Combining finances with a partner or spouse is a hotly contested topic. Some insist you must, others are more fluid. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong as long as both of you feel comfortable. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision.
Shared finances in a relationship aren’t generally something you dive into from day one. Consider how long you’ve been with your partner and the seriousness of the relationship. Combining your finances is a big deal, and you don’t want to rush into it with someone you’re not sure about.
There’s a lot to consider about the future, and not just whether or not you’ll stay together. Even if your personalities are ultra compatible, if you want different things for the future, your finances can get complicated fast.
Have conversations about both your future together and your futures individually. Are you on the same page about kids? Which one of you would work and who would stay home with the baby? All of these factors can influence whether or not you’re ready to combine finances. If you’re not aligned, it’s probably not time.
Another factor in your decision-making is your individual financial situations. If one of you has debt to pay off and the other is a savvy saver with lots of cash stashed, it could make it harder to combine finances if you’re not on an even keel.
That said, some couples are happy to take on one another’s financial past, so have the conversation with your partner and see where you both stand.
If you’re thinking “Help! I don’t want to combine finances!”, that’s okay! If you’re not ready now, maybe it’s just not the right time. Deciding when to combine finances isn’t a one-time conversation. Be open to it being a journey, and consider combining when your lives become more and more entwined, and when you can benefit from co-financing.
Ask yourselves what you hope to gain from combining finances. Some couples combine money in order to balance out a higher and lower-income earner in the household, or to work towards shared goals with one pool of money. If you earn a similar amount as each other, hustle towards your goals individually and make your own spending decisions, combining finances might just complicate things. Being clear on how it will add to the relationship is important in making your decision.
No couple wants to plan for separation, but when it comes to money it’s important to think about. If you’re combining finances in marriage or a relationship, open the conversation about how you’ll handle things if you separate. Women in particular can suffer great financial impacts after divorce or separation, so think beyond the immediate future and be prepared for what you’ll do if things go wrong.
If you think your relationship would benefit from combining finances but you’re not quite there yet, set a date or a milestone to make the switch. This helps keep you engaged with the process of shared finances, and ensures you don’t put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.
There’s more to couples’ finances than the ‘what’s mine is yours’ approach. If you don’t think going all-in is for you, consider other ways to benefit from shared finances. Many couples keep most of their money separate with the exception of a shared expenses account and shared savings account. This ensures you’re splitting joint expenses equally, but you still have the freedom to manage your own money however you like.
Trust is really important when it comes to money, whether you’re combining finances or not. Setting a monthly money date or where you review your spending, monitor goal progress and raise any issues or watch-outs can be transformative for your financial wellbeing as a couple. A full visibility dashboard like PocketSmith can help you unpack trends and unlock opportunities to stash more cash together. Plus, you can do it while drinking wine. Win!
Combining finances with a fiance, spouse or partner can be daunting, especially if you’ve managed your own money for a long time. A fun way to get on board with shared finances is to set goals together. Working towards shared goals brings you together as a couple, while also sparking exciting conversations about what’s next for your relationship.
Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.