Will Couples Talk About This on Valentine's Day?

The Gift of Communication about Financial Values

Date: February 13, 2012

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—On Valentine’s Day Americans will crowd restaurants for romantic dinners with their loved ones and shell out cash on everything from flowers, chocolates, cards and singing telegrams. In fact, the National Retail Federation says the average person will spend around $126 on Valentine’s Day-related expenses, up 8.5 percent from last year. But what is often overlooked when couples take a time out to appreciate each other is dedicating a moment to discuss money and financial values.

“Money provides a potential conflict point in a relationship, but it also can be something that draws a couple closer,” says Ted Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education. “Couples should talk openly, and often, about money and should understand their partners’ financial values.”

Keep the Financial Conversation Going

  • Set joint goals. Talk about what you and your partner each want financially out of life, and choose goals, big or small, that you want to reach as a couple. Discuss what changes you each can make in your money habits to help you reach those goals.
  • Compromise. When it comes to money management you may think your way is the best way, but your partner has other ideas. Be prepared to give a little, and you will get a little, too.
  • Set limits. Agree that neither of you will make a large purchase—say, anything over $200—without first discussing it with each other..
  • Make it a date. It’s easy to let your busy life get in the way, but you can make money management a part of your regular schedule. Set a time every month, “a money date,” when you will discuss how you are progressing towards your goals.
  • Resist the temptation to fib. If you’re going to come clean, stay clean.
  • Be positive. Don’t hold past mistakes against your partner. If you are negative or angry when you talk about money your partner will get defensive, and a productive conversation will be over before it gets started. Be encouraging and forgiving, and offer to help.

NEFE offers the LifeValues Quiz to help couples start the conversation. The 20-question quiz helps people identify their values and understand how those values affect the financial decisions they make. This is especially useful for couples, because it helps them identify how their money values are alike or different, and spotlight the areas they need to work on together.

The risk in having limited communication about money may lead to financial infidelity. Three in 10 Americans who have combined their finances with a partner admit to lying to their significant other about their finances, according to an online survey in 2011 commissioned by NEFE and conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey also found 32 percent of adults say they have been lied to about money by their partners.

“Financial infidelity can be anything from hiding cash or purchases to keeping a secret bank account,” says Beck. “Couples from all walks of life face financial challenges, but adding deception about money to the mix can make tough economic times even more daunting. Sometimes the breakdown of trust can be too much to overcome.”

For more tips on working together as a couple to handle finances and starting that awkward conversation about money that you have been avoiding, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org.

About the LifeValues Quiz

Understanding your financial values and how they differ from those of your partner is one key to success in managing money together as a couple. NEFE’s LifeValues Quiz helps people identify the values that drive their financial decisions. To learn more and to take the quiz, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org/lifevaluesquiz.

About NEFE’s Financial Infidelity Survey

The NEFE financial infidelity survey examined overall trust issues within couples who are combining or have combined their finances in a current or past relationship, and described the types of financial deceptions that are often committed—from hiding money, purchases and bank accounts to lying about the amount of debt owed or money earned. To read more about the survey, click here.



  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

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