How to Talk With Your Partner About Money

Money. It’s one of those subjects which – depending on the time, place and situation – can be a difficult topic to broach, especially with your partner. Indeed, a recent survey found that 44% of people have money secrets they keep from their partner. But in the current climate, talking about money is both warranted and worthwhile.

So how to go about it? In this article, we present some key considerations when it comes to discussing money with your partner.

Been ‘buttoning up’?

While we might share a lot with our partner, details on our finances may not be something that we are candid about. Personal finance worries, and particularly debt, can be a subject that is difficult to broach. But if your partner is exactly that; a companion for your life, then talking about your or their finances can be unavoidable, so it is best to find a way of talking comfortably on this subject.

How to get talking

Often, breaking the ice can be the hardest part. For some, talking about money isn’t easy – it can come with emotional baggage which is entirely unrelated to the partner. From another perspective, some may feel threatened by an attempt to talk about their finances, while for others, talking about money can come across as nagging. Choose a private place and a time with little other distractions to get in the way of your chat.

Asking your partner for money

This is one of the things which people typically find awkward. You might have been earning money independently for most of your life, but due to several reasons – such as being made redundant, or becoming pregnant – you might need to have a tricky discussion. This can lead the person asking for the money to feel weak because their partner has financial control. In these cases, it is important for both parties to be completely honest about their financial attitude and expectations. The sooner you have an open and honest chat, the sooner you can begin to set your financial goals and budget; together.

Earning discrepancies

A disparity in earning power is another reason why personal finance conversations with a partner can become awkward. When important financial decisions need to be made, the questions of “who?” and “how much?” are only natural. That’s why it is important to take a proactive attitude to communication, being as open and honest as possible, and having the right discussions as early as you can. This may avoid complications and frustrations further down the line.

There are ways to simplify who pays for what, in line with your earning capacity. You might agree to take responsibility for different household bills, or to contribute a different amount to your savings each month. Then there are other elements which you may have to consider, such as how you take care of children from a previous marriage financially. The key thing is to come to a satisfactory and fair agreement with your partner, and you can only do this by talking.

Debt: The white elephant in the room?

Anyone can rack up debts on credit cards, store cards or same day loans for various reasons, and debt is nothing to be necessarily ashamed of. However, Debt can be a very stressful issue, and one which some people have a tendency to hide from their partners. But trying to take everything on your shoulders can make matters worse. That’s why it is better to talk about it with your partner, as the longer you hide your debts, the harder it can be to bring up the subject.

Before raising it, think about how your partner might react, and if you are looking for an empathetic ear, prepare to show them that you are serious about tackling the debt problem. It is better to be completely upfront, especially as there are situations in which your partner’s credit rating could be affected by your debt.

Gambling issues

Having an addiction to gambling can be a sure-fire way to lose control of your personal finances, which impacts on your partner. By the same token, you might suspect your partner has a gambling problem and want to do something about it. In this situation, the best thing to do can be to seek help – either for yourself, or your partner. There are several organisations dedicated to helping those with gambling problems, and their loved ones. Failure to address the issue can lead to debt problems spiralling out of control. Remember that if you suspect your partner has a gambling problem, you don’t need to be 100 percent sure to seek professional advice, and decide on the best way forward.

Whichever element of personal finance you wish to bring up with your partner, remember that communication is key. The willingness to talk is an important step. Always bear in mind that your partner has a different perspective to you, and you won’t always agree – but by open and honest conversation, we can come to understand each other better going forwards.

Universal Credit Explained

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is the name of a benefit payment that can be paid to UK residents who may be working or currently unemployed. First introduced in 2010 and rolled out from 2013, it replaces six previously-separate benefits:

• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Working Tax Credit
• Child Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Income Support

These six benefits are now referred to as legacy benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Who’s entitled to claim Universal Credit?

There are a number of criteria that impact your eligibility for Universal Credit. You may be eligible if:

• You’re a resident of the UK
• You’re either unemployed or on a low income
• You’re aged 18 or over, and you’re under State Pension age
• You have less than £16,000 in savings between you and your partner

There are some exceptions if you’re aged 16 or 17 – if any of the following apply, you can make a claim:

• You have limited capability to work, or you’re waiting for a Work Capability Assessment (and you have medical evidence to show why you’re waiting for the assessment)
• You’re responsible for a child or you’re caring for a severely disabled person
• You’re pregnant and your child is due in 11 weeks or fewer
• You don’t have parental support, and you’re not already under local authority care

You can also sometimes apply if you’re a student too. However, for all the above circumstances, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you live with a partner, their income and savings will be taken into account when you apply, even if they don’t apply themselves.

How to apply

You’ll apply for Universal Credit online on the government’s official website. You’ll need an email address and the details of your bank account, along with the information on your finances such as payslips, rent details, how much you have in savings and any childcare costs you pay.

You’ll also need a form of ID to verify your identity online. This could be your driving licence, passport or a credit or debit card.

If you’re living with your partner and both of you want to claim Universal Credit, you’ll need to make a joint application, even if you aren’t married.

The faster you complete your application online, the sooner you’ll get paid. That’s why it’s really important to make sure you seek help immediately if there’s anything stopping you from completing your application online, such as a disability or if you’re simply unsure of how to fill in a section of the claim form.

When is Universal Credit paid?

Universal Credit is paid every month, although in Scotland you can request for it to be paid fortnightly if you prefer. If you live in Northern Ireland, the default payment is fortnightly but you can switch it to monthly if that suits you better.

The day of the month that you apply for Universal Credit will become your payment date going forward. So if you apply on the 1st of the month, then you’ll be paid on the 1st in the following months, although be aware that it can take up to seven days for money to then reach your account, so you may not get the payment until the 8th.

Universal Credit is paid in arrears, so it can take up to five weeks to be paid from the date you apply. If this leaves you in hardship you can apply for an advance, but this will be repaid from your first 12 months of Universal Credit payments.

How much will you get?

The amount of Universal Credit you’ll receive will depend entirely on your circumstances, and these are assessed every month. There’s a standard allowance for eligible people that varies depending on whether you’re single or a couple, and whether you’re under 25 years old or whether you’re older. This ranges from £342.72 up to £594.04, and then it can be topped up by extra amounts if you have children, need support with housing, have a disability or if you care for a disabled person.

Can you work when being paid Universal Credit?

You are allowed to work while you’re being paid Universal Credit, but your income will impact how much benefit you receive. Every £1 you earn in income reduces your benefit payment by 63p. If you’re responsible for a child or you’re living with a disability or condition that impacts your ability to work, you’ll have a work allowance – an amount you can earn before your benefit payment is impacted. This is £292 per month if you get housing cost help, and £512 if you don’t.

Do savings have an impact?

Yes – if you (and your partner) have any savings then it may impact how much you get paid. If your combined savings are more than £6,000 you’ll receive a lower benefit payment, and if you’ve got over £16,000 in savings between you then you won’t be eligible at all for Universal Credit.