Why couples need to talk about money more than ever

 

 

Discussing money matters among households has become far more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic as many people have been forced to adjust their finances.

And with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg set to make more financial announcements today talking money will be front and centre of the minds of many Australians.

Earlier this week we saw the announcements of the scaling back of JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, slowing weening people off government payments from October and into 2021.

But new research shows one in two Australians are discussing their finances now more than they were prior to the pandemic hitting, new independent analysis compiled on behalf of lender ME found.

 

 

The research quizzed 1000 Australians and revealed the following the money topics being discussed the most were savings (68 per cent), household spending (53 per cent), bills (51 per cent), superannuation (47 per cent), investments (32 per cent), JobKeeper and Jobseeker (28 per cent).


Tung Ngo, 28, and his wife Joanne Van, 28, are both physiotherapists who work in aged care and suffered an income hit after losing extra casual weekend shifts at a hospital.

This stopped their plan to upgrade to a four-bedroom home dead in its tracks because their borrowing capacity fell by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Once we lost our casual income we met up with our broker and he advised us what our borrowing capacity and that fell by about $300,000 to $400,000," Mrs Van said.

"We are talking about money more now because COVID-19 hit at the time when we were looking at buying something new and we have had to put everything on hold."

Tung Ngo, 28, and his wife Joanne Van, 28, are both physiotherapists who work in aged care. They recently suffered an income hit after losing extra casual shifts at another hospital which has delayed their ability to buy a bigger home. Picture: Rob Leeson.
Tung Ngo, 28, and his wife Joanne Van, 28, are both physiotherapists who work in aged care. They recently suffered an income hit after losing extra casual shifts at another hospital which has delayed their ability to buy a bigger home. Picture: Rob Leeson.

The couple have combined bank accounts and said they have regular discussions about their financial plans.

ME's general manager of personal banking Claudio Mazzarella said COVID-19 has "become a clear catalyst for change" around money management.

"The financial impacts of the pandemic have been clear to everybody and it's forced us all to think about our financial position," he said.

"We are seeing that couples are more prepared to have those conversations even though it's a difficult conversation, these conversations are happening weekly."

Mr Mazzarella urged people to not delay discussing finances.

"One of the key things is don't leave it until it's too late because the harder that conversation becomes," he said.

He also said to keep financial conversations to a time limit and not let them drag on too long.

The research showed one in four people felt they needed to improve their financial knowledge and the pandemic had motivated them to improve their financial knowledge.

Tribeca Financial's chief executive officer Ryan Watson said "communication is key" in any relationship and couples should have "brave and empathetic conversations about money".

"Partners simply must be on the same 'financial page'," he said.

"In these very uncertain times around COVID-19, it is especially important for a household to have common financial goals - one way that we encourage people to have financial conversations is to go for a walk together."

In terms of who people choose to have conversations about their finances with the research found it's usually partners (62 per cent), followed by family members such as parents or siblings (48 per cent) and friends (35 per cent).

Relationships Australia counsellor Paul Wiseman said couples should "put their cards on the table" and discuss money.

"But it shouldn't be a finger-pointing exercise because that won't help," he said.

Originally published as Why couples need to talk about money more than ever