When it comes to a healthy relationship, it’s very important to talk about money management, how you’re going to budget, save, everything. Joining two lives is complicated enough without forgetting to talk about how you’re going to use money, split bills, and plan for your future.
Things like buying a home or a car, or annual vacations need to be budgeted for, and there must be an agreement between you both about how money is spent and saved. If you don’t take the time to lay it all out early on, you may both be surprised in a negative way later. You really want to be on the same page when it comes to money, or it will lead to arguments and resentment.
Here are some things that you and your significant other need to discuss, in order to have a healthy financial future:
You will likely have a salary disparity. One of you will make more, and together you’ll need to decide a fair way of splitting bills.
- For example, if one of you make a lot more than the other, then 50/50 split may not be fair, OR if 50/50 is very important to you both, then you will need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly, so that the lower earning partner can afford half while still saving money each month.
- Or maybe 60/40 works best for you, and that allows you both to be spending the same proportional amount of income towards bills.
You are your partner should both get your credit checked, so that there are no surprises. Ideally, this should be done once a year! You should know what each other’s score is, and learn how to improve your score over time, such as with paying credit cards on time, or having bills in your name.
- Credit score impacts your ability to buy cars, houses, and more, so if one of you has a very low score, you may need to adjust whether or not you can buy a house on a certain timeline, or using both names on the mortgage. It can also impact the amount you can get for a mortgage, because you would only be using one name and one salary to apply.
How are you, as a couple, planning to pay your bills? Will you split individual bills, or use a shared credit card to pay for everything and split the final total at the end of the month? How you plan to pay your bills and use shared finances like credit cards is important to discuss ahead of time.
- You should also make sure that you agree on the type of credit card to get. Do you want points, miles, etc.
- You also need to discuss responsibility for credit cards. Make sure you both have the same outlook. For example, some people pay off their card every month and only put on cards what they have readily available, which is a smart way of thinking of them.
This one is VERY important to talk about before combining finances. Once you’re married, debt basically becomes shared. You should both be extremely honest about any student loans, mortgage debts, credit card debts, or others. Paying off unexpected debts can breed resentment in couples, and should be discussed before you get married!
- If either of you do have large debts, you both need to sit down and make a reasonable and realistic plan for tackling it. That plan might be just the debtor’s money, or it could be the combined money, but it must be planned for.
All of your monthly expenses and budgeting needs to account for saving money monthly, too. How much do you and your partner think is a good amount to save every month? How much have they saved previously? Experts say that you should always have 3-6 months worth of bills saved at any given time, in case of emergencies like an unexpected job loss.
- How will you keep your savings? You can invest it, keep it in a savings account or money market account, or many other options.
- You should also discuss what you are saving FOR. Are you going to start a separate vacation fund, or house fund, etc, if you’re earmarking money for specific things and goals.
Just like savings, this one is also very important. If your partner is not saving for retirement, like in a 401 (k) or an IRA, will your retirement savings be enough to keep both of you afloat? This is another place where if it is not discussed and decided, it can sneak up on you both and be a huge problem later in life. Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can ignore retirement savings. In fact, when you’re young is the best time to start worrying about retirement!
These are some of the things that you have to discuss and make plans for when you are combining lives and finances.
Mint is just one way to put everything in one place and have clear goals to work towards, as well as have everything organized and accessible. Next time, I am going to talk to you about budgeting for a wedding together!
Jessica Naziri is the founder of TechSesh.co, a lifestyle website for women inspired by tech. She has been a technology news reporter for The Los Angeles Times, CNN and CNBC.com. Since then, her work has also appeared in TechCrunch, The Washington Post, Mashable, CBS, The Travel Channel, CNN, NPR, USA Today, Inside Edition, Yahoo!, and Business Insider.