Financial planner Les McGuire says “people often don’t reveal their debts because they feel ashamed”.
Financial planner Les McGuire says “people often don’t reveal their debts because they feel ashamed”. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

An STD with a difference

VALENTINE'S Day is the time when sweethearts traditionally exchange gifts of love.

But be warned - your new partner may also give you a nasty STD, a case of "sexually transmitted debt".

According to AMP Financial Planner Les McGuire, when love is blooming many people avoid discussing their personal finances for fear it will put a dampener on the romance.

"I can be a real shock to discover later that your new partner has several maxed out credit cards or high-interest loans," he said.

"People often don't reveal their debts because they feel ashamed.

"But it's important for couples to have the 'money talk' to avoid heartbreak down the track."

In his job as a financial planner Mr McGuire often finds his financial counselling spills over into relationship counselling.

"It's not unusual for everything to come out when couples discuss their finances and future aspirations," he said.

One couple Mr McGuire worked with, whose names we have changed, were getting serious and considering marriage.

Jack owned a property Jill knew nothing about and there were also some details of her finances she had concealed from him.

Both were cautious about starting their new relationship as they had seen friends and celebrities breaking up and watched the painful legal disputes that sometimes ensued regarding the division of assets.

"But it can be much easier working with a financial planner because it takes the judgement out of the equation," he said.

"Jack and Jill are still together and it has made their relationship stronger."

As for avoiding sexually transmitted debt, Mr McGuire recommended both partners be upfront about any debts or assets they may be bringing into a relationship.

"Ask your new love whether they have a clear credit rating," he said.

"It is a good idea to know your partner's credit history if you want to borrow money together in the future. If one person has a big credit card debt and they default the bank may come after a couple's joint assets. Love comes first, but it's important for people to be aware of their partner's financial circumstances before they let Cupid's arrow strike."