While you might be horrified by the accusation of cheating on your partner, if you’re ever gone a little overboard on a “savings spree” (you know – the spree where everything from your favourite fashion retailer is so cheap you’re practically making money?) and guiltily stuffed the deliveries you sent to your office in the back of your wardrobe, you’re a cheater. A big, fat debt-increasing cheater.
It’s called financial infidelity and it’s not all that uncommon: there are 12 million Americans who have a secret source of money – be it a credit card or bank account – that their partner has no idea about. Considering money issues are a leading cause of divorce, isn’t it time we face up to our excessive spending?
Here’s how to dig up any financial infidelity and get your relationship rating back to a healthy number:
Ask the right questions
Just as Alain de Botton encourages new couples to ask each other early on: ‘in what ways are you crazy?’, we should be encouraging conversations about money, as soon as possible.
It’s called financial infidelity and it’s not all that uncommon: there are 12 million Americans who have a secret source of money – be it a credit card or bank account – that their partner has no idea about.
Your partner may have a $4,000 credit card debt burning a hole in your holiday fund or be seriously lax when it comes to tracking finances – both of which aren’t really a problem unless you’re opposed to both of those things. You can’t create a plan of action if you don’t know about these things, so ask you partner some serious questions about how they feel about money: do they want separate accounts going forward, or joint? How did their mum and dad spend and save money? Will you both work in the event that you have children? All of these will illuminate a potentially unconscious attitude to money, which is so important going forward. Check out CommBank’s suggestions of where to start here.
Figure out your financial personality
New York best-selling author Neale Godfrey advises people to settle on a ‘financial personality’ before making any decisions. So, are you a saver or a spender? A risk taker, or someone who likes security? A lot of this does in fact go back to your parents’ habits, which is why getting transparent and honest is fundamental. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has a quite few quizzes to get you started.
Decide on your next steps
Next it’s time to make a joint decision on some of the financial questions. Once you land on a clear answer (avoid confusion at all costs), get some tech to help you. Download shared finance apps, like Splitwise or Better Halves, and agree to track spending on things like date nights and petrol, as well as using it to contribute to your joint savings account together.