Let’s be honest, money isn’t exactly a sexy topic when you’re in a relationship. But if you’re planning on moving in together, it’s important to discuss finances relatively early on to ensure you’re both on the same page.
By being honest and open about your spending style and financial values and addressing any potential red flags before you sign the lease, you can manage expectations around financial roles and responsibilities. Talking finances as a couple sets clear goals and helps to clarify financial values, future dreams and aspirations.
We caught up with dating and relationship expert, Katia Loisel, and she gave us the lowdown on everything you need to know about sorting your finances when you move in together. Read on for her tips on having those tricky money conversations, managing your joint household expenses and making your saved money go further!
Before you move in together
Have these conversations
The type of conversations you have will depend on the stage of your relationship and level of commitment. However, think about the following:
- What does money mean to your partner? For example, it may give them a sense of freedom or long-term security.
- What is your partner’s greatest financial worry?
- Is your partner a spender or a saver?
- What are your partner’s 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 escape!
- How important to your partner is having emergency savings and paying off debt?
- What is your partner’s view on joint finances?
If you’re finding it difficult to talk with your partner, try these conversation starters:
- “I read that talking about money is good for relationships and I realised that it’s something we don’t really talk about. How would you feel about setting some time aside to chat about it?”
- “You’re amazing at handling all of our finances and investments. You’ve inspired me to get more involved. I’d love it if you could talk me through it.”
- “I feel awkward talking about money, but I know that it’s important and I want us to really know and understand each other. Is there anything about my spending or views on money that you’d like to know or understand?”
Look out for these red flags
When it comes to money, the issue isn’t incompatibility but a lack of commitment towards reaching mutual financial goals. Most financial issues can be talked through, however some potential red flags that you should watch out for include:
- You don’t completely feel that you can trust them
- They have a track record of being untrustworthy when it comes to money
- They have a string of bad debts and unpaid loans
- They have a history of going MIA when the going gets tough
- They like to control ALL of the finances
- You get into an argument every time you talk finance
After you move in together
When it comes to pooling finances, there is no right or wrong. It often works better for couples with similar spending styles and mutual financial goals. If you do decide to pool, I often recommend agreeing on whether to have at least a little of your own money. This gives independence and means you’re not accountable to your partner for every cent you spend.
How to manage combined household expenses
- Have both of your names on the bills so that you’re equally responsible for ensuring that they are paid
- Set up automatic debits for your bills to avoid late payment fees and stress
- Agree on how financial roles (bill paying, budgeting, long-term planning) will be split so that you both feel empowered and involved in the decision-making
- Agree on whether your finances will be pooled and if so, when you need to check in
- Create a budget and put a savings plan in place. Taking your bills, savings, retirement plans and life insurance into account helps you to see exactly how much money is going in and out
- Set aside time once a month to chat about your finances
- If you’re pooling your finances, agree on whether to have at least a little of your own money. This gives you independence and means that you’re not accountable to your partner for every cent you spend, which can cause control and resentment issues in a relationship
How to make your saved money go further
Generally, it is cheaper living with your partner and sharing expenses than living on your own. However, just because you save on household expenses, it doesn’t mean that the saving will go towards something worthwhile!
Create a budget and put a savings plan in place. We often spend a lot more than we think, so do a budget together and see where you stand and where your money is supposed to go. Taking your bills, savings, retirement plans and life insurance into account helps you to see exactly how much money is going in and out. Setting some big or small financial savings goals as a couple ensures that you’re working together and gives you something fun to look forward to.
How to be a ‘financially fit’ couple
Financial fitness means you manage your money wisely. That means knowing your numbers, having access to money (your money not borrowed) when you need it, living within your means, paying off your debts, and having your life admin including your savings, retirement plan and life insurance in place.
The key to connecting with your partner and creating financial fitness and harmony is planning, communication, kindness and understanding. This can resolve many of the issues that couples have around money. It’s not about one strategy but working together as a couple from a place of kindness and understanding. Making smart financial decisions as a couple now will also help you to create financial harmony and fitness in the long-term.
Katia Loisel is working alongside ANZ on their Love Insurance campaign during the month of April. Love Insurance helps put into perspective that we all want to look after our loved ones and life insurance is a way of showing you’ll be there for your loved ones.