February is the month of Valentine’s Day and celebrating love but there’s one big issue in relationships that is often left unspoken: money. Of all of the thorny issues to talk about in relationships – domestic chores, child-rearing, intimacy – money is one of the most challenging.

A ten-year study by Relationships Australia found that financial stress was one of the leading causes of relationship breakdowns, with seven out of 10 couples saying that money causes tension in their relationships[1].

Part of the problem might be our unwillingness to tackle financial issues head-on before tension builds. Recent research by Suncorp highlighted our reluctance to talk about money with our intimate partners. A national survey of 1500 Australians revealed that 50 per cent still believe that talking about money is taboo and as many as one-third said they don’t discuss their salary with their partner. People were also happier to talk about those traditionally contentious topics – religion or politics – than tell their loved how they spend their spare cash[2].

Aside from the stress that can result if couples aren’t on the same page about their financial attitudes and goals, it also leaves us very vulnerable if a crisis hits. Say one partner has been responsible for managing all of the household finances and the other is in the dark? What happens if something happens to that person?

Australians tend to have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, but unfortunately that’s not how it works when it comes to finances, estate planning and insurance. It’s important both parties understand key issues such as how their estate will be divided ultimately, how their superannuation is doing, and what life insurance policies the other holds.

If you are concerned that you are not on the same page as your partner it could be time to schedule a date night to chat about your financial situation in-depth. Depending on your circumstances, a check list of things you may want to bring with you could include:

  • Your income and monthly payments after tax
  • Your short-term and long-term financial goals
  • A list of all of your accounts, debts and assets
  • Information about your superannuation
  • Details about all insurance policies you currently hold

Consider setting up a shared Google document that outlines all your key financial data, including accounts, passwords, current debts and assets, superannuation information and insurance policies held. Doing this while things are ok can help avoid calamity and undue stress at critical moments.

If all else fails, you can always outsource the difficult conversation to a financial advisor. In the initial discovery meeting they can help drill down and ask the in-depth and difficult questions that perhaps you feel uncomfortable bringing up to one another. They may even suggest a budget to be provided and this may also help break the ice and bring up any spending issues that you have.

We’re here to help you and your family with your financial issues and future plans. Call us anytime on (02) 8268 2900 to chat about how we can help.

[1] Issues and concerns for Australian relationships today, Relationships Australia, 2011

[2] Money Talk is Still Taboo, Suncorp Research Group, 23 August, 2018