It’s no surprise that millennials are paving the way for new traditions. They are renting instead of buying, working remotely instead of in-office, and putting off marriage until their 30’s. With that said, millennials are still forming strong partnerships. They buy homes together, share rent, and even have children before tying the knot. In fact, the percentage of adults cohabitating with their partners is on the rise.
But deciding to move in together isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It comes with important financial decisions too. 43% of unmarried couples who live together have entirely joint bank accounts or at least some of their money in a joint bank account.
Deciding to move in together isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It comes with important financial decisions too.
Whether you just tied the knot or are cohabitating with your partner, money management for couples brings up a lot of tricky questions and concerns. Maintaining a healthy relationship is tough. Throw money into the mix, and it can either make or break your relationship.
There is no set formula for how you should combine finances with your partner. However, we’ll give you some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do.
What Not To Do
If you have made the decision to combine finances with your partner, here are a few things you should avoid:
Don’t combine everything at once: When discussing finances, many couples believe the only option is to combine all of your accounts. This is not true and is not recommended in the beginning. Start by combining only a few of your accounts. List out the accounts you want to combine and leave some separate. You can also start a joint account for shared expenses such as groceries and rent.
Don’t micromanage: When combining finances, do not criticize your partner’s spending habits. If you have concerns about their money management, bring it up in a respectful way and offer solutions to help.
Don’t forget to do your part: Make sure you are always doing your part to keep your finances healthy and afloat. That means no longer dropping $300 on that designer bag you just can’t live without. You are a team now and a team means working together.
Don’t keep secrets: Keeping secrets in any relationship is bad news. Keeping secrets around finances is even worse. Financial secrets can have a negative effect on both emotional and physical security.
Keeping secrets in any relationship is bad news. Keeping secrets around finances is even worse.
What You Should Do
Here are some tips on things you should keep in mind when making the leap of merging finances:
Communicate thoroughly: The success of any relationship depends on good communication, and it is no different with finances. Be open and transparent with your partner about any concerns you have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like: Do you have any debt? How much do you make? What if we break up? Asking these tough questions ahead of time will save you in the long run.
Create a budget: Establish a budget for the first couple of months. Make sure to include joint expenses such as groceries, rent, and date nights. Don’t feel restricted by this budget, but instead use it as a guideline for your spending that you can adjust down the line.
Establish an emergency fund: Every relationship experiences unexpected expenses. Say your car breaks down or health problems surface. Your emergency fund is there to help you through those tough times so you don’t have to dive into any savings. Keep your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account and aim to save between 6-9 months’ worth of living expenses.
Eliminate debt where possible: Stress around finances is a huge problem for a lot of relationships. In order to mitigate this stress, try to eliminate debt where you can. Start by eliminating smaller debt like credit cards and work your way up from there.
Consider life insurance: If you have a home or children together, you may need life insurance. Life insurance can help you avoid financial hardship should something happen to either of you in the future. Term life insurance is an affordable option that lasts for a fixed period of time and provides your beneficiaries financial payout should you pass away.
Asking tough questions ahead of time will save you heartache in the long run.
Merging finances can bring you closer as a couple. However, it can also tear you apart if you do not approach the subject with caution. It’s important to be honest and transparent about any concerns you have. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and make sure to never patronize the other party.
Start by taking it slowly and only combine a few accounts. Create a monthly budget to use as a guideline and learn from your mistakes as you go. Remember to do what is best for you as a couple.