Money

Make a date - to talk about money

VALENTINE'S day may be behind us but it's worth setting a date to talk with your better half about money matters. It could make a valuable difference to your financial wellbeing and your relationship.

Research by Relationships Australia shows that financial stress ranks high on the list of reasons why relationships suffer.  In the US, for instance, couples argue on average three times a month about financial issues. Yet 55% of adults living with a long term partner don't set aside time on a regular basis to discuss financial issues.

There's no doubt money can be a touchy subject. When money is tight it can be very easy to start pointing the finger of blame at our partner's financial habits. But in my experience there aren't too many people that have a perfect track record when it comes to money matters, and there are good reasons to work as a team on household finances.

Relationships Australia says the trick is not to wait until you're under financial pressure to kick off a discussion about money. Instead set a date when you're both relaxed and be prepared to listen to what your better half says.

I freely admit I'm no relationship counsellor however after 30 years in financial planning I have come to recognise that some simple strategies can help couples get back on track with their money.

A good starting point is to talk about your goals - both shared and personal. Discussing things like when you plan to start a family, or what you'd like to do when you retire let you find a common target you can work towards.

Next, take stock of where you are financially right now. The process of writing down your assets (your home, investments and items of value like the family car) can create a shared sense of achievement. Balance this by writing down your liabilities - how much you owe on the mortgage, personal loans or credit cards, to get a clear picture on where you stand financially.

It's also important to discuss each other's approach to money. Our upbringing often plays a key role here so it's unlikely you will have identical views about spending, saving and paying off debt. The main point at this stage is to understand why your partner takes a particular approach to their finances, and to become comfortable discussing money freely and openly.

Sharing your life with someone doesn't have to mean giving up your own financial identity. Some couples choose to use a joint account for some expenses while having their own account for personal spending. Others choose to run their finances almost entirely separately.

There is no right or wrong way of handling money as a couple. It's a question of discovering what works best for you both - something you may never find out if you don't begin talking about your finances.

ASIC's MoneySmart website offers a range of online tools like a savings calculator and retirement planner that couples can use to set and track goals.

If money is driving a serious wedge in your relationship, it could be worth speaking to a Relationships Australia about counselling - the contact number is 1300 364 277.

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money magazine. Visit www.paulsmoney.com.au for more information.

Topics:  opinion, paul clitheroe




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Fight for our farmers

Tweed valley Dairy farmer, Ron Stoddart attends to his cows for the afternoon milking session. Stoddart Farm has a new Dairying syteme where the cows are miked and fed at the same time.

An extra 10 cents a week would boost dairy profit by $88,000.

LETTER: A bridge promise was never made

NO PROMISES: Keith Pitt says he never broke any promises over the proposed Burrum River bridge, because he never made any.

I never promised Commonwealth funding for a feasibility study.

Why you should never buy a brand new car

Think of how much you'll lose in depreciation.

Latest deals and offers

Barnaby Joyce talks Johnny Depp's dogs in Tweed

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce talks about Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo...

Billy Slater talks Origin Team

Queensland Origin great Billy Slater.

Queensland Origin great Billy Slater talks about this years team and his return to...

Road rage caught on Dashcam

Attack with a baseball bat caught on Dashcam

Video of a violent road rage incident in Orange last December.

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked