Smart Investing

Want to live happily ever after? Talk about money: Advisor

Key Points
  • Money is the No. 1 reason couples argue.
  • Before moving in together, ask about credit scores, debts and other financial criteria.
  • Setting up "money dates" to discuss finances can ease awkward conversations.
Couples and money
Couples and money

While Americans love to delve deep into the wealth and success of the rich and famous, personal finances remain — strangely, and on a personal level — a taboo topic for many. People guard their salaries like state secrets, and money problems are, according to many surveys, the No. 1 reason couples argue. That's because "we're often coming from very different financial backgrounds," says certified financial planner Sophia Bera, founder of millennial-focused financial advisory firm Gen Y Planning.

As romantic relationships grow, it's important to discuss money, because it impacts many of the life events couples will share, from engagements to home purchases. "All of these have financial implications," she says.

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Thinking about moving in with your other half (new or not)? Some things to ask about should include his or her:

  1. Credit score
  2. Income
  3. Debt
  4. Retirement savings
  5. Emergency funds
Women tend to be more conservative investors than men
benjaminec | Getty Images

You might glean this information during a regular "money date," which Bera describes as a designated time you both plan to share intimate information about finances. "This doesn't have to be a scary conversation," she says. "This is a great time to talk about your hopes and dreams," as well as set goals, create a budget and figure out how to save for the future.

Another item on many couples' financial to-do lists is determining whether and how to combine finances. "It doesn't have to be an all-or-none thing," says Bera, who advocates what she calls a "yours, mine and ours approach." For example, there's nothing wrong with maintaining separate personal checking accounts but then opening a third, joint one for shared goals.

It's okay for couples to disagree about money, but discussion is key. "This way, you can see if it's something you can navigate through together or — if your money differences are too great — if it's better to go your separate ways."

The only mistake when it comes to money and romance is to wait until you're married to have these conversations.