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Money

Are you and your partner financially compatible?

Spoiler: It's got nothing to do with what you each earn.

By Chantal Walsh
In 2019, talking money is the new talking sex.
Studies have revealed that 42 per cent of Australians feel that the topic of money is taboo, and would rather talk about sex and politics.
So why is it that while we live in the share-it-all era, money remains a no-go? And what does it mean for those of us in relationships?
According to a 2019 survey by Relationships Australia, only 37 per cent of respondents had discussed their financial situation before making a commitment to their current or most recent partner. With financial stress a common factor in relationship breakdowns, is it time we started hashing out more with our S.O. than just the monthly rent split?
Here, five questions to test you and your partner's financial capability.

1. Are we financially responsible?

Consider yourself thrifty but know your partner is prone to a cheeky impulse buy or dropping too much cash on after-work drinks? Or do you feel guilty about your own spending habits?
If so, you're in good company. 72 per cent of Australians admit to feeling guilty about the way they spend their pay checks, with a growing amount of Australians living above their means.
How do we manage our money?
Spend time organising your household budget and get clarity on when you can expect to receive bills. Make sure you're both across these dates, and aware of who will contribute what and who will be the one to transfer the balance every pay period.
Be pre-emptive of bills to avoid a last-minute panic or credit card swipe: think car rego, phone bills, gym memberships and Netflix. If you need to set-up a few i-Cal reminders, do it. Try apps such as Mint, Pocketbook and Goodbudget.
Know Your Money MO
There's probably one person who you'd both consider to be the more responsible person in your relationship—and who'll take care of most of the payments and budgeting—but you should both be across your financial plan and track where things are working and where you're maybe falling behind.
Of course it's nearly impossible for couples to be 100 per cent transparent with their finances but keep the big and regular splurges a part of the conversation—no financial cheating!

2. How do we like to invest?

With statistics revealing that the majority of Australians continue to have a low understanding of key investment concepts, it pays to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Whether you're looking to invest in property, shares or term deposits, make sure you understand you and your partner's risk tolerance—i.e. how much you're willing to invest as a couple and at what potential-for-growth rate.
Generally, the higher the potential for growth, the higher the risk. If you're not feeling particularly confident in your investment choices, catch up with a financial adviser. Also remember that investment returns vary according to the ups and downs of the market so look to long-term deposits when starting out.

3. Do we have enough financial independence?

Get serious about defining what's 'yours', 'mine' and 'ours'. Yes, it sounds a little obvious, but knowing what expenses you're going to share and how you're going to keep track of them will save many petty money fights later on.
House amenities that are used equally (think garbage bags, toothpaste, paper towels) can fast become a sore spot of tension. Without properly tracking who bought what, one person can feel as though they're picking up the cheque a little more often than the other. Apps such as Splitwise keep track of who is spending what, minus any need for passive-aggressive comments. (Thank us later.)

4. How have we dealt with money in the past?

Fact: A lot of how we deal with money is shaped by our upbringing. Was money a regular topic of conversation at family dinners? Did your partner's family go through a period where they were strapped for cash? Talk about your experiences with money and what having money means to you.

5. What are your financial goals?

Grab a glass of red (probably just the one) and get talking about your future plans. Holidays, homes, horticulture classes—whatever you're both saving for, throw it out there and see how the other feels. It's healthy to throw ideas around and challenge each other's big (and small) dreams and then set goals.
Analyse where you're both financially at right now, and set yourself a specific goal to reach by this time next year. Perhaps you'll be half-way to that deposit or road-tripping down the Amalfi Coast.
Think about your couple cash goals, as well as your independent finance goals, and write them down. Your partner should love and support you, and that includes your plan to forge your own financial future.

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