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How you manage money as a couple is a weird thing. People have A LOT of opinions about whether or not you go joint on everything or keep separate finances. The problem with that is it’s a really personal decision. There’s no one answer for any couple, and many couples (me included) take a combo approach.

Instead of preaching one way or another, I want to chat about how to make either approach work. At the end of the day, it comes down to being on the same page with your partner and (surprise, surprise) good communication.

Separate Finances Is Not A Warning Sign

If you don’t combine your money, I can almost guarantee that someone has made a snide comment about trust in your relationship. Old school logic was that when couples get married, they combine all their money and the man of the house would control it.

Not in my world honey. Relationships are evolving. Marriage isn’t as common as it used to be, and more couples are pushing back against traditional gender roles, including with money. Based on a 2018 study, 23 percent of millennial couples keep separate finances. In contrast, baby boomers came in at 13 percent and Gen X at only 11 percent.

New Concerns

Couples are also bringing different financial factors into relationships. Student loan debt or existing consumer debt, a home or rental property, savings and investments, inheritance money, etc. It’s one thing if you start dating in high school and build everything up together, but that’s hardly common. Millennials are also delaying marriage more than previous generations. The older you are, the more likely you are to enter a relationship with financial baggage. And navigating that with a new partner is a challenge.

Things that make financial sense don’t always make emotional sense. For example, you might not feel like your boyfriend’s student loan debt is your responsibility. Or maybe he thinks it’s too weird to move into the home you bought with your ex.

In situations like that, the most important thing is to take care of yourself first. Selfish is doing something that will make you resent your partner; it’s not protecting the assets you brought in to the relationship.

Combining Doesn’t Mean Off The Hook

Having completely combined finances often means that one person takes the lead. It’s efficient, and it’s the easiest way to divide household tasks. Doing so scares me, though. It’s one thing to have to figure out how to take out the trash or clean a bathroom if you separate, it’s an entirely different thing to learn how to manage money.

This is important. Take some time to sit down with your partner and learn (or force them to learn) how to manage your household finances. This doesn’t need to be a big deal. It can be a monthly chat over dinner about where you’re at, what bills are due, how your savings and investments are doing, or if you need to amend your budget. This is your future too, take an interest in it!

Make Money Talk the Norm

The trick to being comfortable with money is to talk about it. Dish about what a great sale you hit up, or how you got a raise at work, or how your debt feels crushing. Money is a huge part of our lives and can be either a stress reliever or a stress trigger. Don’t keep those feelings, good or bad, to yourself just because you’re supposed to be the finance handler.

If you find it awkward to talk about money like that, then practice. Set aside a specific time to get down to business. The more you do it, the more normal it will feel. And if you have kids, include them too! I think it’s fantastic to raise your children in a world where money isn’t taboo.

Make Mine A Combo

Completely separate or completely combined finances were never going to work for me. I’m attracted to the ease of combined finances, but I’ll be honest, keeping some things solo makes me feel more independent.

Owning a house and living together means we have quite a few shared expenses. We keep a joint ‘house fund’ in a high-interest savings account that covers annual property taxes and unexpected house or pet expenses. Monthly payments like the mortgage, internet, insurance, power, etc. are divided and split almost equally. We don’t sweat the details on this too much. I tend to pay a bit more because I’m the higher earner, but we’re not continually tracking every penny.

We each have our own bank accounts, credit cards, emergency funds, and investment accounts. Separate chequing accounts make it that much harder to track bills and budgeting, but we make it work. Keeping separate credit cards means I can usually refer the bf and get a bonus #travelhacking We both use the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account for their high-interest savings accounts and WealthSimple for our investments.

Your Turn!

I’m always intrigued by how other people handle their money. So, how about you guys indulge me and share all your dirty details in comments. Or just a broad overview. Whatevs.

There's no best way to manage your money as a couple! Whether you combine or keep separate finances, the important thing is finding the right fit for you.

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

Image Credit: Kiwihug

2 Comments

  1. When we bought our house we opened a joint chequing account – calculated our monthly expenses (and difference in income) and we both contribute a set amount each month to this account to cover all of our living expenses from mortgage to insurance/utilities to groceries for us and food for the fur kids. With the help of Mint, I do most of the monthly budget balancing, but we’re always open about spending when it comes to any joint expenses.

    We each kept our previous chequing/savings accounts. When we plan big purchases, or if there is every any maintenance required on the house, or emergency animal care, we cop up from our personal savings, so I have been working to build a house emergency fund in addition to my pet and personal emergency funds. Might sound complicated to some, but works for us! Even when/if we get married, I don’t see our system changing.

    • Sarah Reply

      That’s really similar to how we do things minus the joint chequing account. We have bills coming out of each of our chequing accounts that roughly even out and if we ever need to adjust it we will email money transfer funds around. As long as it works for you then there’s nothing wrong with it!

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