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Love and money: How to approach financial conversations with your partner before marriage

Close up of wedding rings with money. (Jamie Grill/Here & Now)
Close up of wedding rings with money. (Jamie Grill/Here & Now)

As Valentine’s Day approaches, some folks might be getting ready to take the next financial step with their partner.

Before you pop or answer the big question, there are some other questions you may want to ask your partner to make sure you’re on the same financial page.

Jill Schlesinger, CBS News business analyst and host of “Jill on Money,” breaks down the conversation couples should have about money.

Tips talking about money with your partner from Jill Schlesinger

How to handle emotions around talking about money 

“I think the best way to start is to acknowledge that it is emotional because money can be this concrete receptacle for all of your emotions, but it’s really the emotions that guide you. It’s what brings the judgment out. It’s what makes you feel bad about yourself.

“We all have baggage when it comes to relationships. Some of it is other relationships, but some of it is just about money. So you want us to talk about it like, ‘Hey, you know what? In my family, money wasn’t a thing.’ Or, ‘in my family, it really was. And in fact, it was a power tool.’ Or, ‘my family, gosh, I feel so bad because my parents have sacrificed everything for me, and I’m not living up to what they want.’

“If you just have that conversation to start, it makes everything else a lot more interesting because it gives you the lens through which you can see yourself and your partner.”

Couples getting married later in life impacts financial conversations bring more complicated finances to the table

“You have your own systems in place. If you were 22 and 25 getting married, you had some bad habits, but not too bad. [But when] you’re 30, you’re 35 years old, think about Taylor [Swift] and Travis [Kelce]. They’re both 34. They’ve come with a lot of experience before they are going to potentially merge.”

The most important thing to do

“Get it out on the table, and you can also say, ‘Let’s just share the information. We love each other. We’re going to live with each other. Maybe we’re gonna get married. Maybe we’re not. And maybe we can just talk about, like, this is how much money I make. This is how much you make. This is what my savings look like. This is what my debt looks like. How do you feel about us sharing certain things versus not?

“I think the problem is if you don’t talk about it, it will become an issue. I can almost guarantee it as someone who used to be in the business. So it has to be aired as quickly as you can get it out and then come up with a game plan for each of you.

“It doesn’t have to be 50-50. It doesn’t have to be that you share everything exactly. It has to be a system that works for you in your relationship.”

Consider a no-nup, AKA a no-nuptial agreement 

“This is one of my favorite documents because when you are married and the relationship doesn’t last, a divorce is a framework for breaking up financially as well. But when you’re not actually married legally, there isn’t a framework in place.

“And so a no-nup is you have not married, but if something bad were to happen between the two of you, here’s how we divvy everything up.”


Hafsa Quraishi produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Micaela Rodriguez. Allison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.