How to handle money in relationships
Unless you take an active approach to managing your finances as a couple, love and money can be an ‘oil and water’ mix.
It’s no secret that financial issues can drive a wedge in even the strongest relationship. Yet ironically, money rates as one of our top taboo subjects. One in four Australians would rather talk about taxes than engage in conversations about money – even with their spouse or partner.
But here’s the thing. Money is a part of life, and for richer or poorer, a couple’s finances can play a key role in their relationship.
Mention money at an early stage
If you’re just starting out in a relationship, the key is to broach the topic of money at an early stage. Sure, discussing the latest sharemarket returns doesn’t make for heart-stopping pillow talk, but simple conversations about who will pay the tab at a restaurant can pave the way for more in-depth discussions on money matters.
For long-term couples, embarking on money discussions can be more challenging, especially if it’s a topic that’s been swept under the carpet for some time.
If that sounds like you, instead of waiting until an overdue bill arrives, try broaching the topic of money in a broad sense. Talk about shared long-term goals and how you might achieve them, and importantly, keep the conversation non-judgemental. Individual approaches to money management are influenced by a complex array of factors, including childhood experiences.
Consider a shared bank account
A joint savings account can be a useful tool to achieve shared goals like saving for a first home or an annual vacation. If you’re not sure about how it will work, start small, using a joint account to tuck money away for inexpensive goals like a weekend away. Also automate finances by agreeing what is transferred in and out of your joint account. It’s easier than having to chase up money from your partner.
Decide how to split finances
It’s also sensible to discuss how to split finances. Many couples work out a system of money management that’s comfortable for their situation. Each person may contribute to the home loan for instance, while one person focuses on groceries and another pays utility bills.
Whatever the case, be prepared to review your combined finances regularly in a calm, relaxed way. It can be challenging for couples to deal with shared money matters, but for those who make it work, it’s often a case that the team is stronger than the sum of its parts. It’s possible you could achieve greater financial security by working together than you can by maintaining independent financial lives.
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