When is it time to talk money in a relationship?
Whether you are newly dating or have been together forever, there is one topic that is bound to create some challenges: money.
Here is the why, when and how to talk finance at each stage of your relationship.
The honeymoon period
While it's early on in the relationship, it is important to start introducing money discussions - particularly as the level of emotional intimacy increases. This ensures you are aligned, helping to avoid conflict and address red flags.
Transparency is the key during this phase, so be honest about your spending style and financial values. In the honeymoon period, you can ask your partner:
- What does money mean to you? (For example, it may give them a sense of freedom or long-term security.)
- What is your greatest financial worry?
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- What are your financial goals? (For example, a partner concerned with security might be looking to purchase an investment item, like a house or shares, whereas a partner who cares about freedom might be looking to save for a holiday.)
- How important is having emergency savings and paying off debt?
- What is your view on joint finances?
The nesting period
This is where "I" becomes "we". You're nesting and deeply in love, but don't become complacent!
During this phase couples often begin to pool finances. To increase financial harmony and reduce conflict it is important you communicate financial expectations, create a budget and set mutual financial goals.
It is also a good idea to consider your bills, savings, retirement plans and insurance policies. Think about what policies are contributing to the creation of a solid relationship (like life insurance) and what bills are placing undue stress (perhaps high mobile phone bills).
In the nesting period, you can ask:
- How do you feel about shared financial roles?
- What are your financial concerns?
- How will you split the finance roles? (For example, this might include bill paying, budgeting and long-term planning.)
- Will the finances be pooled? If so how will you negotiate spending and saving?
The life-long period
Your relationship has weathered life's storms. You're a team, and you're in it for the long-term.
With that in mind, it's time to think about your mutual financial goals and long-term financial planning.
In particular, this will include thinking about the future - no matter what might happen. Now it is time to ask:
- Has your will been updated?
- Have you prepared advanced health directives and appointed powers of attorney?
- D-o you feel secure in your financial set-up, or do you need life insurance, income protection insurance or aged care insurance?
Once the day-to-day and future life admin are taken care of, you're free to inject a little more passion and adventure into your life.