How making sure finances add up can help relationships blossom

Money chat may not seem like the language of love, but as Valentine’s Day looms this weekend financial harmony can help a relationship flourish. Vicky Shaw reports.

Being on the same page with financial planning can be helpful for many couples. Picture: PA/iStock
Being on the same page with financial planning can be helpful for many couples. Picture: PA/iStock

Discussions about planning your will, or everyday money management may not exactly be the first topics that spring to mind when you’re planning a romantic date.

But, whether you’re chatting on Zoom to a new potential partner, or having a cosy night in with your long-term love, asking the other person how they feel about money issues can help indicate whether you’re destined for financial harmony further down the line.

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So, how can you approach money conversations, or a ‘financial date night’? Here are some suggestions…

For people in new relationships

Emma Watson, head of financial planning at Rathbone Investment Management, suggests considering your financial compatibility from early on.

“Financial compatibility is very important to the success over the longer term of a relationship, but most new couples, perhaps understandably, don’t look beyond the surface level of how much do you earn/own,” says Watson.

“True financial compatibility is a meeting of attitudes, aims and beliefs, not just pounds and pence. If you are to share a lifetime with someone – with all its ups and downs, career gaps while the children are small, unexpected bills when the car breaks down or the boiler explodes – it helps if you are both on the same wavelength.

“Is your partner a squirrel? Not literally of course, but squirrels think and act beyond the here and now and tuck resources away for the harder months,” Watson adds. “If you’re a squirrel but your potential partner isn’t, then it’s not necessarily a no-go, but it is best to be open and realistic about this. Most successful partnerships have a least one squirrel on the team and this works best when it’s clearly understood in the partnership.”

Tips for more established relationships

Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity International, suggests couples write down the key aspirations they want to achieve and set out a plan for how they are going to get there.

“Want to feel more financially secure each month, expecting a baby, or thinking about growing old together? All these things need some financial planning, and the first step is making sure you’re both clear on where you are heading,” says Montgomery.

Established couples may want to set up joint bank accounts, but Montgomery says: “It’s wise to make sure you both maintain a separate account of your own as well. This will ensure you retain some financial independence and that both of you are financially protected, should your relationship end.”

Those planning to be together forever

Shona Lowe, private client and corporate director at 1825, a financial planning arm of Standard Life, suggests having a chat about wills.

“A will means that, when the worst does happen, as many of your assets and belongings as possible will pass to the people you want,” says Lowe. “Moving in together, getting married and starting a family are all triggers for people to put a will in place, but the truth is it’s never too early if you want to make sure you’ve taken control of who gets what.”

Lowe also suggests discussing powers of attorney. “Date night conversations often turn to plans for the future and you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure those plans stay on track.

“Having formally appointed someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t for any reason in the future, is one of the ways you can do that.”

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