Money can be a 'make or break' part of a relationship. Here's what you should consider when it comes to your finances in romantic relationships...

Go on a money date

It might not be the most romantic of prospects, but a money date is a great start when approaching money in relationships.

Choose somewhere you both like. Go into it knowing that you’ll have to be honest about how you feel about money. We all have different attitudes towards money. That’s why buying a £4.50 loaf of sourdough bread seems quite reasonable to some but an extravagance to others.

To understand your partner’s perspective, you need to talk. You also have to accept that you may not always see eye to eye.

It’s important to discuss how you’re planning to split expenditure and if there’s a difference in the amount you both earn. If big expenses are on the horizon, like a wedding or home improvements, this is the time to discuss how you’re both going to pay for them.

Above all, this is a time to work out a way for you to both have the same outlook on saving money. When Smart Money People recently commissioned research this was something 92% of people agreed was important in a relationship*.

Time to say “yes” to a joint bank account?

Many couples who are cohabiting may find a joint bank account handy. If you don’t already have one, this could be the time to discuss whether to have a joint account or not. 

Joint bank accounts are current accounts that let you both have access to the money in them. They let you set up direct debits and other payments either individually or jointly.

Many couples find them ideal for paying for shared expenses like the mortgage or utility bills. This means you both individuals have visibility of what money is available and what’s going in and out.

It’s important to consider how much you trust that person** so you can assess the potential risk when opening and putting money into a joint account.

There are a couple of extra considerations too. The first is that a joint account links your finances with the other person’s in the eyes of credit reference agencies. So if a partner has a bad credit report this could automatically pull yours down. It also makes you jointly responsible for any debts that might occur, for example with an overdraft on the account.

It’s sensible to keep your individual bank accounts for your personal spending and savings if you do decide to open a joint account. This ensures you keep your independence and protects you if something goes wrong.

Whether it’s joint or individual, make sure you’re getting the best rates so you can maximise your money. The Be Clever With Your Cash team regularly updates their website with the top places to put your cash so you can get the best rate.

For richer, for poorer

This is a good moment to address what might be the elephant in the room. Inevitably, there are situations when one or both partners are bringing debts into a relationship.

Not only can this affect them both when it comes to applying for credit, there’s also the question of how to start clearing those debts.

As a first step, total honesty about the size of the debt is vital. Even though this may be uncomfortable. But facing up to any problem will always be the first step to solving it.

Organisations like Citizen’s Advice, PayPlan and Stepchange are there to help. So, even if it looks like an impossible situation at first sight, you can get the support to find a way forward.

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*Opinium on behalf of Smart Money People from 12 to 16 January 2024 amongst 2,000 UK adults (aged 18+).

**If your partner is using money as a means to control you, it’s a form of domestic abuse. Remember you are not alone, and there is support available. Here’s a list of services where you can go for help.