Inviting The Money Talk to Tea
I think talking about money before you tie the knot is a no-brainer. I’m often surprised by the people who don’t want to broach this subject with their partners. While The Money Talk may not walk up to the table and sit down during your early dating days, by the time you’re contemplating tying the knot, The Money Talk should be cuddled up to your conversation.
Whether you’re afraid it’ll ruin the romance, or you would really rather not know, if you enter into what you hope will be the longest relationship of your life without much information you deserve what you get. You can’t act surprised at the fact that you’ve married a Money Moron if you didn’t spend anytime talking about money before you tied the knot. Neither of you can!
If you have a partner who seems reluctant to share, you may have to make like Sherlock Holmes to gather the information you need. You don’t have to go at it head on. Try a little tact: “Boy, I wish I had a savings matching program at work. Do you have one of those?” Or try: “Y’know, Marjorie’s husband, Mike, wants to retire early. He’s got them on a wicked savings plan. When do you think we’ll retire?” Not knowing is far worse than implementing a little strategy to find out what you need to know.
Avoid inviting The Money Talk to the table if you’ve had a few drinks. While you might think that plying your partner will help open up the conversation, it’s a dangerous strategy. Worse yet if you’ve both been avoiding the chat for so long that it can only surface when you’re both three sheets to the wind. And don’t try to have the conversation by phone, text or email. This is a face-to-face thing. If you’re serious about your relationship, you must be able to have a mature discussion about the money.
Starting with “We need to talk” is a sure way to get your buddy’s hackles up. Far better you start with common ground: I’m signing up for my company pension plan, do you have a pension plan at work? I’ve got about $2,500 in my TFSA, are you saving for your own future?
Lest you think these are long-term issues and you don’t have to think about them right now (procrastinator!) think again. If your girl has neither a pension plan nor any RRSP savings, what is she doing to take care of her future? If your boy has been blowing through his money without a thought to retirement, will you ever be able to convince him that saving is important? And if you can’t, how will that affect your long-term plans together?
You want a partner who is thinking about the future as well as living in the present. If she just hasn’t given any thought to it yet, but is willing, you’re one up on the poor sod who is marrying a chick who believes HE is the retirement plan. And if your Prince Charming just can’t stop spending every cent he makes and then some, you better know that before you hitch your cart to his horse!