Here’s a challenge. This year we want you to set aside 15 minutes every month to talk about your money with your partner.
Doesn’t sound much, but think about it, when was the last time you sat down with your partner to talk about your finances?
Financial worries are a leading cause of relationship breakdown, and so often relationships are put under strain for the simple reason that partners do not talk about what they each want from their money or understand where it goes.
So what happens in your 15 minutes a month?
We’re not talking about paying bills, checking the credit card statement or doing the banking. That’s managing your money and not the objective of these sessions.
Instead, we want you to start thinking about the big picture… together.
Start the first month’s 15 minute session by just getting organised and making sure you both know where all your financial documents are kept and whether they’re actually up-to-date.
Collect all the insurance policies (life, disability, health, home and contents etc), check the cover is still right for you (if not shop around for alternatives) and put them in the one place where both of you can easily access them.
The same with mortgage documents, superannuation accounts and reports, bank documents, investment records as well as tax returns and receipts.
Then there’s the will. No-one likes talking about the possibility of death but the prospect of leaving your family in the financial lurch is just plain stupid. Read each other’s wills and make sure they’re current and relevant.
Just knowing where your financial safety nets are stored and what’s in them is a great start.
One of the most common questions we receive is ‘what can I do with my money?’ Our immediate reply is ‘what do you want your money to do for you?’ In other words you have to decide first.
So for your second session use the time to think about the future, what you each want from it and how to afford it.
Write down your needs and wants. Do this individually first, and then share them with each other.
Surprised? Shock horror? Or were you both on the same track? Sharing the ‘want’ lists is usually the eye-opener. It’s highly likely there will be some surprises there.
These lists will form part of your regular budgeting and, like all good budgets, they are not written in stone. Budgets should be reviewed at very regular intervals and change as your wants and needs change.
Another session should look at your investments and super. Have you accumulated too many super funds? Are you in the right superannuation investment option which matches your risk profile and stage of life? Is it time for both of you to visit a financial planner to talk about a long-term plan?
These are just examples, everyone is different and you can use the sessions to discuss whatever is most important for you. So here’s another challenge. Start tonight. 15 minutes a month is not a lot to ask to think about your financial future.