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Talking about money is difficult no matter who you’re speaking with. There’s something about having a conversation about finances that makes most people uncomfortable. Even though your romantic partner is the person you’re closest to in every other aspect of your life, talking about money with that person can be extra tenuous.

But, it’s also essential to be on the same page as your partner when it comes to finances. You’re growing your lives together, which means having similar goals and expectations around money. So what’s the best way to sit down and have this awkward conversation? Read on for some helpful tips.

Be Practical

When it comes to talking finances with a partner, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for when the conversation should occur. Every relationship moves at a different pace and needs unique levels of discussion at a given time. Consider how long you’ve been dating your partner and how serious the relationship is before you decide to start grilling them on their finances. There’s no need to find out a potential boyfriend’s credit score on the third date, but you might want that information before going house-hunting with your fiance.

Be a Good Listener

Although you probably have one idea about managing your finances, your partner likely has a different way. You also probably have slightly different goals around earning and spending and different priorities for saving. It’s okay if your ideas don’t all line up perfectly. However, it is essential to have an open mind and listen well to the other party to ensure that everyone’s opinions are respected.

Be Honest

Assuming you’re at a stage in the relationship where talking frankly about money is appropriate, be honest with your partner about your finances. This can be difficult if there are some slightly embarrassing things in your financial past, like excessive spending or a lot of credit card debt. But keep in mind, this is a person you trust, and to have a productive conversation, you have to tell the truth about your financial past.

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Be Gracious

Having the money conversation means talking openly about who makes how much money. Unless you’re part of a pair that makes equal salaries, you’ll have to deal with the fact that one of you makes more money than the other. If you’re that person, be gracious and avoid saying anything that will make your partner feel put down. If you’re the lower earner, don’t get defensive. Talk openly about how to share expenses given the differences in your earnings and what you think is fair.

Be Prompt

Although you don’t want to force the money talk too early in a relationship, you also don’t want to wait too long to have it. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to wait until the day you’re applying for a mortgage to disclose that you have $50,000 in credit card debt. Having honest, thoughtful conversations early saves headache (and maybe heartache) down the line because it helps set expectations and goals for you as an individual and as a couple.

Be Appreciative

Many couples find success because they balance one another out. This idea especially applies to money and is a handy dynamic to embrace. Suppose one partner is more frugal and detail-oriented but tends to let thinking take the fun out of otherwise celebratory purchases. In that case, the other partner might help him or her see that there is often joy in making a major purchase with a significant other. On the other hand, the frugal partner might help keep impulsive spending to a minimum or help establish a budget.

It’s rarely fun to talk about money, but it is vital, especially in a romantic relationship. These conversations will allow you to align your goals and dreams with your partner, bringing you closer together and giving you a teammate with whom you can work toward the future you want.