

Be as honest as possible, admitting our financial short comings, debt and the dreaded credit score, can be a difficult thing to do. However, if you do not disclose any potential risks to your partner, it may affect them negatively down the line. For example, if you open a joint account with your partner, your credit scores become linked - meaning that if one of you has a bad credit score, then you will both be lumped with it (NB: living with or being married to someone with a poor credit score will not affect yours). 

5. Little and often 

Like many things in life, little and often, when it comes to talking about money, might be the best policy. So, rather than having one big conversation about it then never mentioning it again, try to make it something that you and your partner work towards talking about more regularly. Moving it from being something that is taboo between you, to something that you can talk about openly.

For more information and advice on money and relationships look for the Money and Relarionships chapter in Laura Whateley’s book Money: A User’s Guide or head to the Money Advice Service

Lizzie Gordon