Financial partnership is essential for couples

It's very seldom that a domestic couple is in complete harmony when it comes to money.

It's very seldom that a domestic couple is in complete harmony when it comes to money.

Most often one partner has an aggressive attitude while the other takes a more conservative standpoint.

Unless these viewpoints can be reconciled the partnership might be on a fast track to financial disaster - and sometimes even end up in divorce.

Setting ground rules early on and drawing up a game plan that both partners can live with is essential.

The first major hurdle to overcome is the option of opening a joint bank account or going for a "his and hers". There is no right or wrong, only whichever option works best.

It might seem unromantic to maintain separate bank accounts once youare married but it might just be the most practical choice.

Another solution is to open a joint account for all your agreed shared expenses, such as bond repayment and monthly living expenses, and to continue individual accounts for the extras.

Trust is a prerequisite for a good relationship when it comes to money. This is especially true if you opt for a joint account only. There should be no secrets.

A survey conducted by Smart Money-Redbook in the US found that 36percent of women and 40percent of men had lied to their spouses about what they paid for an item. It might not seem serious to tell your wife you spent R1000 on a cellphone when it actually cost R2000, but all those little lies mount up, creating an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust.

If one of you is a compulsive shopper or has a tendency to make risky investments, don't hide these habits. Talking about them helps you deal with them.

While couples might not agree on economic approaches, they usually do agree on major life goals - children, home and lifestyle.

Use this consensus to your advantage early on and devise a game plan on how best to utilise your combined income to achieve these goals.

Spending habits and investmentapproaches might differ but if you're working towards a common goal it's easier to reach compromises that allow both sides some comfort.

Where there is a difference of opinion about investment approaches it is useful to introduce an independent mediator in the form of a financial professional.

In a meeting with a financial adviser both partners should be open and honest about their goals and fears.

That way the adviser can balance the portfolio so that investments match the risk tolerance level of both sides.

It is important to establish a financial partnership that works, otherwise money might become a power struggle that ultimately leaves both sides emotionally bankrupt.

lThe writer is a director of Pioneer Financial Planning. Visit or e-mail