Whether you've just moved in with your partner or you're shiny newlyweds, you're probably thinking about the best ways for couples to combine finances – if that's your choice. Lots of modern couples forgo this process and keep their money separate, so it's a personal choice. However, if you're sharing expenses and paying rent, utilities, and other bills together, you'll at least want one joint account. You may want more than that, such as a luxury account for vacations and date nights, and an emergency fund for unforeseen illnesses or car repairs. Whatever the case, there are many ways for couples to combine finances that will maximize the benefits and minimize the money fights.
One of the best ways for couples to combine finances is to decide what you share. This will generally fall into the categories of rent, utility bills, cable, Internet, and things like that. If you're both using something, it makes sense that each of you should pay for those things. You can split things any way you like, however. For instance, you might take care of the rent while your partner pays an equal amount of the other bills, or you may split everything down the middle.
What happens if one of you makes significantly more than the other? You'll have to decide if you're both still equally responsible for the bills, or if the person who makes more can, should, or wants to pay more. This is a personal choice and will take a lot of discussion; don't just expect the partner with a higher paycheck to front everything, talk it out first.
Debt isn't always equal. You'll have to factor that into the amount of money you're able to pay on bills. You'll also have to focus on debt when you're decide how to combine finances, or whether you want to. For instance, I have student debt where Heather does not. I never, ever expect her to pay off my loans. At the same time, she has a credit card and I don't; similarly, she never expects me to make her payments. That being said, we each know that the other is there to help with those bills if it ever becomes necessary.
Your individual spending habits are important as well. If you tend to spend a lot on shoes and video games, but your partner doesn't use or want those things, it's not really fair to expect him or her to pay for those things. So, if you choose to combine your finances, you should make sure that you either allot an extra amount to pay for your habit, curb your spending habits, or keep a separate account for your own luxuries. Naturally, your partner will need to do the same.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, some couples choose to divide and conquer. It might be understood that, every month, you'll pay for cable, internet, and the light bill while your partner covers rent and gas. This is where you'll also want to have another discussion about the logistics of splitting your bills or the luxuries you share as a couple right down the middle.
Also briefly mentioned, you might funnel all of your bill money into a joint account. This can also be where you draw money for dates, vacations, and things of that nature. You can still have separate accounts if you choose, depending on the nature of your own relationship.
And, of course, you can always opt not to share finances at all. You'll have to come up with a way to pay for shared expenses that works for both of you, even if it involves writing a check to the other person or vice versa. You have to be comfortable with your arrangement. Anything that keeps you from fighting over money is a good choice.
Every couple is different. Combining finances was never a question for Heather and I; we each have our own checking and savings accounts, but will gladly toss our cards at each other and seamlessly take turns paying various bills. Your relationship may be different, but these tips should still be helpful. Do you and your partner fight over money? Do you even believe in combining finances?
Please rate this article