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“Money plays an important part in relationships”.

When it comes to romantic gestures this Valentine’s Day, getting your financial house in order could be just as much a symbol of love as flowers and chocolates, according to a Deakin University financial planning expert.

Deakin Business School’s financial planning expert Associate Professor Adrian Raftery said it might not seem the most romantic of gestures, but making a commitment to getting on top of joint finances is one way to maintain a relationship.

“Money plays an important part in relationships and is often the main reason for relationship breakdowns,” Associate Professor Raftery said.

“So, while it might not sound very romantic, ensuring joint finances are in order is one of the keys to a happy, long lasting relationship.”

Associate Professor Raftery provides the following golden money rules for couples looking to keep the romance alive.

Golden Money Rules for Couples

Good communication

No matter whether you are in a new relationship or have been married for 30 years, communication is the key factor to a great relationship, particularly with money matters. There should be no secret purchases or silent credit cards and loans. All finance decisions should be consulted jointly before they are made. Failure to communicate openly and in a timely manner is like a hand grenade … it will blow up in your face.

Set goals

Just like I would recommend to singles, I encouraged couples to write down their financial goals. You need to have something to work towards and it’s important to know what each other wants.Ranking them gives them importance and will give you a master plan to work towards for years to come.

Budget

Always make sure that you have your bills paid before you do anything else. Use Excel to do a budget and work out the amount that you need to put aside each month for your expenses. Open four online bank accounts for different savings – such as house deposit, holidays, “rainy days” and perhaps a wedding!

Pre-nupital agreement

Some may say that this defeats the purpose of marrying based on the values of love and trust but a pre-nup is a good preventative measure against a bag egg. Love hurts but divorce can cost.

Get involved

Don’t leave it all to one partner to look after all the financial responsibilities. This is particularly important in long-term relationships. I have seen many widows/widowers who do not have a clue when it comes to finances and they have to fend for themselves.

Think hard before making a commitment

Financial commitments, such as buying a house, are big decisions to make. Don’t commit if the relationship is rocky because there are lots of costs and hassles should the relationship end. If you are in a new relationship, don’t leave yourself financially vulnerable by having any of your partner’s debts in your name only.

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Original published at Deakin.edu.au