Co-author: TJ Ryan
When should you talk about money with your partner?
Canstar’s Valentine’s Day survey has found that 43% of Aussies believe you should hold off on sharing information about your financial situation with your partner until you move in together.
For current couples and those who had been divorced or widowed, 45% said moving in was a good time for “the money talk”, while 12% said the 1-year anniversary of dating was a good time. Almost an equal number said you should only share about your finances when you get engaged (8%) or when you get married (9%).
Meanwhile, singles are more likely to say you should share about your finances earlier. 38% of singles believe you should share your finances with a partner after dating for 3 months, when things are Facebook official; 34% said when you move in together; and 10% of singles said the 1-year anniversary of dating.
How should you bring up “the money talk”?
Moving in with your partner can be an exciting prospect, but you need to be prepared to have the important conversations about how you’ll deal with the finances of the move. With things like removalist costs, rent, and rising electricity bills to sort out together, there’s a lot that can transform the big move from exciting to nerve-wracking.
Keep the following tips in mind, and you should be able to build a solid financial foundation for your new home and your new life together.
1. Have an initial discussion about your finances
Sit down with your partner and map out your respective incomes, bills, and expenses. This will give you a good idea of how to split your joint bills (rent, electricity, gas, water, internet, etc.). If you’re not earning the same amount as your partner, it’s unlikely that you would choose to both pay 50% of each bill.
Knowing your combined financial position can also give you a solid idea of what kind of spending power you’ll have while living together, and where you could afford to live.
2. Keep your accounts separate for now
Even though you’re moving in with them, you have no obligation to join finances with your partner and get joint bank accounts or a joint credit card. Almost 1 in every 2 people we surveyed (45%) believe couples should keep separate accounts and divide shared bills and savings as they arise (“Yours, mine, and ours – sharing when necessary”).
It may not be a wise move to legally hand over the right to your money to someone else, even if you think you’ll stay with them forever. A nasty break-up could see you locked in an expensive legal battle over your own savings – or worse, repaying another person’s debts. You can always join your finances later if you and your partner decide to get married.
In particular, joint credit cards are not a great idea for new couples, as they create a shared debt. You may not have the same goals for the shared credit limit, and if you break up while there’s still a balance owing on the card, it can cause a major headache on top of the heartache.
This doesn’t mean you should be keeping financial secrets like a secret money stash hidden from your partner, but you don’t have to share everything equally.
3. Draw up a roommate pre-nup
While you and your partner might not be married, it’s still an extremely good move to draw up a series of agreed-upon rules for your shared living arrangements. While you might prefer trust over a written contract, it really boils down to “better safe than sorry”.
In fact, having your financial obligations to each other written down can actually strengthen your relationship because it makes everything about your shared situation feel more “official”.
Work out the roommate agreement together so you don’t get stuck with rules you’re not happy with, of course!
Image Source: Big Bang Theory
4. Check your insurance policies and super
It’s worth checking whether any of your insurance policies extend cover to a de facto partner living with you. Usually, this would carry a time condition or waiting period, with your insurance covering your partner after they have lived with you for more than 6 months or 12 months. Check your product disclosure statement (PDS) for details or contact your insurer.
Next, naming your partner as a beneficiary on your superannuation fund and a life insurance policy if you have one is something you may want to consider. These are big choices to make, and you sometimes can’t change your nominated beneficiary more than once per year, so it’s best to treat it as a binding, long-term decision. Discuss your options with your partner and with a professional financial adviser before making any decisions.
As long as you and your partner discuss and understand your respective financial situations, moving in together doesn’t have to end up being a situation your wallet regrets. Read this article about how finances can strengthen your relationship for more ideas on how to get a head-start on your shared future together.
Don’t yet have a bank account you’re happy with? Compare your options on the market for savings accounts and transaction accounts using the Canstar website:
Have your say for Valentine’s Day
What do you think – is moving in the right time for starting “the money talks” with your significant other? Does valuing your Valentine mean sharing your finances earlier or later?