Kochie’s challenge for couples: 15 minutes a month

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.

How to Spot the Warning Signs of Financial Infidelity

It’s that feeling in your gut, that intuition that something isn’t quite right.

Things just don’t add up financially. Infidelity in a relationship isn’t necessarily sexual … it can be financial as well and equally devastating. We know of one couple where the wife had that intuition something was awry, did nothing about it and was confronted by the Sheriff evicting her from the family home.

He’d bet everything they had on a dodgy investment which went bad and they lost everything.

Financial infidelity comes in many guises. Hiding a new clothing purchase (“this old thing”), having a small secret TAB account to have the occasional punt or splurging on a good night out with friends is one level of financial infidelity.

But then there’s operating secret credit cards, taking out loans to make risky investments and hiding sources of income.

This is a much more serious and damaging level of financial infidelity. Yes, couples need their own financial space. It allows you to breathe and spoil yourself with little pick-me-ups which are so important to keeping life in perspective.

Keeping you financial sanity with little indulgences keeps you motivated and on top of things.

But there is a limit. When financial infidelity gets to a stage where large amounts of money are involved, either earned or spent, without a partners knowledge then that “cheating” becomes a serious breach of trust.

So what are the warning signs that you have a serious problem with your partner?

Your money questions are met with evasive or defensive responses which leave you none the wiser. Responses like “no need to worry, don’t you trust me” or “I’ll check on it but it’s under control”. Even more worrying is an angry response out of proportion with the question.

Your partner refuses to go through your finances. Even if you explain it’s for your peace of mind, you’re not included in managing finances.

Financial statements start to disappear. You can’t find recent credit card or bank statements or investment files. Even worse if your partner won’t produce them or denies anything to do with them.

There are unexpected cash withdrawals or transfers from accounts.

Your partner asks you to sign documents without explanation or a chance to review.

Strange phone calls or letters and emails demanding payment that you know nothing about.

You discover a secret account or credit card you never knew existed and you’re partner doesn’t explain it properly.

If a couple of these red flags start to appear together then you must confront the situation immediately. Often the guilty partner will be relieved to unburden their secret which could have been tearing them apart.

To sort the mess out;

Agree on financial goals and a budget.

Discuss your money styles. If you have different styles of spending, consider creating separate accounts.

Forgive and forget. Within reason. But your partner should make some financial sacrifices to get the family budget on track.

Love and Money: Why Do We Keep Financial Secrets?

It’s one of those murky areas of any relationship. Money.

We don’t know of any relationship which is completely transparent about money. It’s just a matter of degree.

Research from ING shows one in five Australians keep financial secrets from their partner.

The report shows women are most likely to keep financial secrets in case the relationship doesn’t work out, while men are more likely to cover up larger purchases their partner could disapprove of.

And how about this for a stat; 40 per cent of Aussies don’t know how much their partner earns. As a nation it sounds like we’re not being entirely honest with each other.

So are these lies harmless, or are they something more sinister? And what’s the right way to handle money in a relationship anyway?

Here’s our take on the etiquette of love and money.


Make your money work for you

Kochie’s 4 Week Money Makeover


Just starting out

The start of a new relationship is an exciting time, but should you be baring your financial soul? Amanda Gordon, psychologist and director of Armchair Psychology, doesn’t think so.

“At the beginning of a relationship money is none of their business; you’re getting to know each other and working out whether you’re suited to each other”, she says.

“I certainly wouldn’t be bringing money up on the first date, just like I’d avoid talking about values and religion and all those sorts of things.”

Our advice is to only share what you’re comfortable with. Split restaurant bills or weekends away down the middle (or do the chivalrous thing gents), and try to avoid rushing into joint financial commitments.

Getting serious

Ok, so you’re madly in love and officially an item. Now is the right time to sit down and have a proper conversation about your finances.

Financial problems are one of the leading causes of relationship stress. So you need to make sure you’re financially compatible and understand each other’s values.

As Amanda says, “you’re trying to work out whether you’re suitable for each other. Just like you would talk about your feelings on kids or living overseas, talking about money is important when things start to get serious… It shouldn’t be a taboo.”

“It may be that each of you are coming in with different expectations of what’s the right way to manage money. And money is very complicated these days, with people moving in together just to see”.

Take the time to understand your partner’s financial goals, needs and wants, and make sure they know yours. And talk through how you want to handle everyday joint financial commitments, from rent to groceries.

The last you want is a spend thrift in a relationship with a big spender.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to organise your money as a couple; the right way is one that works for both of you.

Settling down

By this stage you should already be on the same page about money and, ideally, open about your finances. You don’t have to be joined at the hip, but you’re on the same team and should be managing money together.

Money doesn’t need to be talked about all the time, but that’s different from hiding things. Being deceitful is bad for any relationship.

We’ve always been clear about how we handle the family finances.

She manages the household budget and bills, I do the investments and we make big financial decisions together. And to make sure we are both on the same page, we set aside 15 minutes every month to run the ruler over the finances together.

And while we are 100 per cent committed to our common goals, we both still have personal spending accounts which we can do what we want with. Like buying each other surprise gifts, right Libby?

Watch Kochie’s FREE video on How to Super Charge Your Savings!