Women In Business

Relationship money mistakes we need to avoid

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How well do you and your partner manage your finances? Is it a breeze or a struggle? Do your money discussions result in positive decision-making or dramatic door-slamming? Money is one of the leading causes of arguments in relationships – but you can steer clear of such disagreements by avoiding a few common mistakes.

1. Not talking about money

In the throes of a new relationship, it’s easy to get caught up in the romance and excitement of it all and forget to think about more practical issues like your finances.  Numbers – yawn!

If you’re in a serious relationship, sticking your head in the sand is a big mistake. Money plays a part in many of the choices you make as a couple, from deciding whether to have takeaway tonight to deciding whether to buy your dream house or have children.

If you’re in a relationship, you should be talking about money regularly to ensure you’re making financial decisions together and working toward a common goal. Sure, it can be a mood killer, but it can also be a lifesaver if something goes wrong.

2. Contracting an STD (Sexually Transmitted Debt)

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.

If you or your partner don’t discuss personal debts, you may find yourselves liable for debts you didn’t even know about. To avoid ending up with a sexually transmitted debt, always use protection. That means talking money early and often.

Talk about your values, goals, spending styles, and what you both have and owe. Make it hard to financially cheat one another by sharing this information regularly.

3. Letting your partner make all the financial decisions

Financial decisions should not be one person’s sole responsibility.

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.

Say one of you is a great cook so does most of the cooking, but the other still gets a say in the weekly menu. Same goes for money.

Get informed, speak up and to stand your ground if you disagree. When you share decisions, you are both accountable.

4. Not understanding each other’s money style

Are you a spender or a saver? What’s your partner’s money style? Their style may be different from yours, and that’s okay. Just make sure you discuss it and know how to manage the differences.

For example, ‘spenders’ can benefit from having a set amount of ‘fun’ money to spend each week on 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’, good for you – you’ll certainly kick some financial goals but don’t forget to have fun along the way.

5. Not having an emergency fund that’s yours and yours alone

When you’re in a relationship, the last thing you want to think about is the possibility that it might end. But not thinking about it at all could land you in hot water should the worst happen.

Your emergency fund is a sum of money that you can use if the relationship goes sour and you need to get out quickly.

This fund needs to be a separate bank account, without card access, that is your own. Set and forget with a direct debit from another account, and build enough savings to cover your expenses for three months. This buffer will give you time to breathe, think and plan your next move.

6. Not getting professional advice 

Professional financial advisers do more than advise on investment strategies. Think of us as your financial relationship counsellors, helping you explore your values and goals to build a shared future.

Find an adviser you trust and arrange regular check-ins, holding you both accountable. It’s a bit like Weight Watchers: if you know you have a weigh-in, you’re more likely to make smart choices and stay focused.

As common as it is, money doesn’t have to be a point of contention in your relationship. If you talk openly, plan well and develop good habits, you’ll spend less time butting heads and more time enjoying your life together.

About Helen Baker

helenb@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Helen Baker is a licenced Australian financial adviser and author of two books: One 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 www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au | Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.

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