At the start of a relationship, it’s fairly common that couples avoid discussing money. But letting the silence go on too long might not be healthy down the line…
Therapeutic Counsellor and Relationships Expert Indira Chima gives her expert insight and top tips to achieving financial harmony with your significant other.
The ‘M’ word
We all have slightly different ideas when it comes to money. However, not all of us feel comfortable opening up about them, even with our partners. The good news is that this isn’t usually anything to do with the strength of your relationship.
Here are some common factors that might be stopping you from talking about money:
• Age – In general, younger people are more open to talking about money than older generations, who are a little more private and less likely to open up about their finances
• Upbringing– Cultural differences can make people feel less able to discuss money openly. How your parents were with money growing up can also play a part
• Personality type– Your personality type informs almost all your behaviours, including how you feel about money
As you can see, none of these factors come from your relationship. They’re down to you as an individual. That means with a little work, and a better understanding of why you feel the way you do, there’s no reason why you and your partner can’t be financially compatible.
The power of communication
Managing money can be stressful at the best of times, but it can be a lot worse if you feel unable to speak up when you’re having problems. Trying to handle things alone can impact on your mental wellbeing and even affect your relationship with your partner.
Unlearning behaviours and thought patterns is a challenge. But learning to open up about those challenges is the single most important step you can take to establishing equality in your relationship – it could even help bring you closer together.
Indira’s top tips for managing money as a couple
The thing with money – like with work, food and exercise – is that we have to have a relationship with it. There’s no escaping our finances, but there are things we can do to help relieve the pressures.
These top tips will help you break down those boundaries when it comes to sharing money:
• Work in percentages: If one person earns more than the other, it might not be fair to split things like rent and bills straight down the middle. Instead, try putting a percentage of your salaries into a joint account. That way you’re contributing the same affordable amount
• Set a spending limit: If you’re not ready for a joint account but still want to work together toward shared goals, try setting a spending threshold on how much you can spend before having to agree it with your partner, that way you’ll still feel confident you’re both putting your share away
• Have separate spending accounts: Having your own account with your own money still gives you that independence. This is a very healthy way to do things, allowing you to maintain personal freedom, while working toward joint goals
• Remember, money is not your only contribution: Finances are not the only way to contribute to an equal partnership. Laying this out as a spoken understanding is really important for couples who earn different amounts, stay at home parents, or parental leave, as it relieves the pressure to contribute financially when it’s not necessary
Ready for more? Look out for the next blog in this Relationships and Money series.