Relationships Australia has found that the majority of arguments … and break ups are linked to money. How unromantic.
But it stems from unrealistic expectations.
Not only do movies tell us that true love should stop us from acting sensibly, there’s also this weird societal taboo which makes us think we shouldn’t talk about money openly.
We call BS. You don’t have to be a relationship counsellor to know that openness + honesty is the foundation for a happy and healthy relationship.
And yes, you can still love someone and use your brain at the same time.
Here are seven ways to managing your money, in the name of love:
1. Start talking
Romantic story: on our first date, my now husband + I discussed expectations + aspirations about kids, marriage + careers, before the mains arrived … We also split the bill, though I was earning peanuts.
But we got on the same page pronto. There have been many more conversations along the way, but we talked about the big stuff openly. Our goals + financial implications, our approaches to money + our anxieties.
2. Maintain independence
A (wo)man is not a financial plan.
Never be that person who dis-engages financially because of some ‘I’m just not good with money’ story you’ve told yourself, or ‘cause it’s just easier.
Be like a venn diagram. You want to share a lot, but each of you should maintain independence, where you don’t rely entirely on the other to make financial decisions.
Two strong legs are better than one.
If you’re unconvinced as a woman, a sobering reminder is to look at divorce stats, financial abuse stats, and super balances. Don’t hand over the reins to your life, to anyone.
3. Agree the rules
There’s almost always a mismatch in how much we earn—if not now, then in the future. Then of course, there are spenders vs savers.
However different your money approaches are, setting rules of play will make for a happier life.
First, decide what your shared financial goals are. Early retirement? Having ten kids?
Then it’s about agreeing how much you can/want to save. The natural result of that is agreeing how much to spend.
4. Divide + conquer
There’s no rush to co-mingle your bank accounts.
If you’re living together, calculate how much your shared expenses are, then set up one joint account for those. Pay your share into it each pay cycle.
Then use your own accounts for everything else.
If you’re beyond that point, you can tip everything into a shared account, but split your Fun money into your individual accounts. That’s what we do with our partners!
5. Schedule it
Do as the Barefoot Investor suggests: set up a money date. Have it in a calm environment at a calm time, and talk about your plans, progress + concerns. We have ours every two months. There’s always a lot to talk about.
6. Share to be fair
If you’re true partners, make sure you build together.
Many women take career breaks to have children, and statistically women’s earnings + super take a massive hit as a result.
Just because you’re not getting paid doesn’t mean you’re not contributing, so first of all, stop feeling guilty.
Secondly, your family is shared, and your finances in this case should be too. Whoever is earning should split their super with their spouse while he or she is out of the workforce.
It’s possible to split up to the $25,000 concessional cap into your partner’s super, as long as your fund allows it.
The caveat to sharing is that you should be very very careful sharing someone else’s debt or complex financial obligations. We do lots of things for love, but getting financially entangled won’t necessarily help either of you. And it’s sad but true: there are definite pss-takers out there.
7. Formalise it
If you’re sharing an asset, investment or a loan, always get legal advice + possibly accounting advice too. It will keep things clean and clear, and you’ll probably land some useful tips on how to optimise for tax.
A final note: just like our relationship expectations can be unrealistic, so can our expectations for weddings + engagement rings.
Weddings cost an average of $36K in Australia. That’s a big chunk of change that you could be putting into a house deposit. It’s six annual holidays to Europe. It could feasibly become $200K in your super.
Same goes for a ring. If you want it, remember to think about what you’ll both be giving up to fund it. Many people have told us they regret it. (I’m one of those. I love my ring, but I’d rather that money was in my super!)
The value is in the relationship, not the bling!