Navigating Money in New Relationships


Written by Money Empire

August 28, 2023

Now, more than ever, we need to be on the same page as each other in a relationship – especially if it’s a relatively new one.

Times are turbulent and there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the air. Interest rates have been heading up and so is the cost of food and utilities – which can bring extreme stress to households if the amount coming in doesn’t match the amount going out. Finance issues cause some of the biggest pressures in a relationship, so open, honest, messaging is crucial.

Here, we’ve assembled some basic starting points for improving communication and reducing anxiety around money in your new relationship – although much of it can apply to an existing relationship too!

Communication is key

Things are more likely to go wrong around money if we don’t talk to each other.

In the first flush of love, when it’s all hearts and flowers, talking about finance can seem mundane – and probably awkward, but if the relationship looks set to be a permanent one and especially if you’re moving in together, that serious chat – early on, is utterly essential.

We all have different money personalities and if a saver/budgeter and a spender/credit card fan hook up, there’s potential for tension. Make sure you’re on solid ground from the start, to help avoid that possibility.

Sit down together and discuss your financial journeys openly with each other. You’ll soon be able to tell exactly where you are – or aren’t – in alignment and hopefully take steps to reach an acceptable median.

Honesty is essential

Transparency in a relationship helps build and maintain trust.

Right from that initial dialogue, honesty is incredibly important. If you’ve had trouble with debt collectors in the past or your credit cards are currently maxed out – tell the truth. A problem shared can be a problem halved, especially if you can work together in order to reduce or get rid of the debt.

Disclosing assets is equally vital yet it’s amazing how many Kiwis, in couples have no idea what their partner earns, let alone what responsibilities he or she might have in terms of child support obligations, tax obligations and other ongoing expenses. Some are even unaware that their partner owns other properties or has significant investments.

Hiding purchases – and indeed funds from one another, is another way in which trust can be eroded. Rather than mumbling excuses for an endless array of courier packages on the porch that are quickly stashed away, plan to organise your joint finances in such a way that you both have funds available for discretionary spending – and stick to the agreement you come up with together.

Shared goals in a relationship are important

Commonly, couples have a number of things they hope to achieve together – perhaps having a family, buying a house and paying the mortgage and also, planning for retirement. By joining forces, those dreams are usually more easily achievable. Pooling income can often be the best way to reach such goals, but your approach can be nuanced, especially in a case where one person earns more than the other. Once again, a frank discussion is essential in order to ascertain what will work best in your particular relationship.

Put protections in place

Loves doesn’t always last the course, so being prepared for a break-up is wise.

The ‘pre-nup’ beloved by celebrities can sound like a portent of doom, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Even the most solid relationships get rocked by splits, due to any number of reasons, and if property is involved, things can get mighty complicated!

Bear in mind that couples who’ve been together for at least three years in married, civil union and de facto relationships are covered by the equal-sharing rules in the Relationship Property Act, which means any shared property is split evenly amongst them.

Outside advice can be helpful for a relationship

Getting a fresh perspective is important when it comes to money matters.

Here at Money Empire our advisers are happy to sit down with people in committed relationships either together, or individually, and help them structure their affairs so that money issues don’t get in the way of happiness.

An impartial view can be very valuable, and we can suggest a range of ways for arranging your finances so common goals, personal needs and debt obligations are met without causing conflict. Reach out to us and start the conversation early!

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