Money moves for couples: Making money work for your relationship

Amy Schultz
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Money & Love

You may or may not already have a clear idea about your partner’s financial situation. Either way, it’s helpful to set aside time to discuss this topic in detail. Here are some practical moves to help you money together:

1. Understand Your Joint Financial Picture

This can be intimidating and scary, but being open and transparent about your debts, investments and account balances is really the first step. No judgement, just practicality. So ask your partner:

  • How much money do you make?
  • How much debt do you have?
  • Do you invest?
  • Do you own any assets?

2. Your Shared Goals and Plans

What do you want? And what do you want as a couple? Talk about your goals and expectations:

  • Where do you want to live? 
  • Do you want to buy or rent? 
  • How much should you spend on eating out or grocery shopping? 
  • Do you want to send your kids to public or private school?

All of these questions and more will help you define both short and long term goals and create a shared plan together. 

3. Plan and budget together

Now that you know what your goals are, it’s time to do some planning. Clarify how much you want to save, what you want to budget for, and your timeline. Don’t forget to budget for emergencies!

4. Commingling your finances

Joint finances mean something different for every couple. Some couples keep their money mostly separate and only share one or two bank accounts. Other couples combine everything — bank accounts, credit cards, and investments accounts. When it comes to combining finances, there isn’t a right or wrong answer.

  • As a first step, think about how you’d like to combine household expenses. One way is to set up a household budget. This budget will cover things like rent, utilities, food, and other expenses that you share. 
  • Other items, like your car loan, insurance, and retirement, should be kept separate from each other. 
  • Money that you spend on clothing and personal entertainment should also remain separate. This allows you to protect your credit and retirement and work on the personal goals that you have.

Since it is rare that a couple makes the same amount, you could share expenses based on the percentage of income you contribute to the relationship, instead of by equal amounts.

We’re here for you

You don’t have to navigate any of your major life and money moves alone. Whether you’re getting married, moving in, buying a house together or having kids, we can help you figure out how to manage your money in a way that feels good for you.

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