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You come home from work and find that your significant other left a pile of dirty dishes in the sink when the empty dishwasher is mere inches away. Sound familiar? While this type of annoying habit can cause some relationship stress, it’s no match for the amount of stress money can bring to a couple. In fact, according to a recent study by SunTrust, money is the most common relationship stressor out there. Puts those dishes and bad Netflix choices in perspective, doesn’t it?

That fact shouldn’t come as a shock. Finances impact everything you and your significant other do. And once things start getting serious, talking about your finances and aligning your goals will allow you to do what you love, with the person you love.

Take it from us. Not only did we have these conversations firsthand but we coach people through this topic all the time. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that nothing good can come from avoiding a conversation about money with someone you’re planning to build a life with in the future.

But fear nothere are some ground rules to kick start this often awkward but important conversation:

  • Rule #1: Have R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Every relationship has different dynamics and those dynamics shift over time. You have to respect each other’s reasons for wanting separate or joint finances and then find a solution that works for everyone.
  • Rule #2: Make a plan. We work with clients every day to create financial plans, and we update previous plans as situations change. Discussing goals and creating a plan is a great way to kick off the conversation for people that have a hard time talking about money. Conversation starter: Everyone likes to talk about what they would do when they win the lottery, right? We know you’ve done it! Take this same concept and apply it to real life. Swap buying an island for buying your first home – and BOOM, you just set a goal for your financial plan!
  • Rule # 3: Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your financial foundation together won’t be built in a day either. Practice patience and give each other plenty of time to think about and respond to different possible scenarios. Set reasonable goals for making decisions and implementing agreed-upon solutions. It might take you YEARS to find the right balance and depth of combining your finances – and that’s OK. The important thing to remember is to find a solution and plan that works for everyone long term.

Most importantly, remember that talking about your finances isn’t a one-time conversation. As your relationship grows, evolves and changes, inevitably your financial situation will too. Be sure to communicate honestly and openly when conversations about money reappear. Not sure how to start the conversation or ready to talk with a professional about your family’s financial goals? We can help.