If you’re in a position where your partner oversees the household budget and pays the bills, trying to opt in can be a daunting task, yet it’s never too late. Here’s how you can.
Initiate the conversation
Whether this is the first or 41st time you’ve spoken about money, understanding that money can be really confronting for some people will help you navigate the conversation smoothly.
“It’s important to understand money stories in order to start a constructive conversation,” Devine explains.
“As much as it’s not very feminist, we acknowledge that the man of the house might feel very undermined if you flat-out ask to take over.
“To avoid this, you can just point out that you’ve read [something about finances] to shift the autonomy to a third-party rather than taking a ‘me versus you’ approach.”
Work out your place
Once a constructive conversation has taken place, Devine says small steps will help you gain insight into how your partner manages the finances.
“Opting in doesn’t mean that you’re trying to take control or take that job off them, it’s just about understanding it,” she explains.
“This includes asking, ‘Who do we bank with?’, ‘How do I help you pay some bills?’, ‘What do the bills look like?’.
“Talk about establishing a central location where all of that information is kept because long-term, it’s going to make it really easy for you and your partner.”
Devine explains that you can keep a record of your bills in a notebook, a spreadsheet on the family computer or in the notes section of your phone.
To further your understanding of your finances, Devine says free online resources can help empower you across a range of financial topics including paying bills and drawing up a family budget.
Devine recommends websites like moneysmart.gov.au – a free resource hosted by the Australian government – as it isn’t a product-based service.
“We need to be careful of product-based websites, because it won’t be showing the full picture rather than just selling a product,” Devine explains.
If your partner refuses...
Devine says if trying to opt in is met with denial from your partner, you should consider whether financial abuse is at play.
“Financial abuse can take many forms. It could be withholding money, controlling all the household spending and only giving you access to one debit card or credit card, or refusing to include you in all financial decisions,” Devine says.
In a 2020 study by the University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Bank, reported prevalence of financial abuse was higher for women (15.7 per cent) than for men (7.1 per cent).
If you believe you’re a victim of financial abuse, visit moneysmart.gov.au or call 1800 RESPECT.
This is not intended to be personal financial advice and should be taken as general information.