It is the month of love – red roses, chocolate hearts and dinners by candlelight. BUT, are you sure that nothing in the world can come between you and your Valentine? These days more and more romantic relationships are on the edge because of debt’s sly interference. Relationships, as well as your finances, need constant attention and care. If the holistic picture is ignored, debt can easily come between you and your partner – causing conflict and arguments. It can, and has, lead to the end of many relationships.
According to Matthys Potgieter, debt expert at DebtSafe, it is possible that debt can test and hurt your relationship through the following examples:
- Overspending by a partner – buying more than what the couple can afford.
- A partner being declared bankrupt – for partners who are married in Community of Property, for example, this can have major consequences.
- Putting your loved one’s savings in harm’s way – partners having access to each other’s accounts or by having a communal account.
- A lack of communication – by having conflicting views on money or finance management.
- One or both partners not taking on any responsibility – having no budget or emergency fund because it is just spend, spend, spend.
- Delaying a wedding or having kids – your debt pile is adding up and one partner puts on breaks to clear debt first, while the other desperately wants to continue with life’s major cycles.
Potgieter says these examples should not discourage you and that you and your partner should try the following five relationship debt-survival tips instead:
- Play inspector and stick to your budget
If, by now, you still don’t have a budget, get on it. And, if you are not sure where to begin, download DebtSafe’s free template online. This can assist you in structuring you and your partner’s budget plan. A budget gives you clarity on what your finances look like and it also sets up a sense of responsibility on you and your partner’s part by sticking to it. Most importantly, have a look at your bank statements see where you two can improve your cash flow by cutting back on certain unnecessary expenses (also known as spending leaks).
- A bit of independence is good for your relationship
Potgieter says it is not the ideal situation if you and your partner only have a joint bank account. He says it may happen that one partner gets a bit carried away for example. So keep an open mind and keep things real and practical.
- Don’t hesitate, COMMUNICATE
Communication is the key to finding the balance between two people’s different worlds and perspectives. Communication involves words, listening skills and action. Talk about your finances and stand in your partner’s shoes to see things from his or her point of view. It also encourages a bit of compromising from both parties (when choices need to be made). This is not necessarily a bad thing as it can make the relationship stronger, says Potgieter.
- Don’t be ashamed to get professional help
If the debt cycle in your relationship has been spiralling out of control, the first thing to do is to admit it. After that there are various ways to get the right assistance that you need. Go and talk to a financial planner and banker, or if you and your partner are experiencing severe over-indebtedness, do some homework to take on a new journey with your preferred debt counsellor,.
- Get a new financial habit going (together)
Potgieter says within 21 days you are able to change your ways and get into a new financial habit. So what about kick-starting an emergency fund for you and your partner? It is crucial and valuable for any relationship. Make it a bit interesting for you and your partner and get some goals in place. It can be fun and a total game changer in the long run – not only for your financial situation, but also for your relationship.
February is the month of love and romance. Don’t let your Valentine get away by allowing debt to have an effect on your relationship. Get rid of the unwanted culprit in your relationship by following the above debt-survival guidelines.