When you start dating, you usually start off sharing stories. Tales of your childhood, your previous relationships and your college days. Those stories help explain to your partner who you are and how you act. Sharing those stories is a vulnerable process and can either deepen the bond or widen the gap.
But those aren’t the only stories you should share with the person you care about. Money is an important topic to get comfortable talking with your partner about. In general, money can fuel some passionate responses and with each of you bringing your own money histories into the relationship, learning to communicate and understand what you’ve each experienced around your finances can help to build a stronger financial foundation.
Here are six stories to share.
1. How was money handled in your house growing up?
How your parents spent money determines how most people handle their finances into adulthood. Watching your parents struggle to pay the bills could be why you’re so frugal now. Knowing you had to work for an allowance and spending money could be what contributes to your work ethic. If one parent handled all the bills or doled out an “allowance” to the other, that could be why you take an active role or shy away from things. Finding out how your partner’s family treated money could lead to greater understanding between you.
2. What was your first job and how did you spend your first paycheck?
Who doesn’t like sharing childhood stories with their spouse? But one tale you might gloss over is the story of your first job.
Most teens and young adults relish the first time they’re allowed to join the workforce. Whether your first gig was at a movie theater or a McDonald’s, sharing that story will remind you of a time you were excited to go to work and earn a paycheck.
Don’t forget to share what you bought with your first earned dollar. Did you save for your first car? Were you trying to go on a fun spring break trip with your friends? Talk about how long it took you to save up that money and how excited you were to buy something.
3. What is your favorite purchase you’ve ever made and why?
How we spend money reveals what our values are. For example, there’s a difference between someone who buys Starbucks every day and someone who visits a local coffee shop that roasts its own beans. The first person values the convenience, while the latter appreciates a finely made cup of coffee.
Learning what your partner values will help in future budget discussions and help you understand why they’re opposed to giving up a daily latte. If you remember that they told you that their favorite purchase was a Corvette, then you won’t ask them to drive a beater for a few years to save money.
4. What is the best money advice you’ve ever received?
Any piece of advice, no matter its impact, should be shared with your spouse. It might be knowledge they haven’t heard before or it could be something they already know, but didn’t fully comprehend.
For example, maybe you learned early on that hoarding your money in a savings account was better than spending it on clothes and movie tickets. Your partner might be impressed that you started saving at a young age and realize that continuing that habit is important to you.
5. What would you say is your biggest money mistake?
Unless your partner is a Dave Ramsey fanatic, they’re likely to have a few money blunders in their past. Ask them to share them, what they learned from the experience and how they approach finances now.
No matter what he or she says, be compassionate. Sharing mistakes is humbling for anyone, and if you judge or berate them, they’ll know not to open up next time.
6. What is the smartest thing you’ve ever done with your money?
Even a money maven could learn something from their partner. Sharing your biggest money wins could renew your confidence in your partner, teach you something and create a sense of togetherness.
Plus, what your partner shares could inspire you. Maybe they bought an old car and drove it for years, learning how to fix basic problems. Now you know that you have a handyman living at home so there’s no need to buy a brand new sedan. Or perhaps they started their Roth IRA at 18 and have been slowing saving away each year.