Disclaimer: I am neither a professional financial nor a relationship advisor. I am just sharing what personally works for us.
They say that love is all you need to have a great relationship. But in reality, it takes a whole lot more than that. When there’s nothing left to eat and no roof over your head, the financial stress it brings can make love go out the window. Now, not a lot of people want to talk about money and relationships at the same time, because, admittedly, it’s the least romantic thing to talk about. But that is precisely why money problems is one of the biggest reasons why marriages end.
Personally, the Mister and I started discussing our money situation and opened a joint savings account even before we were married. Yes, it was awkward at first, but the practical side of me wanted to tackle this aspect of our relationship way before we sign our marriage contract. As soon as your relationship gets serious, I suggest you start talking about where you’re at, financially.
Whether you’re married or not, here are some things that you and your partner can do to manage your money and your relationship:
1. Be open about your financial situation
Talking to your partner about money matters may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. It doesn’t have to be one, huge, serious, conversation. Maybe a few quick chats here and there would eventually make you more comfortable discussing serious stuff. For example, the Mister and I started with having Q&A’s with each other before we had any serious money talks. Start talking about your debts and financial obligations (e.g. are you the breadwinner of your family?). Talk about your savings and investments. Talk about your financial goals. Keep in mind that these conversations are not meant to judge the other person, but to know what you’re getting yourself into and how to work through it. Once you’re married, the more important it is to talk about your financial situation regularly.
2. Determine your strategy on how to combine your accounts
There are many strategies out there in terms of how a couple should set up their accounts. You can fully combine your accounts into a joint account or you can have a joint account and separate individual accounts. Whatever you choose, look at your combined accounts as a whole, and determine the purpose of each of your accounts. More importantly… (go to item number 3).
3. Be truthful about your expenses
Don’t commit financial infidelity and hide your purchases from your partner. Plan and discuss your purchases (especially if it’s a major expense) and make decisions together instead of going behind each other’s backs. Once you catch yourself hiding something from your partner, it’s already a red flag that you’re doing something wrong.
4. Work as a team
You and your partner are a team. If you are currently in a financially stressful situation, try not to point fingers and blame each other. Instead, try to work together on how to get in a better situation. Discuss ways on how to cut back on expenses or to earn more income.
Most often than not, you won’t have the same spending habit as your partner’s. If one of you is a saver and the other is a spender, have a calm discussion and try to compromise. Besides, all healthy relationships have a whole lot of compromising going on anyway 😊 Maybe set an allowance that the both of you can spend guilt-free. The important thing is that you should live within your means.
There isn’t one correct way of dealing with your finances, as every couple is different. See what strategy works for you. The most important thing is to overcome the awkwardness and talk about it – it could potentially save your relationship. Try to keep your financial discussions with your partner light and calm. Money matters can be super stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Good luck! 👍