As two people get closer, conversations tend to take a more serious tone. "Do you want to see a movie?" turns into "Do you see a future together?" and "Do you want to share a meal?" turns into "Do you want to share finances?" Let's face it – deciding to mix and mingle finances is a giant step in a relationship and takes a lot of careful thought and consideration.
Take my experience, for example:
Once upon a time, I was living my best single life. I was accountable only for myself, and how I spent my time and money was solely up to me. Then I met a handsome boy, and everything changed. Fast forward a couple of years – now we're house hunting, mingling finances and talking retirement plans. How the heck did I get here?
Several years before meeting the handsome boy, I had gone through a divorce. Unfortunately, the divorce wreaked havoc on my finances. It took me several years and a lot of hard work to recover. Needless to say, I was cautious with my money. And I had concerns that by mingling our finances, I would lose some of my financial independence. Would I have to account for every penny I spent? Would my voice count even though he earned more than I?
We didn't make all the big money decisions in one night. In reality, it was a series of small conversations over many months. One night we chatted about our respective and combined goals. What did we want our immediate future to look like? Did we want to purchase a smaller home and have more money for saving and adventures? Or did we want a larger home but fewer adventures?
We talked about our long-term future, and what retirement looked like to each of us. Did we want to travel? Did we want a lake home?
Another evening we discussed our current financial picture. In a very non-judgmental way, we disclosed our individual debts, salaries and credit score. The fact is, it's hard to get where you want to go if you don't know where you're coming from.
His. Mine. Ours.
For now, our solution is to have multiple accounts – his, mine and ours. We each maintain our financial independence by having our individual checking accounts, and we work towards our financial goals (hello, house hunting) with a joint account. And we have weekly conversations about our joint finances, so we both know where we stand at any given time.
This is our solution. Although it's great for us, it may not be the best course of action for you. The thing about personal finance is this – it's personal! Don't be discouraged if you try something and it doesn't work. Just try a new method.
The important thing is to find the right fit for you and your partner. And don't feel like you have to go it alone. We have Certified Financial Counselors available at every branch location. And they are ready to help you find the best financial solutions for you and your unique situation.