It’s that time of year when couples are making preparations to cosy up for Valentine’s Day, and while a dozen long-stemmed roses or diamond jewellery may go down well on the day, having conversations about money can be the thing that gives your relationship staying power.
A study by ME Bank confirms what many Australian couples already know – that money is something many of us struggle to talk about.
The survey found 63% of adults are worried about their finances, yet 28% of Australians aren’t comfortable talking about money, and for one in five couples it’s a taboo topic altogether.
As uncomfortable as it may be, having conversations about money can be good for your relationship.
Financial stress consistently rates as one of the key factors contributing to our high rate of relationship breakdown. But according to the survey, among couples who are happy to discuss their finances with each other, 61% rarely or never experience conflict because of money, compared to 34% who consider the subject off-limits.
I realise discussions about how you manage cash, how you afford the car loan repayments or balance the budget don’t rate highly when it comes to pillow talk. But it is worth setting a date to talk about money matters. In my experience, couples who are on the same page in terms of money management are often well-placed to achieve long term financial security.
If you’re broaching the topic of money for the first time, aim to keep things positive. Try leading in with something as simple as your shared or personal goals. Depending on your life stage that can mean talking about when you’d like to start a family or what you’d like to do when you retire. The point is to find a common ground you can both agree on and start thinking positively about money and where it can get you.
This brings us to the ideal Valentine’s Day gift. Be sure your other half knows where you stand as a couple financially in terms of your debts and assets. And have adequate life and income protection insurance. It will go a long way to ensuring no one ever has to sell the family jewels.
For more ideas on how to approach the issue of money with your other half, take a look at my book Money, Marriage and Divorce or contact one of the low cost counselling services like Relationships Australia.