Are you communicating effectively? Part 1

Communicating with your partner about finances.

Communicating effectively with your partner or spouse about finances can be a difficult task. Nevertheless, it is necessary to be on the same page with them when it pertains to finances. Discussing how bills will be paid, how many accounts will be shared and future financial goals are important topics.

Couples should determine who will be responsible for paying household and personal bills. For some couples, one person may pay all the bills and for other couples, they may share the responsibility of paying the bills. It is important to agree on who should pay the mortgage or rent as well as who should pay personal credit card bills. While discussing who will be responsible for paying bills, discussing if you will have joint or separate accounts is also important.

Varying opinions exists on whether couples should have separate or joint accounts. There is no concrete answer, and it really depends on the couple. Whether you and your spouse agree to maintain separate accounts or have joint accounts, do it. It is important to do what works best for you and your spouse. One may be better than the other with balancing the checkbook. The key is to discuss this early in the relationship. According to, couples may want to consider having separate accounts if one spouse is paying alimony or child support, one partner has poor credit or is paying down debt or if one partner receives an inheritance. 

In addition to discussing bill paying responsibilities and accounts, it is important to discuss future financial goals. Details such as saving for a home or children’s education should be discussed so an action plan can be created to meet those goals.

Here are some tips on communicating effectively with your spouse or partner:

  • Discuss finances when both are calm
  • Use the ‘I’ message (i.e. “I feel worried when you spend more than $100 and do not let me know.”)
  • Listen to your spouse/partner without interrupting and without distractions such as cell phones.

Read more on effective communication from IFAS Extension. Communicating with your partner or spouse about finances early on can alleviate unnecessary strain in the relationship.

If you are wondering about your financial health, take a financial health survey from MI Money Health and Michigan State University Extension to get your financial health score! It is confidential and your answers never connect back to your name. This survey can help you evaluate your current financial situation, provide ideas on how you may improve your financial health and connect you to resources in your local community.

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