Guest Comment: Why we need to talk about debt and money in our relationships

edited 28 November 2017 at 2:51PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
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Former_MSE_CallumFormer_MSE_Callum Former MSE
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edited 28 November 2017 at 2:51PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
Relate, the UK's leading relationships support charity, has published a major new piece of research on the connection between finances and relationships - and how they affect each other.

It's a two-way street where poor finances can harm relationships - and vice versa.

To find out more, and to find support, see Relate's guest comment written for MSE: Why we need to talk about debt and money in our relationships.

And if you wish, do share your thoughts and experiences below. Relate will be monitoring this forum thread and will do their best to engage with you.

Click reply below to discuss. If you haven’t already.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/protect/2017/11/guest-comment-why-we-need-to-talk-about-debt-and-money-in-our-relationships
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  • StopItStopIt Forumite
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    Debt is the last taboo in this country.


    I've said this before, but honestly we talk about sex in freer terms nowadays than we do money.


    Everyone hides it. Telling someone what you earn is akin to breaking the Official Secrets Act. Yet this is framed around a society that is all too eager to tell everyone what they spend, only without ever admitting it.


    New phones, holidays, cars, toys etc. Everything goes on social media in a digital version of keeping up with the Jones'. Couple this with a complete lack of financial management teaching at schools and even in relationships, people think that the lifestyle they lead is a crucial part of keeping a relationship together, even when they cannot afford to do so, hence hidden debts.


    And as the article says, it's a point of tension and a vicious cycle. We need as an entirely society to open up, be more honest about our finances and realise that when so many use debt to fuel their lives, maybe it's best as a whole to work out ways to stop letting the credit industry take us for a ride and take control of our finances, especially in relationships where the power of that partnership can be used to help both, rather than be a source of division.

    In debt and looking for help? Look here for the MSE Debt Help Guide.
    Also, If you need any free and impartial debt advice, the National Debtline, Stepchange, and the CAB can help.
  • CaddymanCaddyman Forumite
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    Children should be taught about debt and money at school. 34 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be removed from mainstream curricular mathematics at Secondary School and I completed a comprehensive two year money management syllabus for my final 2 years at school. Whilst I never became a City financier, I've never been in a position of personal debt that I wasn't able to control. I left school at 16 knowing how to run and manage a personal bank account. I learnt the value of everything and I learnt never to overspend or overeach oneself. I haven't even been overdrawn for over 20 years, the last time was during a subsequently failed relationship because my former partner was financially incompetent and was hiding (very well!!) a financial mess entirely of their making.

    Sadly I've seen many failed relationships due to couples hiding their spending from each other, including bankruptcy involving a family member. I agree, there does seem to be a constant need for some people to have the latest gadgets, cars etc, or they have such an overwhelming need to shower others with gifts at Christmas time etc, that they completely fail to understand the consequences if their circumstances change. I'd like to say I had some sympathy, but people do have choices, we almost always have choices, but it's easier for some to just ignore what's right in front of their faces, until the bailiffs start banging on the door.

    For the most part, it seems that as a society, many people simply don't understand the concept of personal responsibility and when it all goes wrong, many will try and blame anyone but themselves. People moan that we are becoming a 'Nanny State'. Well perhaps some people do need protecting from themselves, though quite how far the system should go to protect those who ultimately know whether they can or cannot afford a particular lifestyle, is another matter.

    For me personally, I'm very fortunate that I now have a partner who is equally as financially responsible as I am. We discuss every major purchase. We trust each other implicitly when it comes to personal spending. Our accounts are open to each other, it's a concept that would undoubtedly horrify some couples! It works though. In short, if we can't afford it, we don't buy it. We're now 'middle aged', child free, debt free and growing old disgracefully!
  • phillwphillw Forumite
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    StopIt wrote: »
    Telling someone what you earn is akin to breaking the Official Secrets Act.

    I still reckon a lot of problems would be solved if salaries were publicised. If you're worried that people will be upset if they find out that you're earning too much, then the problem isn't they'll find out but that you're earning too much.

    Once they're all publicised then those problems will be dealt with eventually, which is what the people on the high salaries are worried about.....
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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    MoneySaving Newbie
    Half the problem is the consumer society and wanting to impress your friends, partners etc etc. If you can't keep up with things through your wages you just borrow and there begins the slippery soap.
  • Relate_Policy+ResearchRelate_Policy+Research Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    3 Posts
    StopIt wrote: »
    We need as an entirely society to open up, be more honest about our finances and [...] and take control of our finances, especially in relationships where the power of that partnership can be used to help both, rather than be a source of division.


    We couldn't agree more! - Our research shows that relationships have the power to harm our finances, but on the other hand, relationships can also be key to our resilience. We need to appreciate how each cam affect the other.
    Official Company Representative
    I am the official company representative of Relate. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
  • gycraig_2gycraig_2 Forumite
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    Joint accounts for couples is the way forward, see so many couples arguing over money. Wanting stupidly expensive engagement rings holidays etc when simply haven’t got the money, blowing money they haven’t got but don’t know they haven’t got.

    Me and partner have a joint account we both get a say on the big spends and discuss any debts credit card openly if there is any we both know where we stand what everything costs. Amount of stupid !!!! we have discussed and simply explaining what I wanted to do to someone else made me feel a fking moron.

    “I want a new exhaust for my car”
    “Oh is the old one broken”
    “Nah but I want it to be a bit louder and a bit more aggressive”
    “How much is it”
    “500 pound”
    “You want to spend 500 quid to make your 3k car sound more agressive”
    “Well when you put it like that”

    If both sides of the couple are good with money separate accounts can be a great thing but for me I’m the spender and partner is frugal, she discusses my stupid ideas with me and I convince her to treat herself, we can have 5k in the bank and she won’t buy make up she really wants because it’s a little bit expensive.
  • edited 30 November 2017 at 12:39PM
    phillwphillw Forumite
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    edited 30 November 2017 at 12:39PM
    gycraig wrote: »
    Joint accounts for couples is the way forward, see so many couples arguing over money.

    If you're arguing over money then it's more about the relationship than the account.

    If you then open a joint account then it will just get worse. A friend had a joint account and his wife just kept spending all the money in it.
    BBH123 wrote: »
    Half the problem is the consumer society and wanting to impress your friends, partners etc etc. If you can't keep up with things through your wages you just borrow and there begins the slippery soap.

    Society tries to condition men to being overly generous to increase their chances of getting a partner and women are conditioned to demand that. If the foundation of your relationship is being generous, then financial difficulties will hit it hard.

    My solution, I want women to pay on the first date. I'll let you know how it goes when I get any takers.

    Spending is essentially an addiction, which you can cure yourself of.
  • I'm always surprised at the amount of couples I know who, despite being married and having children, still think in terms of 'my money/their money'. If that couple were to divorce, a court would consider all money and assets to be joint (in most cases) so why isn't it seen like that during the relationship?

    I can understand having a little bit of change in your pocket to spend 'freely', but I do think that everything else should be jointly accessed.

    I also think that all out-of-the-ordinary purchases should be prefaced by at least some kind of joint discussion. My husband and I are lucky enough to have been debt free for a few years now, but prior to that we had a large amount of debt. We built up that debt (foolishly) together, but that meant that we had to tackle it together without blaming the spending on one or the other. As part of that we had to open up about feelings like 'I don't feel like I can say no to you' or 'I just want to buy you everything you want' and so on. The experience of indebtedness caused us to argue, but having to work through it brought us closer together as a couple.

    We're grappling with a large purchase now and we may have to use credit. We've already spent several days discussing it, and will probably spend several more, but at least then we'll know that the decision was a joint one that we'll have come to after exploring all options.

    I guess what I am saying is communication has to be the basis of everything when it comes to relationships and money, even if it's hard.
  • Relate_Policy+ResearchRelate_Policy+Research Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    3 Posts
    Communication is certainly important - it's the number one thing that clients come to Relate for help with.

    Often, however, we're not always very good at understanding how we're communicating - or even what we're communicating about. At Relate, we often see clients who have conflicting approaches to subjects of conflict such as money. (E.g. is one a saver, is one a spender, does how each partner saw money managed in their own family as children affect their approaches to managing money as an adult? What does money/debt mean to us?) If we understand our own - and our partner's - emotional/psychological approaches, we might better understand the nature of the conflict - and therefore improve the way in which we communicate about it.

    This article on people's 'emotional relationship with money' might be helpful:

    https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/money-and-work/your-emotional-relationship-money
    Official Company Representative
    I am the official company representative of Relate. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
  • Relate_Policy+ResearchRelate_Policy+Research Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    3 Posts
    At Relate we also have some practical tips for talking to your partner about money:
    https://www.relate.org.uk/blog/2015/3/09/5-practical-tips-talking-your-partner-about-money


    And help if you're finding it hard to talk to your partner about money:
    https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/money-and-work/im-finding-it-hard-talk-my-partner-about-money
    Official Company Representative
    I am the official company representative of Relate. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
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