Lifestyle
08 May, 2024

Love and money: finding the right balance in your relationship

When it comes to romance, money is often a taboo subject. Yet, how we talk about and manage money plays a big part in shaping our relationships. In fact, financial stress is a leading cause of break-ups among Aussie couples*.

To help keep your finances and relationship kicking goals, here are seven tips for talking money with your partner.

1. Talk about money early

It’s not first date banter, but if your relationship is getting serious, it’s time to share your financial views and habits.

Ideally, this will happen well before you make any big financial decisions or commitments, such as moving in together or buying tickets for that joint overseas holiday.

Establishing openness early sets a strong precedent and lays a healthy foundation for future financial chats. 

2. Be honest and transparent

Honesty and communication are the foundations of all healthy relationships. Being upfront about income, debts, savings, and obligations means fewer surprises later. It’s also important to keep each other updated when your financial situations change. This will help you work together to fix problems as they arise. 

3. Respect each other’s approach to money

Sarah likes spreadsheets and savings trackers. Michael can’t remember when payday is and likes to buy cool gadgets online. Sound familiar? 

How we view and relate to money is deeply personal, often rooted in our unique upbringing, education and life experiences. 

When discussing money, both partners need to feel safe expressing views and desires. If one feels attacked or judged, they might withdraw or hide how they use money in the future. This means less trust and potential problems down the line.   

Acknowledge that having different approaches to money isn’t wrong and use these conversations to understand each other better. You don’t have to agree on everything, but getting on the same page will make dealing with problems so much easier.

4. Find common financial goals

Sharing goals can turn a potentially divisive issue into a fun collaborative project.

Whether saving for a holiday, buying a home, or planning for retirement, setting joint financial targets gives you both something to work towards, fostering teamwork and mutual support.

Achieving these goals can also lead to shared success and satisfaction, bringing you closer together. 

5. Consider a joint bank account

Times have changed, and these days it’s common for couples to keep separate bank accounts1. However, a recent US study found that couples who bank together are generally more satisfied and argue less about money2. This is likely because they discuss money more regularly and openly. Joint accounts also come with a few practical benefits, such as:

  • convenience — it’s easier to pay for shared expenses from one account
  • less fees — you’ll have fewer bank fees on a single account 
  • greater visibility and control — all account holders oversee the money

Of course, they also mean you can both withdraw money anytime and are both responsible for any debt attached to the account. So, it’s important to have trust and confidence in your partner before taking this step.

6. Make money talk a regular thing

Daily life gets busy, and money talk isn’t always a priority. Couples can go months or even years between serious conversations about their finances.

To stay on the same page, think about setting up fortnightly or monthly ‘money chats’ where you can dedicate time and energy to looking at your finances.

Remember, the person you are at 25 isn’t the same as the person you are at 45. Your money goals and views will change, so it’s best to keep the money conversation open and ongoing.

7. Seek professional help when needed
Life happens: marriage, kids, mortgages, promotions, setbacks. As your financial needs and situation evolve, money issues can become complicated. 

There’s no shame in admitting when you’re out of your depth and need help. 

If you and your partner are struggling to set common goals and priorities, it might be beneficial to get advice from a financial planner. 

It can cost a bit upfront, but a third-party perspective can offer unbiased advice and solutions that both partners can get behind. It also helps you to plan for the long-term, which can be difficult if you’re focussed only on the here and now.

Understand the effect of financial stress

Financial stress doesn’t just strain relationships — it can erode personal well-being. Worry and disagreements about money can lead to significant mental and emotional strain. This can affect your ability to work, relax and enjoy time with the people you love.  

One of the greatest benefits of a loving relationship is knowing you have support when things get tough. While money can be a sticking point, approaching it with honesty, openness, and a spirit of partnership can help you connect and grow stronger. 

Remember, money is an essential part of life — but it’s who we spend time with that gives us real value and meaning.

Sources:
* - Finances and Relationships – Relationships Australia
1 - Modern couples shun joint bank accounts - ME Bank
2 - Is Joint Banking the Key to a Happy Marriage? - Marketwatch.com

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