to pay the bills?” or “What are your thoughts about what retirement would look like for you?” says Sade Soares, a licensed clinical psychologist and certified financial therapist in Honolulu. Talking about money matters can stir up a lot of feelings. Make room in the conversation for emotions, Evans and Soares say, not just facts and figures. The more transparent you are, the better you can determine your level of compatibility. WATCH FOR RED FLAGS Minor differences don’t necessarily indicate financial incompatibility in a relationship. Your partner may track spending daily in a spreadsheet, while you prefer to use a budgeting app a few times a year. If that arrangement works for both of you, great. But if your partner wants you to get more involved and the two of you are unwilling to compromise, that’s when it can become problematic. Set priorities and expectations together so you’ll know what parts of your financial life are negotiable and what aren’t. “If you know that you are interested in buying a house or you want to plan a wedding together or plan a trip together and one part of the couple is really trying to make it happen and saving for that, or taking the financial steps to make that possible, and the other person isn’t, that’s kind of a signal that you’re not aligned,” Evans says. More serious issues may be relationship deal-breakers. Financial infidelity — hiding money, debt or large purchases from a partner — can harm a couple and their priorities, Evans says. Other signs of incompatibility include a lack of trust, avoiding discussing money, frequent arguments and controlling or abusive actions, such as your partner preventing you from accessing money. As you assess your compatibility with your partner, Evans says, consider whether you feel financially safe and stable with them. BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION Having frequent, respectful conversations about money with your partner can help you forge a solid financial relationship. These conversations are especially important for couples who are married or live together and share finances. But even if you’re starting a relationship, early discussions about money goals and values can set you on the right path. “The biggest part is just the constant open communication because financial statuses change all the time,” Soares says. “Folks move into a higher socioeconomic bracket. Sometimes folks lose their jobs. I think there’s lots of transitions that occur around money, and that conversation needs to be open and ongoing.” Decide how often it makes sense for you to discuss money together, perhaps monthly or yearly.
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