Safe Exit

Building anything well starts from the ground up, with a good solid foundation – the same applies to a healthy financial relationship.

So, what is a relationship – simply, it’s two people in a ship!

How do you make sure your ship is healthy? It needs to be strong, made with the right materials, comfortable for both people, fit for purpose, and able to navigate obstacles and choppy seas.

None of these things happen on their own, it requires some effort to have a good healthy relationship.

What is a Healthy Financial Relationship?

What is a Healthy Financial Relationship?

Building a healthy financial relationship starts like any healthy relationship – from the ground up, with a good solid foundation.

Think of your relationship like two people in a ship – how can you make sure your ship is healthy and strong?

It needs to be made with the right materials, comfortable for both people, fit for purpose and able to navigate obstacles and choppy seas.

None of these things happen on their own, it requires effort from both people to have a healthy relationship.

You’ll need the following foundations:

Mutual respect

Valuing who the other person is, appreciating what they bring to the relationship and understanding each other’s boundaries.

A safe supportive environment

Feeling safe physically, emotionally and financially. Feeling comfortable to be yourself and share your opinions - even if they are different.


Having confidence and faith in each other even when you are not sure.


Both people feeling involved in decisions, and having a willingness to negotiate situations.


Spending time together but also your own space and a life outside of the relationship - including financial independence.

Regular communication

Open and honest, being able to disagree and resolve conflict without fear of how your partner might respond regardless of what might be said.

When does money become important in the relationship?

When you are single and your money is yours, making money decisions is easy – you can spend, save or invest however you like.

When you start a new relationship, there will come a time when some costs are shared. This will look different for everyone.

For example who pays when you’re:

  • On a date – food, drinks, activities, events and petrol
  • Going on vacation together  – accommodation, travel costs and food
  • Buying something together – a car, pet, house or furniture items
  • Moving in – blending families, living costs and furnishings
  • Getting married – venue, honeymoon and other costs

There is no one size fits all. 

Some couples manage their own money and just share costs. Others join some of their money, while others join all their money.

Every relationship is unique and there is no right or wrong, it’s about finding what works for you both.

Building money into your relationship

As well as the general healthy relationship foundations, here are a few important money foundations:

Developing a financial plan together that benefits both parties
Respecting different views and values around financial choices and decisions
A comfortable environment to be open, honest, negotiate and disagree safely about money matters - including debt
Both people agreeing how relationship money is managed and accessed
Having a choice about your level of involvement in the financial decisions – that is supportive and allows for change
Valuing the non-financial contributions of the relationship – and share the load in a way that works for you both
Maintaining some independence around any personal money and how you choose to manage it
When making financial decisions with family money or accessing joint lending – both people need to be in agreement about signing documents and have a good understanding of additional costs and repayment obligations
Being open to negotiating personal and relationship growth and change as life progresses – including decisions around studying, changing jobs or your work hours and childcare
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To make all this happen communication is key.

It’s important to talk about money regularly in a relationship as financial changes and challenges can sneak up on you and become stressful – without a lot of warning.

We know that having conversations about money is not always easy and can be a struggle for many couples.

Some people are very aware of what has influenced their financial opinions and are open to discussing their views – while others are not.

While it is useful to know that you and your partner are likely to have different perspectives, talking about money doesn’t have to be scary.

Our Healthy Relationship Toolkit has a range of useful information that you can use to support your healthy financial relationship. 

It has resources that will support you to understand your own relationship with money, the differences between genders, how money is viewed, as well as a few quizzes and communication skill-building exercises.

You can explore it on your own or with your partner.

Click here to visit our Healthy Relationships Toolkit

According to research, over 50% of Kiwi’s would rather talk politics, sex or drugs, rather than money.

For many people, money is a taboo subject.

The topic itself is not the issue, it’s the emotions, beliefs, and values that are often associated with it, which if not understood can get in the way of healthy conversations.
Read Te Ara Ahunga Ora's research

Healthy financial relationship checklist

Tick all that apply

If you don’t have many boxes checked and you’re concerned about your relationship, speak to our Financial Wellbeing Coach.

Click here to learn more

“I have a great financial relationship with my partner – we talk about money regularly.

We have some joint and separate money.

I manage the joint money simply because I enjoy it.

Although we both agreed to this, there are times when my partner wants some money and feels like he has to ask for it and that’s uncomfortable for him.

The intention was never for this to be the case as we both have joint access.

The same feeling occurs for me when I make a financial decision that he seems fine with, but we have no real discussion – I second guess myself.

I suppose my point is, the more involved you both are in the finances the more inclusive and supportive it feels – and less likely to feel as if one person has more power or control over the finances.

Therefore, there’s less chance of frustrations arising that could lead to more harmful attitudes or behaviours.”

Did you find this useful?

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The resources on this website are provided free of charge to make sure they are available for people who need them.
If your organisation found these resources helpful, please consider making a donation to ensure we can continue supporting those people who need our help.

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We provide loans for essential items but not for cash, vacations, or normal household bills like food or future rent.

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