Being financially in sync is one of the cornerstones of a successful relationship. Along with infidelity, not being on the same page when it comes to money and finances is trouble. This is why it’s all the more worrying that a quarter of couples don’t feel comfortable talking about money with their other half.
Recent research carried out by M&S Bank polled 2,000 adults in a relationship and found just 17 per cent regularly talk about finances with their partner. Why the reticence about discussing financial matters? Common excuses include never finding a good time, feeling a little embarrassed and wondering how their other half might respond being among the reasons people avoid the subject of money in their relationships.
This nervousness about discussing money is all the more strange when the study found that people will typically utter the words “I love you” a whole five months before broaching the topic of money, which they won’t talk about until at least nine months into their relationship.
“…people will typically utter the words “I love you” a whole five months before broaching the topic of money”
Looking at your relationship, how many of the following facts ring true for you? Ten percent of those questioned revealed that they haven’t shared how much they earn with their significant other, and an equal percentage don’t know what their partner earns. An additional 18 per cent are more likely to move in together before they talk about money and as many as one in 10 even expect to get married before they bring up the topic of finances with their significant other. Surely this is dangerous territory?
However, it’s not all negative. A handful of those polled – five per cent – will choose to discuss finances within less than two weeks of knowing each other. The research also revealed being good with your finances is a more attractive attribute than being a good cook and is also more appealing than being outgoing or sociable, or successful in their career. Surely a sign of the times and more progressive ways of thinking.
Having the same aspirations as your partner is crucial in a relationship and four in five agreed, saying it is important for their partner to have the same financial goals as they do.
When it comes to having a joint bank account, more than half of those who don’t currently have a joint bank account together said they would rather not open one with their significant other and a fifth said they’d prefer not to because they enjoy managing their own finances independently.
“We encourage people to talk more about money with their loved ones.”
Psychologist Emma Kenny delved into the reasons why it appears money is a taboo subject in some relationships.
She said: “It’s healthy for couples to discuss their finances and it’s important that they engage in open and honest conversations about financial goals and ambitions from the start.
“In fact, this is often the key to a successful relationship. While how much a person feels comfortable disclosing is down to the individual, we encourage people to talk more about money with their loved ones.”
For those of you who need a little help in this area, read on for some top tips on how to discuss finances with your partner.
Communicate openly, from the get-go
Great relationships are often transparent ones. When you do start to discuss your financial health – and I would argue the sooner the better – it is important that you both understand the good, the bad and the ugly regarding your financial affairs, so that you can communicate openly and work towards a common goal and help each other.
While you are likely to know which school your other half attended, what their favourite food is, and details of their relationship history, chances are you won’t have the low down on their credit history. Knowing about your partner’s financial history – and present situation – is important, because if affects you too.
Money needs to be dealt with using more of a practical mindset. So, sit down with your partner and arrange an almost ‘business-like’ meeting – by that I mean be planned and agree what financial matters you need to discuss and make sure you cover them. Remember, it’s important to leave your emotions at the door and the earlier these types of conversations happen, the better!
Talk about what it means to make a financial connection
When you are in a committed relationship, joint accounts can be a great tool to help you save, spend and budget together. But it’s also worth taking a little time to understand the implications of connecting your finances before committing. For example, did you know that both parties on a joint account are liable for any debt on the account.
Have a money armistice where you bring all your financial facts and figures together so that you can both take an honest view of what’s working, what you’d like to change, and how you can each support one another on your financial journey
Just as you visit your dentist regularly, your finances would benefit from regular check-ups too. Agree to sit down – perhaps once a month – to review your finances, as a couple. Here you can discuss any big purchases you may wish to make or look at how you can cut back on those take away coffees so you can save for that weekend break you both want to make happen.
Separate, but together
Even if you both want to retain financial independence, many couples find it beneficial to keep some of your finances in one place so that you can both contribute towards things like holidays, spontaneous weekend breaks and the more fun parts of your relationship. This means that you can both contribute to saving and ensure that you have a happy and harmonious financial life.
Research evidences that people who set themselves goals are happier and healthier than those who do not. As a couple, agree on some activities or purchases that you want to work towards as these will act as a motivator, and will also mean you both feel rewarded when you achieve your target.
While saving together is a positive exercise, you should also make sure that you get to enjoy your hard work. When you achieve any financial milestones, agree on how you’ll celebrate the effort you have both made. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive but it’s important to recognise your effort and achievements.
Don’t play the blame game
If you, or your partner have made some bad choices that have affected your finances, try not to be judgemental. Life is a learning curve and past mistakes can be the key to future success, as long as they are acknowledged and learnt from.