When Should You Talk About Money in Your Relationship?

When Should You Talk About Money in Your Relationship?
This article is sponsored by CUA.

In the final instalment of The Finance Glow Up seminars, made in partnership with with financial provider CUA, hosts Laura Byrne, the creator and host of the Life Uncut podcast and ToniMay creative director, and Emmanuel Davatzis, one of CUA’s money experts, discussed one of the trickier finances topics: how and when do you talk about money while in a relationship?

There’s no one-size fits all solution

Approaching the subject, Byrne noted that every relationship is different, so there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to money. She believes there’s no specific timeframe for when to have the money conversation, as it’s relative to what stage your relationship is in. However, she does think that as a relationship becomes more serious, the more important your combined finances becomes.

When Byrne’s relationship with her current partner, Matty Johnson, started getting serious, she asked him whether or not he was in any debt or have any savings put aside, as she wanted to know what she was getting herself into as they were entering a de facto relationship.

“We knew that this was a long haul relationship, so we were pretty transparent about it,” Byrne explained. “When we first moved in together and started to pay for things together, that’s when we sat down and had a big talk about how we’ll handle things. We wanted to make sure we could both afford the places we were looking at.”

Byrne also pointed out that the money talk is not a one time thing – it’s something that needs to be discussed frequently, “It has to be an open dialogue. It’s a conversation that happens all the way throughout your relationship.”

Find a savings plan that works for you both

As mentioned before, no relationship is the same. There are couples who earn roughly the same amount, and there are couples where one person earns more than the other. There are relationships in which both individuals are on a salary, and there are relationships where one individual is full-time, while the other is casual or freelance. There are some couples out there who don’t know the exact dollar value that their partner earns, at all.

If you’re in a relationship, when it comes to combining your earnings into a joint account, it can be tricky trying to find a solution that works for both of you. To maintain a healthy relationship, Byrne believes that there need to be a situation that works for both of you.

Due to the imbalance of their respective salaries – Byrne earns a salary from her company, while Johnson’s pay is a bit more sporadic – the two of them have come to an agreement where they will each deposit a set amount of minimum 30% of their pay into their joint account.

“When you do dollar for dollar,” Byrne discussed, “there can be an imbalance, where one person in the relationship is living comfortably while the other might be struggling a bit between pay cheques.”

“All of our bills and rent come out of that account. We also have an investment structure that comes out of that account. Some weeks might mean I put more in, some weeks Matt puts in more. We found percentages are a far fairer way than going dollar for dollar.”

They have a card for a joint that they use for common spend, like groceries and essentials for their young daughter, while also retaining individual accounts that they can use to spend on themselves.

On the latter point, Byrne thinks it’s very important to have some money set aside for yourself, for the sake of your own financial freedom and so you won’t be dependent on your partner’s finances: “You never want to be in a situation where you don’t have the financial freedom to leave that relationship if things aren’t great.”

To help you out when it comes to saving while in a relationship, you can try using something like CUA’s savings planner calculator. It’s a helpful tool that you can use make sure you stay on track with your joint savings.

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