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He encourages focusing not on a specific number that someone owes but rather on whether you have shared financial values — such as approaches to home and car ownership — to assess long-term financial compatibility.

You don’t need to show each other receipts from every random purchase, says Gaby Dunn, author of “Bad with Money” and host of the podcast of the same name.

This process was easier because she demonstrated she was serious about contributing.

Communicating your money values includes setting limits.

The average American adult in my age group, 35 to 44, carries 3,100 in total household debt (but that includes mortgages as well as credit card debt and car and student loans), according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. I owe just under ,000, and my student loans are paid off.

When I first revealed the sad state of my finances, including my credit score in the high 500s, I was immensely relieved that instead of flinching as though I’d killed a puppy, he calmly asked me how I’d gotten into debt and what I planned to do about it. Some people even have a specific credit score they’re looking for in a potential partner.

Stromberg suggests the more financially secure person could shoulder discretionary expenses such as going out to eat or vacations, or necessities such as utilities.

This frees up one person to be aggressive in paying down debt, while still splitting the rent, for instance.• If one person is struggling, offer incentives: If you’re bringing in significantly more income than your partner, you can follow in Stromberg’s footsteps.

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