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Are you and your partner financially compatible? 5 questions to ask yourself

The questions you need to ask yourself and how to make money work in your relationship.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

This article is more than 6 months old

It was correct at the time of publishing. Our views and any references to tax, investment and pension rules may have changed since then.

In a recent government survey, one in four people said that their relationships have come under strain since coronavirus hit. When we’re living together in close proximity, we can find all sorts of things to bicker about, even with our loved ones. And money worries are one of the key issues.

Aligning your financial goals

If your future plans are intertwined with your partner’s, now is a good time to think about how you deal with money in your relationship.

We all have different attitudes to saving and spending, so you might not be with someone with exactly the same approach. This makes it even more important to work together to reach a compromise. If you can’t do this, you might be financially incompatible.

We’ve surveyed people on money topics in their relationships to find out how couples make money work between them.

1. Are you comfortable talking to your partner about money?

  • Yes

  • No

The good news is that more than half of us are very comfortable talking about money with our partner, and another third are fairly comfortable. However, one in ten aren’t, which can cause all kinds of problems.

If you’re living together, you should have worked out a joint budget or bank account to at least make sure the bills are paid. Depending on how long you’ve been together, you might well have joint savings goals. You might even have a joint mortgage, or be thinking about how you’ll fund your retirement together.

No matter what stage you’re at in your relationship, if your financial future is tied together, it’s worth talking about it.

For more couples’ saving tips download our love and money guide.

How to start the conversation

Read our new guide for practical tips on talking to your partner about money and getting a plan in place for the future.

Your guide to love and money

2. Are you both aware of how much money you’re spending and saving?

  • Yes

  • No

Women are more likely to say they’re in charge of day-to-day spending and men are more likely to say they’re in charge of long term financial planning. However, some people prefer to leave all of the finances to their partner.

If one of you takes more of an interest in money matters, it’s easy to fall into this kind of pattern. Leaving your partner to deal with the finances can lead to things working smoothly, especially if you’re not too interested. But death or divorce could leave you suddenly having to deal with money issues you’ve never considered before.

Would you be able to cope on your own? Read our article

If you leave your finances up to your partner, it’s time to get involved. You could think about dividing up the financial tasks between you, at least make sure you’re aware of what your partner is doing. It’s also worth checking in every so often to see what’s going on.

3. Do you trust each other with money?

  • Yes

  • No

In an ideal world you’d always be able to count on each other, but it turns out that not everyone trusts their partner when it comes to money. Around 7% of people say they’re keeping money secrets from their partner, and 5% suspect their partner is keeping things from them.

Even “little white lies”, or hiding things to try to protect our other half, can have profound consequences. Some deceptions are arguably more about self-interest and self-preservation than protecting our loved ones. For example, our survey found that 15% of people who are deliberately hiding something aren’t being honest about their earnings. And when financial deception lands you in trouble, it can be very difficult to come back from.

Some couples are actively open about their spending and money situation to avoid issues of mistrust. Almost a third of people have a joint account for absolutely everything, which makes it difficult to hide anything. But even then you’ll often only know about a poor financial decision when it’s too late to do anything about it.

4. Are you honest about your spending?

  • Yes

  • No

Unsettlingly a number of people feel they have to hide details about their finances. In fact, of those who say they haven’t been honest about finances, 39% say they’ve hidden details about spending. It might be tempting to hide or lie about big expenses that you can’t afford – maybe car repair costs. But it can cause problems for both of you later down the line.

If you feel you have to hide or lie about what should be perfectly affordable and reasonable spending, then you may need to question why that is.

Even if you’ve got different attitudes to spending, you can still make things work. Rather than policing each other’s spending, one in five couples have a joint account to pay the bills, and separate accounts for everything else. This way you share the costs of essential expenses, and you’ve both got the freedom to spend or save the rest as you want.

Try our budget calculator if you’re concerned about your spending or want to work out a budget you both agree on.

5. Do you hide your debts?

  • No

  • Yes

Of those who aren’t being honest about money, 28% don’t tell their partner about debts they have. This could be an attempt to protect a partner, but it’s much easier for things to get out of hand if you hide problems.

Over half of people think that in an ideal world we shouldn’t be short term borrowing because we should have the savings to cover our expenses. However, one in ten people feel short term borrowing is just part of everyday life, and nothing to worry about. If you and your partner have different views on this, it doesn’t have to be a problem as long as you establish some sort of compromise, and stick to your side of the bargain.

Planning for the future

Talking to your partner about money is a good habit to get into. It might be awkward at first, but you’ll feel more confident about your finances when you understand each other’s approach and have a future plan.

Our new guide covers the conversations you should be having with your partner, no matter what stage you’re at in your relationship.

Download our guide to love and money to find out:

  • How to understand each other’s spending habits and financial priorities
  • What you can do to achieve your common goals
  • How much you’ll both need to save for retirement, and when you think that might be
  • What could happen if you split up or divorce

Download guide

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    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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