Many couples avoid conversations about finances. We all have some mindset around money, and because the discussions are so often avoided, people have a difficult time identifying their own mindset and sharing this information with their partner. The topic of money can bring up emotions like shame, a sense of scarcity, judgement, guilt, and may even lead to partners becoming secretive with their finances.
With all the potential difficulties related to money, couples are curious about how to navigate splitting finances. This can be complex and a bit tricky. Any financial plan that you implement is at risk for challenges if couples avoid talking about their values, beliefs, and spending & saving habits.
To determine how to split your finances with your partner, here are some areas to review together to see what is the best fit for you.
1. Have an honest conversation about your money history.
Large amounts of debt, impulse spending, credit cards/loans/accounts, and secret spending are important to shed some light on. This includes investments, savings, income, and other assets.
2. Reflect on your values and beliefs about partnerships/marriage.
This may seem irrelevant, but it is essential. If you are married and value sharing everything with your partner, it would likely not fit for you to have separate bank accounts. Your values and beliefs will show up in every area of your relationship and life, including finances.
3. Discuss your values and beliefs about partnerships/marriage with your partner.
Having this conversation helps couples to determine where they share values and beliefs and where they may differ. Then include how they influence your money mindset and view on splitting or sharing finances.
Remember that these discussions do not have to happen in one sitting. Here are some potential areas of concern that many couples experience that may come up for you and your partner and may influence your decision on how to split or share finances:
You and your partner likely want to complete trust with one another. This is where it is imperative to discuss money history and habits. Couples may have conflict about secret spending/accounts/credit cards, one partner spending money without consulting the other, or one person not paying the bills on time.
Some partners may worry or fear judgement from their partner when talking about money history. Remember that we’ve all made money mistakes. It’s important to acknowledge them, learn from them, and make necessary changes to avoid them in the future.
Some partners may feel shame related to their inability to contribute financially. They may feel like they are supposed to be able to afford a certain home, conveniences, or services. They may believe that such things are expected by their partner or their partner’s family. Feelings of shame can be difficult and require couples to be incredibly vulnerable to one another. This will likely be the conversation that most couples would like to avoid. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s worth it.
d) Having different financial goals.
Talk about expectations related to your money goals. For example, if you won’t pay off your mortgage and your partner is comfortable with having a house payment for 30 years, this will not only influence your goal, it will also influence how you reach it. This may mean that you are contributing more to your mortgage payment while your partner does not. For some couples, this may be a recipe for disaster, and for others, it may work well. Determine and discuss your goals with one another and which to prioritize that works best for you as a couple.
Determine who will be responsible for completing specific tasks (e.g., paying particular bills, grocery shopping) and what tasks will be shared. It may also be helpful to discuss financial roles related to each partner’s family. For example, if your family member is in need of financial assistance, determining how this will be managed and how your partner may or may not be involved.
Conversations around splitting finances not only help create structure around money and spending; Couples benefit by practicing being vulnerable with one another, which can assist in building and strengthening their relationship. Who knew having discussions about money could be so helpful?
Even though we know that there are many benefits to having these money conversations, and we know that it will need to be discussed at some point, it doesn’t change the fact that many couples want to or have already put it off. The longer we go without talking about it, the longer we fall into money habits that are not serving us, our financial goals, or our relationship.
Every couple is unique. How you choose to share or split finances with your partner may look a bit different from how another couple may do it. What is most important is that you’re having the honest and hard conversations that lead to you making financial decisions that are the best fit for you and your partner.