Do you know when to talk to your partner about money? It’s the kind of conversation that never seems to be timed well – probably because it’s just never an easy talk at all. Relationships Australia (RA) research shows that for seven in 10 couples, money is the root cause of significant tensions.
That said, talking about finances with your partner brings long-term benefits which strongly outweigh the short-term tension or awkwardness. If you have no idea when to broach the subject, we have a few situations to kick you off.
1) The first date
We aren’t saying you should posit a joint banking account over your very first entree together. However, being open and transparent about money on your first date is a great way to establish trust and boundaries around each other’s finances from the outset.
For example – Relationships Australia research shows that three-quarters of men feel guilty if they don’t pay the bill on a date, while 44 per cent of women feel bothered if men don’t accept their offer to pay. A further 40 per cent are bothered if men don’t offer to pay in the first place.
This can all be a source of conflict – people assume certain (and often outdated) roles from the very first date without first having a conversation. It may not be the most romantic topic for a first date, but transparency and a willingness to find each other’s financial comfort zone can go a long way to starting a relationship off right.
2) Moving in together
This is where things start getting serious. Moving in together can mean a number of big financial steps for your relationship: co-signing leases or utilities accounts; sharing an account and card for household expenses; and budgeting as a couple for short- and long-term goals.
At this point in a relationship, it’s time to have a serious conversation about control. Do you feel comfortable with the other handling bills and household spending? Will you keep personal accounts separate? Who will have access to lines of credit? The RA study shows that roughly 75 per cent of women in heterosexual relationships control household finances – it’s important to also talk about how this intersects with the traditional roles you both feel you play in the household.
These are topics fraught with tension, as you’re effectively discussing how much you trust one another. Be open about your financial strengths and weakness, while acknowledging where your partner is better suited to handling money than you are. Build a system that works for both of you – don’t just go in blind and hope for the best.
3) Building a future
In the age of the post-nuclear family, building a future together is no longer as simple as getting married and buying a house. First home buyers are increasingly locked out of the market, marriage rates fluctuate and the Australian Bureau of Statistics notes that couples are living together for far longer before marriage than even 10 years ago.
As such, the timing of this conversation is going to depend entirely on the goals and hopes you share with your partner. Do you want to open a business together? Start a family? Move overseas? Buy a home? Determining these goals is an ongoing process, but you will both hit a point where you do have to take on the dreaded financial discussion again.
When you talk long-term, acknowledge each other’s goals, and the ones you share. Balance each other’s income with each other’s willingness to contribute to shared goals. Keep in mind societal factors like wage gaps and the yawning chasm between men’s and women’s superannuation balances.
Talking about finances with your partner is never easy – but it’s always healthy. If you want to find a better way to discuss money or have any queries about your finances, speak to the team at Bank of Queensland.