How to manage financial differences as a couple – exclusive tips from Barclays

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Managing financial differences as a couple can be a challenge and can place a strain on a relationship. Effectively handling a discrepancy in income must be done with care and takes effort from both sides.

To help, Dr Peter Brooks, Head of Behavioural Finance at Barclays, has pulled together some exclusive tips for ‘managing financial differences as a couple.

Consider how to split joint expenses

“When it comes to your joint bills and outgoings, it’s important to both be on the same page and feel comfortable with how you are paying for these.

“Think about how you will split these expenses in a way you both feel is fair.

“It might be the case that one of you earns considerably more than the other, and as a result is happy to consider contributing more towards the joint expenses.

“It’s not always necessary but having a joint account for your bills can help give both of you a sense of confidence, control, and fairness.”

Set spending boundaries on essentials

“This is particularly relevant for couples who are living together, or are thinking about doing so in the near future.

“Make sure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to how much you can afford to spend on essential living expenses each month, and discuss a plan of action that will help you stick to these boundaries.

“For example, this may involve having the central heating on less, or taking shorter showers in order to save money on bills, or simply choosing a flat or house that aligns more with your budget when looking to move in together.”

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Create a ‘fun fund’

“It’s likely that different approaches to money management surface in your non-essential spending.

“Avoid the scenario in which one of you always ends up paying for date nights or weekend activities, leaving the other feeling guilty, by setting up a ‘fun fund’.

“This involves you both contributing an agreed amount of money to the fund each week, or month, allowing you to enjoy your ‘fun’ together, without feeling as though one is reliant upon the other.”

Set a ‘gift’ budget

“There’s nothing worse than worrying that your partner is spending lots of money on you and being unable to splash the cash yourself so have an open conversation about a realistic gift budget for both of you.

“By agreeing on a budget, you can ensure that neither party feels guilty for spending too much or too little when it comes to gifts and if they want to surprise you with something extra special, you know this doesn’t come with the pressure of them expecting something similar in return.”

Have monthly ‘check-in’ days

“One of the most important aspects of a relationship is communication, and communicating regularly about your finances should be part of this.

“If the topic feels uncomfortable, start by committing to a regular date, perhaps once a month, where you sit down and chat about your finances.

“This is your opportunity to talk about anything that is on your mind – do you need to collectively save for something and what do you both need to put away? Have you had any unexpected bills so things feel tight?

“The more you open up about money, the more natural and easy discussing it will become.

“If you would like a bit of extra guidance, why not speak to a Barclays Money Mentor?

“The free sessions provide a great opportunity to chat through your finances with an impartial, third party helping you to feel more comfortable when talking to your partner about them.”

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