Finances for Couples
I don't like stress. Who does? Financial stress causes more conflict in a relationship than any other factor as it impacts everyone whether you have kids or not, rent or own, drive or subway.....You get the picture.
We always think it is a good idea to have many conversations around money before you take the next step with someone. You need to how they approach saving, spending, taking on debt and income potential.
Saving sets you up for the future - whether that is to pay for college, to retire early, to save for a new car, a new watch or just a day at the spa. It is important to discuss how much you plan to save (as a percentage of income) and what you plan to do with this saved money. Your savings account is a long-term plan and must be treated as such by both partners. Discuss 1) how much you both want to have in savings at a minimum, 2) how much each of you will contribute to savings, 3) what your goals/plans are for the savings and 4) what would constitute an "emergency" to draw from savings,
Spending goes along with saving, and there needs to be a nice balance between the two. With spending it is important to understand your partner's priorities, for example organic food. I'm not here to debate organic v. non-organic but we all can agree that there is a significant price difference between the two. We recommend knowing your partner's views on things like this, so you don't have the potential for an argument standing in the grocery line.
Debt. Some people see debt and run - they can't handle taking on debt. Others need to take on debt to purchase a car, a house, or everyday credit card purchases. And for some debt management is a financial strategy. Understand your partner's opinion on debt - how much they have, why they have it and what their plan is to pay it off.
Income is how it all comes in! You should know how much your partner makes and if they are comfortable at that income. We also recommend knowing if your partner has plans to stop working to go back to school. There are many factors that impact income and a person's ability to earn money. Get those things out in the open now - so there are no surprises later.
Now I'm not suggesting that these conversations are easy, they are actually some of the most uncomfortable conversations you can have. But if you are merging your life with someone else you owe it to yourself and your relationship to have these conversations.
We have a special section of Money Guides for couples getting ready to take the next step - whether that step is marriage, moving in together, having a child - or maybe you have already taken the step and realize you need to improve your communication. We will start with a simple money worksheet to get the conversation started, and if you find that a little help is needed in the communication category we are able to help. Contact us using the form below or at firstname.lastname@example.org.