Data from Relationships Australia has found financial stress can be a significant contributing factor in a separation. Speaking to Matty J for The Penny Drops podcast, Elisabeth Shaw said it was critical for couples to have open and transparent conversations about their finances.
When to first start having those conversations will differ for everyone, says Ms Shaw. Some couples will choose to talk about their finances before or during key milestone events – like moving in together or buying property – while others will have these conversations as the need arises – like before a holiday or a meal at an expensive restaurant.
Ms Shaw said while the timing for conversations about money will differ depending on the couple, the key is to start discussing money as “soon as it is on your mind”.
Adding to the conversation, CommBank’s Sian Lewis said it was a good idea for couples to initiate regular times to discuss their finances – similar to having a regular date night. Further, Ms Lewis said while it may suit a couple to combine their finances and give one person the responsibility of managing the money on a daily basis, it is critical that both partners can still access the joint money and make joint decisions on the important issues.
Lastly, both Ms Lewis and Ms Shaw reiterated that open communication about money was key in a relationship. It is important not to make assumptions about your partner’s financial situation. Rather, couples should have open, robust conversations about money – including what they earn, their spending behaviours, as well as their short, medium and long term goals.
In summarising his chat with Ms Shaw and Ms Lewis, Matty J said while he and his fiancé Laura were fortunate enough to be on the same page when it comes to money – including their spending behaviours and savings goals – there were some things that they were going to start doing differently.
“We’re not going to make assumptions when it comes to how we think the other person is going to view money in our relationship,” he said in the podcast.
“We are going to share financial responsibilities and have an equal voice at all times. And, we are going to catch up at least once a month to discuss all of the important stuff. And lastly, there is no one size fits all. What works for one couple won’t necessarily work for us."