Talking about money with your partner can be hard.

It’s hard because money is a personal matter. We get naturally defensive when asked questions like “you spent how much on what?” or “why you didn’t tell me about these purchases?”

Many of us, perhaps because we’re so used to having individual accounts, don’t think about disclosing our finances to our partners.

This can lead to a good old fashioned money fight. It can become emotional quickly, especially when we resort to such claims as “I’m the bread winner!”, “You’re a spender!” and “You’re tight-fisted!”

So how should we go about talking about money?

Don’t start the talk with a challenge (“You bought this when we’re trying to stick to a budget!”). Instead, start the talk from the position of a shared financial goal.

One trick is to take your partner through a thought experiment: “Imagine if we won £50,000 – how would we spend it?”

You may roll your eyes, but this takes the heat out of the talk as it’s no longer personal but hypothetical. And it naturally prompts thinking along the lines of “Oh I’d get rid of these debts, then buy these things we really need, then use the rest of the cash for a holiday”. In short, it’s a way to start making joint decisions about money.

Another approach is to schedule a time to talk money. This reduces the risk of your partner feeling ambushed and acting defensive from the get-go. It can be as simple as: “I think we need to chat about this financial goal. Not now. But how about this Sunday after lunch?” This gives you and your partner time to mentally prepare for the money talk.

Hope this helps. Money Advice Service provides further tips about talking about money. And if you’re having difficulties talking about debt with your partner, Step Change is a good place to start.