Money and relationships

6 do’s and don’ts for navigating money and relationships

When it comes to compatibility, how you manage your money can be important. But it doesn’t mean you need to have the exact same habits—actually, having different strengths and weaknesses can be a good thing. 

Money and relationship do's and don'ts:

It’s this shift of “me versus you” to “we.” To our values, to what we want to do together, us versus the world. —Bright Dickson, co-host of “Money and Mindset with Bright and Brian”

DO: Talk about money early on

Do you remember how the two of you handled the check on the first date? It’s OK if money doesn’t come up all the time—but it’s something worth talking about as things get serious. Is your partner a super saver? A big spender? Or somewhere in between? Get to know and understand your S.O.’s attitudes and habits when it comes to money, and you’ll be a match made in heaven. (Or more likely to get along, at least.) 

DO: Share what you care about

Maybe you’re really into comic books or going to football games. And maybe your partner loves nights at the theater. It’s natural to have different interests that affect how you spend your money—but that doesn’t mean you can’t be financially compatible! Your budget should be based on what you value, and understanding what matters most can help you make room in your budget for what you both love. 

DON’T: Dismiss the little things

When ignored, small money issues can turn into big relationship problems. While you should pick your battles, don’t completely brush off something that’s bothering you. (They spent how much on coffee last month?) Instead, talk about it and look for opportunities to compromise or get on the same page. 

DO: Talk about the D word

No, not “divorce”—we mean debt. When you commit to another person and everything that comes with them, that means their debt, too. Be open and upfront with each another about any outstanding debt you have so your partner isn’t caught off guard. This is also an opportunity to check in on each other’s feelings about debt. Together, you can come up with a payoff strategy and better handle the stress. (As you pay down your debt together, be sure to celebrate the wins, too!) 

When we argue about money, we’re not arguing about these little pieces of paper in our pockets—we’re disagreeing on how to spend it. And that’s an argument about what we value. —Brian Ford, head of financial wellness at Truist

DON’T: Set it and forget it

Combining finances typically means more than a one-and-done conversation. Schedule regular check-ins with one another (maybe once a month or once a quarter) to make sure you’re both on track for your goals—as individuals and as a couple. 

DO: Work as a team

Relationships are partnerships, no matter if you’ve just gotten serious or have been married for years. Your compatibility with money comes down to how well you communicate and your willingness to tackle obstacles together. So sit down, set some goals, and go crush them together. 

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