- When you’re in a relationship, you’re in a bubble of love for the person you adore.
- This can leave you open to a dreaded financial STD, otherwise known as sexually transmitted debt.
- Just as we want you to be healthy when in a relationship, it’s important to be aware of financial STDs before you start combining your money in a relationship.
Are you in love?
It can feel like you’re in a bubble of love, and that feeling is backed up by science. When you’re in love, hormones are released, which affect how you feel and think. The effect can press pause on your critical thinking, self-awareness and how rationally you can think through your behaviours.
However, that feeling can leave you vulnerable to a financial STD or sexually transmitted debt. It’s more common than you think, with 1 in 6 of us picking up a financial STD from a relationship.
But what is a financial STD?
It’s A financial STD refers to sexually transmitted debt. You can contract a financial STD when you are in a relationship and take on responsibility for that person’s debts. This debt could be something that they had at the start of a relationship, like a student loan. It can also grow during your relationship, such as if they start using a credit card without paying it off.
Our financial behaviours are catchier than you think.
In fact, the financial habits of the person you love impacts your wellbeing, even before you commit to living with or marrying them. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to marry someone to become responsible for their debt.
While a third of financial STDs are passed on through marriage, a third happen when someone makes purchases in your name. Another 20% of financial STDs are contracted through joint bank accounts, which is why you need to be careful when combining finances. However, it is possible to still love with all your heart and avoid the dreaded financial STD.
Here’s the 3 ways that you can avoid a financial STD (sexually transmitted debt):
1. Have the talk, the financial talk, early
We think it’s really crucial to talk to your partner about money. Part of getting better with money means including your partner in the conversation, but 68% of us would rather reveal our weight than our finances.
Having the conversation early and knowing how to talk to your partner about money is crucial. This means that you can use questions to learn more about their attitudes to money early in your relationship before you commit further.
2. Know your risk before you financially get together
After you’ve had the money talk, it’s time to get risky. That is knowing your risk before you start combining your money in a relationship. It may seem awkward to talk about, but having the conversation now avoids a much more difficult chat later.
When talking about finances, ask for a complete picture of your partner’s financial risk. That extends to being comfortable in articulating your financial situation and your own risk, including your debts and assets. This means taking the first 3 steps to get started with money management and being able to articulate what you earn, owe and how you’re growing your money to be able to afford long-term life goals.
3. Agree on the rules of engagement
If you’ve got multiple joint expenses, it can be helpful to open a joint bank account. Before opening that account, sit down and discuss your financial needs as a couple. You need to agree on how you will both use the joint account, including what will and won’t be a shared expense.
Some shared expenses are easy to talk about and agree on, like power bills if you live together. Other expenses like grocery bills, are more as you often buy items like personal hygiene products when you’re at the supermarket that are for individual use. Make sure that you’ve agreed on how you’ll use this first joint account. You can then monitor how well you work together before you combine your finances further.
Just like sexual health, our financial health can be uncomfortable to talk about if we’re not used to having this conversation.
Making an effort to have this conversation about money and how you’ll use it with a partner can save you future financial headaches. In normalising conversations about money in relationships, you’re helping others you care about to avoid financial STDs and enjoy financial wellbeing.