I’ve said it before, but when it comes to combining your money with your partner, “one-on-one” conversations don’t happen. It is an ongoing journey through the past, present and future.
These conversations can be difficult and I’ll be honest with you: sometimes they can feel like a chore. But these are things you can do quickly and easily – and with less headaches – when you work together as a team. More importantly, these conversations are part of the preparation for life together and with some good listening, they can bring you closer as a couple.
In my last blog, we talked about the past, so let’s focus on the present now.
The current discussion is about logistics: what you get and how you handle it. From there, you will create a plan to join and manage your finances forward.
Now, the current discussion may be your most uncomfortable of the three. After all, we have been taught at a young age not to talk about money. You may have student loans and your partner may have credit card debt. You may have inherited from your grandfather and they may have survived for paycheck. Regardless, you need to know where your partner’s money stands with your own.
Fortunately, my fiance Rebecca’s financial life and mine are fairly straightforward; We all have an equal pay and none of us are in debt. After showing each other the inner workings of our personal finances, we came up with a plan to organize and simplify.
First, we made Rebecca an authorized user on one of my credit cards and nominated her for joint spending. Since I am a point junkie, I chose the card with the best groceries and dining facilities, since it is a big part of our spending. This has made it easier for us to share the money, improve the budget as a team and even earn more reward points from our spending.
Then, a few months after sharing the expenses, we opened a joint checking account and started managing our paychecks there. We also place monthly transfers from this account to our personal accounts so that regular spending allowances can be paid to each other. To maintain the privacy of gift giving around the holidays and birthdays, we will increase this allowance for the additional cost of the gift. This strategy has not only made it easier to pay bills – it has also ended the era of back-and-forth money transfers.
Finally, the time has come to invest and deal with emergency funding. We decided to consolidate Rebecca’s investment in Vanguard, as it was time consuming to keep track of his investments in multiple companies. We then cleaned up his accounts and set up an automated monthly investment plan in the portfolio. When it comes to our emergency funds, we decided to keep the cost of living for 3 months in a high interest savings account.
Your current conversation may seem different from ours, and that’s okay. Whatever it is, you want to start by identifying our assets and liabilities as we did. Assets are things that you own – your investments, assets, pay-checks, etc. – and liabilities are rent to you, such as rent and students. Then look at your budget. If you haven’t budgeted yet, start by categorizing your monthly expenses – housing, dining out, savings, and more. In other areas.
Remember that you and your partner need discipline to implement a budget and it must be adhered to and this may require change or abandonment in your daily life. But don’t be afraid to hold each other accountable. If you are trying to save but notice that Amazon packages are being deposited at your door, ask each other what you need if you are on the same page. Conversations can be tough, but remember it will never feel like you’re against them. You and your partner are a team that works towards a goal.
In my last blog of this series, I will discuss what might be the heaviest in this discussion: future discussions. When making your marriage last, you need to understand how your spouse sees the future and what they prioritize.
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“What to do before you say” – “current”,