There’s a general rule that you should never talk about money with colleagues but what about with your partner? Despite seeing each other at your most vulnerable; first thing in the morning, hung over, crying at movies, money is still a subject that makes most couples cringe and is driving them apart.
Relationships Australia’s latest report, Issues and concerns for Australians, revealed that money and communication were the top two reasons couples split, with money taking out the top spot. Seven in 10 respondents indicated financial problems were most likely to cause a relationship break-up and 26 percent said financial stress had already broken theirs.
So when money and communication are playing such an instrumental role in ruining our relationships why can’t we talk about it?
While discussing joint savings account or home loans can conjure up the same anxiety as the marriage and babies chat, Alex Parsons, chief executive of financial comparison website RateCity, says it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and offers five tips to get the cash talk flowing.
Start the conversation
Put on your accountant glasses, get your pens poised and tackle the money talk the only way you can, with complete honesty.
“Money is such a taboo subject that even couples find it hard to discuss. But a vital part of creating a healthy, financial future together is being able to discuss money openly and honestly,” Parsons said.
Clear out the skeletons
While you may not want to disclose how much you spend on shoes, travel or iPod accessories it’s the awkward but inevitable talk you must have.
“If you are planning a future with your partner you should be honest with them about your financial history including your savings, debt, investments, income and assets,” Parsons suggested.
Set combined goals
In order to have the money talk you have to be open to discussing your future together so you can establish your relationship goals, such as overseas holidays, marriage, babies or a new home.
According to Parsons, “Having combined financial goals helps couples focus, budget and save for the things they both want.”
Find your happy place
What happens when one person earns more money? Should they pay more? When does your money become his money and vice versa? These questions plague couples but if you know each other’s limitations you should find your happy place somewhere in the middle.
“Understand your partner’s income, expenses and monetary limitations so you can work out a budget that suits both of you,” Parsons suggested.
The Indian and the Chief
This part might be a sore point of discussion but you need to establish, who is better with money?
“Handing over control of the finances to one person will make budgeting, saving and keeping track of expenses much easier,” Parsons said.
Of course, many couples do a brilliant job at managing their combined wealth and overall, combining finances doesn’t have to be a source for argument in a relationship, said Parsons.
"Once you crunch the numbers with your partner, linking finances will seem less like a leap of faith and more a route to greater economic wealth."