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How To Make Your Relationship Work Financially

There is no doubt that differences in financial behaviour and discipline are the cause of many conflicts between partners. According to Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher, arguing about money is in fact the top predictor of divorce, based on a study she published in 2012.

Based on my experience in working with clients, two of the major causes of conflicts between spouses can be traced back to how their parents managed their money, and what financial goals and expectations they have in life.

So how can you make your relationship work from a financial point of view?

– Understand that everyone has a different background and this will affect their spending behaviour and relationship with money

Talk openly about this at the start of your relationship and understand how it will affect your partner’s views about money. If your parents were thrifty, then chances are you will adopt similar behaviour.

– Be open about your financial position

Have you got credit card debt, do you have a problem with saving and budgeting? Hiding issues like this will only make matters worse. Be open about your finances.

– Talk about your expectations and ambitions

Do you both want to make a lot of money and build a good career, or are you both more family-oriented? Where do you want to live, and what sort of lifestyle do you aspire to? If you are completely at opposite ends, then this may lead to conflicts in the future.

– Set joint (savings) goals

It is important you both join forces in saving and working towards common financial goals. Talk about your progress and setbacks, and keep each other on track. For example when saving for a home deposit.

– Both spouses should take responsibility for the finances rather than someone taking a back seat

Usually there is one dominant person, but it is important both spouses take an active interest in their finances – it may lead to stress for the other spouse if they have to assume all responsibility. Have regular conversations about your finances and the progress towards your goals.

– Agree on a budget

Some partners are all-in with their finances whereas others keep them completely separate and have a joint account they transfer money into. You need to explore what works for you. However, if you are serious about your relationship, you both need to agree on a joint budget that comprises the majority of your income.

– Consider a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA)

Whilst you enter the relationship with the best of intentions, statistically, pretty much half of all relationships still fail. It is best to be realistic about this and agree as to what would happen with your finances if you go your separate ways.


Yves Schoof and Affluence Financial Planning are Authorised Representatives of Synchron, AFS Licence No. 243313.

The information posted is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided and the nature of the relevant financial product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or other offer document prior to making a decision.

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