Two people working as a team can achieve a lot more financially than two singles. But relationships are complex, and money can be a taboo topic even for the strongest couples. A few simple strategies can break down the barriers to help you and your partner develop a team approach to money matters.
Set a date to discuss money from an early stage
Being able to share open and frank conversations about money with your partner makes it less likely you'll engage in financial arguments in the future. And it's important to start discussing money from an early stage in your relationship.
Set a date for a time when you are both relaxed, and try broaching the topic with simple questions like “What goals do you have for the future?” or “Do you like having a detailed budget or are you more relaxed?”Once the ice is broken, it is easier to work towards the basics like setting a shared household budget.
Be open and honest
A survey by Canstar found that 31% of people in a relationship have hidden financial secrets from their partner1. Yet no relationship thrives on mistrust, so it's important to lay your financial information on the table. If you are honest about the money that's coming in and what's going out, you're better placed to start kicking shared financial goals.
Divide and discuss
Deciding how you will pay for household living costs is a vital step so that one person isn't shouldering the load all the time – something that can build resentment.
For instance, you may decide to open a joint bank account where you both contribute funds for home loan repayments, groceries, fuel and other regular bills. It's common in many relationships for one partner to be the “money manager” who takes care of less frequent expenses like insurance. That's fine - it's all a matter of finding what works for you as a couple.
Keep something for yourself
Even if you share a joint account, it may still be worth having a bank account of your own. This ensures you maintain your personal financial identity, while allowing wiggle room for treats like a night out with friends. Just be sure to budget for the cost.
Don't see ignorance as bliss
Make a point of staying actively engaged in the household's finances. Sadly, relationships do fail, and many people discover too late that the household's finances are in poor shape or worse, that they are partially responsible for jointly held debt they weren't even aware of.
Enjoy your money together
Saving and building wealth is great but don't forget to enjoy your money together as a couple, be it on travel, dining at new restaurants or making your home more comfortable.
Create a shared financial vision
Setting financial goals for the future gives you something to work towards as well as reinforcing your commitment to one another. A financial adviser can help you formalise these goals and develop a roadmap to achieve them.