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How To Talk to Your Partner About Finances

Shared bank accounts and split expenses can create stress in relationships if you don’t have a plan. Here are tips on how to start talking to your partner about money and keep the conversation going.

Stacey Black headshot

Stacey Black (She/Her/Hers)
BECU Lead Financial Educator
Published Feb 22, 2024 in: Budgeting

Read time: 4 minutes

Interests, values, passions, even your most embarrassing moments — after a while, you might feel like you and your partner have shared it all.

But have you talked finances?

A 2023 study found 64% of couples admit to being "financially incompatible" with their partners, meaning they have different views on spending, saving and investing their cash.

So, although asking "do you have any debt?" might not seem like the best date night conversation starter, talking about your attitudes toward money might help you understand each other better.

How you tackle those conversations can help you become a better money match with your partner. Consider these tips:

1. Pick a Neutral Spot To Talk

Ask almost any couple, and they'll tell you when it comes to money — setting budgets, splitting bills and staying on track — it can get awkward. 

Take the discomfort out by having the conversation about money in a comfortable setting.

Take the dog on a walk. Grab your favorite beverage in a relaxing coffeehouse or wine bar. Whatever you do, try not to have major distractions — like the big game or your cell phone buzzing in the background.

2. Be Open: It's OK To Be Scared

Money choices — and disagreements — are often driven by fear. Maybe you're afraid your credit scores will drop if your partner forgets to pay a bill, or you won't have enough for retirement if you can't afford to add to your 401(k).

Owning a home, paying off student loans or funding life's goals might seem like they'll be out of reach forever if you or your partner accumulate large debt.

How you talk about money can defuse the tension when emotions are running high.

Use "I" Statements

Try to use "I" statements when conveying these emotions: "I'm afraid our retirement savings won't be enough if we're not contributing 'X' amount to our 401(k) plans;" or, "If we don't pay our bills on time, I'm afraid our credit scores will make it more difficult to buy a house."

By doing this, you'll reduce defensiveness and spark healthy opportunities for change.

3. Cover the Basics

Want to save for your future? Whether it's first-year baby costs, retirement savings, going on vacation or an emergency fund, it's best to start with the basics.

Look at your income — what you take home after taxes, insurance and other deductions from your paycheck. Talk about your debt, assets, and most importantly, your financial goals as a couple. That way you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to a shared vision for your future.

4. Determine Financial Responsibilities 

Somehow, it tends to shake out that one person in the relationship either wants to handle the money or is better at handling it. If that describes your partner, let them do it!

Good partnerships often define roles and stick to them (with flexibility, of course). 

An important part of combining finances in relationships is deciding who is in charge of monitoring and paying bills. Ideally, you're both in tune, but with one person managing the accounts, budgets and passwords, it can make coordinating the many ins and outs much easier.

Remember: Be flexible. Say you choose to have one person manage the accounts, but they just changed jobs and are overwhelmed by training in their new role at work and managing the finances at home.

It's important for the other partner to know when, and how, to step in.

Do's and Don'ts of Offering To Help Manage Bills


Use productive words that avoid blame: Relieve, help, assist, give you a hand, take the burden off, make it easy in any way.


Use combative terms: Take over, overhaul, fix, do this, figure it out, handle it.

Lastly, if you have shared accounts, I recommend that both partners have access to Online Banking and Money Manager tools, so you both can see what's happening with your money whenever you want to.

5. Talk Budget

Now that you've discussed what each of you take home, start talking about a budget to help define what "on track" looks like for you and your partner.

Make a detailed list of expenses. Some bills stay the same every month, like rent, cellphone, garbage, car payments, student loan and day care. Others can vary, like water, electricity, gas and groceries. Estimate how much you'll need to cover all the essentials. 

Then, be realistic about how much you spend on "extras." Talk through where you can cut back if you need to. Pretty soon, you'll know how much you can expect to have in your account each month, how much is available to spend, and how much you can start saving for bigger goals and the fun things in life.

6. Bring Solutions

Consider going one more step beyond "I" statements and bring a solution to the table: "I noticed some bills haven't been paid. I'm afraid our credit scores will be affected. I can help with paying the bills to help relieve you if you're feeling burdened by that task."

7. Learn Together

Let's face it: Having financial conversations with your partner can be intimidating. You don't want to disappoint them or get frustrated by them. 

Make a point to utilize financial resources at your credit union or bank. For example, BECU offers free webinars and seminars and Financial Health Checks for members.

Turn to a third party when you need a neutral voice to step in and offer advice. Sometimes, a friend, family member or financial professional can play a crucial role in helping you keep the conversation going and learning together.

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Stacey Black headshot

Stacey Black (She/Her/Hers)
BECU Lead Financial Educator

For nearly 30 years, Stacey has taught adults, college students, teens and children through the BECU Financial Education program.