In honour of National Marriage Week, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, celebrating shared lives and commitment is the order of the day. But, how many of us truly follow through with the “what’s yours is mine” philosophy and open up to our partners about that most contentious of topics; our money as a couple? Whether you’re joining up with your better half on money matters for the first time, or have had a joint account with them for years, our handy tips on handling your finances as a duo could help keep your bank balance and your relationship in harmony:
A little more conversation…
One of the most important foundations of a successful relationship is communication, and matters of the wallet are no exception. Talking to anyone about money can be tricky to approach, let alone your partner, and especially if the relationship is relatively new or you’re not used to having joint financial commitments.
The first step is to sit down and open up about your finances – the good and the bad – so you can each see what the other has. Presuming you have the same incomes, commitments, and saving habits, can be a dangerous assumption. This leads to one or both of you feeling strained, so honesty really is the best policy here when approaching money as a couple.
How you go about making sure you keep lines of communication open after the initial chat is completely up to you and will likely depend on how you decide to handle your finances together going forward. It could be as formal as a “Monthly Money Meeting” to look at your expenses and plan for the month ahead, or as casual as letting the other know about any big expenses or splurges over a certain amount.
How joint is joint?
While it’s important to talk to your partner about your money as a couple and keep lines of communication open, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up your right to any financial privacy. Some couples choose to direct all their money into a joint account, while others manage their own money independently and keep their partner in the loop. Others do something in between, having a joint account for shared household expenses and managing the remainder of their money by themselves.
If you do decide to open a joint bank account, you should both agree how much of your incomes will be paid into it each month. That could be all of it, or a proportion that you agree based on what you each earn, so that you both feel you’re pulling your weight and contributing fairly. Before you open the account, you should both bear in mind the impact of a financial association, which is what happens when you open a joint account, as it could affect your ability to access credit in the future.
Aim for a goal
Everyone has goals and ambitions in life, and understanding what one another’s priorities are can help you to agree joint financial goals and what you need to do to get there. Having a mutual goal that’s important to both of you can be a really motivating way to make sure you get where you want to go.
Chivvying each other along and helping each other avoid the temptation to splurge on unnecessary things will help to encourage ongoing openness about your finances, and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach your goal will be a joint achievement that you can share, and that will strengthen your relationship for years to come.
When you’re working towards a joint financial goal, visualising your progress so you feel more like a team working together can be a great way to stay motivated. Why not start a joint money box, either in a proper piggy bank or anything you have lying around? The idea is that at the end of each week, you empty your pockets/handbag/purse/wallet of any coins you’ve accumulated into the money box and add up your contributions. Saving spare change is a surprisingly effective way to build up a decent savings pot quickly, and being able to see the piggy bank or tub filling up every week will give you a great motivational boost! If you have a few goals on the go at the same time, why not have a few money boxes lined up so you contribute a bit towards each goal every week?
Do you have any of your own tips on how to make managing your money as a couple a harmonious affair? Let us know!