A new study by Westpac has concluded that 36 per cent of Australian couples do not consider themselves to be in financially healthy positions.
Further, according to Westpac’s Finance and Separation Report, couples who rarely communicated with their partner or support networks about their financial situation (68 per cent) were more likely to indicate that they were not in a financially healthy position.
Australian couples generally regarded discussing their finances with support networks as being “awkward”, with 49 per cent of respondents feeling more comfortable disclosing intimacy issues with their friends, rather than financial issues.
Commenting on the findings, Westpac spokesperson Kate Holloway said: “Our research shows couples are more financially compatible (85 per cent) if they regularly speak openly about their finances, and encouragingly, 43 per cent of Australians in committed relationships are doing just that.”
The study further revealed that, among Australians who had been through or were currently going through a separation in their relationship, 65 per cent did not know how to start looking into their finances.
According to the study, this could be “the reason more than half (58 per cent) of those considering a separation actually procrastinate looking into financial matters”.
Meanwhile, 65 per cent of respondents considering a separation from their partner were hesitant to finalise it due to fear of having to “start over” financially.
On the other hand, the majority of Australians who did finalise their separation (84 per cent) took positive or financially significant steps within a year of being separated from their partner, such as “sorting out their finances (33 per cent) and paying off debts (28 per cent)”.
Westpac’s data also revealed that more than half of respondents who finalised a separation from their partner were positively managing their finances within 12 months.
Ms Halloway encouraged couples – both before and after experiencing a separation – to be more open in conversation about money in order to “better prepare” themselves for their financial futures.
“Being informed is empowering and puts you in a much better position for success, no matter what relationship stage you are in,” she said.
She added that “having a strong understanding” of finances could allow couples to navigate their financial situation expediently.
“Planning a future with someone you love is, in many cases, as much a financial commitment as a personal one. From discussing how to manage joint finances to making sure you’re staying on top of your account balances – there are practical considerations every couple should discuss,” Ms Halloway said.
“Negotiating the financial side of separation can be complicated and seem incredibly overwhelming during an already tough time.”
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Ezekiel is a journalist on the mortgages, property investment and wellness titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, he was a freelance journalist for Vice Australia, Pulse Radio and the Sydney-based travel publication Global Hobo, among others.
Ezekiel studies a double Bachelor of Communications and International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.