So you’ve decided to move in together? Next step – agreeing on how you manage your joint finances. Different money personalities can mean friction when it comes to a joint bank account; we sourced some hot tips to help you manage your joint finances from Moneycrashers.com
What are your goals?
Talk through your goals, and make sure you are both on the same page about what you are saving for, and how much you need to be saving. Conflict can arise when one of you is a saver, and one is more of a spender. By ironing out and agreeing on your goals, you may have one less conflict (and hopefully a healthy savings balance).
It’s also a good idea to include your savings plans for your retirement savings, as well as building your emergency fund. Make sure you have enough put aside, to help you meet unexpected financial costs without having to rely on a credit card or use your retirement savings.
Have a budget
Review your current spending habits, and make sure you design your budget so it is accurate and realistic. If you regularly spend $300 per week on food, for example, trying to save money and only budgeting $100 per week may be unrealistic.
While there are likely to be opportunities to save money on your shopping, if you try and cut too much, you may end up blowing the budget, because it is unrealistic for your lifestyle. If you complete your budget and you have a deficit, look for ways you can cut back your expenditure, so you can still build your savings and stay out of debt.
Focus on paying off debt
It doesn’t matter if it was debt that one party had before you entered the relationship, or debt acquired during the relationship. Having debt uses up your disposable income, and you pay money on interest that could be going into your savings account instead.
Be honest with each other about any debt you have (no matter how daunting it may feel), so you can put in place a plan to pay it off. Make sure your budget allows for your debts to be paid off as soon as possible. The mortgage, of course, may take a bit longer.
Joint accounts or individual?
How about a combination of both? Use joint accounts for your shared costs and savings goals, but also have an individual account each, for you to spend as you please.
Many couples argue about how they spend their money, as individuals have different spending habits and ideas on what is important. Why not remove the argument about who is spending what, and what they’re spending it on, and give yourselves an allowance? That will provide both of you with the freedom to buy what you want – perhaps even a surprise gift for the other.
Talk about your money
Sit down together regularly and review your budget and how your spending is tracking. There’s an old saying that says “what gets measured gets done” – and this applies equally to your budget. Measure how well you are staying on track, and watch your expenditure reduce and your savings increase.
If your commitment to the budget has slipped since it was implemented, it is a good opportunity to make sure it gets back on track.
While different money attitudes can cause friction, taking a bit of time to sort out your budget and financial priorities with your partner can reap dividends. Agreeing on how you save your money and what you spend it on will make your shared financial journey more harmonious.