Young couple in autumn discussing past money mistakes.

Top 10 Money Mistakes Couples Make

Talking about money can be awkward, uncomfortable and scary—and that vulnerability can sometimes feel magnified when you’re discussing money with your partner. Being in a relationship means you’re bound to make mistakes along the way. But don’t let your finances be one of them!

Here are 10 common money mistakes our counsellors see couples make, so you can ensure money doesn’t ruin the mood:

Mistake #1: Not communicating about money

When was the last time you talked to your partner about money? It’s easy for couples to sometimes get lost in the day-to-day and put off crucial conversations. But it’s important for both partners to be on the same page about their finances (both shared and separate) so there are no surprises down the road. We suggest having a system in place to structure your money conversations. Choose a specific time, location and topics to ensure you’re talking about money regularly. The important thing is to not make this feel like a chore or to make each other uncomfortable. Our counsellors suggest having a “money date” to release some of the tension, learn together and make your finances fun again.

Mistake #2: Not working together as a team

You’re both in a committed relationship, so it’s time to commit to your finances together. This means one partner shouldn’t make any financial decisions without talking to the other person, and one person shouldn’t solely be in charge of the finances. Both partners need to have a clear understanding of their incoming and outgoing money, due dates, passwords, organization methods, etc. Worst-case scenario, imagine if something happened to one of you—the other person needs to be always kept in the loop, so they’re not lost if the situation arises.

Mistake #3: Not knowing each other’s money personalities

Do you know what your money personality is? Do you know your partners? There are many different types of money personalities like spenders, savers, flyers, security seekers, risk-takers, etc. Understanding what yours are is crucial to understanding your finances. What are some stressors? Where can you find some balance? Everyone’s money personality has its share of strengths and weaknesses, so use this as an opportunity to grow stronger in your partnership together.

Mistake #4: Not building a budget

Before you can join your finances, you must work together to build a budget that works for you both. Consider each other as equal partners (no matter what your individual salaries are), so you both have an equal say when it comes to your finances. Use your next “money date” as an opportunity to review your incoming and outgoing money (keeping a money diary is a great way to do this), debt payments, savings, and fun money. Decide how you will choose to split up your financial responsibilities (pooling money together, 50/50, paying a percentage, etc.) and create a budget from there. Don’t forget to always look for ways to maximize your budget and adjust it when necessary. Budgets aren’t meant to be static, so if your income, lifestyle or situation changes, adapt your budget accordingly.

Mistake #5: Not being able to live off one income

Sometimes the unexpected happens. One of you may lose your job or get sick, which can impact your monthly household income. This is why it’s important to not stretch your finances too thin, so you’re able to survive off of one income for a few months (or at least for as long as possible)! Make financial decisions that work towards this goal—like choosing a more affordable place to live, shopping no-name brands or in bulk, purchasing items that will last versus following trends, thrift store hunting, limiting monthly/yearly subscriptions, etc.

Mistake #6: Not setting financial boundaries with dates

How many times have you and your partner opted for a fancy date night just because? How many times have you both spent far more than your budget allowed because you just had to try out a new restaurant or wanted a weekend away? Once you have a budget in place, make sure you both are on the same page when it comes to date nights or joint experiences. It’s far too easy to spend more than you originally allotted when you’re looking for ways to nurture your romance. Before planning a date night or weekend away, take a hard look at your budget to ensure you can actually afford it. Remember—you don’t have to splurge every month to keep the spark alive! Sometimes the best moments together are the ones spent exploring nature, cozying up at home or tapping into your creativity.

Mistake #7: Not being honest

Like with every aspect of your relationship, you need to be honest with each other about your finances. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner about their financial history. Do they have any debts they haven’t told you about? Do they have a healthy credit rating and score? Do they have any habits that will affect your overall finances—like smoking, gambling, shopping, drinking, recreational drugs, etc.? Most importantly, you need to be honest with yourself. Don’t ignore any negative feelings or red flags you’re having about your relationship and your money. Lastly, avoid secrecy from the start. The longer you or your partner keep a financial secret or commit financial infidelity, the harder it will be to move forward together. If either of you needs to be honest with the other, set a “money date” to have an open, judgment-free conversation.

Mistake #8: Not setting common financial goals

You’re a team now, so it’s time to set common financial goals. Get excited about your future together and think about what you’d like to achieve and where you’d like to be in 1, 5, 10 or 15 years. Take the time to outline your SMART short- and long-term financial goals. And then keep yourselves accountable! Make it fun by celebrating your small and big wins and continue to encourage each other on even the hardest of days. Working towards a common goal will make your relationship stronger in the end!

Mistake #9: Not starting on your finances today

Who hasn’t procrastinated in life? But when the constant refrain, “Let’s start next month” is getting in the way of your finances, it’s time to put off those excuses and dive head-first. There will always be something going on every month that may tempt you to spend money or turn a blind eye to your bank accounts, so think of this as a sign to dig your heels in, say no to a costly event/purchase and get your financial goals back on track.

Mistake #10: Not asking for help

Have you ever waited until the last minute to ask for help, only for it to be too late? Don’t make that same mistake with your finances. If you’re feeling unsure about your budget, have lost trust in the other person, don’t know how to speak up, or just need some guidance with navigating joint finances, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even the financially savviest people need help now and then! Book a free appointment with one of our approachable, unbiased counsellors to help you along this financial journey. It only takes one person to get started, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment by yourself first and then bring your partner into the conversation when they’re ready.

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