If you've ever hidden just how much that new pair of shoes cost from your significant other, chances are you're not alone. "Finances don't have to be the taboo subject we make them out to be," says financial expert Elle Kaplan. "You and your partner need to be as intimate financially as you are physically."
So the next time you start to dodge the financial details by saying, "they were on sale," take a step back and use the opportunity to get closer to your significant other. "There's no need to rush this on the first date, but get to know each other financially little by little just as you got to know each other when you started dating," Kaplan suggests. "Show each other your spending habits, your saving goals and how you feel about finances. After all, a discussion of money is also a discussion of other, not-so-tangible things — values, goals, beliefs, family histories, and experiences that both shape and reflect your approach to personal finance."
You and your partner can ease into the conversation with a few open-ended questions. "Whether you are in a relationship with someone new or you have been together for years, it is never too late to get to know your partner better financially," says Kaplan, who suggests asking and learning about:
Your financial pasts: When did you get your first job? How was money discussed in your household growing up?
Your financial present: What does financial health mean to you both? Would you say you're a saver or a spender? Do you have any debt?
Your financial future: If money weren't an issue, what would you want to do with your time? Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you invest?
"Full financial transparency isn't necessary (after all, you're with your spouse, not just your business partner!), but be as open and honest as you can with one another," says Kaplan. "Consider setting a time once a week or once a month to sit down and simply talk about how you're both feeling about finances. Both partners should always be on the same page."