Managing finances as a couple
In many relationships, it’s common to have one partner manage the finances and the other partner takes a back seat. However, this inevitably ends badly for one of two reasons.
The first reason is that one person is making financial decisions that will impact both of you. Unfortunately, I’ve heard many stories where partners have had gambling or other financial problems and they’ve been able to hide these problems from their partner for sometimes up to decades because it’s been really easy for them to hide financial problems if their spouse doesn’t take a regular and consistent interest. Obviously, these problems have had effects on both partners, but one partner’s really been driving the decisions behind them and keeping the other partner in the dark.
So that’s obviously not an ideal situation, but there is another reason why letting your spouse take complete control of the finances is probably not the best idea. That’s the fact that being left in the dark about finances will mean that you’ll find it extremely difficult and overwhelming when you inevitably need to start managing the family’s finances. This may be due to separation, illness or maybe even death of a partner.
Women over 55 years of age are now the fastest-growing homeless population in Australia and many of these women have found themselves in this position following marriage and relationship breakdowns. So, it’s important that you start getting clear on how the finances are managed and being part of those decisions.
So, what can you do? Well if your partner’s currently managing the finances, I’m going to give you three things that you must start doing today so that you can start taking a more active interest and understanding your financial position.
Tip #1 – know your financial position.
What I want you to do here is get your own internet banking login. I want you to make sure that all your joint accounts and all your individual accounts are visible there. I’d like you to spend five minutes each week just logging into your internet banking and viewing all your accounts and getting a handle on money coming in and money going out, just understand where your money is going. Understand what you’re spending money on and just start having an interest in how much cash you have and how much debt you have so you start becoming aware of what you’ve got going on.
Tip #2 – step up and share the load.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable about it, talk to your partner about the day-to-day financial management and offer to take over responsibility of a small part of the day-to-day financial management. For example, you might put your hand up to pay the household bills. Even though this might scare you because it’s something that you haven’t done before, I really encourage you to face your fears and ask your partner to help you until you feel confident managing the task on your own. Because as your confidence builds you may even want to increase more money responsibilities and take over more of the load so that you are really sharing the load with your partner rather than leaving it all to them.
You’ll probably find that will release a lot of stress from them too, having to share the load will make it a lot better for both of you.
Tip #3 – request regular money dates with your partner.
One of the most important things in a relationship is obviously communication and that also applies to managing your money. So, these money dates can be a place where you can ask your partner questions about money, you can both talk openly about your finances. Talk about what’s working, what’s not working, use it as an opportunity to ask questions so that you can learn about all the aspects of your family’s financial affairs.
The more money dates that you have and the more regularly you have them the more confident that you’re going to feel that you understand the family’s finances and that you could easily step in and take over if you had to.
Overall both of you should be on the same page when it comes to money and you should both know what your current financial position is, both individually and as a family and what you’re working towards financially. You should both be confident to step in and step up and take the reins if required due to unforeseen circumstances like illness, death or separation.
So, don’t just leave it up to your spouse, start stepping up and getting involved even if it does scare you. I hope these tips have helped you. If they did please share them with people that you think might also benefit from them.
I’d love to hear your comments on how you have been able to face your fears, step up and start taking control of some of the aspects of your family’s financial affairs.