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How to have the “money talk” with your significant other 

By Katie Scarlett

We receive many interesting personal finance questions, but this recent one made me pause and think deeply before writing down my answer. The question is simple but has many implications that cut into the heart as money and relationships can be complicated.  

The question is: 

“How transparent should you be to your partner (gf, wife, SO) when it comes to your personal finance (e.g., income, net worth).” 


The short and obvious answer is that, of course, if you are in a healthy and loving relationship, you should be as transparent as possible, *obviously*. I also discussed this topic in my blog, Katie Scarlett Needs Money.


But the fact of the matter is, having the “money talk” is not something that many couples do. This is unfortunate since many couples fight and separate because of financial problems. This article cites several surveys revealing that 48% of Americans who are married or living with a partner argue over money and that 41% of Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers divorced over disagreements over money. So even though there is no divorce in the Philippines, won’t you rather avoid any future disputes early on?   

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Here are tips on how you can make this conversation fruitful:

  • Talking about money is never going to be easy. If you’re new to this, take it slow, casual, and fun. Start with light topics such as “where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?” and “what would your dream retirement look like?” Ask your partner questions that will make the two of you more open to each other and, at the same time, will reveal each other’s outlook, hopes, and priorities.  

  • Listen in a non-judgmental way. Remember that your significant other may have been raised with a very different approach to money than yourself, so don’t take any disagreement as a personal attack. Try to understand each other and find commonalities with which you can build a future.  

  • Be honest with each other about your finances. Establish an open line of communication. Honesty and communication are the bedrock of any relationship. 

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After setting a conducive setting and approach to your money talk, your next step is to prepare a few topics to cover during your conversations. Of course, everybody has their focus and priorities, but

You can start with the five general issue below:

How much you earn, what you owe, and what you own. – Both parties should disclose this information since this will be the basis of your life’s “big picture,” that is, your foundation. Be transparent in sharing your income, debts, and assets that each will bring into the relationship. 


2.  What are your financial obligations? – Your significant other should know if you have financial obligations and to whom. For example, did you promise to send your siblings to college or promised to build your parents their dream home? Be sure to share this information with your partner. If you have an obligation to others, make sure to share this fact with your partner. 


3.  What are your financial goals and their order of priority – Couples should carefully negotiate their financial goals to ensure that both will be committed to achieving it 100 percent. For instance, if your goal is to achieve financial independence/retire early (FIRE) as soon as possible, discuss how it will affect your daily life and plans to raise a family. If there are any disagreements, discuss the matter carefully until both of you are amenable to the plan.   


4.  What is yours, what is mine, and what are ours? – This is a very thorny subject that should be discussed with an open mind and as early as possible in a serious relationship. Depending on preferences and comfort level, you may opt to keep your finances separate – what’s his is his, and what’s hers is hers. You may also opt to combine your finances completely. There is no one correct answer to this question as long as both of you are happy and comfortable with the arrangement. 


5. How will you manage your household? – This issue may not sound like a money topic, but it is. Many couples opt for a double-income household. However, around half of all adult women in the Philippines are stay-at-home mothers. Many stay-at-home mothers are left vulnerable and financially insecure since they don’t have any independent income of their own. So if you’re a woman, make sure that you have access to and control your own money. 

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Remember that there are two people in a relationship and that it takes both of you to make a relationship successful. When it comes to money, both of your opinions matter. Your thoughts and decisions are equally important and should be taken into account every step of the way to make the relationship work and ensure a bright and happy future together. 

If you’re looking for a perfect way to boost your savings but also help with your day-to-day money management tasks like paying bills or making other transfers, try opening a Komo account! Opening an account is fast, painless, and convenient, and there is no maintaining balance required. All you need to open an account are a smartphone with a stable internet connection, a government-issued ID, and a local mobile phone number. Komo also offers a very attractive 2.5% annual interest rate, free fund transfers, and free withdrawals. Thought, they currently do not offer a joint account but if you’re looking for a savings account that will help you maximize your short term or long terms gains while saving, this is the account for you! 

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