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Are You and Your Partner Financially Compatible?

Aug 12, 2020 3 min read Wanda Thibodeaux

Key takeaways

  • Watch how your partner handles money situations.
  • Make sure you both have similar goals.
  • Admit your own financial faults.



When your endorphins are flowing like wine and your romantic relationship conjures visions of something more serious, the last thing you want is to crush all that promise with thoughts of financial compatibility. Well, get over it. The fact is, the nickel and diming of everyday life creates pressure that not all couples can withstand. Here’s how to help ensure that your partnership will.


Observation is your friend

Taking time to observe your surroundings and partner's behavior can provide clues about financial compatibility.

  • Watch how they handle money flubs,

    such as paying a bill late. Do they call the provider and demand a refund because the error "clearly wasn't their fault"? Do they set up a smartphone reminder so it won't happen again?
  • Look at what they do with bills and receipts.

    Not keeping track of anything or having no system for organization could signal financial irresponsibility and failure to budget. Verifying the accuracy of bills or receipts shows that they aren't afraid to deal with money independently.
  • Consider what they own or gift away.

    If you see a lot of expensive items you know don't fit their income, it could mean your partner is trying to impress others—even at the cost of financial insecurity. Similarly, "shell living," where basics like furnishings seem sparse, could signal that they have trouble prioritizing how to spend.
  • Note their expressions, body language and tone

    when you talk about items you've purchased. Do they criticize your choices? Do they encourage you to buy if it makes you feel good—even if they know money is tight?
  • Assess their use of credit and cash.

    Having a ton of credit cards might mean your partner can't (or won’t) live within their means. Using cash consistently could mean they want to avoid debt (good)—or that their credit is so bad they can't qualify for cards or other loans (not so good).


Talking is your best friend

Open eyes can give you a sense of what you and your partner could face financially together, but open communication is by far the best tool at your disposal. To work money into the conversation, ask questions like:

  • What financial goals do you have?
  • What's your opinion on [financial area of your choice]?
  • What are your career plans?
  • Are you investing anywhere?
  • Do you link money to faith?

Also, listen carefully for a cycle of financial complaining followed by significant spending. This behavior can mean your partner understands money cognitively but struggles to keep emotional spending in check. Honesty in other areas also is a good sign they'll be honest with you about money.

If your partner shies away from "the talk," they might not be as comfortable with money as you need them to be. Bringing up a financial issue casually (for example, "I saw a funny post on Facebook about retirement planning") or admitting your own errors can put them more at ease—and willing to discuss money with you.


What you can do next

Start paying attention to how your partner thinks about and handles money—and talk the talk. But understand that having financial differences doesn't mean your relationship won't last, while similar financial philosophies doesn’t guarantee paradise. Instead, financial compatibility is more about knowing the preferences and skills you both have, and agreeing to a setup or system you’re both comfortable with. As long as you’re mutually aware and in control of what you want to control, you'll likely be in good shape.



Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and sole proprietor of Takingdictation.com. Her work has appeared in online and print publications such as The Finance Base, Legal Beagle, Bankaroo and Inc.com.


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