Is It Time To Share Financial Statements?

I feel like I’m entering new territory here.  I’m usually the one answering your questions.  But now, I really need YOUR advice.  I sincerely mean that.  I’ve got a dilemma… and I’m not sure what to do, if anything.

As I vowed last month (, I am using this blog to be more authentic, especially around money.  So here I am… revealing myself and requesting your help.

Here’s the situation.  I’ve been dating My Man for a year and a half.  We’re talking about moving in together.   He’s definitely the love of my life, the person I want to grow old with, perfect for me in so many ways.  We don’t want to get married.  I’ve already done that twice (he, once), and we see no reason to do it again.

Here’s where I’m struggling.  At what point do I have “THE TALK” with my  boyfriend? Or do I even need to?

I’m referring to The Money Talk.  You know, that point where I show him mine and he shows me his… networth, that is.

My income is decidedly more than his… which makes sense since he was laid off earlier this year and is starting a whole new career.  While he’s never been a good saver, he’s a very frugal spender and quite responsible financially, with no credit card debt.  Neither one of us have a problem with the fact that I have more money.  But neither of us knows how much the other one has.

If we were getting married, it’d be a no-brainer.  We’d be baring our bank statements before we ever traded “I-Do’s. ”  But does co-habitating, when there’s no co-mingling of money, require the same financial transparency?  I figure, if I’m wrestling with this, others must be also.

Talk to me people… this is a tough one for me.  I need your feedback!

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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Comments & Feedback

  • Hi Barbara,

    First – thank you for all you have done over the years, and continue to do with such dignity and grace today, to help women get financially strong. You are an inspiration and role model to so many of us in so many ways.

    This is a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, having just finished the manuscript for a new book called GET FINANCIALLY NAKED: how to talk money with your honey (co-written with Sharon Kedar, due out December 2009). Our central tenant in this book is that “If you’re willing to take your clothes off together one way, you should be prepared to take them off financially speaking as well.” Our argument is that a successful long-term relationship (whether co-habitating or married) is predicated on trust and transparency. As such, once you’ve decided a person is “the one” for the long-run, we suggest sharing with each other what you own, owe, earn, and your credit scores – as well as any particular fears or needs each of you have surrounding money.

    The idea is to get the pink elephant of money out into the center of the room and demystify it. Otherwise like termites eating away at the foundation of your relationship, little nagging doubts or questions about each other’s finances could end up destroying what is currently a beautiful home life. So from our vantage point we’d say – go for it. Do the thing that these days is even more intimate than sex, talk about money together.

    Would love to hear what others think. And most importantly, congratulations on having found happiness. At the end of the day the whole reason to have “The Money Talk” is to keep that joy flowing in your life!

    With gratitude & best wishes

    • Manisha, thank you so much for your wonderful and thoughtful response to my blog. I LOVE what you said! And genuinely appreciate your taking the time to reply.

      In the small world category, I just mentioned your last book in my next blog (not posted yet)!!!! Now, I can not WAIT to read your next one. What a fabulous title!!!

      Keep up the great work! And again, thanks so much for your fabulous response to my post.

      • Barbara,

        LOVE LOVE LOVE reading all these comments & hearing that you’ve also received lots of feedback on Twitter, FB, and email. You’ve clearly struck a chord with women on this topic – so brave and inspiring of you to have written this post (and brave of everyone else to share their thoughts in response… women helping women, very powerful stuff!)

        And thank you so very much for the upcoming OMOTF shout-out. Our fingers are crossed that with the upcoming release of GFN we can carry forward the momentum you’ve so movingly tapped into with your important query.

        Big karmic hug, Manisha

      • Manisha…let me know how I can help with your new book promotion. It sounds like a must read…can’t wait to get my copy! And big thanks for your warm and heartfelt replies to my post…hope we can meet sometime! xoxo

    • Manisha, did you see my latest blog mentioning your book and your comments?

      • Barbara – Yes, thank you sooo much (and my sincerest apologies for my delayed response). What a WONDERFUL dialogue you have started with your courageous post. This is such an emotionally charged topic, and it’s wonderful to have a financial thought leader like you leading the charge. Sounds like you have a wonderful man, and that he is so lucky to have you too! Big karmic hug, Manisha

        ps – Sent you a note to this effect on LinkedIn but in case it doesn’t make it’s way through, an advance copy of GET FINANCIALLY NAKED should be on it’s way to you later this month!

  • If you are planning on spending the rest of your life with him, why not share the financial information? Are you worried it might create an issue? Is he okay with the fact that you are a Money guru. 😉

    If the issue is already sensitive (and I don’t know if it is) won’t it just turn in to a bigger issue after you move in together? I personally think it is something to share now before moving in. If you are going to grow old together and you do plan to keep your money separate, don’t you want to know that you each have enough to support yourself in retirement and that you will be able to pay your own medical expenses among other things?

  • nancy day blasberg

    Hi Barbara,

    When I’m struggling with something it’s usually because I’m afraid of something. The first question I ask is what am I afraid of- so my question to you would be what are you afraid would happen if he knew your finances? As a wise woman said- go right at whatever you’re afraid of- you’ll find your answer there.

  • Hello Barbara,

    The previous commenters wisely covered the most important things: trust, intimacy, fear.

    You may also consider that even if you are not married now, you may choose to marry later. (Many couples eventually marry in order to become “next of kin” before or during a medical crisis, or simply because it is “romantic” and “we wanted to”.)

    Sometimes couples break up, and unless you have a “pre-nuptual” or other legal agreement, your time living together is often considered to have the same legal implications as it would if you were married. You both need to know what you are getting into.

    Back into the trust and intimacy category… I had a boyfriend who had much greater earning and net worth than mine. (We did not live together.) We had to address that difference quickly because I could not reciprocate financially. He had to decide how (more) much he would spend on us. That meant that we had to work out being ok with each other’s money boundaries. (He was ok that I was broke.)

    Example: When he took a big trip with his kids that was important to him, he did not feel comfortable scaling the trip back so that I could go. He also didn’t feel good about keeping the trip as long as it was and paying most of my way so that I could go with them. I had to be ok with his (and my) financial wants and needs. We had to be ok with having a conversation about our individual financial priorities.

    It isn’t so much about the amounts you have as about your values, habits, boundaries, etc. around money. Your need for The Money Talk isn’t related to the amount of money in your respective accounts. It is about how you will be in relationship as you live together.


  • Your last sentence really says it all, susan. Thanks so much. And I especially appreciate your sharing your story. I’m fascinated by all the responses I’ve gotten to this blog…not just here, but on FB and in emails. Glad to know I’m not alone in this!!! Again, big thanks for your feedback!!! B

  • Suzy

    Hello Barbara!
    Whew! What a question!
    I wrote, then erased, wrote again and erased again. My thought… live together for six months or so. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. When the timing is right, the question will no longer feel like a struggle. The conversation will happen naturally and easily!
    For me, the bigger question would be – who’s buying the groceries and T.P.? 🙂
    But…if the question is really bugging you. Ask you boyfriend what he thinks. Talk now, talk later, not talk at all.

  • Thanks for your response, Suzy. My question to you–why was it so difficult for you to write an answer? This topic seems to have a lot of charge for a lot of women…not just me…and I’m really curious why!!!!

  • Barbara- First let me say how nourishing it is to have joined the wonderful community you are building….
    Now, you’ve gotten great advice on this question, yet i think the answer is already within you…. there does seem to be some hesitation in you to get “fully naked” about this with your man.. I am guessing it has to do with some metaphor money represents, and not the amounts in your accounts! Could it have to do with power, influence, and what fear might you have about what a full disclosure might mean to the balance in your relationship….i know you know! And it sounds like your relationship is strong enough to weather whatever imagined dis-equilibrium you fear??

    • Such an astute comment, Amy…you know something, I’m still trying to figure it out!! I honestly don’t know why. But I appreciate your feedback…in this blog and on my call last night…you are truly wise!!! Thanks, B

  • Suzy

    In regards to your question of why was it so difficult for me to write an answer.
    You are so good…
    I was so projecting in my feedback. Lesson learned – do not participate in blogs when emotionally wiped out. You have received incredible feedback, but it all seemed so complicated. Why? Because I am craving simplicity right now. Now I see, in attempting to give you feedback, I was really talking to myself!
    I will say this though – when Tom and I met, I knew his financial situation was very sad. Even though he makes way more money than I do, his credit score was terrible and he was living beyond his means. When our relationship turned serious, I took a deep breath and told him that I would not live with him, or marry him until he straightened out his finances. I also offered to help, when he was ready. Several months later he asked for help. And a year later we were married. Five years later, Tom is full of appreciation for my money managing abilities. Laying the groundwork in regards to money, early in our relationship was the best thing I could have done for the health of our future together.

    • Oh Suzy, what a fabulous story!!! I love it. Thank you so much for sharing. And I’m totally with you…I too am craving simplicity. Again, I really appreciate your reply! xo

  • Wow, you’re amazing AND transparent? I’d marry you! LOL!
    Question: At what point do I have “THE TALK” with my boyfriend? Or do I even need to?
    Answer: I’m a single mom of 3 and I started the talk recently (getting married again 1/2/10) after he started the marriage talk. Since marriage is not an option, I do not believe that your financial situation should be revealed. Instead, I would suggest that the two of you decide how you will be co-habitating and how the bills will be paid.

    Thank you for your transparency-you are amazing!
    Tina Fortune

  • Thank you, Tina, for the feedback! And I so appreciate your words of support!! Deep appreciation for responding!!!

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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