When we think of relationships and romance we often think of fairy tales and movies. The prince charming, fairy-godmother and if you’re like me, the woodland creatures who will clean your house.
We forget most great stories also involve a villain and real-life isn’t any different. Too often we’re so fixated on prince/ss charming, we miss the wolf.
The wolf who says all the right things, who seems like they’re fiscally responsible but who leaves their partner with a nasty case of STD. Or sexually transmitted debt.
That’s because I believe too many women (and some men) are still abdicating financial responsibility to their partner. There’s a sense of ‘thank god you’re here and I can hand all this over to you.’ Or they find talking about money icky. They don’t want to bring up serious conversations too early in the relationship and they don’t have the language to talk about money.
Now you may be thinking you don’t have any money so you can’t possibly receive an STD. Or you may be thinking your partner knows what they’re doing when it comes to your finances (and you don’t) so you feel safe.
Let me encourage you to think again.
In my role as a money expert I meet many men and women who are struggling with an STD they received from a once loving partner. Everything from tax debts not declared, debts they didn’t realise they were liable for when they agreed to directorships, mobile phone bills, SMSF debts, rent not paid, gambling addictions and so much more.
So how do you avoid an STD and pick the potential wolf in your story?
Clare Booth Luce said ‘Sometimes the best protection is a little money of her own” which means maintaining independence by always having money in your own bank account. Protection also means not opening joint bank accounts, joint credit cards, co-signing loans, moving into together, signing up to phones or other plans until you’ve moved through step 2, 3 and 4.
Talk about it
Before you get serious and before you start to share any sort of financial products make sure you have a conversation about money: who owns what, who owes what, what taxes are outstanding and what you hope to achieve with your finances. This means there will be fewer surprises down the track and if there are any financial skeletons you can deal with them early on.
Insist on transparency
Make it hard for each other to financially cheat by sharing with each other what you have and what you owe. I’m talking eyeballs on bank statements. I don’t advocate knowing each other’s passwords as that removes some of your safety net. I do advocate however a regular (at least monthly) chat around how you’re going financially.
Understand the risks
The relationship is getting serious and you’re talking about moving in together. It’s important to understand sometimes you’ve already made the financial commitment of ‘marriage’ by moving in together without you being aware of the implications. It can be worth seeking legal advice if you do have assets of your own before you take the step of moving in.
Always seek professional advice
Before you take the giant step of joining funds, moving in together, applying for loans or signing documents, make sure you seek professional advice. It’s so important to understand the worst-case scenario and to be made aware of the financial implications of what you’re signing.
Sex, money and relationships. Often we focus entirely on the sexual side of a relationship because it’s the most fun but it’s money issues that can cause the most lasting damage. By choosing to be purposeful about money, couples can not only avoid STDs but can create strong relationships where money isn’t something dirty or awkward but is simply another thing they talk about. And if our partner isn’t willing to talk about it, then we’re confident to call wolf.