Couples and Finances – To Merge or Not to Merge?

Life together has started and the bills are filtering, but who pays for this or that?  Is it a 50/50 split, sort it out as you go, or whoever earns more pays more?  There is no right or wrong answer, but you should have a plan.

Here are three tips to begin a life of financial bliss together!

Talk

We all hear the number one issue of conflict in relationships is money!  We also know that the best way to avoid conflict is to communicate.  Honest, open dialogue is always needed; but it is essential when it comes to running your household finances!

A few common approaches:

  • Setup one checking account where both paychecks are deposited and all expenses are paid out.
  • Funnel designated amounts into a joint account for household expenses and keep separate accounts for all other personal expenses.
  • Keep things very separate and split the bills and pay all expenses directly with no commingling.

No matter the method, this requires talking and coming to an agreement!  Each person must understand where the other is coming from, respect their reasoning and follow the devised plan.  It will take some practice and adjustment over time; but the more you talk the easier it will become.

 

Know Your Numbers

You have a system for moving forward, but unless you are clear on the numbers, your budget will quickly go awry.  Everyone must be upfront about their assets and debts and how much they can contribute. Start by taking an inventory of your current situation.

Here are a few starter questions:

  • How much do you need each month to pay all the household bills?
  • How much is your income?
  • What outstanding debt (car loans, student loans, credit card debt) do you have?
  • What amount of savings have you accumulated?
  • Do you have a good understanding of your cash flow?

No matter if you are doing finances jointly or separately, these questions need to be discussed openly. Once you know your numbers, you can list your resources, assign roles, track your money, pay bills, accumulate savings, update your net worth statement, have constructive money conversations and set future goals.

 

 

Monitor Reality, Expectations and Goals

As you follow your methodology and track your progress, it is important to continue talking and re-evaluating how it is actually working.  Does everyone know what is being paid and how much things cost for the obvious reasons (eviction is not good), but also for relationship success.  In fact, a study showed that combined finances lead to healthier relationships!   According to Money Management International, people who manage money separately from their partner are 5 times more likely to leave their partner due to money issues.

Disagreements arise when fairness and decision-making come into question. It is particularly important to agree in advance on how you as a couple are going to handle unforeseen purchases. Is prior permission required or is forgiveness requested later?  Talk about how you plan to deal with unexpected needs or wants so no one is caught off guard, overwhelmed or just plain mad.  Setting the expectations beforehand should alleviate uncertainty and help couples avoid financial fury!

Putting your system into place will require ongoing work and as your relationship grows new money goals will evolve and be folded into the plan.  Through much discussion, hard work and compromise your household finances will take shape and provide you with a happy, wealthy life together!

 

One of WPC’s core commitments is to guide the next generation. We are here to help you make good financial decisions and build a foundation for financial success. If you need assistance developing your strategy, give us a call at 513-733-1750. 

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