When deciding to turn your relationship into something more serious, money often isn’t the first thing on your mind. However, if you’re contemplating spending your future with someone, finances should be a serious part of your discussion. Whether you’re moving in together, getting engaged, planning your wedding, saving for a house or preparing for your first child, money and how you handle it can make or break your relationship.

Although the money talk may be intimidating, having an honest talk about money, how you treat it and how you envision your monetary future can help get you and your partner on the same page. So sit down together in a relaxing environment with plenty of time to spare. Bring your income information, bank balances, outstanding loans and credit balances, and credit score, and get ready to put it all on the table. Here are some of the key things you should discuss in your big money talk:

  • Saving vs. spending: Although you likely already have a good idea of how your significant other spends their money, it’s good to discuss how you want to treat money as a couple. Should you focus more on enjoying your money now, saving it for later or somewhere in between? Is there a certain percentage of income you want saved? How much money can one spend on an item before checking with the other?
  • Lifestyle: If you’re planning on spending your life together, you should have a similar outlook for how fancy or frugal you want to live. How nice do you want your home to be? How often do you want to take vacations? Would you send your children to private school? You can reach compromise on lifestyle choices, but only if you’re upfront about what you really want.
  • Debt: Many people come packaged with debt. Whether it’s student loans, a large car payment, credit card debt or all three, your partner needs to know the whole picture. Together, you can create a plan to best deal with debt. Learn how to overcome debt so you and your partner can have the life you want together. 
  • Accounting: How are you and your partner planning to keep track of your bank accounts and the money moving in and out? Who will manage your money day to day? Will you stick to a budget? Are you going to merge your finances or maintain separate accounts? These are all questions you need to answer, particularly how you’ll handle joint finances.
  • Investing: Deciding how you’ll work to save and build more money is important. Do you and your partner want to maintain a conservative investment style or pursue riskier investments that may have larger returns? Do you want to put money in the market at all? Discussing your risk tolerance and different views on how to invest can help you and your partner be more comfortable with investment decisions.

Getting these financial basics out of the way can help you and your partner navigate the road ahead. As a Navy Federal member, you have access to a range of savings, checking and loan options, as well as access to a Financial Counselor. Be sure to check out other ways you can improve your personal finances as you plan your life together.