Combining Your Money With Your Honey
With wedding season in full swing, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the importance of couples and money. Whether you’re shacking up for the first time or taking the plunge with marriage, if you’re going to share a home and life with your partner, you also need to share the details of your finances. People will offer you tons of advice on how to best manage your money as a couple. Listen politely, then do what works best for your relationship. To figure that out, here are some steps to take to ensure financial woes don’t rob you of your loving bliss.
Schedule a money talk. I don’t care how much of a mess your finances are, it is imperative to the longevity of your relationship that you come clean about what you make, what you spend and what you owe. I know how hard this is because I’ve had this talk. I had to answer the questions about where my debt came from and why I didn’t have more saved. It wasn’t my favorite sit-down with my guy, but I’m glad we did it. It took a bottle of wine (or two), but it was worth it.
Be clear on your monthly joint expenses. If you don’t already know how much your joint and separate bills are, now is the time to figure it out. This will enable you to figure out the best way to fairly split the expenses.
Figure out who pays what. You might split the bills between yourselves or you might designate one person to pay all the bills with the other just contributing income. Maybe you both put money into a joint account where all the bills are set up for autopay. Or if one of you doesn’t have much income to speak of, the other partner might pick up all the expenses. If you’re not contributing to the income, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what the expenses are.
You might be surprised to know that I’m actually not the one in my relationship who pays the bills. I write a check to my fella every month, and he’s the one who gets the money to the landlord, the cable guy and the parking garage. That’s cool because it works for us. I know how much all those bills are and I would know how to pay them if I had to. That’s what’s important. On the flipside, my parents, who have been married for more than 40 years, each pay different bills. Mom pays the mortgage, Dad pays the car payments. It works for them, so it’s right.
Develop a long-term plan together. If one or both of you is carrying debt, work together to make a plan to get rid of it as soon as you can. Perhaps you’re not cool with helping to pay off debt that your eye’s apple accumulated during a previous relationship. No one says you have to, but it is part of your joint plan so you have to take that into account as you determine mutual savings goals and contributions.
Be flexible. If the first way you try causes fights or you find yourself hiding things from each other, try another way. There is no right or wrong way to make your money work as a couple and it will probably change over time as life happens. What’s most important is that you talk to each other regularly about money in a loving, trustful way and that you are clear on where you stand and where you’re going together.