Not really sure how to manage money as a new couple? It can be tricky, but Laura gives solid advice for how to know what's right for your situation. Use these six tips to avoid potential disagreements and create a great financial life together.
If you’re living more as roommates than as a life-long couple, you’re the only one who can decide what’s fair financially. There’s no right or wrong way to divvy expenses up. Just be clear about what you want so no resentments build up that could cause problems later on.
Free Resource: Online Bank Comparison Chart (PDF download)—find the best checking and savings accounts to open as a couple!
Tip #3: Use Good Financial Tools
No matter if you decide to merge your finances or not, there are some great financial tools that make managing money a breeze.
Try a free app like Mint that imports all your bank and credit card transactions into a dashboard. It’s perfect when you want to keep track of spending and simple goal setting on the go.
If you want a more robust product, I’m a big fan of Quicken desktop software. There are different versions, but the starter edition is just $40. It links to your financial accounts, imports transactions, and gives you much more functionality and reporting compared to Mint.
Expenses you need to split up can be assigned to a special account like “joint household expenses,” so they’re separated from your personal expenses. At the end of the month you can easily see the total and settle up.
If you need to reimburse your partner, PayPal is the most widely used, fee-free way to transfer money. You can each create your own PayPal.Me link so the payer simply clicks the link, enters the amount to pay, and the money is in your PayPal account in seconds. You can keep the money there or transfer it into your bank account.
There are other apps that allow you to send and receive money—like Venmo, Google Wallet, and Square Cash—just be aware of the fees charged. Paying 3% might not sound like much, but it adds up over time. Weigh the convenience of these apps with the transactional cost.
Tip #4: Communicate About Money Early
Communication is the key to a successful relationship and it certainly includes a lof of discussion about money. How a partner handles money or opens up about it should be a major factor in whether you decide to get serious.
You’ve heard the saying that opposites attract in couples. Maybe you like the beach and he likes the mountains. Or you’re shy and she’s outgoing.
Financial behaviors and habits in couples can be very different as well. For instance, are you a compulsive spender or a strict saver? Do you swing for the fences or take a conservative approach with investments? Are you at ease with or terrified of debt?
A quirky financial tendency that endears you to your significant other in the beginning—like being a free-spirit who lives and spends money in the moment—may be a real source of irritation down the road.