Let’s talk money, honey
Having open and honest conversations about money with your partner is important for your financial health.
Money – it’s often a taboo topic, and a bone of contention in many households.
In fact, research has found a quarter of Australian families face conflict over money matters, and one in four parents keeps a financial secret from their partner.
For women, that secret is most often a hidden debt, while men are more likely to have a secret bank account.
Splashing out on an expensive purchase and having a credit card are also common secrets.
The research also found the biggest cause of money-based arguments is a belief that one partner is overspending.
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How spending habits affect relationships
Around 63 per cent of people believe there is a spender and a saver in their relationship.
“We all develop our own attitude or philosophy to money, based on our upbringing,” says financial adviser and author Helen Baker.
“What did your parents teach you about saving, spending and giving? Were they comfortable with debt?
“When you’re part of a couple, your money actions and reactions impact on one another.
“I think many people avoid conversations about money initially because they’re uncomfortable talking about it – perhaps out of fear of an argument.”
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When (and how) to talk to your partner about money
Ideally, couples should talk about finances before they make a long-term commitment to each other, says Helen.
Talk about your financial goals and values, identify any potential issues and set some timeframes to achieve your goals.
“Talk about where you’re at financially, where you want to go and what you want to commit to as a couple, in the next month, six months, year, decade and so on,” says Helen, author of On Your Own Two Feet… Divorce.
“You may need to acknowledge differing attitudes to money. Are you a spender or a saver? What about your partner?
“There can be tensions, whatever the mix. We all face tensions between spending and enjoying our lifestyle now, in contrast to putting something aside so we have enough for the future and don’t rely solely on superannuation.”
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Keep the conversation flowing
So honest money conversations shouldn’t just focus on dollars and cents.
Think about the lifestyle you want and your life goals.
And think about your retirement – what are your dreams for that time of your life and what kinds of financial decisions will help you make that dream come true?
Helen recommends talking about money matters at least annually and more often if your financial situation changes – for better or worse.
“If you need help, a financial adviser can play devil’s advocate and voice issues or concerns you may not be comfortable raising or confronting,” says Helen.
Written by Sarah Marinos.