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Money and love
09 September 2012
Whatever the scenario, remember you’re in a partnership. Your contributions – financial and non-financial – count. Financial decisions that affect you both should be made together.
The important thing is to communicate and work out how both of you feel about money before it becomes an issue.
Here are some issues best discussed early in your relationship rather than down the track:
What’s your attitude toward money, and your partner’s: saver or spender, ignore costs or budget, take responsibility or leave it to someone else and blame everyone else when it goes wrong…
What are your values around money: does it represent power, choice, having fun, fear and insecurity…
What’s the environment around money: now and in the past, could some earlier action, situation or decision come back to haunt you…
Independent advice can be used to form a buffer between you, and what can be a very contentious topic. Money is estimated to be a major cause of 40 to 60 percent of relationship breakdowns.
Certainly, many women and some men have found themselves at the end of the affair with a nasty case of STD: sexually transmitted debt, because they didn’t communicate and were pressured or manoeuvered into financial decisions that weren’t in the best interests of everyone.
The best way to avoid STD is to protect your assets: know your mind when it comes to your finances and retaining your independence, and make sure your partner understands where you are coming from.
Assess your financial status and work out your net worth and be transparent with your partner about it. Understand what you both do with money and how you want to lead your lives in relation to it.
Here are some steps to help make conversations about your combined and independent finances simpler.
Get organised: know what you have and what you owe. List all your accounts and what’s in them, loans, investments (including collectibles), superannuation and insurances.
Be transparent with one another: keep your financial information, including receipts and tax records, in one place you can both access.
Get informed and stay informed: keep tabs on your finances and what’s happening with them. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. Always read documents thoroughly. If you feel pressured by your partner or you both feel pressured by someone else to do something with your money you don’t want to do, involve an objective third party in the discussion – an outside expert such as a lawyer or accountant can help. (Bullying by anyone – family, friends, your partner – to hand over control of your finances or money, is abuse.)
Get professional advice before: guaranteeing a loan; signing your name to something that only benefits your partner; becoming a partner in a business. If the worse case scenario happens, and you split up, finding you have to handle an ex-partner’s debts, or those of loved ones who no longer hold that place in your heart, can be pretty galling.