You know when it comes to relationships; money is the hardest things to talk about.  How we see our individual and family finances is something we don’t like to talk about with our partners.

It’s true money is a sensitive subject and it’s definitely a hard subject to bring up but if you see yourself being with someone long term, it’s best to talk about your finances early.  Some think there’s no need to talk about it until you’re engaged but would you want to find out that your future spouse has crippling debt immediately after you’ve popped the question?

Modern family finances

TD Bank quietly recently released a poll about Modern Family Finances, I say quiet because no one really picked up the story.

Why you ask?  Well their main headline was pretty weak.

“TD advises the financial formula can be as simple as finding common goals and ground”

Boooooooring, Trust me, every editor / producer passed on this story after reading that line, and it was the first one!  This sucks because the poll actually provided some solid information and advice that I believe to be beneficial to all of us.

Let’s look at some of the priorities for those who have blended finances of those in the survey

  • Organizing their daily finances 71%
  • Finding savings and budget efficiencies 60%
  • Opening a joint back account (nearly 2 in 5) not sure why they didn’t give a percent here
  • Maximizing investing opportunities as a couple 32%

All of these stats make sense to me, pretty normal concerns for people but how should we deal with it as a couple?  There’s really just one thing you need to do as a couple to address all of your concerns.

Have a conversation about it

It’s that easy, there’s no special approach you need to take, just pick a time when the heads are cool, schedule a time if you have to.

Opening up and talking about money may not sound very sexy but it’s something you must do if you want to build a financial future together.  Be honest with each other and talk about common goals so you can set up a plan to reach those goals.

Related: Three saving rules I live by

Often a big fear about starting the conversation about money is the fact that one partner does not want to have the conversation or gets all aggressive whenever the subject comes up.  To me this is a major flag; do you really want to be in a relationship with someone you can’t have an adult conversation with?

family finances

What to talk about

Well let’s take a look at those priorities outlined by TD

Organizing daily finances:  If you and your partner are both eating out every day, it really is no surprise that this is a priority for couples.  Talk about meal planning so you know what you’re going to be eating for the week.  If you’ve got a plan in place you’ll be less likely to go off the rails.  It’s okay to eat out still but maybe it’s better to restrict yourself to 1-2 days a week.

Finding savings and budget efficiencies:  Funny how the top two priorities for couples are directly related to each other.  If you’ve had the talk about cutting back on eating out you may have already solved this problem but one other issues seems to be the fact that many couples don’t even have a budget to begin with.  Take the time and create a realistic budget, this may require you to track your spending but it’ll be worth it.

Opening a joint back account:  For some couples opening a joint account is pretty much the end of planning family finances but there’s much more to it.  What is the joint account for?  How will money be deposited in the account?  Do we need any more accounts?

Maximizing investing opportunities:  This subject can be a little more complicated but one easy way is to take advantage of your TFSA accounts.  Individually we’re allowed to contribute $31,000 each, that’s a combined total of $62,000 of tax free investment room we can use as a couple.

Final word
Talking about your finances is vital to a healthy relationship.  Even the boring people over at TD agree

“Often, getting financial issues in order can help couples navigate other areas of their lives more easily and avoid conflicts and disappointments in future.”

If you don’t want to listen to me about it, here’s Gail-Vaz Oxlade with her take.

Related: How we handle our joint bank accounts

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Image courtesy: Dimaz Fakhruddin via StockPholio.com