How to Get Financially Naked With Your Partner

It’s time to strip down to the dollars and cents

You are closer to your partner than anyone else. You share your meals, your bed, and your bodies with each other. Though this seems like the ultimate picture of togetherness, there’s one essential thing you may not have shared; an open and honest discussion about your finances.

Money is a powerful energy. We crave it or deny it, reject it or are able to bring it to us effortlessly; whatever energy we share with money, it has a hold over us. And whether we like it or not, we need money to survive.

With this much power, we will have unique money habits. Our station in life forms our belief systems. Our upbringing and our personal experiences shape our ideas further. Each one of us has particular beliefs and ways of managing (or mismanaging) our money.

Money conversations can be awkward and difficult. We would much rather strip naked and roll around in bed together!

I once read a story about a money guru who watched her father walk into a burning building. Why? The building was his business, and he risked himself to retrieve his cash register. That register was all the money he had. With that single event, her father imprinted the belief that money was the most essential thing in the world.

All of us have had significant events that have imprinted into our brain and effect our personal beliefs about the energy of money and what kind of bearing it has in our lives.

With such strong emotions about money, couples may find it challenging to be open with each other. Money conversations can be awkward and difficult. We would much rather strip naked and roll around in bed together! Discussing money isn’t near as much fun.

We may also have money isssues we’re embarrassed about; loan debt, credit card debt, owing back taxes, battling gambling addiction, working for low wages, or being unable to support ourselves and needing government assistance or help from family. These are the things that we might prefer to keep to ourselves. The longer we keep these things hidden from our partner, the worse it will be for our relationship; it may even be the one thing that breaks us.

However, couples who can sit together and bare themselves financially to each other can boost the bond between them. Letting your partner know your fiscal stance is the one way to let them in on one of the most intimate parts of your life.

Even with the possible negativity that money can bring into a conversation, if it’s done with compassion and support for each other, It can be a stimulating and positive experience for you and your partner.

We experience monumental stages in our intimate relationships, making love for the first time, meeting each other’s family, living together, getting engaged, and/or getting married. Doing a financial strip dance for each other is a significant step in your relationship too. It shows you’re serious about each other, and you’re committed to working together to make the relationship succeed.

The best time to get financially naked with your partner is when you’ve declared yourselves an exclusive couple, and long before you move in together or get married.

But, if you’ve already taken these steps, you can still go full monty about money with your partner. It’s never too late to open up with each other about the essential parts of your life.

Pick the right time

Timing and setting mean everything when communicating about your finances. Getting financially naked together is like having sex for the first time; you are vulnerable and want the other person to desire you.

have a simple naked checklist handy

Agree when you’ll both sit down and strip down to your skivvies financially. Both of you should be in the right frame of mind and have a positive and open outlook about the conversation. Come into the conversation with the intent to be productive and forward-looking, and be open to talking and strategizing together.

The entire conversation doesn’t need to happen all in one sitting. If you find yourselves becoming exhausted, vulnerable, getting defensive, or spinning your wheels, end the conversation on a positive note and pick it up later. The idea is to keep the sessions positive, supportive, and hopeful for your future.

Get comfortable sitting together and have a simple naked checklist handy. There are only four basic topics you need to address. Four! That’s it!

Reveal your Debt Number

What is your number? Revealing this gives your partner a peek at the private parts of your finances. Add up everything you owe and give it a total amount. Add up everything: school loans, car loans, credit card, mortgage, private loans to family or friends, back taxes; whatever it is, put it on the list and make it one all-encompassing number.

Your total numbers will be where the two of you will focus. Regardless of how high or low the number, remember that there’s a difference between ‘acceptable’ (i.e. school loan) and ‘unacceptable’ (i.e. credit card) debt.

Once you’ve peeked at each other’s number, discuss this together. What factors in your life have led you to this number? Are you proud or ashamed of the number? Are you getting defensive or making excuses? How you approach this discussion will set a precedent. The same goes for how your partner approaches you with their number.

Remember that you chose this partner, and money will always be a topic of conversation between the two of you

Have you thought about making this number increase or decrease in the future? Do you already have a plan in place?

When I first met my husband, he was still married and going through a divorce. He made a good living, but almost half of his money was going to his soon-to-be ex-wife. He acquired debt because of this. His number didn’t look great, but further discussion found that it was a temporary situation for him. We took action to make a plan and come through together towards having a better financial future once he was over his bump in the road.

The important part is to remain open and understanding of your partner’s financial situation. There may have been circumstances that they’ve had to endure for one reason or another. You also can decide together about how you want to take on those two numbers (yours and theirs). But first, discuss the next topic.

Where is your debt?

Break down your number and show each other where your debt lives. As I said, it could be school loan debt. It could be credit card debt. Divulging your obligations will help give priority to paying it off.

Debt is debt, and everything will eventually need to be repaid. Something like mortgage debt is not a priority with the same urgency as credit card debt.

Divulge how much you’re paying per month towards your debt and the interest rate attached to each owed piece. Credit card debt will most likely have a higher interest rate than school loan debt. This is very important because you both want to figure out the amount of cash going towards debt and where the priorities lie.

Differing opinions about paying off debt is a common barrier for couples. At this point, only discuss your ideas about how you want to pay off your debt. Don’t start giving each other advice about money management. You’re in an information-gathering session. This is the foreplay of your financial nakedness. Show what you’ve got and let your partner do the same for you.

Strategize your money management

Now we are getting into the nitty-gritty of your finances. You are getting raw and real; it’s you opening up your life and letting them in. Like sex, it may be awkward at first, but you’ll start to see the compatibility and differences with your partner when it comes to money.

There is no right or wrong way of strategizing your money (well, there is in theory, but you must only take action that doesn’t make you uncomfortable). You might be kinkier (i.e., riskier) with your money; they may be more conservative. You will both have thresholds. Feel each other out.

Where are you in agreement about money management? Start there. Build on your strong points.

How do you see paying off debt? Does one person love using credit cards, and the other one hates them? Does one person want to be ultimately debt-free, and the other is okay with carrying debt? Does one of you love investing in the stock market, and the other wants a nice cushion in a savings account instead? Is either one of you struggling to meet your living expenses?

Remember that you chose this partner, and money will always be a topic of conversation between the two of you, even if you keep your money separate from each other. Being together on the same team creates a positive relationship with money and is the best way to keep your relationship healthy.

You can work together and support each other with money challenges as long as you come together financially naked and open to working on whatever comes your way. As a couple, it’s not all about you anymore, it’s about the two of you.

Credit Score

Be naked with your credit history. Print out your credit report and bring it to your partner. Divulging your credit scores to each other will say a lot. It is the ultimate sharing of your past. You will see each other’s life B.R. (before relationship). It will also determine the ability to move forward into the future, especially if you want to buy something together, like a home.

A chronically low number can indicate mismanagement of money and ignoring financial responsibilities. This is something you definitely want to know if you’re getting into a relationship with someone, because it will ultimately have an impact on you.

I didn’t know my husbands’ credit score until we decided to buy a home together (we were not yet married). I found out the hard way that he had a lower credit score. It wasn’t ridiculously low, it was actually okay. But it was low enough to hamper us applying for a house loan.

There was no casting blame and shame about the situation. Instead, we worked together with our mortgage broker on some things we could do to increase his score — this required paying off a credit card, and a couple of other tasks. With a few tweaks, we raised his rating and we were able to buy a home together. Now, his credit score is higher than mine.

Transparency will save (or doom) your relationship

Getting financially naked with your partner is as intimate as getting physically naked. It shows more long-term commitment on both your parts and will give you a view of how you’ll handle money together.

It may go well. It may not. But, taking this step in your relationship will reveal a lot of things to give you a clearer picture of your future. You want to know how your other half handles money before you make a lifelong commitment to them. Don’t wait until you’re married or sharing financial debt.

Like any other aspect of the relationship, there will be good and not so good parts. Figure out what you are okay living with, and what are your bottom lines. It’s vital to your financial peace of mind and having a healthier relationship.

Cha-Ching Money Blog helps you manage your personal finances by giving you tips on changing your money mindset and lifestyle. Sign up for the Cha-Ching newsletter here and join us in learning about money and how to have more of it.

Advocate for Women / Owner of The Virago

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