My money is my money… and his money, well that’s mine too. Chances are you’ve heard that saying before. I know my dad used to always say that about my mom, that all the money was hers. It always made me laugh growing up.
Money seems to be one of those topics that couples have a hard time discussing. Whether you are married, living together or even dating, money can be a topic that stresses many couples out. But don’t let it.
When you first decide to “couple” your finances, it’s important to sit down and be open to the conversation. Talk about any debt you might have and how you’re paying it off. Be open and clear about how much income you each earn; now is not the time to be modest or proud.
Yours, Mine, Ours
For the most part, we all have some sort of personal account, so the idea of coupling our finances might scare you. You might feel like you’re losing your security blanket or that a piece of you is being taken away. That is not the case.
Often times, couples have several accounts, they have a personal account and then a joint account. This allows them to still have some financial freedom, yet still contribute to the relationship financially. This is something that needs to be decided as a couple based on what is best for both of you. Or if the idea of a joint account is something you don’t want, then simply divide the bills and communicate which bills you pay and which bills your partner pays. For this, communication is the key to ensuring that no bills fall behind.
I make so much less!
The likelihood that you both make the same amount of money is slim, and that’s okay. This is when compromise comes into play. As a couple, you have to sit down and define which role each of you will play. Will one add more to the joint account? Will one take on fewer bills? You'll also have to be open to change. For instance, if one gets a pay raise, you might need to review your financial plan. Or if a bill increases or even decreases, you need to have open communication and be open to making adjustments as needed.
It’s a lifestyle…
When you take the step to couple your finances, it’s important to know that things are about to change. Don’t worry, change can be a good thing… if you’re open to it. It goes back to communication and really setting up a plan and a budget. You want to be able to create a budget that both of you can agree on, one that doesn’t make you feel too restricted.
My boyfriend and I don’t have joint accounts, but one day while he was shopping for a fishing pole and I asked, “How many do you need?” He looked at me and said, “How many purses do you need?” He had me there, but we both respected the fact that it was our money. Nevertheless, when you take the steps to join your accounts, you don’t want to feel like you’re living under two different roofs, so work on a lifestyle that fits you as a couple. Whether it’s saying okay to one purse a month, or one fishing rod a month, the goal is to agree so there’s no unnecessary friction about what you are spending money on.
With coupling finances, communication is key. Don’t worry, it will take some time to get used to, but before you know it, it will be an old habit and all your doubts will be gone.