January 30 2023

Talking super and money as a couple

Super and money can be a difficult topic to bring up when you’re starting a new relationship or settling down with your partner. It can even become a divisive subject as you grow a life together. However, with proper planning and communication it can be an easy, constructive, everyday discussion that brings you closer, and can help you team up to reach your life goals together.
A dollar symbol within a heart that's within a cloud-shaped speech bubble

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Maybe we’re embarrassed or afraid of being too open. But many of us are reluctant to talk money, finances, super, and salary with our significant others. We agree they’re intimate subjects, but so are all the others we seem to have far less trouble discussing (family, sex, lifegoals, insecurities, and leaving the loo seat up spring to mind).

It makes sense to normalise ongoing conversations about our finances when we’re planning a life together. Being open about where we stand can help clear up misconceptions and avoid resentments before they start. Knowing what we’re contributing, what we owe, and setting some mutually agreeable goals and money management guidelines can mean we’re much more likely to achieve our best life together as a team. It can help bring us even closer, and that’s the kind of romance many of us strive for. But where to start?

Set aside some time

We’re all busy, but this conversation is so worth having. Make space for a regular date-night or weekly get together and come ready with questions to ask when the time is right. Beginning a routine like this can help normalise the conversation and make it an integral part of the bonding process that grows a healthy relationship. You may even end up looking forward to it because you’re both emotionally invested in the planning and the outcome.

Start big. The nitty gritty will naturally follow

It might feel awkward at first, but steer the date-night conversation towards all things financial. Start with big picture stuff: how does your partner envisage their dream home? What kind of holidays do they fancy? Are kids on the horizon? What about retirement and super? Together you can start to create a picture of where you want to go together. This is the time when you can talk about how to get there. It’s a natural place to start.

Getting to the point

When you’re both ready and comfortable to, here are some questions that can get you both thinking and talking:

  • How much do each of you make?
  • How much super does each of you have and how much will you need to retire with?
  • Do you have credit card or student loans?
  • Are you paying off a car or a home loan?
  • How do you feel about opening a joint bank account?
  • What are your views on managing money as a couple?
  • What’s your big dream for a home/a family/retirement?
  • How do you feel about pre-nups or financial agreements?

Specifically speaking super

Super is a big topic. A change in life circumstances not only affects income, it can also impact super. It’s worthwhile to set aside some quality time to chat about it.  

Some questions to consider include: 

  • What happens if you start a family and one of you takes unpaid parental leave? 
  • What if one of you scales back work to take care of aging parents? 
  • Can you afford to live off one income? 
  • Did you know that you can top up or cover your partner’s contributions?

Check out Rest’s Learning Centre to explore your super options and help inform your conversation!

You may wish to consider getting joint financial super advice with your partner. By considering your joint financial goals and priorities, a financial adviser can help you:

  • Track your financial progress
  • Review any government assistance you may be entitled to
  • Update your financial plan, tailoring it to your changing circumstances
  • Evaluate your insurance needs
  • Maximise your super savings at retirement
  • Boost your knowledge and confidence with money

See our Super advice for couples for more information.

All things being equal

It’s likely that you and your partner don’t make the same money. One of you may have more super or hold more debt than the other. Is someone blingier while the other is lower maintenance? Who’s the saver and who’s the spender? These imbalances are real and may cause deep divides later on. But it’s how you handle them at the start that can make all the difference. Recognise they’re valid points, discuss how you feel about them openly, and strategise together about how to work through them for success. Regular chats can help you nip any problems in the bud.

Respect each other’s independence

As independent people, there’ll likely be stuff you still want to be able to do, and pay for, on your own. That personal passion is important to you, and hopefully part of the reason your partner loves you! But you don’t need to be secret squirrel to do that. Consider a joint bank account, or contribution to a shared goal, but also be open about what each of you needs to do your own personal thing. Also, your passion for pigeon racing or deep- sea diving may change - so keep the conversation going and you can adjust as life goes along.  

Stay flexible

What you agree on at the start when you’re footloose and fancy free may change over time. If you’ve been talking finances, super, salary and goals all the way along, it will be easier to agree on a reset or reassessment when big things in life happen – like babies, homes, or getting a pet.

Who can help us get it together?

Here at Rest, we can’t help you with choosing a puppy or deciding on nursery colours, but we can give you tips to help you and your partner get closer to your couple goals! Get started with our Digital Advice solutions which are available to Rest members 24/7, or have a chat with a Rest Adviser by completing this form about and see how you can maximise your super contributions together.

Certain simple advice can be provided at no additional cost to Rest members, but a fee may be required for more complex advice. We’ll let you know before any fees are charged. 

Want to learn more?