finance

The big positive of being the life admin person in your relationship.

ANZ
Thanks to our brand partner, ANZ

When you love someone it can be difficult to step back and see the bigger picture. You might not mind always making sure the electricity bill is paid or that there’s money in the “spending” account at all times. But the truth is, making sure both partners take an active role in the financial health of a relationship is just as important as a good date night.

Research shows that nine in 10 Australians believe financial problems can end a relationship, and having once cohabited with a man who regularly withdrew the last $20 from my bank account without telling me, I couldn’t agree more.

Leading relationship expert Katia Loisel tells Mamamia the key to sorting out your romantic and financial entanglements is to be upfront about it.

Katia filming segments of Brander for the US

Posted by Katia Loisel on Wednesday, 10 June 2015

“Money is one of the most important influences on relationships. Unfortunately when we’re choosing Mr or Mrs Right most of us don’t think twice about whether we’re compatible where money is concerned,” she says.

“We come into a relationship with our own upbringing, experience, expectations and values towards money and often the way we view money can be quite different to our partner.

“Many couples avoid the money talk, particularly early in a relationship. And that can cause problems down the track, particularly when money gets tight or if there is a power imbalance. Numerous studies show that financial stress is related to lower relationship quality and blaming, with couples undergoing financial distress more likely to consider divorce.”

So while it might seem like a good idea to leave the tricky discussions to later, putting off organising your finances is only going to cause headaches in the long run.

The goal of any discussion about these issues should be to secure the financial security of both partners, no matter what the future holds. Loisel says most relationships inevitably have one partner who will step into the administrator role, when really both people should be weighing in.

Organisation is key! Image: iStock.
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So how do you get more involved if you've left it to your partner?

"If you feel that you're no longer in the loop when it comes to your finances, it's time to get involved, but it's important to be aware that despite the benefits of shared financial roles, your partner may not respond positively to your sudden involvement," Loisel cautions.

"There are many reasons for this. For example, they may see your involvement as a form of criticism that they haven't been doing the job correctly, or they may see this as their role and a part of their identity. Acknowledging their role, clearly communicating your intentions, and acknowledging that you haven't been involved to date but want to work together as a team for your financial security and future will help avoid any misunderstandings."

Nearly one in five Australian couples report having secret spending habits their partner doesn't know about. That's a lot of hidden packages tucked away in the back corner of the wardrobe until you find an appropriate moment to pull it out and say "This old thing? Nah, I've had it for years."

You're not fooling anyone, least of all the person who knows you better than anyone else.

It's never too early to make a plan. Image: iStock.
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But there are some easy steps you can take to start an open and honest dialogue about your joint finances.

"It's important for both parties to be across the basics and have access to all financial information, accounts, and passwords. Couples should also ensure that they have a long-term plan in place and know the details of their retirement plans, savings, investments and life insurance," Loisel says.

And before you baulk at the idea of talking life insurance and retirement when you're still eating avo toast instead of servicing a mortgage, these things work for you best the sooner you get organised. If you're serious about your relationship, then you should be serious about your finances too. Life insurance, Loisel argues, should be seen as "love insurance" because it gives both partners financial security, should something unforeseeable happen.

This month, ANZ's Love Insurance campaign celebrates the idea that life insurance is possibly the most romantic gesture a partner can make. ANZ's Life Insurance will pay out up to $2 million in the event of your death, allowing you to keep looking after your loved ones when you're not around. Which is the kind of peace of mind worth buying, according to Loisel.

Life insurance ensures they are looked after. Image: iStock.

Having these discussions about money will also help you gauge your compatibility on fundamental issues, Loisel points out.

"Our attitudes to money reveal a lot about us and run deeper than our inability to say 'no' to a cute pair of shoes," she explains. "By understanding their financial values and the emotional need behind their spending you'll get a better understanding of your partner, avoid arguments over money and create financial harmony."

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But what if your partner really doesn't want to be involved?

"Your partner can still be involved in discussions and decision-making even if they'd prefer not to be involved in the day-to-day management of life admin. Simple things such as having both of your names on your investments, having dual access to accounts, ensuring important information is relayed to both parties and touching base on financial matters can go a long way to ensuring financial harmony," Loisel advises.

Get one step closer to the dream of being a home owner! Image: iStock.

"The key is to find a compromise where both parties feel acknowledged and satisfied with their financial roles."

As with everything relationship-wise, trust and open communication are key. If you think you need to have a conversation about this stuff, then chances are you do. But use it as an opportunity to create some common goals.

"It can be big or small; saving for a dinner, a small holiday, or your nest egg or something bigger so that you feel as though you’re working towards something together," Loisel advises.

Sounds like a fun way to dream.

How do you manage money in your relationship?

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner ANZ