Ugh. I know, you don’t want to talk about it. It’s not as good as a first date kiss, or a talk-all-night date, or a goofy smile you can’t wipe off your face. It’s not….sexy. You know what’s less sexy? Paying for a dinner neither of you can afford, and then arguing about it later. Mood. Killer.
I have a less than ideal history when it comes to relationships and money. Part of this may be due to my incessant need for control, some latent self-esteem issues, and people who have taken advantage of both.
Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m over the self-esteem issues (yay for age, experience and resulting wisdom…just wish it didn’t also come with grey hairs). And those people who thought they could take advantage? BUH-BYE, kicked to the curb years ago.
The need for control is a beast I’m trying to tame.
Money is a leading cause for relationship problems. Every individual has their own way of viewing money, of using money, and their own money goals. Put two individuals together, and you’re bound to get some disagreements along the way. I know this first hand, and the result can be damaging to the relationship and the finances. In my case, both failed (again, don’t feel sorry for me, I’m super happy now!)
Looking down the road, I’d want to get it right the next time around. Money shouldn’t be the reason a relationship fails, and really it isn’t. It’s the communication about the money that leads to the failure.
I can’t say it enough: “Communication is the problem 99% of the time, and the solution 99.9% of the time.”
If you’re starting out, I think there are three key approaches you could take.
- Keep totally separate accounts
You have yours, they have theirs. When it comes to bills, you each pay 50% of whatever is owed. Rent, internet, heat. Whatever it is , 50%
2. Keep separate accounts and have a joint ‘house’ account
You have yours, they have theirs. And you both have a join account where you deposit an agreed amount monthly to pay for typical house expenses.
The best example I have of this exists in my own family. They each put half of their paycheque into the joint account, and from that they manage their household. It means that the ‘half’ isn’t the same, but the commitment is the same from both parties. And as a result, they are both living in their means, and get to retain some ownership of the ‘fun’ money to do what they want with. Invest, buy shoes, pay for vacations, whatever.
3. Keep one account held by both parties
This is the ‘if we’re in it together, we might as well be in it together’ approach. Should be simple: one chequing, one savings, one investment approach. We know where we’re at, and where we want to head.
Note: not one of the options above talks about ‘hidden’ accounts. DON’T DO IT. Just because accounts are separate, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking about the balance with your partner. If they love you when you fart, they’ll love you when your bank balance takes a hit. Fact.
How do you start the conversation? Make the space and time to have the conversation when there is nothing urgent going on. Do it earlier in the relationship than later, even better if you have the conversation before you’re living together.
Already loved up AND shacked up? Pay the baby sitter, call the restaurant, and make it happen. Put the time aside so that you are not paying bills, picking up kids and doing laundry all while talking about your money plan.
If it sounds a little like a date night, it should be. If you’re doing it right, by the end of the conversation you’ll feel closer, have a better understanding of your partners view of money, and the start of a joint plan on how you’re going to use your money to build the life you want together. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up with a bit of pash-rash by the end of the night.
Sure, you’ll need to put pen to paper and share your numbers eventually, but start with the WHY of your plan and the rest should be easier. I’ll let you know 😉