This is the first article in a series of Personal Finance for couples. We will be disusing personal finance tips for couples and newlyweds, if you have specific questions feel free to contact us. Remember to subscribe to our blog to ensure you won’t miss anything.
Investing, saving, debt repayment … money management and personal finance can be a confusing task for most people, personal finance for couples has its own challenges. Talking about money can be a sensitive topic and money is the number one cause for relationship breakups. Finances never seems to be the issue early in a relationship but it becomes a bigger issue as the relationship grows, the best way is to start discussing money issues at the early stage in the relationship to reduce future arguments.
The Do Not’s
Keep Finances Separate
If you are living together and are not legally married yet, I highly suggest that you keep your finances separate. Yes I know you are planning on getting married and are sharing your finances already, I truly hope things will workout but there is a chance that it might not. The only thing uglier than a break up is a break up with intertwined finances. Until you are married you should keep all your finances separate, keep individual bank accounts – including Savings accounts, Investment accounts etc. JUST IN CASE of a break up this will save you both a lot of unneeded headache. Besides break-ups there are other reasons why things might not work out; such as death.
Do not Share Assets
This relates to my first point of keeping separate finances. Try to avoid making joint purchases and sharing assets, such as a house, car, boat etc. If you do decide to go ahead and make such purchases consider having a lawyer draw up a contract detailing what will happen in case of separation. I know discussing separation is not the sexiest conversation to have, but unfortunately break ups are more common than people are willing to accept.
Do not Share Liabilities
Same goes for liabilities, do not co-sign on loans or credit cards. If you do decide to “help out” and co-sign on a loan, make sure there are proper documents that outlines who is responsible for the loan and the terms of repayment in case of break up. Everything might be going great now, but imagine you signed a $20,000 loan and a year later you break up….not a pretty picture.
Discuss Importance of Money
Money has a different purpose for each person, couples should discuss the importance of money and how it might affect their relationship. Are you both spenders or frugal? Is one a spender and the other frugal? How important is it to you to have money, will you work 15 hours per day or is spending time with family more important than financial security? If you are lucky you both may have the same view on things, but chances are you won’t. You will have to compromise; relationships are all about compromising with each other this also applies to your finances. Find a middle ground where you both feel comfortable. This will not happen in one session, it will take time – months and even years to find common grounds.
Discuss Long-Term Goals
Now that you know what role money plays in your relationship, start talking about what your long term financial goals are. Do you want to own a house? How do you feel about leasing or financing items? How do you feel about debt? Some people do not mind debt while other’s hate debt. Again you will have to compromise on things to make sure you both feel comfortable with your financial decisions. A good exercise would be to list your ten or twenty year financial goals individually and see how they compare and go from there.
The number one reason for break ups in recent years has been financial issues, it can be a difficult issue to start discussing but ultimately it can save your relationship if you both have an understanding of your partner’s financial goals.
Do you have any tips to share with unmarried couples? Do you have any personal experience good/bad?