Boss Lady

Why we need to start talking about money


How comfortable are you talking about money with your partner? For a lot of people, it’s right up there with sex, religion and politics. Ick!

The reality is that money impacts many choices you and your partner make—from deciding whether to have takeaway tonight to deciding whether to buy your dream house, have kids or retire early .If you’re in a relationship, you absolutely should be talking about money to ensure you’re making financial decisions as a team and working toward a common goal. The good news is it’s not hard to do. You just have to stop avoiding it.

Put your cards on the table early

To be financially compatible, you don’t need to have or earn the same amount but you do need to share attitudes and habits when it comes to money. Start by discussing your values and goals. What’s important to you and your partner? What do you each want to achieve in the future? How did your parents deal with money matters and how has this influenced you? Learning about each other’s values early will help you work together on the financial decisions that arise as your relationship grows.

Strong foundations lead to financial stability

A tree needs solid roots to grow strong and tall, and a house can only be built on strong foundations. And so it is with finances. Talk to your partner about spending, debt and investments. Discuss superannuation, estate planning and personal insurances such as income protection, life insurance, trauma cover. This is particularly important for couples with a mortgage, and with children, and especially when you have been in a long-term relationship before. Having these foundations in place will not only set you up for success, but help protect you if something goes wrong.

Money styles

Are you a spender or a saver? What’s your partner’s money style? Their style may not match yours, and that’s okay as long as you have talked about it and developed strategies to manage the differences. For example, ‘spenders’ can benefit from having a set amount of ‘fun’ money to use for whatever they like, with the rest of the combined income going into a joint account for saving towards shared goals. If you’re both ‘savers’, you have the potential to do well financially but don’t forget to live life!

Avoid STDs

They say love is blind, and it sure does know how to dull our alertness when it comes to finances. In the exciting early stages of a new relationship, it’s natural to focus on what makes your heart flipflop but money issues can cause lasting damage.

To avoid ending up with a sexually transmitted debt, always use protection. That means talking money matters. Find out early about values, goals, spending styles, and what you both have and owe. Make it hard to financially cheat one another by regularly sharing and updating this information.

Be accountable

Most couples don’t earn the same amount, but that doesn’t mean one person’s opinion matters more. Each individual has strengths: identify them and use them.

Mark is a great cook so does most of the cooking, but Jo still gets a say in the weekly menu. Jo is great at money management so does most of the ‘doing’ when it comes to finances, but Mark has equal say in financial decisions. When you share decisions, you are both accountable.

Seek advice – together

As a financial adviser, I’ve seen what happens when couples avoid talking about money or leave it too late. I’ve also seen couples who make a conscious decision to talk about money and thrive as a result. Professional financial advisers do more than advise on investment strategies. Think of us as your financial relationship counsellors, encouraging you to explore your goals and values to build a shared future.

Find an adviser you trust and arrange regular check-ins, which hold both partners accountable. It’s a bit like going to Weight Watchers: if you know you have a weigh-in, you’re more likely to make smart choices and stay focused. There’s no question that if you are in a committed relationship, you should be talking about money. If you haven’t started, now is the time. You might find it’s not that difficult after all.

About Helen Baker'

Helen Baker is a licenced Australian financial adviser and author of two books: On Your Own Two Feet – Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence and On Your Own Two Feet Divorce – Your Survive and Thrive Financial Guide. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who holds a master’s degree in the field. Find out more at | Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.

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