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Whether you’re planning a holiday together, saving for a big purchase or paying off some debt, talking to your partner about your financial goals can be a great way to get a conversation started around money.

Talking to your partner about financial goals

Talking about your goals can give you both a better understanding of how each of you manages money. Keep in mind you may feel a bit awkward at first, especially if you’re not used to talking about your financial position.

Savings and debt

When talking about savings or debt it’s likely that one or both of you might feel defensive or under attack from the other person, especially if money isn’t something you often talk about.

To avoid this try to keep the discussion open and by staying away from phrases that might make your partner feel bad about their money management. Stick to the facts and avoid using accusatory words like “irresponsible”.

Some things you might want to discuss in your financial goals conversation:

Personal goals

  • Are your goals short or long term?
  • Is your goal to save for a big purchase/house/retirement?
  • Is your goal to pay off debt?

Shared goals

  • What are you saving for/ trying to pay off?
  • How long until you’ll be able to achieve your goal? 
  • Is this timeline realistic?
  • Do you need to create a joint budget to achieve this goal?

Check out Money Smart’s Savings Goals Calculator to work out how much you can save and put towards those goals.

SMART goals

If you want to work towards a shared goal, like a holiday, try using the SMART goal method. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

For example you might want to go to Japan. Work out when you want to go and roughly how much money you’ll need for flights, accommodation and spending money. So rather than your goal just being going to Japan for a holiday it would be going to Japan in 6 months time. It will cost $2,000 so you’ll need to put away $100 a week for 5 months to achieve your goal.

Talking to your partner about debt

Debt can be a really hard thing to talk about, whether it’s your own debt or your partner’s. It can bring up a lot of different emotions like shame, guilt, embarrassment and anger.

Keep in mind that the conversation might stir up some of these feelings in one or both of you, and could cause one person to get defensive. Try to keep the focus on solutions rather than how the debt was accrued in the first place.

Try to keep the focus on solutions rather than how the debt was accrued in the first place.

Some things to consider include:

  • Be open about how much debt each of you have, that way there’ll be no surprises in the future.
  • Try not to judge your partner over the amount of debt they have, and encourage them to do the same for you.
  • Think about the kind of outcomes you want to get from this conversation before you have it. Is the aim of the conversation just to let each other know your financial position? Or are you looking for a way to pay off these debts, and if so what would that look like?
  • Do you want to join finances and if so will you both be responsible for paying off the debt, or just the person who accrued it?

Next steps

So what are the next steps? Another conversation? Creating a budget together? It’s up to you, and you definitely don’t have to find a solution to your debt issues in the first conversation.

In fact just being honest about how much debt and savings you both have might be enough to get you started having better conversations about money.

Quiz

Which financial conversation would you have with your partner when you first get together?

  • 52 0 Personal financial goals
  • 16 0 A joint savings goal
  • 15 0 Personal debt
  • 12 0 Something else

Note:

It doesn't matter where you start, the important thing is that you're having these conversations. If it seems daunting check out our tips on how to make talking about money with your partner easier.

Next topic:

Moving in together