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Love match vs money match: 3 tips to tell which is which

Compilation image of love hearts, pile of $100 notes, and two couples in embrace
Money stress is one of the main reasons couples break up. (Source: Getty) (Samantha Menzies)

They might set your heart aflutter but do they secretly have frequent gambling flutters?

Or harbour a hidden credit card debt?

Or have a spending obsession?

With a survey by Ameritrade revealing 42 per cent of Gen Xers and 29 per cent of Baby Boomers ended their marriages due to financial stress and fights over money, you need to know the answers to these crucial money questions before you commit.

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:


A 2019 Relationships Australia Finances and Relationships report said: “The state of their partner’s finances was an important consideration for a significant minority of women (16 per cent) and men (8 per cent) when they decided to enter into their current or most recent relationship.”

“There is a complex interplay between money and other known predictors of relationship stress such as gambling, mental health, family violence, and drug and alcohol use.”

But a potential life partner must not just pass the test of these extreme possibilities; a ‘viable’ couple needs also to be economically compatible… big picture.

As I always say, it’s okay to hook up with your funny match but, ultimately, you need to be with a money match.

Here are the three ways to tell if the object of your affections should be your lasting connection.

1. Do they display a goal focus?

Forget the awkward questions and potentially unexpected answers.

You will be able to see this crucial characteristic from the get-go.

It will be clearly on display in their dedication to health and fitness. Particularly if they are targeting a particular outcome.

How good are they at setting and strategising to achieve this goal?

And what about implementing that strategy?

There are enormous parallels between the mindset it takes to achieve good health and that to build wealth.

A razor-sharp focus sure helps.

2. Can they can delay gratification?

You can think of this as one of the main attributes of affluence.

Can they (uncomfortably) resist what they want right now in favour of saving the money for more considerable rewards down the track?

Can they economise on consumables for the really important stuff?

Because I can tell you definitively that what I call a stinge-spired person is never going to work with a binge-spired one.

And that is certain if someone is so bad at resisting an impulse purchase that they flash the plastic or use some other form of debt to buy it.

An 2018 American study, Money, Marriage and Communication: The Link Between Relationship Problems and Finances by Rachel Cruze, found that debt negatively impacts marriages regardless of the level of household income.

What’s more, four-in-ten couples with consumer debt reported that money is the number one topic they argue about.

Spending habits can be make or, quite literally, break.

Which brings us to the third economic acid test…

3. Are they a savvy saver?

I’m not even talking about savings themselves now – although that earns an extra brownie point – but about cutting upkeep costs.

Here I mean essentials.

Do they pay attention to their expenses, ditching and switching deals when the bottom-line benefits are there?

Comparison website Finder has just run the numbers on this and determined that the average Aussie can pocket an extra $15,495 a year by simply getting proactive about their financial products (across a home loan, credit card, health insurance and savings account).

That’s a lot of money to save simply for being savvy.

And it frees up a lot to achieve those couples goals, mentioned earlier, that can make life together so much sweeter.

The $64,000 question is: Can your ‘main squeeze’ squeeze the most out of their money?

It is possible to leverage the power of two - for example, sharing housing and other costs - to build far more than double the financial security and money stash.

Too right it is. If you get the ‘two’ right.*

* If my three ways to recognise a successful money mode don’t describe you, it’s time for an outlook overhaul… if only so you can enjoy a financial-friction-free relationship.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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