Relationships and Money

Most people look at me like I’m INSANE when I tell them that I bought a house with my boyfriend, let alone that we have joint finances. It works for us, and we’ve actually never had a single problem. We’ve been together almost 6 years and have lived together for almost 5, so we’ve been doing this for some time.

However, I do get nervous when my friends talk about doing the same thing with their significant other. This is because even though it worked for us (and my friends always like to use us as an example, which I hate because it makes me nervous), I know it doesn’t work for everyone.

Every relationship is different (just like people!) and more people need to realize this. Just because one thing works for one couple, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone.

I do most of the financial related things in our relationship: I make sure bills are paid on time and I keep track of everything. I think it’s easier this way so that no one is cross-doing things that the other has already done. And I’m better with financial related tasks (I’m in the financial services industry) than he is.

I hope I don’t offend anyone with the things I list below, but these are just things that wouldn’t work in our relationship. However, I do understand that different things work for different people.  Have any of these worked for you in the end anyways? I also realize that some of these situations might work if the finances aren’t joint as well.
We don’t keep secret money

In some relationships, one of the spouses might be taking money and hiding it from the other. They might be doing this as a backup just in case the relationship doesn’t work out or because the other person in the relationship might not be good with money. Or someone might be lying about their salary and saying it’s smaller, so that they can funnel the different to their own personal account.

I do know of people who do this because their significant other is horrible with money, and by telling the other person that they have less money every month, he/she then spends less. So this is actually benefiting their relationship – and this is how this might work for different couples. I don’t know how sustainable that is though because eventually the other person should be more aware of the financial situation. My bf is definitely guilty of lifestyle inflation and I try to talk to him about our finances as much as possible so that he understands. I try to make everything with our finances extremely open. He knows everything (I like to pretend that he listens to everything at least).

Talk about financial goals

This is something that we didn’t talk about a whole ton, but in the end we both have similar financial goals. We have talked extensively about it now though. We know where the other is heading and what we want to do a year from now, 5 years from now and so on. I think this is healthy because it clues you in more about the other in the relationship.

 

Knowing the other’s financials

I think that in every relationship, all financials should be known. No one should be hiding $100,000 worth of credit card debt and so on. This isn’t healthy especially if you plan on getting married, buying a house, having kids and so on.

 

Different ways for different people

I’m at that age where a lot of my friends are starting to move out. They all have different financial situations. One of my friends is supported by her bf while she goes to school, one of my friends is moving about 2 hours away for a job and her bf is following, and my other friend’s bf is begging her to get a house with him. Me and these three girls are all very good friends and are pretty open about everything. All of my friends are pretty good with their finances and all only have a little bit of student loans.

Friend #1 who is supported almost entirely by her bf. They have a GREAT relationship, they are completely open about everything. They are kind of similar to us and our relationship. They moved out young and are now looking for a house and have been together for 5 years.

Friend #2 who is moving and her bf is following. They have never lived on their own nor had any of their own bills. But they are looking for a house together. They also know nothing about each other’s financial situation. However, I am sure that they will be financially fine, but it might take a little work. I don’t want to judge because I know people are judgmental in my situation. Different things work for different people!

Friend #3 who wants to live at home until she is financially stable. He’s always asking her to live with him, and she has said no plenty of times. She wants to finish school and actually have money. She doesn’t make much money, but she is very smart with the money she does make.

 

Obviously just with these three different financial situations just among some of my good friends, you can tell that different relationships handle finances differently. I’m not judging any of them, we made our fair share of mistakes when we started out and I think that’s the best way to learn. And as you can tell, I’m definitely one for openness in a relationship – I think everything should be known.

What is your financial situation in your relationship?
What are some tips or things you wouldn’t do in your relationship?

Comments

  1. Daisy says

    Good post! I agree with pretty much all of these. I dont' believe in having secret money, per say, but I think it's unbelievably important to have separate money; not all of it, but at least a retirement account with separate money.

  2. BrokeElizabeth says

    I probably won't combine finances until after I'm married… but I completely agree with you on having no 'secret' money. That can be so dangerous to a relationship.

  3. Shannon @ Bungalow96 says

    Love this post! My boyfriend and I bought a house together after dating for a little over a year. People still think we're crazy. We have joint bills on everything house related, but separate bills for personal things like credit cards and car payments. We share expenses for things like groceries and other household items. It works and we have a great relationship. It is possible to live together and share expenses without being married!

  4. shopping2saving says

    I'm exactly like you. We have not combined our accounts yet but we basically keep everything in the open and it wouldn't be a problem if we checked each other's accounts. My BF is great with money and so am I but I'm into the more tech-y stuff like Mint.com. Since we almost closed on a property, we must know everything about each other's financials as we put together our paperwork together, and we review our credit reports together. The most important thing is being on the same page, going through your concerns together, and talking it out, and NO SECRETS!My best friend and her husband have lots of financial problems and always fight about money. I try to give her advice but it just never works out.

  5. Nichole says

    Hubs and I didn't start merging/sharing our expenses until we got married. Mainly for me because I had too many friends do it while not being married and getting screwed over at some point. But if it works for you, then that's great! It seems like you have a good system and a lot of trust :)

  6. Mrs. Baker says

    very good post! I think especially if you are married that being open and honest with finances is very important. I also think that you should have a joint account when you are married or there is already trust issues going on. You should be able to trust one another financially. I think with being married nothing should be separate-when you get married you vow to be joined together as one. there is no "yours" and "mine".

  7. Angella says

    My husband and I have always been open about finances and have all joint accounts. We've been together since high school, 13 years now, so we've grown together when it comes to making/spending money. I keep track of things better than my husband does, and make sure all bills are paid on time. I think honesty and communication are important in any relationship and if someone is hiding any demons regarding money, there may be other underlying issues that need to be addressed. We've also been that "example couple" among friends and as you said, it makes me nervous. I've found our friends to be competitive about it too!

  8. Live Simply- Live We says

    I think it's scary to combine finances married or not. I think it just comes down to trust. Do you trust who your with, are they honest and forthcoming with all their information.

  9. Katie says

    My husband and I didn't start combining our money until about a year after we got married. It works great for us. I do all the financial stuff (paying bills, making goals etc.)and then we each get separate spending money every week. He really has no interest at all in finances or financial goals so he pretty much just puts his trust in me.

  10. bogofdebt says

    We combined our finances but I mostly run them. I let him know what I've budgeted and double check that everything is good to go with him. Mostly he tells me it's fine. I'm more of the long term planner so when it comes to picking which debt will be paid first, that's when I just tell him what I picked. I've gotten us paying the bils per pay period rather then just when they are due. I like this better and he has mentioned it stresses him out a lot less to do it this way. We do each get our own play money but it's not much and it works for us. This way he can't tell me "why are you buying so many books?" and I can't tell him "that game is stupid". We don't have a combined account but I know his stuff and he know's mine. I don't have to hide money–I just tell him "we can't spend x amount as it is going to pay off debt/savings/etc".

  11. femmefrugality says

    I agree that you have to be totally open and honest about finances, and I think when paychecks come home paystubs have to be shown to the other person to avoid any trust issues. I can't tell if you guys have a joint banking account, and if you do and that works for you that's awesome. Just be careful. Like Daisy said, it's important to have individual savings. I read somewhere recently that the largest impoverished group of people in America is divorced, older women who never thought they would be divorced. It's because their husbands took everything, including the savings. If everything's joint, they have an equal right to it and can take the money with no explanation legally required. I can't testify to the accuracy of the statistic, but I do know it happens extremely frequently.

  12. Sarah Kate says

    You brought up a lot of good points! I especially agree with knowing each others' financial situations, especially before you get married. Everybody knows that money issues causes the most problems in a marriage, so it's really important to know where each other stands prior to tying the knot. That can include your current situation (debt, savings, etc), but you also need to talk about how you plan to live and budget after marriage. Some people place a lot of importance on eating out and entertainment, while others prefer to save. It's important to know all that about your partner BEFORE you jump into anything jointly. :o)

  13. Amanda says

    Great advice! I'm a firm believer that everyone is different and every relationship is different. What works for some, definitely doesn't always work for others. We're splitting most of our finances (just moved in together), and we're completely open about our salaries, spending habits, etc.

  14. Aloysa @My Broken Co says

    When Beaker moved in with me, we combined out finances immediately. We lived together for about a year before we got married. We never had any secret stashes, or surprise bills. We share everything. I am really big on trust, so I cannot see any relationship grow with it.

  15. Rafiki says

    This was an awesome post. I still don't know if we will fully combine our finances or not in my relationship. We do have two joint accounts already though and that so far works.

  16. fabulously frugirl says

    BF and I are pretty open with our finances. We both know how much each other makes, and we both have no debt. Right now we are both living on our own and have no immediate plans to move in together, although we've discussed the possibility. I think everyone has to find something that works for them. Like you said, everyone is different. :)

  17. Kris @ Simple Island says

    We bought a house together after we'd been together for 4 years. Our families were really concerned and wanted us to go to lawyers and draft paperwork to ensure the equal split of the house in case we broke up. We never did. We didn't have joint finances until after we got married (we'd been together for 6 years then), but I think every relationship is different and nowadays a lot of couples don't even want to get married.

  18. Renee says

    Married and share all money, but I have all the burden. He doesn't know when anything is due and I'm pretty sure he doesn't care as long as they get paid :P And if he wants to make a purchase he asks and I hate to tell him no which is probably how we got into such debt.

  19. Stephanie says

    Our situation is similar to yours, except we've been married for almost 6 years now. We have joint accounts and make major money decisions together, but I'm more financially savvy and just generally more organized, so I take care of paying bills and balancing the checkbook and such. It works pretty well for us, definitely better than when we first got married and still kept everything separate.

  20. debtntaxes says

    Both my wife and I have separate accounts, but both our names are on eachothers accounts so I guess you could call them joint accounts. Pretty soon here we are going to move it all to one and use the separate accounts for vacation savings or whatever else we want. It will make it a ton easier having it all in one.It is very important to know your significant other and their financial habits before combining accounts, we were just lazy in regards to setting up a single joint account. Gotta have trust. We don't set an allowance for eachother, we both know what needs to be discussed before buying and what doesnt need to be talked about. That took some time though.

  21. Cassie says

    Currently our finances are completely separate, but we're also not living together. My parents have been together for 30 years, and their finances have been completely combined from day one. There's no giving allowances based on income level or anything like that. They talk about things. It works for them, and I hope one day in the future it'll work for me and my significant other.

  22. dianapantz says

    this is a great post.my partner and i [dont believe in marriage] have lived together for a couple years and are completely open about money, debt & finances.we both have separate personal and business accounts, but share an account and money.we have been open since day 1 and it works really well for us.

  23. Emily @ evolvingPF says

    My husband and I combined our finances when we got married (and moved in together). I wouldn't have done it any earlier as we believe in a sharp distinction between dating/engagement and marriage. We still have a couple separate accounts but they are non-functioning, just need to close them. No secret money, no allowances, all combined.Even though we kept our money separate, because we started dating in college when we were dependents we were sort of able to grow into financially independent adults alongside each other, so we were able to influence one another. My husband convinced me credit cards can be used responsibly, I encouraged him to open a retirement account, etc. So by the time we got engaged we already had developed similar values wrt money and it was a smooth transition into marriage.

  24. eemusings says

    I take care of all our money, and I like it that way.I think you commented on my post about how we budget – we moved in together earlier than I would have liked and combined finances earlier than I would have liked, but it all worked out.I definitely want to buy a house but won't be able to afford that for some time (plus we want to travel first and possibly live overseas). I would like that to be after marriage, though.

  25. SavingfromScratch says

    Good on you for being so transparent! I think money is one of the most taboo subjects for people, and especially couples, these days. People are scared to talk about it!My girlfriend and I are open to talking about our savings goals, but we haven't had the full salary discussion yet. It's been nearly two years, so perhaps it's time!

  26. Young Professional F says

    Sounds like the situation I want in the future! Right now, my boyfriend and I are completely open about our finances but I didn't want to have a joint account yet. That's one of the things I'm waiting to do after we're married. However, we know how much the other person makes, how much debt they have, etc. I definitely agree with keeping everything open about finances in a relationship – I could not deal with "secret money".

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