Fighting about money is the worst, and unfortunately, it’s something that many couples do on a weekly basis. Is there a way to be real with your partner about money and not feel so much stress and emotion?
Yes. Although it will take some work, by being open with your partner about finances and working together to develop a good system for managing your money as a couple, you can not only maintain your couple status, but strengthen it. While every relationship is different, here are six tips for managing money with your partner in a positive, productive way.
Be open about your debt and current financial status.
The most important thing you can do to effectively manage money with your partner is to be as open and honest as possible about the current state of your finances. Letting your partner know about your debts, loans, credit history, spending habits, and money goals can keep an honest stream of communication going, and ensure that there are no unwanted surprises in the future.
Before you start filling out a spreadsheet, try to stay in the big picture for a moment. Talking about your feelings around money will help you get a sense of each other’s history and figure out which areas you can grow in together. Most of us have a bit of insecurity when it comes to personal finance–don’t assume that your partner has everything figured out, just because you don’t feel super confident. You’re both learning, and the more open you can be, the more you can learn together.
If you’re planning on managing finances together with your partner, this is not a time to keep secrets. You’ll want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you know you have a tendency to overspend when you’re stressed–that’s something you’ll want to share with your partner.
If you’re like many couples, this might be the first time you’re really talking about this stuff. It’s okay to feel a little awkward! Lean into the awkwardness and make a date of it: Go to your favorite coffee shop or pizza place with the goal of talking openly about your finances. If you’re the planning type, maybe jot down a few questions or topics you want to chat about.
Here are some questions to consider when talking about managing your finances as a couple:
- How do you feel about your relationship with money?
- Did you have good financial role models growing up?
- Where did you learn what you know about personal finance?
- What areas/topics do you feel like you could learn more about?
- Do you have any big picture financial goals?
Once you’ve had that conversation (take your time with it!), then you can dive more into the details. How do you currently manage finances as a couple? How much are you making each month, how much do you owe, and how much are your monthly bills? Have you been saving? Depending on how much of your finances you’re planning on sharing, you might want to talk about your:
- Student loans
- Car loans
- Mortgage loans
- Personal loans
- Credit history
- Credit card debt
- Insurance costs
- Other monthly bills
- Emergency funds
- Retirement accounts
Talk about shared goals as a couple.
Talking about your monthly expenses and debt can sometimes feel a little heavy. But there’s a very fun part of managing money as a couple, and that’s this: When you work together to manage your money well, you can start to work towards bigger, and better goals!
One way to keep your money conversations positive, is to keep them focused on the shared goals you have as a couple. These can be short-term, long-term, or whatever “term” you feel excited about.
Maybe it’s to finally be debt-free, to go on a romantic getaway together, or to make some updates to your home. Do you want to retire early? Move abroad? Change careers? Buy a few acres in the middle of nowhere?
Setting goals on which large purchases you want to make with your partner can not only allow you to communicate what you see in your future, but can also allow you to save for them together. Working together to develop and work towards a common goal can help strengthen your relationship and make your goals come true faster. (Especially if you set them up as Savings Goals in your Shared Account!)
However, during these conversations, you may figure out that you have different long-term financial goals than your partner. If they’re not totally irreconcilable, talk through how you can work through them to make your relationship with your money and your partner function more smoothly.
Consider having two bank accounts each.
Opening a joint bank account is a great idea when you’ve decided to share finances, and it’s a step many married couples choose to take after exchanging vows. However, giving control of all of your money to another person can be not only risky, but cause avoidable fights.
Consider opening up one Shared Account and one individual account for income that you wouldn’t otherwise spend on things involving the other person. This can ensure you to work together towards goals and be open about money, while retaining a little bit more of your individuality and control over your finances.
Establish a joint budget (and track it).
Deciding how much you will both spend on day-to-day things like eating out and groceries can not only help you stay on track with your savings, it can also stop you from having money squabbles, too. If you have a Shared Account with Simple, you can set up Expenses for your monthly bills, so you can rest easy knowing your essentials are covered.
If you’re familiar with Expenses in your individual Simple account, Expenses in Shared Accounts work very similarly!
Divide your financial responsibilities.
Another way to ensure that sharing finances doesn’t end in a disaster is to have an honest conversation about sharing financial responsibilities. Who is responsible for making the rent payment on time? How much should you each pay for utilities? Being clear about who pays for—and who facilitates—each bill can help you to work out what is fair and who is in charge of each bill. This can help minimize late payments (and their associated fees!), surprise expenses and of course, fighting.
Check out our blog, Sharing Expenses in a Shared Account for more advice on managing money as a couple.
Make it a date.
Once you develop a system, it’s easy to let things go into autopilot. But as seasons change, your expenses, income, and goals might change too—so it’s important to check in regularly to make sure your financial plan is still on the right track. Put a reminder on your calendar to go through your account each month, maybe at a different pizza place each time?
Managing money as a couple can feel hard, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Focus on keeping communication open, honest, and frequent, and preventing issues before they happen. Remember that it’s a process, and that you’re both learning!
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