If there’s one topic every couple fights about at one point or another, it’s money.
In fact, research from Relationships Australia found arguments about money are the biggest cause of breakups. Yep, money causes more relationship implosions than even infidelity.
But the dreaded “money conversation” – if done right – could actually be something that brings you and your partner closer and give you the best chance of making it for the long haul.
With that in mind, here are some of most common mistakes couples are making when approaching the topic of money, and how to avoid them.
Keeping expenses and spending habits under wraps
According to 2017 research by Finder, nearly a third of people in relationships spend money they don’t tell their other half about. Furthermore, a third of people will hide their purchases from their loved ones because they feel guilty about it.
Whether you think your spending habits will get you in trouble from your partner, or you simply don’t think it’s a big deal, not discussing your expenses, especially if you have a joint account, can cause turmoil in your relationship.
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It’s common for one person to take the lead in handling the household finances, but this doesn’t necessarily mean both parties agree on the way the money is spent.
Tip: A good idea is for couples to set aside a money date once a month. This will help you air out where you stand financially, as well as bring up any disagreements you may have with the way the household finances have been handled. Setting aside a specific time to be honest with each other will ease the tension and take the stress out of the discussion.
Not having a budget
Having a budget in place is one of the easiest ways to avoid money arguments. Not only does budgeting help you keep track of expenses and put some money away into your savings, but it also takes the stress out of deciding how to spend your personal finances.
Have a conversation about how much you both want to add to a savings account every month, how much goes towards bills and household expenses, and dedicate specific amounts to financial goals or activities you do together such as dinner dates, holidays or saving for a home deposit. You can then agree that the rest of your individual salary can be spent freely.
After all, it’s important to feel a sense of independence with your finances and to not feel constrained by strict budgeting.
Tip: Ditch the spreadsheet and let the technology do the hard work for you. In this era of smart banking applications, you don’t need to be spending time hunched over an Excel spreadsheet – not when an application or smart bank account can do all the work for you. AMP Bett3r Account, for example, automatically moves your funds in to pay, save and spend accounts, taking the hassle out of budgeting manually.
Leaving it too late to have that conversation
Many couples feel apprehensive about discussing their finances while they are still dating. After all, their money is not legally bound in any way, so they feel as if they should wait until marriage to approach the topic.
However, it is important to have an understanding of the type of spender your partner is and align your views before you get married. You might learn their spending habits directly affect the lifestyle you want. Perhaps you have a strong focus on saving for your retirement, but your partner wants to travel for the next few years.