Handling money in a relationship can open up a world of questions. Do you go the joint account route? Should you keep your own account? What about both? Should you be on the same page when it comes to finances or is it okay to have varying ideas about the future of your money?
My husband and I have tackled all those questions and many more over the last 7 years. Every stage in our relationship has given us an opportunity to change our roles and we find ourselves constantly evolving. Money and relationships can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if you keep an open mind and allow yourself to figure out what works best for you and your current situation.
There are tons of finance gurus who will give you their advice for handling money in relationships, but you can’t always do what works well for someone else. Every couple has to find what works for them when it comes to handling money. Don’t get pressured into handling your finances a certain way just because it worked for someone else. Experiment a little and see what works for you.
In order to show you what I mean, I thought I’d share our personal journey with merging our money. When Tom and I first moved into together we handled all our money separately in two different accounts. When we got engaged, we opened a joint checking account to pay for the wedding. We kept all three open for a few years and then eventually closed our separate ones and put all our money together. When I was the breadwinner I was more aware of the money coming in and out so I kept very close tabs on all our spending. I did weekly budgets and analyzed how we did the previous week every Sunday morning over coffee. I would chart how much we saved through couponing and try to save even more the next week. Once Tom became the breadwinner I lost a little incentive to keep up with our money as closely. I stopped checking the accounts every week and eventually Tom took over the budgeting. Now, I never look at our account. I leave it up to Tom to handle all the finances and I make sure to spend roughly the same amount each week so we don’t go over budget. There have been times that Tom and I have had separate credit cards and now we have the same account in order to earn more of the same rewards.
We went from a couple with completely separate accounts to one who shares all aspects of our finances. Am I saying this is what you should do too? Absolutely not! Accounts are easy to open and close so don’t be afraid to try the joint account and if it doesn’t work you can go back to separate accounts.
You have to do what works for you and be open to change when it no longer works. The only piece of advice that I think everyone should follow is to be completely honest with your partner about your spending. Don’t hide shopping trips and don’t lie about what you are spending. You can’t make the best decisions about your joint finances if you aren’t honest with each other. If you find that you don’t like your partner to know every aspect of your spending then maybe you are the type of couple who needs separate accounts, and that is okay as long as you are open and honest about why you want a separate account.
I’m lucky that I married a like-minded spender/ saver. I understand that not everyone is in the same boat as me, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start a conversation about it with your partner. Even if you spend a little differently, it can’t hurt to have the same financial goals.
How do you and your partner handle finances? I’d love to hear all about it!