Experts in the Media

Sarah Wells – Body + Soul

Finance and Money expert

6 ways to navigate Sexually Transmitted Debt, according to an expert.

We can’t build a future with someone unless we have full visibility of their financial well-being, no matter how difficult those conversations are. Money and finance expert, Sarah Wells,  shares her tips for navigating inherited debt in new relationships.

It’s a familiar story… you meet someone, you fall in love, things get serious and then all of a sudden it’s time to move in and get honest about your finances. This can be incredibly confronting for new couples, especially if one or both of you are harbouring a secret STD (Sexually Transmitted Debt).

Why is it that we’re more comfortable talking about what we want and need in bed with our partner than our financial shortcomings and mistakes? Because the truth is we can’t build a future with someone unless we have full visibility of their financial well-being, no matter how difficult those conversations are.

When you’re serious about each other, you have to shine the spotlight on exes past, assess your love’s financial savviness and be honest about your own money mistakes. Because let’s face it, we’ve all made them. And this is where some new couples hit a relationship roadblock… by either not being honest or thinking the STD will just go away. Spoiler alert: it never does.

The universal saying love is blind exists in every language because it’s true, and sometimes being in love makes us do things we wouldn’t normally do, especially when it comes to money.

But before you judge it’s good to know that not all STDs are created equal… Some come from a significant event such as the breakdown of a relationship or a divorce, a job loss or unexpected medical expense, while some are the lovechildren of financial neglect or mismanagement.

The important thing to understand is how this STD came to be so you can make a plan together to stop the same thing happening again.

If in the future you think you might want to buy a house together, share expenses, have children or save for expensive holidays then there really is no way around this conversation.

Here are my tips for getting honest about finances in a new relationship:

#1 Be honest: If you can’t be honest now, it doesn’t bode well for a future together.

#2 Work out if it’s a deal breaker: How much is too much STD? Know your limit.

#3 Make sure you know the history: Have the conversation now to avoid future pain.

#4 Give the benefit of the doubt: Ask questions and get all of the information to make sure you’re not being used as a safe harbour in someone else’s debt storm.

#5 Listen and learn: We all make money mistakes, learn the lesson and move on.

#6 Protect yourself: It’s great to be in love, but always maintain separate bank accounts to keep yourself safe.

I’m not suggesting that all Sexually Transmitted Debts are deal breakers, but some are. You have to ask yourself honestly if you’re willing to take this on and if you love the person enough to weather the storm and not throw it back in their face at every opportunity.

The key to overcoming an STD is to listen and ask specific questions so you avoid any future confusion about the debt’s origin, as well as what steps have been taken to manage it, before discussing your feelings around it and what you would like the new relationship’s money values to be.

Like all things that matter in life, honesty is important here… taking on the responsibility of someone else’s debt can cause unnecessary stress in your new relationship and even end it, but if you can work out a way to navigate those rough seas together you’ll master how to sail your relation-ship.

Sarah Wells is a money and finance expert who encourages Australian’s to take the taboo out of money and talk about their finances every day. She is director of Tailored Banking and Finance and can also be found @the_moneystudio.