March 3, 2014
Resentment created over whose turn it is to take out the rubbish is tiny compared to the scale of drama that can unravel from disagreements about money.
We all think it won’t happen to us, but most financial counsellors and lawyers have seen plenty of cases of cleaned-out bank accounts, blown-out credit cards, property ownership wrangles and jointly created debts that one person is lumbered with after the relationship ends.
So how do we protect our individual financial interests when in a relationship? It might not be the warmest of subjects, but here are a few things to consider:
Set up bills in both names – it might seem pedantic, but taking the lion share of personal responsibility for services you both use seems a little unnecessary.
Bank accounts – it is common for couples to want to get joint bank accounts to earn more interest etc. However, one strategy that you might consider is a separate bank account for your salary to go into; a joint one for bills and then a joint account for savings and other funds you both agree to.
Account authority – it you have any account with a significant amount of joint funds, it might be wise to set it up so that you both have to sign or authorise when withdrawing funds.
Be confident and open about money with your partner – women more so than men have agreed to a financial commitment for the sake of keeping their partner happy. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of more debt, being a guarantor on a loan etc, tell your partner, don’t go along for the ride simply to keep a happy house.
Consider a contract – particularly if you chose to guarantor a loan, take a join loan or enter into any debt arrangement with your partner. The last thing you want is to be the person the bank or finance company is chasing if things don’t work out. Of course, independent legal advice in these situations is recommended.
Don’t sign unless you fully understand – reading the fine print or getting someone else to help you if you are unsure is essential. When it comes to loans and business ventures you go into as a couple, making sure you know what you are personally responsible for upfront plays a big role in protecting you down the track.
Check accounts and statements – we all want to trust our partner, but sometimes it can be prudent to get into a habit of checking bank statements to avoid any nasty surprises down the track.
Understand de-facto property rights – if you are in the early stages of a relationships and have assets like a home, make sure you know what your partner will be legally entitled to if the relationship ends after you have lived together for two years or more.
Independent research conducted for ms money shows that 90 per cent of women view money differently to men while 39 per cent said they have different fundamental financial needs than those of men.
With such different approaches to money, it should be obvious that women need to accept and protect their unique approach to money when they enter a relationship. This is especially the case when it comes to borrowing money together.