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.
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. All of my friends are pretty good with their finances and all only have a little bit of student loans.
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.