How To Combine Finances With Your Partner

communication finances Aug 31, 2021

Decide how to manage joint and personal accounts

Once you’re ready to start tackling your finances together as a couple, there are several key decisions to make first. 

The first is deciding whether or not you’ll combining your finances. 

Second, is the degree to which you’ll combine your finances. Some couples combine all of their finances while others combine only certain aspects. 

The third is to establish who is responsible for what financially. This might mean setting clear expectations about who pays what bills each month. 

Whichever options you select, make sure to communicate clearly about who does what within your relationship. Otherwise, you risk causing unnecessary conflict over money issues.

To help you get started, read more on these 9 Powerful Communication Strategies To Handle Money Conversations

What are the benefits of combining finances?

There are many potential benefits to combining finances. 

One is that you and your partner will have fewer accounts to keep track of and less hassle when managing all of your financial transactions. This makes it easier to keep track of spending, saving, investments, and debt. 

This also allows you to make one transaction to pay specific bills, like the mortgage, instead of having to do multiple transactions or transfers from different accounts. 

You will also be able to have a better idea of where you are in terms of shared financial goals such as savings, paying off debt, and investments when these accounts are shared. 

If you're worried about privacy issues, there's nothing wrong with keeping separate accounts for all of or part of your finances. 

The most important part is to set these expectations ahead of time and understand exactly what parts of your finances are shared before you dive in. 

 

What are the drawbacks of combining finances?

There are several potential drawbacks of combining finances. 

These include that it becomes more difficult to dissolve a relationship should if the time should ever come. 

You also have to agree on financial expectations ahead of time or face the possibility of financial conflict. This means having a shared vision for what your ideas are about lifestyle, debt, savings, retirement, children, and your work lives. 

Additionally, you may feel as though you have less financial freedom than when you handled your finances separately. This is because the other person can see exactly how you spend all of your money if you’re sharing all of your financial accounts. This might make you feel that you can’t do what you want to do when you want to do it with your finances. 

Sharing finances can also lead to money fights. 

This can be because partners have different ideas about spending, savings, and debt that aren’t in alignment. 

This is why it’s so important to set financial expectations before you combine finances. 

You may also have financial conflict because one of you has out-of-control spending. You won’t have a full grasp of how your partner spends money until you have a joint account. 

They may spend money much more freely than you do, overdraw your accounts, gamble, or take on new debts. 

What’s worse is that they may do this without telling you and yet expect that you both will be responsible for that financial commitment because the finances are shared. 

Be sure to discuss how financial decisions will be made before this happens.

Should married couples share money?

There's no right way to answer this question. 

Some couples share all of their money and have all of their finances shared. While other couples keep their finances separate. 

Neither option means anything about the strength of your relationship. It's a matter of personal choice. 

One thing is for certain, it's important to get on the same page when it comes to your finances, whether you have shared accounts or not. This means having open and honest discussions about your money beliefs, financial expectations, and possibly having some difficult financial discussions

One way to get your feet wet with sharing finances is beginning with one shared account that you both contribute to equally. Use this account to make joint household purchases like utilities, insurance, rent or mortgage, and groceries. If you feel comfortable having this shared account after a few months then consider expanding your shared finances to another account, like a savings or investment account, before sharing 100% of your finances. 

Should you combine finances before marriage?

This depends entirely upon your situation. 

For example, if one of you already works full-time while the other does not, then it makes sense to wait until you marry to combine finances. 

On the other hand, if neither of you works but you plan to go into business together, then it probably makes sense to combine finances sooner rather than later.

Another thing to factor in is whether you’re living together before marriage and whether you have shared assets, like a home purchase, which might validate combining your finances sooner. 

How to begin the process of combining finances

Settle on a time to talk

Set aside time to talk about whether or not you should combine your finances and what this would look like specifically. 

It’s important to have a list of what you’ll talk about exactly before sitting down to talk. 

This conversation may include topics such as: 

  • Is our relationship at a commitment level where sharing finances make sense? 
  • What are our financial goals? 
  • Do we have the same financial expectations? What are they? 
  • What expenses do we want to share? 
  • What expenses do we not wish to share? 
  • How will these expenses be divided based on income? 
  • How will we re-evaluate the division of our finances? 
  • When will we reassess our shared financial reality next? 
  • Do we have shared assets (like a house or a business)? How does this factor into whether and how we share our finances? 

Tally what you spend–and need to spend

It’s important that you both sit down and establish your spending habits before establishing whether you’ll share your finances. 

You can both take a look over the last 3 months and tally up how much money you each spend on specific categories of expenses such as entertainment, car payments, debt payments, etc. 

Then sit down together and figure out how these expenses align with each of your financial expectations. 

Next, talk about which of these expenses make sense to share. 

Then, you can determine how much each person needs to contribute toward those costs. Make sure everyone understands where the numbers came from and agrees to stick by them.

If there are any disagreements, make compromises. Don't let emotions cloud your judgment. 

 

Decide on a Household Budget before combining finances with your partner

Before combining your finances with your partner it can be important to create a household budget and savings plan. 

To make a household budget a savings plan you’ll need to make a series of decisions together. 

These will include things like: 

  • Understanding exactly how much you earn from all sources
  • Setting savings goals together
  • Being honest about debt and a debt repayment schedule
  • Understanding your mandatory expenses
  • Evaluating and agreeing on discretionary spending
  • Establishing an emergency fund
  • Deciding on how you’ll approach new debt

Read our in-depth blog about How To Create a Budget and Savings plan with your partner to help you do this step-by-step.

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