Money and relationships – how to take the stress out of talking about money
Money and love: talking together about money doesn’t have to be hard
We are pretty sure there isn’t a couple in the world that hasn’t argued over money. Financial stress is one of the leading causes of relationship stress and breakdown and often emerges as an issue in couples counselling, but if you’re willing to be completely honest and patient with each other, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Laying it all on the table is the secret to success
Whether you’re in a new relationship or you’ve been together for years, getting into the habit of talking openly about your finances is the best thing you can do for your financial future. If you can start with a mantra of “no secrets”, it will go a long way to building trust, which will make any discussion easier to have.
Starting that first conversation can feel awkward, so we’ve put together a list of things to remember to help set you both up for success.
It’s about your financial future together
Approach the conversation as a discussion about the two of you – it’s about your hopes, dreams and aspirations as a couple, not just about money. Being financially aware and setting goals will help you achieve those dreams together.
With that in mind, pay attention to your language and use “we”, “us” and “our”, rather than “I”, “you”, and “mine” or “yours”. You want to use inclusive language that brings you together, rather than create distance and separation.
Accept there may be differences in your beliefs about money
We learn our first lessons about money as children. How our parents talked about money (or not), and managed it, is likely to influence our own attitudes and beliefs. You and your partner may have had vastly different experiences with money in the past and developed different values and attitudes towards managing it. Those differences might feel unsettling. But if you focus on what you have in common and agree on shared financial goals for you as a couple, it may help you find ways to work together to support them.
Learn about each other’s financial habits
Your values and beliefs about money will determine how you approach financial management. Are you a saver or a spender? Do you budget or live week-to-week? How do your habits differ from your partner’s?
Everyone is different, so it’s important not to be critical or judgemental if you have quite different approaches to managing money. Take the time to understand where your partner is coming from and why they operate that way. Most financial behaviours stem from a need for security or freedom, and they don’t have to be incompatible.
Look for points of agreement, and bring it back to your shared goals. Ask, “So what do we both need to adjust in order reach our goals?”. With discussion, love and patience, there’s always a way to reach a compromise.
Put your financial plans on paper
When you have a clear understanding of your approaches, needs, and dreams, put everything on paper. The first step in realising your financial goals is knowing where you’re starting from. Listing your assets, income, and liabilities will help you both see exactly where you’re at and give you the platform for building your financial plan.
Get organised and set a regular money date
Once you’ve mapped out your plan, agree on whether one or both of you will manage the money, where you’ll keep your financial records, and how often you’ll check in on how you’re tracking.
Money and your financial future is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be dull. Setting a regular money date with your partner to review your budget, savings, and any new issues that may have popped up, is one way to inject some fun into the process. You can get the business out of the way early, then plan to do something you both enjoy.
Get professional advice when you need it
Financial stress and disagreements can cause irreparable damage to couples and families. If you’re struggling to agree on or even talk about a financial challenge, talking to a relationship counsellor who specialises in money matters could make all the difference. Sometimes it just takes an impartial third party to help you build understanding, and you can quickly resolve a situation before it becomes overwhelming.
It’s also wise to seek advice from a finance professional any time you’re preparing to make a significant financial commitment, such as buying a home or investment property. It’s also important if you’re thinking about:
- Guaranteeing a loan
- Becoming a partner in a business
- Preparing for retirement, or
- Other forms of investment.
Most importantly, never sign anything you don’t understand, and never let anyone pressure you and your partner into doing anything with your money that you don’t want to do.
Openness, mutual respect, and trust build secure financial futures
The secret to having a great financial relationship is to have no secrets. It’s never too early or too late to start talking about money with your partner and planning for a financial future that will bring you both the security and the freedom to enjoy your life together.
This information is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular financial needs, circumstances and objectives. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, it is not guaranteed. You should obtain professional advice before acting on the information contained in this publication.
Creo Wealth Pty Ltd ABN 96 605 894 415 is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 1236172) of ClearView Financial Advice Pty Limited ABN 89 133 593 012 AFS Licence No. 331367 GPO Box 4232, Sydney NSW 2001
Over to you
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experience with money and relationships, so please share!