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Personal Finance

Here’s what couples need to know about merging finances

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Personal finance embodies deeply ingrained emotional characteristics that shape a person’s behavior towards their money. It’s important to remember that when sharing finances with a loved one, it’s not a one-time deal. Individual emotions, trauma and beliefs around money differ from person to person.

As a financial advisor at Albert, a personal finance app where users can text me and our team for personalized financial advice, I see a lot of questions around this topic. For example: my fiance and i are getting married. HHow should we save together for this goal? My partner just lost his job due to the pandemic how long can you lean on one income before you have to cut spending? My partner and I are a new couple. Sshould we merge our finances?

Sharing finances with your partner depends on your comfort level, your confidence, your relative income, and ultimately the dynamics of your relationship. As a newlywed, I can understand the complexity around this too. To help with the necessary conversation around merging finances as a couple, here are three ways to approach it.

It is a “your money is yours and my money is mine” approach to save and spend. Each partner will keep their individual bank accounts and will not have a shared account. They will each contribute a portion of their income to shared expenses, including things like entertainment subscriptions and mortgage payments.

Advantages:

  • Maintain financial independence; you don’t need permission to buy anything you want with your own money.
  • Makes the pursuit of individual financial goals (retirement, investments, etc.) clearer.
  • Separates finances, which is good security in the event of a breakdown.

The inconvenients:

  • Disproportionate income between partners can make it difficult to share expenses. For example, the higher income partner wants to spend more on their vacation, while the lower income partner has a lower budget.
  • This method does not work for single income households.
  • Splitting expenses can become tedious, especially if there is no system or agreement in place. For example, one partner pays for groceries, while the other partner pays for restaurant meals.

This is when a couple has a joint bank account where both partners contribute money to be used for shared expenses, but each partner still keeps their individual bank accounts for their personal expenses.

Advantages:

  • Like the separate account strategy, it retains some independence; you don’t need authorization to buy anything you want with your own money from your separate account.
  • It also makes working towards individual financial goals (retirement, investments, etc.) a little clearer.
  • Covers essential common expenses through a common bank account.
  • Leave room for the unforeseen in the event of a breakdown of the couple.

The inconvenients:

  • Accounting and splitting can get tricky, as this method requires more communication, where the two have to work together on finances.
  • Does not work for some scenarios if there is large disproportionate income between partners.
  • If the partners have very different financial perspectives (or if one has a spending problem), it may be difficult to access the other partner’s money through a joint account.
  • This method does not require a partner to be so transparent with their spending, however, their actions can still have a negative impact on their partner. For example, if a partner spends their entire salary on a TV and does not have enough money to contribute to the joint account that month, both partners are financially constrained by this decision.

This is when a couple’s finances come fully together, with a “your money is our money and my money is our money” approach to saving and spending.

Advantages:

  • Easy to implement.
  • Transparency in all transactions.
  • May work well for couples with disproportionate income or a single income household.

The inconvenients:

  • If the partners have different financial perspectives (or a spending problem), having full access to the other partner’s finances can be difficult.
  • It can be difficult to work on individual financial goals.
  • If you are early in the relationship, it could be risky if you haven’t established trust yet.

In my opinion, the only way to approach this is to have a sincere conversation with your partner. It can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is necessary to meet all the financial goals that you and your partner have set. You will need to be honest and open with each of your financial situations, and you will need to approach the discussion with empathy.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself and your partner:

  • How do you feel with the money?
  • What do you think of the budgets?
  • What are your debts?
  • What are your financial goals?
  • If you were to find $ 5,000 today, what would you do with it?
  • What’s your credit rating?
  • What is your current net worth? (Total assets minus total liabilities.)
  • Who do you trust your money with and why?

I’ve received quite a few texts from single users who are considering merging their finances with their significant other, and I think this is certainly an interesting discussion if you are in a serious and committed relationship, especially if you live with your partner. partner or share important information. expenses.

One thing to consider if you and your partner are living together is to create a cohabitation agreement. This specifies how expenses should be distributed, how to manage debts and what happens in the event of a break-up.

Sometimes equal payments do not mean equitable contributions. For couples who have disproportionate income levels and use the semi-split or split approach to merge finances, it may make more sense for the higher income to contribute a larger portion to the shared expenses.

For example, let’s say the wife earns $ 100,000 per year, while the husband earns $ 50,000 per year, bringing the total combined household income to $ 150,000 per year. It may be more equitable for the wife to contribute 66% of her income to the joint account and the husband to contribute 34%, instead of sharing half 50/50. Keep in mind that it also depends on the dynamics of your specific relationship.

Whether you are an engaged couple planning your wedding for 2022, a couple who have just moved in together, or a married couple who are celebrating many years together, it is never too late to discuss with your partner how to manage. your finances together. Remember to keep the other’s point of view in mind, be sincere and open during the conversation, and challenge each other to achieve your financial goals together. These mentioned tools can help guide the conversation, but it will be up to you and your partner to put a plan into action.

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