If you are married, engaged, or in a relationship where you share day-to-day expenses with a partner, broaching the topic of how to blend your finances is essential. It is a subject every couple should discuss and revisit from time to time. For couples thinking about combining their finances for the first time, learning to communicate about money and discussing bill payments, pooled incomes, and savings and retirement plans are financial topics that should not be overlooked.
Co-mingling finances works differently for every couple, and there are many ways to go about it. Making the decision about whether to share everything, maintain independent accounts – or something in between is not always easy. To avoid confusion about who pays for what and arguments over differences in money habits, couples should consider the following while discussing their financial choices.
Start with Understanding
A candid conversation about money habits and styles is a great first step to identify how to manage funds in a new relationship. If two individuals have different philosophies when it comes to money, keeping some independence may help maintain a healthy relationship and protect your joint financial wellness. If you are on the same page – both savers, for example – combining finances more thoroughly can create a stronger relationship and financial efficiency. It is also important to discuss different "what if" scenarios. Talk with each other about how much each partner would spend on a new furniture purchase or vacation, for example. And remember to discuss how you each would approach an unexpected financial event such as job relocation.
Establish a Working Budget
Relationships bring many shared expenses – monthly rent or mortgage payments, groceries, gas, clothing, and more. It all adds up. Couples should pencil out their fixed shared expenses together and talk about how each expense will be paid. Once an agreement is reached, revisit the monthly budget plan periodically to ensure all the bases remain covered. As you work on the budgeting process together, you will each gain a better understanding of how your partner approaches money.
Agree on a Plan
In addition to careful budgeting, couples should agree on how they will combine money to manage certain expenses. Some couples establish a joint checking account in which you each deposit a portion of your income. Some couples may agree to maintain individual accounts. Some couples do both. Agree on how much money you will save together, and to establish an auto-transfer from your accounts so that saving is easy and automatic.
Equally important to the budget creation and planning process is ongoing, honest communication about money – saved and spent. Couples likely will not enjoy a healthy financial relationship if secrets are kept about money. Set aside time each week to pay bills and talk about money together. These planned "money talks" will keep any financial mistakes from affecting other areas of your relationship.
While there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for blending finances, having regular conversations about finances is important for all couples – whether newlyweds or retirees. Couples should consider sitting down with a financial advisor who can help them talk about different options and determine what might work best.
Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.
This communication is published in the United States for Texas only; and this advisor is licensed only in the states of CA, CO, FL, MO, NC, NM, OK, TX, and VA.
M. Ahmad Adnan, CFP®, CRPC®, RFC®
Business Financial Advisor
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
3200 Steck Avenue | Suite 250 | Austin, TX 78757
Phone: 512.213.6400 Ext. 102 | Toll Free: 866.238.4230
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