finance

'Sexually Transmitted Debt' to joint accounts: everything you need to know about love and money.

Would you rather tell a roomful of people your favourite sex position, or your salary?

Money. It's a particularly intimate topic. 

Sitting alongside topics like sex, politics, and religion on the "do not talk about" scale, it's no wonder that only 62 per cent of young Aussies feel comfortable speaking about finances with their partner.

Watch: 5 money lessons your parents told you, that you should probably forget... Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

But, when couples are likely to argue about money on average, twice a month, it's pretty important you get your partner across your financial situation to future-proof your relationship.

This week on the final episode of Mamamia's money podcast, What the Finance, Financial expert, Melissa Browne and actress, Pallavi Sharda chat all things love and money. 

So, no matter what stage you're at in your relationship, here are our four biggest takeaways from the ep.

What the f*ck is Sexually Transmitted Debt?

Put simply, Sexually Transmitted Debt is debt that you receive as a result of being in a relationship. Pretty broad, right?

Director of Vulnerable Customers and Financial resilience at Westpac, Catherine Fitzpatrick says, "it's a bit like financial infidelity."

"A partner might rack up some debt and you get settled with it. If you have a joint credit card or you get coerced into taking out a loan that isn't for your benefit then you might end up having to pay that back when you didn't have anything to do with it," she says.

It could also be a result of rental loss in the case of a sudden break up or phone bills that have been registered in one partner's name, but, Catherine warns that Sexually Transmitted Debt can be a slippery slope to financial abuse.

Listen to host, Melissa Browne chat with Pallavi Sharda about Sexually Transmitted Debt on What the Finance. Post continues below.

Which leads us to...

How early is too early to bring up money?

Finding the right time to bring up money while dating is a delicate balancing act. 

Bring it up too early and you look like a money-obsessed control freak (just me?), but bring it up too late and you've sentenced yourself to a life of secrecy and financial silence. 

"I actually think there's a way to bring it up early, and that's with curiosity and not judgement," Melissa says.

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"Not first date early, but potentially third date."

Melissa suggests having a curious conversation about money without focusing on how much money is earned and spent.  

Some conversation starters might include:

  • "Do you think money is good, bad, or okay?"
  • "Are you a spender or saver?"
  • "Tell me about your money story."
  • "What's your money type?"
  • "Let's do this money quiz together!"
  • "What do you want to do with your money in future?"

"When you're planning a future with someone you love, you have to think of the financial commitment as well as the relationship commitment," Catherine says.

"It's really important to have a conversation that's open and transparent as early as possible!"

Easy as that!

How the f*ck do joint accounts work?

Whether it's for managing household expenses or saving for a shared goal, joint bank accounts are often used by couples to combine wealth.

But... how should you go about it?

Well, Catherine thinks the first step is getting clear on whose money is whose. 

"Work out; what's your money, what's my money, what's our money, and how do we put that together?"

From here, Catherine suggests choosing whether you will have a joint transaction or saving account.

If you're looking to share expenses like electricity, rent, groceries, and date nights, a transaction account might work best for you. 

Alternatively, you can open a shared savings account, which is great for shared goals like a wedding, or home deposit.

But wait! Before you run to the bank, Catherine says there's one more thing to consider.

"Should both of you be able to operate the account like it's your own, or should you think about making sure the other person has to sign, as well as you, when you're taking money out?"

While it can be more convenient to operate the account without approval, Catherine says there will always be a risk in case of relationship break down that one person will cash out all the money.

Bear this in mind.

Do I need a binding financial agreement?

Binding Financial Agreements are private contracts between two partners that outline exactly how property, assets, superannuation and liabilities will be divided in the case of a relationship breakdown. 

You also might know it as a prenup (but that's the American term!).

If you are married, or in a de facto relationship and feel your relationship is financially unequal, lawyer, Melanie Tonazzi thinks this is something you should consider.

"You can get (a binding financial agreement) before you start living together, or at any stage of a relationship, in anticipation of separation, after separation," she says.

"If you've already got established wealth, if there's anticipated inheritance in the future or you might expect your career to follow a particular path, this is something to consider."

For more financial relationship tips, you can check out Westpac's love and money hub or listen to the full episode of What the Finance here.

Feature Image: Getty.