Tips for Discussing Money with Your Partner

Terry Sandvold of the Sandvold Financial Group shares his tips for having the dreaded money discussion with a partner.
Terry Sandvold meets with couples to hash out what it means to share financial histories, realities and dreams.

When it comes to your partner—boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or significant other—it’s a given to know intimate details: anything from childhood memories, to fears (Did someone say clowns?) to their drink of choice at the neighborhood coffee shop. But do you and your partner talk openly about finances? For many, the answer is no.
“Some people don’t feel comfortable talking about finances,” says founder and CEO of the Sandvold Financial Group Terry Sandvold. “It’s easy to procrastinate but [procrastinating] can make it harder to achieve your goals.”

If you’re wondering how to start this conversation with your partner or want to make sure you’re headed in the right direction to achieve your goals, places like the Sandvold Financial Group can help.

The financial discussion should start with a question, Sandvold says: “Are we on track to achieve financial success when we want to?” This discussion could be focused on anything from buying a home, starting a family or retirement.

Many of the clients visiting Sandvold have designated one spouse to be in charge of the finances. In these instances, Sandvold asks a difficult question: Is the other partner prepared to take over if something should happen? It’s an example of how some financial discussions aren’t easy.

And yet, they can have their fun moments. For many couples, the most enjoyable part of financial planning is when they get to talk about their hopes and dreams. Sandvold hears one particular dream over and over. “One of the main ones is to be able to retire when they want to retire,” he says. Other common dreams include traveling and living a comfortable life.
Of course, sometimes couples disagree. One common disagreement is age of retirement. “One might want to work until 70 and the other [might want to retire at] 60,” Sandvold says. And 10 years can really make a difference. Other disagreements include risk level of investments, amount of insurance to have and how much money is enough when it comes to saving. “Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve spoken about it,” Sandvold says, referring to his clients’ money-related conversations. But no matter how much couples disagree on the answers, he stresses the importance of having the conversation anyway.

Sometimes tragedy brings clients to Sandvold’s office. He recalls one such couple whose story he will remember for the rest of his life. “They were 45 years old with seven children,” he says. “He had terminal cancer and only six months to live.” The couple wanted to put together a financial plan because the husband wanted to make sure his wife and kids would have enough money even after he passed away. As the couple left Sandvold’s office he recalls the husband pulling him aside and saying, “This is exactly what I needed to see before I die.” Although Sandvold has always been a numbers guy, he believes his work is more than numbers. “It’s people helping people,” he says.  
Sandvold has an impressive portfolio. He has been named the number one advisor in the nation for Questar and hosts the radio show Money Talks, but he still stresses the importance of shopping around for the right financial planner to fit your specific needs. “My job is to sit across the table from you and earn your business,” he says. No matter how you choose to have the financial discussion, it can lead to important discoveries, and it might even help you and your partner grow closer. “The most important thing is to get started,” says Sandvold. Your future selves will thank you.

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