Five tips on how to “talk money” with your partner
Depending on which survey you read, money issues are usually right up there as one of the leading courses for divorce. Probably the saddest part of it all is that financial conflicts can often be avoided by simply having a few “uncomfortable” conversations upfront. What that really boils down to is getting to know each other’s expectations when it comes to finances and managing them from the offset. Of course, not everyone’s financial situation is the same, which means that the type of conversation that you have with your partner will be unique based on your collective needs. The challenging part, however, is knowing where to start. So to help you out, we’ve highlighted five tips to get the money conversation going.
1. Do we combine our income or have separate pots?
This is often the question that causes the most “debate”. While there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s important to understand the pros and cons to this approach and which one works best for you and your partner. For example, if one partner earns significantly more than the other, you may want to split the bills proportionately based on the income that each individual earns. Or you may even decide that one person covers some expenses while the other covers the rest. Regardless of which approach you go with, the important part is that you both agree and are happy with the end result.
2. How do we spend our money?
Do we save for a holiday in France or do we save towards buying a new car? What if you want to buy something for yourself, do you really need to ask your partner’s permission? Having collective goals that you both agree on is important in any relationship, especially when it comes to money matters. One way to navigate these waters is to have separate “discretionary allowances” for each of you. If you want to buy something for yourself, you won’t need to discuss it with your partner as long as it doesn’t exceed your “discretionary allowance”. For bigger ticket items, you may want to sit with your partner, agree on a collective goal and then set up a plan to achieve it. Our online Goal Calculator can help you determine just how much you’ll need to contribute every month in order to reach your goal.
3. Who will manage the finances?
How you divide the financial tasks in your relationship and how you make decisions around saving and spending are crucial questions to address early on. Will it be the partner who brings in the most money or the one with the most time on their hands? Or will it be the one who is most skilled at working with money. Whichever way you plan to divide the tasks, it’s important that each of you have a good and clear understanding on what needs to be done. This will help reduce the risk of things going wrong, such as accounts not being paid on time or even being paid twice.
4. How will we invest our money?
Are both you and your partner on track to retire comfortably? Will one have to work longer than the other or can you collectively work to bringing the other back on track? These are just some of the questions you’ll need to ask when it comes to how you invest your money. A good port of call is to get in touch with a financial adviser to help you identify areas where you and your partner collectively require some assistance. Whether it be saving for retirement or cutting down on your collective debt. You both need to be comfortable with the decisions you take, and your financial adviser needs to know the full picture when it comes to your financial situation and structuring your collective investment portfolio.
5. What do you consider as being financially “unfaithful”?
Yes, financial infidelity is a real thing. This can range from spending a little more on those shoes you liked and hiding them in the cupboard so that your partner doesn’t notice, to buying the bike that you said cost “R10 000” when in fact it cost triple that amount, to dipping into your access bond without consulting your other half. While you might not see some of these example as being necessarily unfaithful, that’s not to say that your partner won’t. Discuss the “do’s and don’ts” upfront so that you can iron out any misunderstandings before they become an issue. Knowing what your partner perceives as being dishonest beforehand, can help you avoid “financial infidelity” further down the line.
While there’s no golden rule to having a healthy and happy marriage, open communication and managing expectations from the outset can certainly help. Finances can easily become one of those discussion points that get swept under the carpet because it’s difficult to talk about. Fortunately, at Prudential we have a number of helpful investment guides and online tools to assist you and your partner with having meaningful financial conversations. And if you’re looking for a great long-term investment, why not consider one of our diversified funds such as the Prudential Balanced Fund that has an excellent 10-year track record. As at 31 December 2019, the fund is ranked in the top-quartile of its ASISA category over 5 – 10 years.
Need more information? Feel free to contact our Client Services team on 0860 105 775 or email us at email@example.com.