A new toolkit that helps couples talk about money aims to curtail the risk of financial hardship and economic harm.
Good Shepherd NZ and AUT have worked together to launch the Healthy Financial Relationships Toolkit.
Bespoke to New Zealand, the toolkit has been developed based on the findings from its joint research project that took place last year.
A focus group participant reported the toolkit changed the way she approached her money conversations.
“Instead of attacking my partner, I have listened to his ideas and not thought ‘here we go again… all talk and no action.’ This time I have a glimmer of hope it could be different.”
The new online resource provides people at different stages of intimate relationships with support to have conversations about money, improves their understanding of their own relationship with money, and shows what healthy financial relationships look like.
“So many people don’t talk about money until there’s a problem that can’t be ignored,” says Good Shepherd NZ’s Social Inclusion Manager, Nicola Eccleton. “If we can start conversations before the problems arise it becomes much easier to work through them before they escalate. This reduces negative outcomes like relationship conflict, divorce, bankruptcy, and even economic harm.”
Economic harm (also called economic abuse) is a form of family violence that involves one person controlling, restricting, or removing their partner’s access to money, economic resources, or participation in financial decisions.
AUT Business School’s Dr Ayesha Scott, a finance expert who studies the impact of economic harm on intimate relationships, received an AUT Health Futures development grant to support the joint research project.
Ayesha says that without regular conversations about how money and resources will be used, spending can become individualised, and one partner’s financial desires and needs can dominate the other partner’s approach to money.
“Regular conversations about money get you on the same page, establish your shared financial goals and prevent conflict. But they can also prevent one person controlling their partner’s access to money – giving behaviours that can lead to economic harm fewer places to hide,” says Ayesha.
Both Nicola and Ayesha agree that economic harm has for too long gone unaddressed in New Zealand. They believe the toolkit will help change the way Kiwis think, talk, and share experiences about money.
The toolkit, which is made up of 16 different topics split into two sections - preparing for the conversation and talking about money, is available for free online for any individual or couple wanting to use it.
“We’re excited to be working towards reducing money conflicts and the potential for economic harm, by providing people with relevant information and tools to have real, tangible conversations about money,” Nicola says.