Merging Finances: Three Questions to Consider

Whether you’re moving in together or getting married, there aren’t many aspects of coupling up that can be as contentious as the merging—or not merging—of finances. There’s no right way to navigate these waters, but it can be tricky to figure out the right balance for your relationship. And while we can’t tell you exactly how to strike that balance, we can offer a list of things to think about while you’re working on it. Here are three key considerations to make when merging finances with your partner.

Ownership.

This can mean ownership of physical items, like real estate and cars, but it can also mean ownership of debt or bills, like college loans or monthly utilities. You might choose to combine all assets into joint bank accounts or keep separate accounts and divvy up the bills. No matter what you decide, it’s important to discuss it all up front so there are no unwelcome surprises, like an avoidable past-due payment.

Spending versus saving.

While you might like to save every extra penny for a rainy day, your partner may prefer to spend those pennies on travel or dining out. If you have opposite approaches to spending, you’ll need to learn to meet in the middle. It can take some time to get used to someone else’s financial habits. Give yourself—and your partner—grace during the adjustment period.

Financial goals.

While it’s important to set expectations and boundaries for day-to-day finances, don’t forget the big picture. Where do you see yourself financially in 10 years? Forty years? Financial planning isn’t just about retirement. Whether you would like to buy a property, remodel an existing one, start your own business, or just have more financial freedom, you’ll get farther in your goals if your partner is on the same page. Don’t be afraid to dream a little, as long as you are dreaming together.

There are no right answers when it comes to merging finances, but communication is key. Start your financial life together on the right foot by having the important conversations early. Your relationship will be better off for it.

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