Whether you are engaged, married or moving in with your special someone, one of the first questions that comes up is whether to combine your finances. This can be a scary when you’re not accustomed to answering to anyone about your $5 morning latte or how you have scaled back spending to pay down your student loan debt.
When it comes to sharing your financial burdens – and taking on theirs – there are a few ways to make the transition easier and avoid disputes about money.
1. Unload the skeletons from your closets
Before you even consider merging finances with another person, it’s important that you both discuss your financial positions so you know what your combined financial picture will look like. This includes talking about loans, credit card debt, monthly bills and other financial obligations that you have taken on. Getting this out in the open may seem like an awkward conversation at first, but it will help you both decide the best course of action.
2. Know financial goals
Whether you have competing goals or similar wants for the future, discussing them will help you compromise and come up with a budget that helps you work toward your future. Goals may range from short-term aims, like an Alaskan summer cruise, to long-term goals, such as purchasing a home. Discussing and planning for them can help mitigate misunderstandings in the future about your financial priorities. Set timelines for accomplishing these goals and factor these deadlines in when you establish a joint money management plan.
3. Discuss how you will manage the money
Will one of you be responsible for paying the monthly bills or will you pay them together? Should you merge all accounts or keep a separate savings fund? How will you divide living expenses? Answering these basic questions can save you each a lot of headaches when you take on the task of combining your finances.
You may find that you each have a different spending style and way of managing money. However, being open and honest about where you stand financially, where you want to see yourself in the future and how you plan to get there can help you develop a joint strategy for accomplishing your goals.