When you fall in love and start to combine lives, do you also need to consider….combining money? Are joint finances part of the relationship script?
In this girl’s opinion, the decision to have joint finances is not in any predetermined script. It’s not a foregone conclusion; it’s an active decision two people should make together if it’s right for them. (Read here about how two married couples split finances!)
I’ve been with my partner Tbone for eight years, and we’ve lived together for six. I don’t consider us to have joint finances because we don’t share any bank accounts, any credit cards, or any financial assets (like a car or a home.) But I would consider us to be financially involved. We split groceries, rent, and utilities, for example.
We use Venmo a LOT in my relationship.
The only question couples should be asking themselves about joint finances is… is it right for you?
What Joint Finances Can Mean
Combining money with your boo doesn’t look one set way. In fact, money management as a couple never has to look any specific way ever. There are many options if you’re considering doing this, because there are many parts of your financial lives!
You could open one joint bank account for combined expenses, like housing or food, and keep other separate accounts in your own names.
You could have no joint bank accounts, but share one credit card.
You could combine all your bank accounts, investments, and credit cards.
It’s your life and money, so you and your partner should be the ones who decide how you want combined finances to look! Don’t feel any pressure to do things the way your parents or friends do it.
Combining finances might make your financial life easier. Joint finances can mean less to manage, less to track, and less to communicate about each month.
It might also have an emotional impact on your money. Combining finances might make you feel closer to your partner, or it might create more stress.
I’m a very independent person, and I know right now that combining finances would make me feel about 100% more stressed about about money as a whole. I have very ambitious money goals for myself when it comes to saving and investing, and having to compromise, explain, or change in any way my current system would only stress me out.
When Joint Finances Might Be Right
If you check most of these things off, joint finances might be the next logical step for your relationship:
–You and your partner communicate well around money, without judgement or secrets
-You understand that joint bank accounts legally belong to both parties and are comfortable with that
-You and your partner have a specific plan for the joint money, such as a savings account or monthly household expenses
-You have some separate money in your own name. I firmly believe women must always have money in their own name for safety.
When Joint Finances Might Be Wrong
Here are some things that would give me pause about combining finances with a partner.
-You or your partner have recently lied to one another about money
-You don’t have a way of communicating healthily about money and often fight about it
-You or your partner have a past financial trauma around sharing money that impacts their current fianncial views and opinions
-You and your partner have different life or world views around money. For example, you believe both partners should make financial decisions and your partner thinks only the man should make financial decisions.
Your Next Steps
Before you sign any bank paperwork, it’s always a good idea to talk to your boo first.
Notice how above I mention TWICE that communication with your partner is critical to combining finances? If talking about money is a struggle for y’all, you should start with talking first.
I’ll be honest, Tbone and I used to have, shall we say, strained financial conversations. I wanted him to pay off his student loan debt faster than he wanted to, and I also wanted him to just flat out enjoy financial planning more.
Guess what? Turns out Tbone is a totally different person than I am, and I can’t make him do things!
Learning to find the balance between giving me space to express my enthusiasm about money and giving Tbone space away from intense financial planning took us some time. But for the lasst few years, we haven’t had a single disagreement or argument about money.
I’ve put all the communication exercises and activities we did (and still do!) into this workbook if you want to steal the system we use!
Even if you don’t use our couples workbook, I strongly advise everyone to find a way to communicate healthily about money with your partner. Money is a huge part of life and it WILL come up again and again. Getting on the same money page is not only the first step to joint finances, but an overall big move in your relationship.
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