Managing money together
Once you get in the swing of things, it's pretty easy to do.
You're young. You're in love. And you're new to this money thing. But while it can be easier to ignore your bank balance in favour of ordering mimosas, learning to manage your money together—and effectively—could open up more for the two of you in life.
What to expect
Deep talks and decisive action.
A new level of mind-meld
Managing your money with your partner can put the two of you on a whole new level of intimacy.
Here the two of you are. Trusting one another with the intimate details of your life. Responsible to one another in how you work towards your shared goals.
How could you get closer than that?
... and a real compatibility test
On the flip side, money's highly subjective. And deeply personal. It's nearly inevitable you'll butt heads.
Whether you're arguing over smaller things like your saving strategy or bigger things like unequal incomes, it's important to remember you're on the same team. Try to look for unified plays.
What's good to do
Talk. Act. Talk.
Be clear about where you're at
Until you know about their financial position, you don't know everything about your partner. And trust us: you'll want to know.
The first step is laying it all out on the table. Consider creating a shared spreadsheet that tracks out your financial position, like if you have any HECS debt left over, the ongoing cost of your rent, or even whether you're supporting a family member.
You don't have to use a spreadsheet if you don't want; talking about your money is just as valid. The goal is simply to be transparent about where you're at.
Then, identify what you'd like to try and work on. This could be anything from paying down your credit card debt to saving up to apply for a home loan.
Make the nitty-gritty fun
Quick question: when you think of being money-careful, what do you think of? Is it baked beans on toast, no pubs on Friday, and lots of upsetting spreadsheets?
We wouldn't blame you if it was. But even the most arduous parts of money management don't have to be dull.
If you're trying to cut back on expenses, could you have a friendly competition to find the cheaper (but still enjoyable) brunch place? Rather than splurging on remedial massages, could you pick up a couple of tricks via YouTube?
A similar attitude should be applied to your budget. Instead of sitting at the computer to chart your progress every month, consider ordering in some cheese and chocolate to accompany your chat. This'll help you associate your budgeting dates with something fun and casual – and most importantly, let you celebrate, like you should!
Adapt your lifestyle and mindset for your shared goals
While you might've grown accustomed to a certain kind of lifestyle, you'd be surprised at how easy it is to tweak it for your money management goals.
Start by asking yourself what you get out of your current lifestyle, emotionally speaking. Then consider how you could replicate these effects on a smaller budget.
Let's say you tend to treat your partner to dinner on the weekend because their job is stressful and you want to help them unwind. Why not recreate their favourite meal in your kitchen instead, or take them for a walk in their favourite park or beach?
Other little tweaks—like going out for breakfast instead of dinner, or BYOB'ing—could also help you cut back on expenses without drastically altering your life.
Let's put it all together.
Have you ...
Discussed what your money goals as a couple are, like saving towards a goal or paying down debt?
Agreed on your money management approach to the key expenses in your lives - like say, how you'll manage credit repayments or how you'll pay for groceries or rent?
Found ways of empathetically and constructively communicating with one another about your financial needs or concerns?
Let’s take it from the top, and get it straight. What should healthy financial behaviour in a relationship look like?
You're willing to talk about your money
The good, the bad, and the under-the-bed cash stash: when it comes to talking about money, you're willing to bare it all. While some topics might make you squirm or others leave you searching Google for answers, you ultimately recognise that money's far too important a topic to remain silent about.
You share or understand each other's financial values
While you don't need to see eye-to-eye on every little detail, sharing or respecting each other's financial values is important. It means you'll understand each other's financial habits and how they fit into the broader picture.
You make and manage financial decisions together
Good relationships are founded on equality. That means you should have an equal say on all things, no matter whether it's where you go for dinner or when you leave, but especially when it comes to how the two of you manage your finances.
Sometimes, what looks like a fair or normal way of dealing with money together might just be the opposite. Here are three major red flags - but be warned: they're often subtler than you'd think.
Your partner shuts down every money conversation
Communication is the lifeblood of relationships. If your partner's not willing to talk to you about debts, savings or income flow, even when you're splitting the rent, it's not a positive sign.
They make you feel like a fool
No-one likes being made to feel incompetent, especially about something as important as money. If your partner makes you doubt your financial ability - or worse, openly mocks it - it could be a sign they're trying to make you rely on their support.
Money responsibilities feel unfair
While we all want to support our partners, taking on too much financial responsibility can be a burden, both logistically and emotionally speaking. Moreover, it could negatively impact your own savings and financial future.