Many couples in the UK struggle to openly discuss their financial concerns and goals with each other, a new study has revealed.
MoneySuperMarket’s research found that while two-thirds (68%) of British couples are totally open about their finances, one in five (21%) couples try to be open but one in 10 (11%) either avoid talking about their finances entirely or aren’t open about money at all.
The report encourages couples to be more open about their finances so they can feel “more in control and get money calm.”
Sally Francis-Miles, money expert at MoneySuperMarket, said that "even if money isn’t a cause for concern, differences of opinion and attitudes towards money can cause issues, and ultimately friction, if you can’t agree."
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Here are MoneySuperMarket’s top eight tips for couples to better handle their finances.
1. Strike up the conversation
While it may feel as though there’s never a good time to tackle finances with a partner, it’s best to seize the moment and open the dialogue, the report said. This is especially important if something money-related is troubling you.
In fact, such conversations should become a norm in all relationships.
2. Set a regular ‘date’ to talk about money
It helps to set aside time every month to discuss joint finances. Couples could even go so far as to write an ‘agenda’ of matters they want to discuss. This could include conversations about bills, spending, big purchases, savings goals and perhaps how to cut back to reach those goals.
But what’s important is that this should not be something both parties dread. “Consider making it fun”, suggests the report, such as doing it over dinner or a bottle of wine.
3. Set some shared goals
Open up about your own money priorities for the short, medium and long-term, let your partner talk about their priorities – and then set realistic targets together, recommends MoneySuperMarket.
This might involve both wanting to save for a big holiday, or a wedding, a rainy-day fund, or putting money aside regularly for retirement.
4. Share the responsibility
Often, in a relationship, it can fall to one person to manage the day-to-day finances and bills, or one person to oversee the budgeting, or saving for the future.
But splitting financial chores such as paying bills, balancing income and expenditure, or building savings is key, so no one party feels unfairly burdened.
5. Talk about how to split outgoings
It’s common for one partner to be earning more than another. To avoid either party feeling hard done by or guilty, it is important to discuss how bills will be split, who will pay for ad hoc house repairs and so on.
“Decide if you are going to contribute the same amount, or whether you will each contribute a different amount based on your earnings and be prepared to re-visit this as and when your circumstances change,” suggests the report.
6. Decide together if you want a joint account
As a couple, it can often make sense to have a joint account for shared expenses such as bills and rent or mortgage, and then a separate sole account for your own spending.
But it’s good to decide in advance what each party considers as an ‘essential’ expense, as opposed to a luxury.
Alternatively, couples might also want to have money in the joint account for ‘fun’ things such as dates and weekend breaks. Either way, it’s important to agree on what the joint funds can be spent on so both parties feel things are fair.
7. Understand the implications of a joint account
If you do open a joint bank account, be aware that your credit history and your partner’s credit history will become linked.
With this in mind, it’s worth checking your credit report so both parties understand the way lenders see them as a couple.
Couples will also need to think through what will happen to their joint finances if they end up going their separate ways. For example, they may want to apply to a credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax or TransUnion – for ‘financial disassociation’ to ensure credit reports are totally disentangled.
8. Don’t be afraid of asking for help
And finally, if either party is struggling financially, it’s important not to hide money concerns from each other. Tell your partner what’s worrying you – or be prepared to listen to what’s troubling your partner – and seek help together.
“Bring everything into the open and then find ways you can work together to improve things and establish shared goals," said Francis-Miles.
"Set the expectations of who is going to contribute what and work out your own ‘rules’ around your finances. It might be tough to start with but knowing you’re on the same page will make things far easier in the long term, especially if you experience future financial challenges," she added.
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