Anyone with a semi-healthy relationship knows that being half of a couple is all about sharing — sharing ideas, sharing feelings, sharing time… but should you share a bank account? Well that depends, and not on how much you love each other. Even couples that are head-over-heels in love may find themselves at odds once the finances start to co-mingle.
Many experts (like Suze Orman) claim that money is the number one reason couples argue and the primary reason marriages end in divorce. Psychotherapist Olivia Mellan told eHarmony, “When two people form an enduring relationship with each other, money is always a partner, too. Many individuals have a troubled relationship with money. Then, when they get into a couple relationship, money matters get explosive. Other people may have no problem with money individually; the trouble starts after they’re in a relationship.”
Before you start sharing funds, it’s best for you and your honey to talk about your existing financial position. Here are some questions you both should ask each other before jumping into joint accounts:
- How much debt do you have?
- Do you know your credit score? What is it?
- Do you have any savings?
- What are your future financial goals?
These questions may seem like they would douse the flame in your relationship. But after this discussion you’ll get a better idea of where your relationship stands. If you’re in a serious relationship, after you’ve gotten in each other’s business a bit, you can form a strategy to work together.
Create a Budget
The financial make-up of each couple can be different. One person may be the breadwinner, one may stay at home with the kids; one may be a spender and one a saver. No matter what the conditions, a budget needs to be made. Not a budget that you keep in your head, but one that is clean and concise on paper, in Excel, or Quickbooks (if you’re advanced).
Set Up Your Accounts
This leads back to my original question: Should you share an account? Well the answer is yes and no. You should share accounts, however you both should also have individual accounts as well. You’ll feel like you are working as a team by having a joint checking to pay the bills and a joint savings, but you also have your individual spending accounts, so your significant other isn’t looking over your shoulder every time you make a purchase.
Keep Talking About It
Many couples don’t want to face having a conversation about money. But if you want to have a future together it’s a must. The more you bring up the topic and discuss it, the more comfortable you will get talking about it. Eventually you can talk about it freely anytime.
Figuring out your money situation is definitely not a guarantee for a successful relationship. I’m sure there will be plenty of other things to argue about and keep you on your toes, but at least money won’t be one of them.