It’s not uncommon for financial issues to put a strain on relationships. When you’re still finding your feet financially and romantically, there are plenty of ways for shared finances to go awry. Over half (52 per cent) of Australian couples say they argue about money, a finder.com.au survey reveals – seven per cent of whom do so once a week.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why we fight about money and how we can start having healthier conversations.
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Why do we argue about money?
There’s a myriad of reasons why couples find themselves arguing about money, including:
- Falling behind on the bills,
- Blowing out a budget,
- Income disparities,
- Uneven contributions to household costs and financial activities like budgeting,
- Increased debts, such as when interest rates rise,
- Unexpected costs,
- Not saving enough,
- Differing financial priorities,
- Financially controlling behaviours.
Beyond all these reasons, there tends to be a deeper cause at the root of every argument.
Research commissioned by author Vanessa Stoykov suggests as many as three out of five Australians are not entirely truthful when discussing spending habits with their partner. This is a gender-neutral phenomenon, with almost equal representation in men (41 per cent) and women (43 per cent).
The likely root of these lies is that we expect to be judged for our spending, and believe we spend more than we should. We lie to avoid discomfort and guilt, but this tends to compound and can lead to distrust and conflict when our habits are revealed.
Different perspectives on money
The American Psychology Association recognises that we inherit attitudes, values and beliefs about money from our parents and other family members. We may not even be conscious of the scripts that shape our perspectives and behaviours. Your “money type” can say a lot about how you spend, save or invest, and different types can be complementary to one another.
That said, couples often have conversations about marriage, family and plans for the future when things get serious – but sometimes skip over finances. In fact, 42 per cent of Australians believe it’s taboo to talk about money, says finder.com.au. As a result, we end up with unfounded expectations because we haven’t communicated our beliefs.
You can check out our Money Mindsets whitepaper
that examines three different money mindset theories, to help you understand what your relationship with money is and find your footing.
How to have healthier conversations about money
Through compromise and communication, it’s possible to achieve financial and domestic bliss, even with differing money types.
1. Discuss your perspectives
Openly and honestly talk to each other about your values, beliefs and goals about money. This conversation shouldn’t be about defending yourself or criticizing your partner’s beliefs. Instead, take the time to listen to one another and understand where the other person is coming from.
It can help to sit down separately and work out your individual values on paper before comparing. This way, you’re less tempted to say something reactively and can instead focus on finding a middle ground.
Remember that lies are likely to stem from the fear of judgment, so it’s important to encourage honesty by acknowledging an issue calmly, without reinforcing that fear.
Have healthier conversations about money with consistent, honest communication.
2. Find a middle ground
Work together as a team to create mutual goals. This can be challenging if your money types differ, but it’s likely you’ll be able to find common ground with regards to your fears and goals. For example, Savers and Avoiders are both likely to fear not having enough money, however one type is more willing to think about their finances than the other. In this example, their mutual fear can quickly become a shared goal: to achieve financial security.
3. Build a plan
Bearing in mind your respective attitudes, create a plan to better manage your household finances. Questions to ask include:
- Who will manage the day-to-day finances and bills?
- At what price point should we discuss purchases with each other first?
- How will we ensure we’re on track to achieve our goals?
- How often are we prepared to check our financial health?
- How can we be more honest about our spending?
Agreeing on matters such as these can help you prevent disagreements and handle conflicts more logically and rationally if they do arise.
Invest Blue has prepared a Financial Health Check tool to get you started on understanding your finances.
It can be difficult to agree when your money types differ. If you need help building a financial plan that takes the needs of you and your partner into account, reach out to Invest Blue today.
What you need to know
This information is provided by Invest Blue Pty Ltd (ABN 91 100 874 744). The information contained in this article is of general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regards to those matters and seek personal financial, tax and/or legal advice prior to acting on this information. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relations to products and services provided to you.