There are certain topics that even romantically linked folks are loathe to broach. For example, many Americans won’t divulge their weight to their partners, even when the repercussions of doing so are likely to be nonexistent. Similarly, many folks don’t care to discuss their dating history. But here’s one surprising thing working adults are keeping from their partners: their salaries.
Only 43% of workers share their salaries with their partners, according to data from Quicken, while 31% say that talking money, even with a partner, makes them feel anxious. Keeping your income under wraps, however, could impede your ability to manage your money efficiently, not to mention make it difficult to map out long-term goals with your partner. And that’s reason enough to bring money talks to the table — even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone.
It pays to share
It’s one thing to avoid discussing your salary with your friends, family members, and colleagues. The latter, in fact, is a wise idea, since it could make things uncomfortable at the office.
Keeping your salary hidden from your partner, however, is a move that could hurt you both in the long run. If you and your partner are living together, or planning to, you’ll need to know how much earnings you’re looking at in order to map out a reasonable budget. After all, how will you know what sort of expenses you can afford to take on if you don’t have a number to work with?
Not sharing salary information will also make it difficult, if not impossible, to buy a home together. As a general rule, your housing costs, including your mortgage, property taxes, and insurance, should never exceed 30% of your income. But if you and your partner don’t share your salaries, you’ll have no idea where to start.
Clearly, keeping one another in the dark about salary just won’t work, so if you’ve yet to share that information with your partner, schedule a time to have that talk. That said, be prepared to discuss the ways an income discrepancy might impact your relationship.
Imagine you’ve been hesitant to share your salary because you’re quite certain you’re the higher earner of the two of you, and you don’t want to be taken advantage of. In that case, you might diplomatically state that while you’re perhaps happy to cover the cost of a date night or new household purchase, you expect that the bulk of your shared living expenses will be split down the middle. Setting some ground rules might help you avoid an uncomfortable aftermath following that conversation.
If you’re convinced that you’re the lower earner, you might set similar expectations. For example, you might make it clear that while your salary isn’t much to write home about at present, you’re intent on pulling your weight and not taking advantage.
Money is a leading cause of divorce in the U.S., so the sooner you and your partner get comfortable talking about it, the less likely it is to hurt your relationship. Sharing your salary with your partner will help you better manage your finances and make smart decisions rooted in reality. And with any luck, it might also help you both get just a bit closer.