Whether you are married or not, if you’re living with your partner, then deciding how the two of you are going to manage your finances is an important discussion to have. Money is one of the most common causes of arguments in a relationship, so it’s best to tackle the topic in advance rather than wait for it to cause a problem. It might seem like an intimidating or uncomfortable issue to raise, but handling it early on will save you a lot of potential disagreement and worry in the long run. With that in mind, here are some top tips for how to make managing your money with your partner as smooth as possible.
Talk openly about money
One of the vital factors to bear in mind when it comes to money is honesty. This is key for trust in any relationship. Be open with your partner about your spending habits, your earnings, and, in particular, any debt or poor credit history that you have. That’s because if you link your finances together in some way, for example, by having a joint bank account or getting a mortgage together, your credit score can have an impact on theirs. It’s a good idea to have an open discussion about these issues, as well as your personal attitude towards saving money. Everyone feels differently about things such as how much you should save for retirement, splurging on expensive vacations or clothes, whether money is important for happiness, and making risky investments. It’s helpful if you and your partner both understand each other when it comes to money matters, and this will make deciding how to manage your finances together easier.
Ensure the essentials are covered
First and foremost, it’s crucial to cover the basics. This means necessary outgoings such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, and so on. When talking about how to manage your finances, this is where you should start. Decide how you’re going to split these joint costs in a way that’s fair and acceptable to you both. At this point, it’s also sensible to discuss ideas for how to cover those unexpected costs that inevitably seem to arise, for example, if your car breaks down or if you have a water leak at home. Thankfully there are lots of choices available to you if you don’t have a rainy day fund, and the option to get a payday loan or similar is always there if you need it. Just make sure you talk about it with your partner first!
Think about your personal circumstances
When it comes to managing money with your partner, there is no single right answer that will suit everyone. A wide variety of different factors need to be considered, so take some time to think about your personal circumstances and how they impact your financial decisions. For example:
- Do you both have jobs, or does one of you stay home to look after the children?
- Do you both earn roughly the same amount of money, or does one of you earn much more than the other?
- Is one or both of you still in college?
- How much do you have in savings, individually or jointly?
- How much are your regular outgoings?
- Are you comfortable financially, or is it sometimes tricky to make ends meet?
- What are your plans for the future?
- How comfortable are you both with the idea of joint finances?
Tracking your spending can be very helpful in working out where your money goes each month and then drawing up an appropriate budget. Luckily these days, there are lots of apps to enable you to do this more easily. Just make sure that you do these tasks together.
Consider the different options for managing finances
Once you have a good idea about your personal preferences and circumstances, you can start to consider all the different possible ways that you can manage your money as a couple. There are actually a surprisingly wide variety of options out there to choose between, so take your time to find a method that you’re both happy with. Some of the most common include:
- Having a joint account that is used for shared costs such as bills. With this, you both pay an equal amount into the account.
- Keeping separate accounts, then splitting the cost of bills either equally or proportionately according to your income.
- Paying everything into a joint account, then transferring an allowance into each of your separate accounts for personal spending.
- Have a joint account to save up for holidays or other fun expenditures.
These are just a few possibilities – the Guardian has a great article on how some real couples choose to manage their money, which might give you some more ideas. You can always be flexible as your circumstances change, too.
Set clear boundaries
Whichever route you decide to go with your finances, it’s important to set some clear boundaries from the start. This is especially true with joint accounts. For instance, you could set a spending limit above which you must both agree to a purchase. Another idea is to have a certain amount that you must save each month, whether it’s for a rainy day fund or a vacation. By doing this, you can ensure that both of you are happy and comfortable with your method and can retain as much financial independence as you want. It can also be a great way to find a compromise if one of you is a saver and the other is a spender.
Be equal partners
One of the most important factors to remember when managing your finances with your partner is that you should both have an equal say. Even if you’re not interested in money matters, you should both be in a situation where you understand exactly how your finances are organized and where your money goes. Putting one person in complete control is unfair on both of you and more likely to lead to resentment and arguments. Hopefully, you’ll find that tackling this issue together not only makes good financial sense but also brings you closer as a couple.