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Even if you haven’t walked down the aisle and officially said those wedding vows out loud along with ‘I do,’ but you’re serious about a long-term relationship, then you need to get serious about money, too.
Most relationship counsellors will tell you that one of the most common causes of arguments between couples is money.
“And the significant reason why,” says Julie Nipperess of Step Up Financial Group, “is because we don’t talk about money! And if you’re in a relationship that can be the greatest mistake you’ll ever make.
Not just because arguments are exhausting and upsetting, but because you’re missing out on a vital opportunity. Two incomes are better than one, especially if you work together,” says Julie.
Julie says we each have different attitudes towards money, and basically these boil down to two money types: spender and saver.
When you and your partner are thinking seriously about being together long term, moving in together and planning the future together, then you need to understand your money personality.
It’s not uncommon for a saver and a spender to find themselves in a relationship together, but if you’re keen to get ahead then you both really do need to get on the same page and work together as a team.
Here’s how you can do that.
“By mutually setting goals, you’re both agreeing to the outcome,” says Julie. “You’ve both got skin in the game, and then you can figure out how to save and meet your goals. This will mean that both of you need to make sacrifices, so talk about these. If you’re agreeing in principle, for example, to spending only half of what you usually would on entertainment or clothing, and you know that pretty soon you’ll start to resent the financial plan and your partner, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure,” she says.
You need to be honest – with yourself and with your partner – about what you can realistically contribute. Just keep the lines of communication open and keep reviewing your financial strategy.
“You don’t need to put all your money together, but if you’ve agreed to pool resources and work together as a team, then you need to do that to some degree,” explains Julie.
“Or you’re not operating with authenticity. And this too, will just cause problems down the track. A joint account keeps you both accountable for what you’re spending, but more importantly, what you’re saving. It can be a really positive measure of progress… and when you meet a milestone, by all means celebrate… together!”
“Open a bottle of wine, get out the chocolates… talk about your bills, pay them, discuss your savings goals and whether you’re on track,” says Julie. “When you get into the habit of sitting down together regularly to work through the finances, you’re reinforcing your team effort, which is really important.
And, over time, it becomes less ‘weird’ to have money conversations. The other benefit is that you’re avoiding a ‘crisis’ – which can happen when things are ignored, overlooked or mismanaged over periods of time.
Couples who take the time to figure out how they can work together really do benefit in the long run,” says Julie. “If you’re serious about being together for the long term then you need to be able to work out your money issues early on because down the track big money decisions like buying property, or reducing to one income while you’re raising a family, will be easier if you’re already practiced at saving for common goals and working to a budget.”