When should you talk money in a new relationship?

It’s one of those murky areas of any relationship. Money.

We don’t know of any relationship which is completely transparent about money. It’s just a matter of degree.

New research from financial institution ING shows one in five Australians keep financial secrets from their partner.

The report shows women are most likely to keep financial secrets in case the relationship doesn’t work out, while men are more likely to cover up larger purchases their partner could disapprove of.

And how about this for a stat; 40 per cent of Aussies don’t know how much their partner earns. As a nation it sounds like we’re not being entirely honest with each other.

So are these lies harmless, or are they something more sinister? And what’s the right way to handle money in a relationship anyway?

Here’s our take on the etiquette of love and money.

Just starting out

The start of a new relationship is an exciting time, but should you be baring your financial soul? Amanda Gordon, psychologist and director of Armchair Psychology, doesn’t think so.

“At the beginning of a relationship money is none of their business; you’re getting to know each other and working out whether you’re suited to each other”, she says.

“I certainly wouldn’t be bringing money up on the first date, just like I’d avoid talking about values and religion and all those sorts of things.”

Our advice is to only share what you’re comfortable with. Split restaurant bills or weekends away down the middle (or do the chivalrous thing gents), and try to avoid rushing into joint financial commitments.

Getting serious

Ok, so you’re madly in love and officially an item. Now is the right time to sit down and have a proper conversation about your finances… and spending habits.

Financial problems are one of the leading causes of relationship stress. So you need to make sure you’re financially compatible and understand each other’s values.

As Amanda says, “you’re trying to work out whether you’re suitable for each other. Just like you would talk about your feelings on kids or living overseas, talking about money is important when things start to get serious… It shouldn’t be a taboo.”

“It may be that each of you are coming in with different expectations of what’s the right way to manage money. And money is very complicated these days, with people moving in together just to see”.

Take the time to understand your partner’s financial goals, needs and wants, and make sure they know yours. And talk through how you want to handle everyday joint financial commitments, from rent to groceries.

The last you want is a spend thrift in a relationship with a big spender.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to organise your money as a couple; the right way is one that works for both of you.

Settling down

By this stage you should already be on the same page about money and, ideally, open about your finances. You don’t have to be joined at the hip, but you’re on the same team and should be managing money together.

Money doesn’t need to be talked about all the time, but that’s different from hiding things. Being deceitful is bad for any relationship.

We’ve always been clear about how we handle the family finances.

She manages the household budget and bills, I do the investments and we make big financial decisions together. And to make sure we are both on the same page, we set aside 15 minutes every month to run the ruler over the finances together.

And while we are 100 per cent committed to our common goals, we both still have personal spending accounts which we can do what we want with. Like buying each other surprise gifts, right Libby?




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