We invest so much time and emotion in our romantic relationships that financial matters can be neglected. If you're planning a future together, it's important to understand each other’s attitudes to money sooner rather than later.
According to Relationships Australia, financial stress is a key factor of relationship breakdown. Their 2019 survey revealed that 53 percent of respondents did not consider their partner’s financial circumstances important when they entered into the relationship. Chatting with your partner about money is the first step in planning your financial future together. Consider the following points before the finance chat:
Hey, big spender?
Do you spend most of your monthly pay or prefer to save for the future? Ideally, you need to understand each other’s views on money matters before deciding on your joint financial goals and how to achieve them.
What are your joint financial goals?
Your financial goals are likely to mirror your life goals. Perhaps you are dreaming of a big wedding, buying a home together or starting a family? Such goals involve considerable expense, so it’s a good idea to plan how you will manage this in a way that suits you both.
How will you share your expenses?
If you are planning to live together, set a household budget for your monthly expenses. Use our Budget Planner to review your monthly incomes and expenses. If your salaries differ considerably and you want to share your joint expenses proportionally, divide the total of your monthly combined net incomes by the total of your monthly essential expenses (food, rent, bills etc.) to get a common denominator. Then divide each of your monthly net salaries by the common denominator to determine how much to contribute. Both amounts should total your monthly expenses.
Could a joint bank account be your next big step?
A joint transaction account is useful for managing your everyday expenses as a couple but keep your existing account too if financial independence is important to you. Treating your partner to a meal or a present may not seem quite as special if it’s paid from your joint account.
If you are saving for the future, perhaps for your own home, set up an interest-bearing joint savings account to keep your savings separate. Our Bonus Saver* account offers you the opportunity to earn bonus interest if you satisfy the conditions.
Whatever you decide, it’s important that you are both happy with your financial arrangements and that neither of you feel constrained by your financial status as a couple.
Who will manage your finances?
If you set up a joint account, decide who will manage the expenses or whether will you share the responsibility. It’s a good idea to add both of your names to utility bills, such as gas and electricity, so that you’re both equally responsible. Keep your joint financial information in one place and ensure that you both have online access to joint accounts for transparency. Being open and honest about money is always the best policy.
Be mindful about potential money issues
One of you may be more ‘financially savvy’ than the other, but always read and make sure that you understand any financial document before signing it. Seek help from your bank or a trusted adviser if you do not understand what you are being encouraged to sign and never sign a document just because your partner told you to do so. Relationships Australia offer the following advice:
- Bills: if a utility service, such as electricity, is in your name only, it is your sole responsibility to pay the bills.
- Loans: if you have agreed to a joint loan and your partner defaults on the loan, you may be liable for the whole amount, including fees and interest, even if your relationship ends. A joint loan does not mean that you’re liable for half the debt.
- Credit cards: if you agree to share a credit card with your partner, you will be equally liable for repaying what’s owed on the card and your credit rating could be affected if you cannot repay the debt. Trust is important in any relationship, but especially regarding finances.
- Financial abuse: if you are pressured by your partner, family or friends to relinquish control of your money or property, you could be experiencing financial abuse. If you think that you could be a victim of financial abuse seek help from 1800RESPECT, The Family Relationship Advice Line or Lifeline.
- Gambling: if gambling is negatively affecting your finances or your relationship, you need to seek help. Relationships Australia have specialist gambling support programs that offer counselling to help you overcome a gambling problem and reorganise your finances.
At G&C Mutual Bank, we have a range of outstanding products and services to help you achieve your financial goals. Whether you want to set up a joint transaction account, a joint savings account, apply for your first home loan or for a personal loan to make your wedding dreams come true, we’re ready to help you.
We’re a different kind of bank, a customer owned bank, where you’re at the centre of everything we do. Contact us today to find out more about the G&C Mutual Bank difference and how we can help you own your banking.
*Refer to Bonus Saver product information for full details.