You meet your soul mate. You fall in love and live happily ever after, right? It doesn’t always work that way, especially when money is involved. It can be trickier to combine your finances than negotiating whose turn it is to do the dishes or who is in charge of the remote control.
Opposites attract, and sometimes that can mean opposite money personalities. You might be a saver while he blows his whole paycheck in the first few hours. You might make more money or have more debt to pay back. You might even have different financial goals!
Before money troubles cause problems in your relationship, or even if they have already begun to, you can sit down and tackle your finances together. Here are some tips to get started:
- Get on the same page. Gather all the bills, financial statements, loan agreements, credit card bills and even paystubs if you need to. Find out exactly where both of you stand, individually and as a couple. You can’t fix something until you know how bad it is.
- Decide together how you will pay the bills. It is much fairer if you go by percentages, especially if one person makes significantly less money. For instance, each gives 50% of their pay towards household bills instead of a set figure like $500.
- Give each other an allowance. No, you are not children, but having a little “fun” money that you can spend however you like will go a long way towards eliminating resentment.
- Set goals together. You might be worried about student loans, while he wants to pay off the car loan. Decide which major goals to work on and the more immediate bills to pay. As each debt is eliminated, you can concentrate more resources on your major goals.
- Make a budget together. When you both know where the money is going, you won’t have to argue over how much to spend at the grocery store or if you can go out to eat every night. Make the budget realistic by saving your bills and receipts for a month and seeing where your money is really going.
- Work with your money personalities. If one person is better at balancing budgets and paying bills on time, let them. Just keep the other person in the loop, so in the case of a sudden emergency, they know what is going on and where to find the financial papers.
- Don’t keep secrets. Just like infidelity in a marriage, money secrets can break up a partnership. It is better to come clean and handle the problem together than trying to cover it up and getting further into debt.
- Touch base often. Maybe when the paychecks come in or maybe once a month, sit down and go over the progress you are making. If you keep on top of your finances, you can correct the course if things get off track.
- Celebrate each victory. When you pay off a loan or get a better rate on your credit card, celebrate. It will keep you both motivated to keep going.
Talking about finances may not seem like the most romantic conversation, but it will make your relationship stronger. You will grow closer when you present a united front by tackling financial trouble together.