How to talk to your partner about money
Couples counselling is often recommended for those tying the knot, where tough conversations can involve the number of kids you’ll have, your attitude towards religion and if it’s on the cards for your parents-in-law to move in. But money, including your values and attitudes towards it, is seldom discussed. Yet this is the one topic that’s likely to have you arguing or being “unfaithful”… Yes, financial infidelity is a real thing. It ranges from those shoes you bought and hid in the cupboard so he didn’t notice (or the bike he said cost “R10 000” when in fact it was triple that), to partners who dip into access bonds without consulting their other half, omitting to share news of a raise and worse.
Whether you’re freshly back from your honeymoon, or are planning to start a family, there are chats you need to have regarding your finances to make sure your partnership, and financial goals, stay on track.
#1 What do we want to “earn” as a couple?
How you were raised, and what your vision for your lifestyle is, can affect whether or not you want to be a double-income family. Once kids come onto the scene, long-forgotten old-school values can kick in and someone who previously was career-minded may want to take a sabbatical to look after them. Having a conversation about how much you need to earn to sustain a family, and whether or not you are willing to downscale your lifestyle to accommodate the costs involved, is important to help you determine how many kids you want to have and the career plans for both partners.
#2 How will we spend our money?
He wants a four-wheel drive to conquer the Okavango; she’s working towards starting her own business. She wants the kids to go to private schools; he wants his parents to be comfortable in their retirement. She only wants organic food in the house; he wants to build an incredible wine collection. The best way to overcome these differences in opinions and goals is to agree on a set limit for “free spending”. So, for example, you’re both free to spend R3 000 on an item, but anything over this requires a discussion and a “blessing” from your partner.
#3 How will we keep track of our money?
Will both of you handle the accounts, make sure they are paid, and keep track of your assets? Or, will you make a monthly “money date” to work through your accounts and take stock of your financial situation together? How you divide the financial tasks in your relationship, and how you make the decisions around saving and spending, are crucial questions to address early on.
#4 How will we invest our money?
Many financial advisers recommend that each partner has their own retirement plan and portfolio. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not a sound option to decide as a family how you will invest your money, what your risk tolerance is, and what your goals are. 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.
So no matter what stage of a serious relationship you’re in, make sure you address the tough financial questions with your partner up front. Enlist the help of an experienced adviser and investment manager to get you over the difficult patches and ensure you have a successful and long-lasting financial partnership.
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