It’s no secret that money is one of the most common causes of stress in Australia*. As well as your health, financial stress can cause havoc in even the closest relationships.
If you and your partner are feeling the pressure on the money front, there are ways to help manage this. Here are 5 tips, which may help to keep financial harmony intact with your nearest and dearest.
1. Mutually agree on your priorities
As humans, we have different interests and priorities in life. In a relationship, sometimes those priorities aren’t always in sync.
One way to help reduce disagreements and potentially make decisions more straightforward can be to find some common ground. For example, you may both agree that your health is a top priority, and so setting aside a budget for a gym membership, yoga classes or health insurance, might be something you both agree on. If your monthly income is stretched and you need to trim back on spending, look at the areas of your budget that don’t fall within your mutual priorities, and start there.
2. Understand your partner’s money personality
Many of the decisions we make around how we earn, spend and invest our money are subconscious, and have a lot to do with our beliefs about money. Understanding your partner’s money personality can help to improve communication, reduce conflict and stress and make money conversations more fruitful.
While we are all unique humans, we all have some personality traits that are similar. To make things fun (and potentially insightful), consider taking our money personality quiz, which is designed to help you discover more about your money personality, and what that can mean for your relationship.
3. Set a non-negotiable allowance
While keeping an eye on household spending activity is important, probably not many of us would find joy in having our spending micromanaged to the nearest dollar. For a bit of freedom and flexibility, consider setting a non-negotiable allowance whereby you and your partner can spend that money freely, without scrutiny of having to provide any sort of explanation.
The non-negotiable allowance you agree on should make sense for your financial circumstances and goals. An allowance that’s too small may feel too restrictive. An allowance too big may take away from your longer term goals, or other areas of priority.
4. Don’t be a passenger
In some relationships there can be one dominant person managing the finances. This person usually drives the budget, or perhaps shops around for the best bank accounts or credit cards. They may also take charge when looking for a home loan or purchasing insurance.
If you’re not the one driving the financial conversations in your household, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be across everything. Taking an active interest in your joint finances can be a good way to help make sure you’re both on the same page and heading in the same direction.
5. Keep the lines of communication open
Small irritations can become big issues if not brought out into the open and dealt with. Whether it be money or otherwise, open and honest communication is key to a healthy relationship. If the way you manage your money as a couple isn’t working for you, telling your partner how you feel can be a good first step. For example, the budget may feel unfair or flawed to you. You may feel resentful that there isn’t enough focus on something that’s important to you. Or, you may believe that your partner is overspending in a certain area. The sooner you voice these feelings, the sooner you can both work through them.
Navigating financial stress can be challenging, even in the closest relationships. If you’d like to talk to us about anything in this article, please get in touch.