Collaborative money management might not be the most romantic aspect of a relationship, but it is a crucial skill for every couple. Whatever age or stage you and your partner are at, learning how to talk about finances and build a budget together will make it easier to save money, pay down debt, and reach your future goals.
Ready to kick off the financial conversation with your partner? Read on for some top tips on budgeting as a couple.
Honesty and strong relationships go hand-in-hand, including when it comes to money. Be honest with your partner about what you have and what you owe, especially if marriage is on the horizon – in many instances, a spouse can be liable for their partner’s debt. Also be upfront about positive financial assets, such as savings, investments, inheritances and so on. While money can be uncomfortable to talk about, it’s important to put all the information on the table so that both partners are on the same page.
Consider Combining Some Money
When it comes to saving money and divvying up household expenses, there’s no one way to do things. Some couples put all their money into a joint account, while others prefer to keep separate accounts and trade off who pays for what. There are pros and cons to both – it’s about finding what works for you. Either way, consider holding at least one joint account with your partner. This will make it easier to cover combined expenses such as household utilities, or to save up for shared goals such as a vacation.
Design Your Own Plan
Because there’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting style for every couple, it can be tricky to design a plan that works for you and your partner. Start by making a list of shared expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, meals, kids or pets, and so on; as well as income from each partner and an estimation on personal expenses. From there, you can openly discuss the best way to tackle expenses. Some couples split things down the middle, while others calculate expense responsibility as a percentage of salary.
Visualize Your Budget
There’s not just one “money talk” as a couple – no doubt, you’ll come back to the subject of finances again and again. To help keep the lines of communication open and clear, choose a shared budgeting tool where both partners can see, input and track expenses to ensure everything aligns to the budget you’ve agreed on. Mint, Goodbudget, and EveryDollar are popular budgeting apps that work great for couples, or a shared Google spreadsheet can work well too.
Create Shared Goals
The nice thing about budgeting with a partner is that you’ve got a teammate to help reach financial goals! When saving feels like a team effort, it’s easier and more fun. Discuss your money goals as individuals and a couple – whether it’s buying a house, saving up for a wedding, or a personal goal like going back to school. Agree to set aside a certain amount every month, and hold each other accountable. This might mean fewer restaurant meals or cutting out a streaming service, but with a clear goal in mind, making these sacrifices won’t feel so bad.
Budget With Care and Respect
It’s natural to have strong opinions when it comes to money, but always aim to approach the budgeting conversation with care and respect for your partner. Every household budgets differently, so it’s likely that you and your partner may have grown up with vastly different ideas about how to manage money. Do research together on different budgeting methods and be open to finding a middle road that works for everyone. Whatever method you land on, both members of the couple should feel that they have equal access to the financial resources they need within the partnership.