Marital conflicts about money are pervasive. Couples in relationships often spend more time discussing intimate desires than their financial goals. The book Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money With Your Honey is designed to help couples discover and develop their financial compatibility. Author Manisha Thakor acknowledges it’s hard to determine the best stage of a relationship to discuss financial matters.
“You know, just like saying how many kids should we have when we’re married, it’s a very personal question. My recommendation is this: when you think you’ve found the one, I like to say—kind of tongue and cheek—but if you’re willing to take your clothes off with someone one way, you should be willing to take your clothes off with them financially. So if you see yourself in a long-term relationship with this person, it’s time to start the conversation. And you can ease into it gradually. It may be in month three, if it’s hot and heavy early on. It may be in year three, if you’re dating for quite some time. It’s very individual.”
Thakor calls these discussions “financial foreplay.”
“For most Americans, there are five areas of spending that literally will consume over 50 per cent of your income. They’re your home, car, kids, education and your retirement, and of course health care was right up there. We left that out because it’s in such flux right now. But if you and your significant other can agree on how as a household you want to handle the expenses in those five key areas, it may not be romantic, but oh my gosh, you go a long way towards establishing financial harmony in your household.”
Thakor says the key is understanding—as in any other areas of a relationship—that there will be differences of opinion. The goal isn’t to try to change each other, but to understand each other’s hot buttons about the topic of money.