Having ‘the financial talk’ with your future spouse or live-in boyfriend/girlfriend can be a bit overwhelming depending upon how much you do or do not know about each other’s finances (see photo below—actually taken during our conversation! I thought it was too funny and dramatic not to include). But with rather large upcoming expenses (buying a home together, wedding, etc.), and oftentimes differing expectations, it is a good idea to open this dialogue early in your engagement.
Instead of generalizing the various ways in which couples can combine their finances, I will just detail how Paul and I are combining ours. This should give you some ideas if you are headed in the same direction with your own partner, or just give you a better idea of my own finances for those of you who are curious.
The Financial Guru has been Chosen
It is no secret that in our relationship I have the upper hand on finances. Not only have I put in the time and research to learn about almost every facet of money, but I truly enjoy it! Paul recognizes this, and suggested that I be put in charge of the finances in our household. (Hurrah!).
Expectations for Large Upcoming Expenditures
The first thing I spoke about with Paul was the two large upcoming expenses for us: our first home, and our wedding. The two of us discussed what we both wanted, and then figured out rough estimates for how much we wanted to spend for each of these occasions.
What Comes In, What Goes Out
Next, I had Paul write down all of his financial debts, what bills are deducted from his account each month, his savings, and his income. I let him know all of my information as well.
Test Drive a New Budget
I am almost embarrassed to type this…but Paul has never lived within a budget before! Personally I love budgets, and the freedom I have from knowing that a certain amount of money is going towards savings, retirement, and bills each month, and that the money leftover is mine to do whatever I would like with. As such, I figured out a preliminary budget (with the joy of a little child on Christmas morning!) for the two of us based on our large upcoming expenses, and we are going to try it out for a month or two. I am expecting that adjustments will have to be made after input from Paul on how it is (or is not) working for him.
Weed Out the Weak Accounts
Between the two of us we have 7 financial accounts. Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of keeping track of each of these, moving money around in all of them, and knowing when money is automatically withdrawn from each? Instead, we are paring down which accounts are the best—for savings we are looking for the best interest rate, for checking it needs to be no-fee and have the easiest access around our home.
Make the Move
In the upcoming months we will take the leap of truly combining finances by closing down some accounts, combining others, and perhaps opening up new ones.
Both of us know that there will be some adjustments to make, and that we are bound to experience some issues. But we also realize that finances are a pillar of support to any marriage, and oftentimes the thing that couples fight about most (except perhaps whether or not the toilet seat should be kept in the up or down position. My vote is for the down position).
Now that we have this conversation out of the way, we can focus on enjoying our engagement, each other, and surviving this scorching June weather.
Please note: Look for future articles and tips on wedding savings as Paul and I delve into the planning process!