“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

Groucho Marx might have been joking when he said this, but there’s no getting around it: money is a prime source of tension in marriages and domestic partnerships right around Australia. A survey by Relationships Australia found that 70% of couples are affected by disagreements about money. 84% of respondents said money troubles would be more likely to push people apart than bring them togetheri. Cooperating on financial matters is well worth it for most couples. It’s not just your bank balance which will benefit from working together. Working through money issues with your partner can help develop communication skills, improve bonding through a sense of teamwork, and set up shared values to pass on to children.

It’s easy to feel as though you’re drifting apart from your partner when it comes to money management. After all, many of us face the same recurring issues and squabbles: furtive spending, disagreements on priorities, and even hidden accounts. But the good news is that there are simple measures you can take to bring yourselves back on track.

    1. Be proactive, not reactive
      When tough times strike, it’s easy to lash out and make big decisions based on emotion. Accidents, illnesses and deaths in the family can set you up to make decisions more based on grief, anger or fear than cold hard facts. When you are faced with grave circumstances, it’s a good idea to give yourself a bit of breathing space before you make any binding choices.

 

    1. Stick to your budget
      If your savings are tied together, then your spending should be too. Not agreeing on a household budget is a recipe for disaster. Although it might take some time to agree on everything, having a written budget is essential. To avoid either partner feeling like their freedom is impinged upon, make sure to set aside a small amount each for discretionary spending.

 

    1. Be conscious of your money personality
      Find you’re getting annoyed at your partner’s perceived stinginess or lack of discipline? First, it’s time to step back and acknowledge that you may be a little biased, because we all have our own money management ‘personality’. Being aware of your differences in attitude is the first step towards compromising and changing where necessary.

 

    1. Keep your Will up to date
      This one is not just about the two of you – it’s about your dependants and loved ones. If one of you were to pass away, would everyone be clear on your wishes as to what happens with your estate? It’s worth spending an hour or two with a solicitor to work through your options, and ensure your wishes are enforceable.

 

    1. Put it in both names
      Whether it’s a credit card for bills, a mortgage, or an asset in your investment portfolio, make sure it’s in both names. This way, benefits and responsibilities are split straight down the middle. Neither partner gets to shirk responsibility, overrule the other, or claim all benefits/income in the case of a dispute. It’s an ideal way to generate conversation, communication and cooperation.

 

  1. Share the fruits of your labour
    Being frugal and budgeting well is serious work, so it makes sense to share the rewards of that work with your partner – otherwise, one of you may feel hard done by. When it comes to discretionary spending or saving for big ticket items, think of things you can share: holidays, new vehicles, entertainment etc.