Money is often a taboo subject for couples, especially early on in a relationship. If you’re renting somewhere together, buying a property or getting married, it’s really important to have an honest discussion about money to avoid disagreements further down the track.
Here are some questions to ask each other to ensure that financially, you’re on the same page.
Do you want to combine your money into a joint account?
Agreeing whether you want to combine your money in a joint account, keep separate bank accounts or have a mix of both is a good starting point. There’s no right or wrong answer. Make sure you also discuss what happens if either of you gets an unexpected windfall like a bonus.
Do you have any debt?
Find out if your partner has any ongoing financial obligations, such as outstanding credit card or loan debt, mortgage repayments or commitments such as child support. Factor these into any discussions, particularly if you are saving for something together or pooling your incomes into a joint account.
Are you more of a saver or a spender?
Find out if your partner spends everything they earn each week or if they save or invest their cash. Some people are OK with spontaneous spending, others are not. While their answer may not impact you now, it may when you choose to save for something major like a deposit for your first home or a holiday.
Do you budget for things?
This goes hand-in-hand with your partner’s saving habits. Some people are meticulous with their budgeting (using apps to keep track of their budget), others are a little less strict in their approach and many don’t budget at all.
What’s your credit history?
Often dismissed as being unimportant, your partner’s answer to this question could determine whether you get credit approval from a bank. It’s never a good idea to hide credit/debt issues from your partner especially if you’re still tackling them. Problems with credit will surface when you apply for things like a personal or home loan, credit card or rental approval together.
Will we live off one or two incomes?
Sometimes this is prompted by a discussion about having children and taking paternity leave. It may prompt you to review your approach to having separate bank accounts.
Do you have any investments?
It’s worth knowing about your partner's overall financial position, particularly if you're considering investing together. You and/or your partner might also be financially impacted as investments rise and fall.
How much have you got in your super fund?
You might be thinking about retirement, or it might be many years away. Regardless, it’s important to keep an eye on how much money you’ve both got in your superannuation funds. You might want to consider topping up your super through contributions. Check the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for details.