Organizing your individual finances can be a daunting task. Introducing an additional person to the picture is an entirely different ball game. The sooner you’re able to break the silence of speaking about finances the sooner you and your partner will be on your way to a more prosperous future. At first, it can be extremely difficult to start discussing finances with your partner. Often times couples come from different financial backgrounds, which is oftentimes the reason why talking about money is challenging. Additionally, in many cultures, it is considered taboo or inappropriate to openly discuss fiscal responsibilities or burdens. Despite these challenges, if couples are serious about fostering a successful, life-long relationship, being able to openly and proactively analyze current monetary assets is critical. Generally, you and your partner’s current financial situations will determine the context and nature of these conversations. Whether it be about paying off individual debt, deciding whether or not to have joint, separate, or a mixture of accounts, or even how you plan to save for retirement. All of these variables need to be touched upon to prove your financial plan for success.
Make a point of discussing finances somewhat early on in the relationship so you can develop a better understanding of your partner’s perspective on finances. The more aligned you and your partner are regarding how much you should have in savings, what an appropriate debt-to-income ratio is and what their long-term financial goals are, the easier it will be to accomplish financial goals. If you realize that you and your partner are not financially compatible, it will be important to create a strategy on how you can both experience financial success in the relationship. This will likely require some compromise on both parts. The more frequently you work through your financial differences, the more comfortable you will both become. If you find that there are too many differences in spending habits and feelings towards spending versus saving, it may be wise to allocate a spending budget for each partner. This budget can be used at each partner’s own discretion with no questions asked. This is a beneficial solution for many couples who disagree on how or where their money should be spent.
If Debt or Bankruptcy Occur
Managing debt may be one of the most difficult financial subjects to broach with a significant other. Discussing debt may be uncomfortable the first time around, but it’s important to be fully transparent. As a couple, you’ve committed to your partner and their debts. Having open conversations regarding debt and being honest about debt itself and your feelings towards it will lead to healthy financial solutions. While having a considerable amount of debt can be overwhelming, having someone that you care for to help you tackle this financial hardship can alleviate the stress of reducing your debt. In the event that you and your partner have accumulated debt together, you should both have an open conversation on how you’ll go about managing it. Tackling debt together is possible if you both have a plan set in stone. When divvying up the debt, you should both consider the options on how you’ll pay it off. This may include splitting the debt, according to income or splitting it equally in half. There are generally two options when it comes to successfully and quickly paying off debt. One option is to reduce your monthly expenses, the other option is to increase your income.
If either couple becomes too overwhelmed with debt or filing for bankruptcy is something you’ve thought about, you should both take time to consider your options. Married couples can file together or individually. If you both feel strongly about filing together it is better; however, some may prefer to file individually to avoid damaging their spouse’s credit. Weighing out the pros and cons is going to be beneficial for both of you and when in doubt, meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer can help you weigh out these options. Filing for bankruptcy often has a lasting impact on one’s life and is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Many times, filing for bankruptcy is a last resort and proper research should be conducted before coming to a decision.
Separate or Joint Accounts
As a couple, you need to come to an agreement and select one method. Having a consistent way of dealing with your finances together, will allow you to flex your financial freedom with your partner. There are pros and cons to having both separate and joint accounts. There are many variables that should be considered before making a final decision regarding joining accounts or not. Frequently, couples use the milestone of their marriage to merge their money together, while others choose to keep their accounts separate. Having separate accounts has a number of reasons why it can be better for individuals. This method allows each partner to have more control and autonomy over their own money. This is a great option to choose if you and your significant other have opposing viewpoints when it comes to managing money. However, it can be difficult to decide how to pay for shared items when pulling money from multiple accounts.
Deciding to open a joint account means you’ll have to communicate with full disclosure regarding your individual financial aspirations. Full transparency should be established, and boundaries need to be enforced and respected. Paying for joint expenses as a couple can be stressful, especially if you choose to keep your bank accounts separate. However, there are many resources to help mitigate this unnecessary stress. As long as you’re both able to contribute and put forth an agreed-upon amount, you and your significant other can achieve a divide and conquer mentality when it comes to finances.
What happens after retirement?
When it comes time to retire, it is important to reflect on how far you and your partner have come together both personally and financially, over the years. Even with retirement around the corner, you and your partner should remain vigilant about managing and communicating about your finances.
If one partner retires, this does not mean you both are required to retire at the same time. If you or your partner still sees value in your means of income, it is okay to continue working. Even when you go into retirement you don’t have to stop working altogether. It is encouraged to stay active and continue fueling your passions to help reinforce your purpose in life. Many studies indicate that staying involved in hobbies can help extend the quality and length of life. As you both grow older, it is important to save an adequate amount so you’re both able to live comfortably together. It may be wise to considering keeping separate 401k accounts as well as individual goals regarding how much you will need to retire. Budgets should be adjusted accordingly to fit the needs of your retirement. Retirement should be fun and enjoyable. It is never too early to start preparing for retirement with your significant other.
Noelle Fauver is a contributing editor for 365BusinessTips.com. She has a B.A. in Communication Studies from California State University, Northridge and experience in marketing, finance, and small business management. She volunteers on the board of the San Diego American Marketing Association as the Event Experience Chair to help local marketers in the area develop their professional repertoire and connect with other professionals. She loves curling up next to the fire with a good book on a rainy day with a bowl of homemade soup. But most of all, she loves writing great content.