You’ve reached the point in your long-term relationship where the topic of merged finances comes up quite often. With much to consider, it is an issue that feels overwhelming and stressful. Experts agree that when it comes to financial matters between couples, communication is the first step. Here are 12 important things to consider before you start sharing your finances with your partner.
By the time a relationship hits the one-year mark, we have shown the best and worst sides of our behavior. This is also a long enough period of time for you to take note of your partner’s financial habits that may be bothersome
Have an honest discussion.
Start by having an honest discussion about your current financial situation as individuals, money concerns, and financial goals. This lays the groundwork for how to talk about financial matters for years to come, even though you and your partner might not see eye-to-eye regarding how money should be spent and saved.
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Make a budget.
Make a budget that considers everything including present and future expenses. Key categories are utilities, food, insurance, leisure, and luxuries as well as expenses if you plan to have a family, buy a new car, or upgrade your home.
Figure out and be honest about spending behaviors.
Knowing about each other’s spending behaviors is very important when it comes to sharing finances. Will you make purchases using cash or with a credit card? Do you have to consult each other on all matters of spending? Will both of you be allotted a certain amount of money to use during the week? Ask yourselves these questions at the start to avoid arguments over finances later.
Figure out financial “philosophies.”
You like to save while your partner seems never to have heard of the concept. eHarmony Advice points out that significant differences in financial philosophies usually don’t just work themselves out. So work on devising a spending plan that both of you can accept.
Discuss financial goals.
Does one of you still have student loans to pay off? What are your plans for retirement? Be sure to outline and discuss both your short-term and long-term financial goals.
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Set up a joint account for vacations and home renovations.
These are things that both you and your partner want and will benefit from. So set up a join account which each of you will contribute to with the goal of enjoying a vacation in Majorca together.
Avoid cosigning loans.
In general, experts strongly advise against cosigning a loan for your partner. You have established a level of trust at this point. But it is important to remember that if something happens to your relationship, you will be equally responsible for paying the debt back. This also means you will have to take care of the bill if your partner or ex-partner can’t.
Put together a contract before moving in together.
Whether you are buying a home or renting an apartment together, it is wise to put together a contract. Outline expensive shared belongings like the car, television, computer, and even your pets. You’ll also want to write out who will buy out who in the event of a break up. A contract will save both of you lot of time, money, and stress in the long run.
Pay the bills using one joint account.
Set up a joint account where you and your partner make regular deposits from your paychecks. The money in this account is used to pay major bills like rent and utilities.
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Divide daily living expenses.
In order to avoid small and frequent arguments, experts advise on agreeing to divide living expenses straight down the middle. Everyday living expenses such as food and gas are shared equally, 50-50.
Establish the financial controller.
Does one of you have a knack for spreadsheets and tracking expenses and the other gets physically ill at the mere thought of it? Or do you want to share the responsibility of monitoring finances together? Approach the issue of “financial controller” in a way that works best for the relationship and leaves both of you happy. And be sure to schedule a regular time to go over the document that has complete record of all expenses and savings together.
You want to feel financially comfortable in the relationship, so don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about any problems or concerns that you are having. Communicating and being honest with each other will help avoid arguments about finances down the road.