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Coming clean about money

07 August 2019

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

Are money secrets the elephant in the room in your relationship? Find out how to clear the air and get money matters out in the open for a better financial future.

When you’ve got money skeletons in your closet, they can become a deal breaker for your relationship. And if it’s your partner that’s keeping financial problems from you, it can undermine the trust between you and become a big source of stress. Whoever it is that’s got some financial infidelityto confess, it’s important to get things out in the open. Not only can it lift a weight from your shoulders and clear the air, it’s better to tell all now than to wait until it comes out later. If you decide to make a joint loan, credit card or mortgage application, any lender is going to be looking at your credit rating, which can result in those skeletons seeing the light of day, whether you’re ready for them or not.

Coming clean about money can also make space in your relationship agenda for makingpositive steps for a better financial future together as a couple. With full disclosure of both your financial positions, you can talk freely and honestly about your goals and dreams and start putting together a financial plan for making them happen.

Here are five tips to help you call an amnesty on all things money and go forward with a clean slate:

1. Make it deliberate – but not a big deal

Whether you’re the one clearing your conscience, or you’re asking your partner to open up about money, don’t sneak up on them with this important conversation.  Give them notice that you want to have a full and frank discussion about money and the reasons why – without making it sound too serious or confronting. 

2. Face your fears

When you, or your partner have been slack about money management, maybe to the point of having some significant debts to keep quiet about, this can come with feelings of guilt and shame. Before you start this conversation, take a deep breath and remind yourself and your partner that trust is the foundation of any relationship.  If you can’t be honest with the person you share your life with, then who can you open up to? Agreement on having a trusting relationship as the outcome you both want from a money conversation can help both of you set fears aside and get everything out in the open.

3. Lay ground rules for respect

Prepare a safe space for mutual honesty about money by laying some ground rules for your conversation. Commit to being respectful and ask your partner to do the same for you, regardless of your different money perspectives and behaviours. You may have financial histories and habitsat opposite ends of the spectrum –spender vs. saver for example –but that doesn’t make one of you better than the other. Agree to no interrupting, so that you both feel heard and respected. And while being positive in response to surprising disclosures about debts may be too much to ask, aim for neutral, rather than negative.

4. Bare it all in one go

Like ripping off a band aid, telling the whole truth about a money misdeed is the best way to go. Drip-feeding information or trying to minimise the problem is only going to draw things out and could actually make them seem worse. Beating about the bush can make your partner worried that you still have more to hide, which doesn’t make for a foundation of trust for the future.   

To be absolutely clear about where you stand with money, show your partner any relevant paperwork.With full disclosure of credit card statements, loan balances and receipts you’re making it clear that you value honesty between you. It also shows you’re being completely realistic about what’s been going on with your finances, which is the first step to doing something positive about it.

5. Plan for the future

An even better way to show you’re willing to take responsibility for money mistakes and change your ways is to come up with a plan and share it. Whether it’s a schedule for debt repayments, or a budget that’s going to help you spend less and save more, presenting your partner with a plan of action can go a long way to reassuring them you’re taking steps to put money troubles behind you for the sake of your relationship.

Sitting down with an expert in money management can be a great way to develop a plan for your financial future together as a couple. Talking with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional will help you deal with the complexities money can bring to any relationship and come up with a plan that will see you work together to achieve financial goals.

Looking for the right financial planner to help you move forward with money in your relationship? Use brand new service Match My Planner to connect with your local CFP professional today.