Combining Finances: Personal Finance Management for Couples

Combining Finances: Personal Finance Management for Couples

By: Jessica Hennelly, Brand and Communications Manager

Date: October 21, 2022

Combining finances with your spouse or partner is not only another big step in your relationship but an exciting exercise in bettering your financial life, as well as theirs. While this is one of many milestones to celebrate in your relationship, it is also one that requires some hard work and a lot of communication. It is important to be open and honest with your partner about your financial situation, including any debt you may have and your overall budgeting priorities. When taking the steps to combine finances, there are many issues that may inadvertently be overlooked. The best approach is to be proactive and work with a trusted professional to ensure you cover all of your bases.

a couple reviewing their finances online

Review your financial priorities and set a household budget

Everyone spends their money differently - some prioritize putting their extra cash into life experiences or hobbies, while others use that money to boost their savings. When combining finances, it is possible for couples to be on the same page while also accepting any differences they have. According to a poll released earlier this year, 32% of respondents in a committed relationship admitted to spending more money1 than their partner would be comfortable with. Couples can avoid this scenario by committing to having open communication about their spending habits and choosing a plan that works for both parties from the start.

There are numerous big-picture decisions that should be prioritized, including emergency savings goals, vacation budgets and, if applicable, your children’s college education. From there, you can move on to discussing everyday money decisions like grocery shopping vs. eating out, and how often you should indulge in your favorite coffee drink. Once it is all laid out and priorities are aligned, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you keep individual checking accounts or open a joint account?
  • What percentage of your individual paychecks will be allocated to your emergency fund and other savings accounts each month?
  • What is your weekly entertainment allowance and how many times will you order takeout or go to a restaurant?
  • Are there any other financial priorities that we should be regularly contributing to?

It is important to note that 57% of couples have some form of separate2 financial accounts, including personal and joint, or just individual accounts under their name. Joint accounts promote trust and transparency between partners, in addition to offering an easy way to plan and pay for expenses. They also offer a clear financial picture that allows for an easy combined budget for both big-picture and everyday expenses.

Planning for the long-term

It is important to plan out long-term financial goals such as retirement funds, legacy or estate plan and other major financial decisions that may come up. Now that you will co-own all of your assets with your partner, you should create an estate plan that meets both of your needs.

When it comes to retirement planning, there is a lot of factors that come into play (i.e. social security, your retirement contributions and more). There are other considerations such as inflation, taxes and desired retirement location that go into planning for post-professional life with a partner. The type of retirement plans you have, the amount of money you already have saved, and the projected amount you will need in the future all come into play here. Couples should sit down with a financial advisor to review all assets to determine if any action should be taken now that they will be merging their finances.

Planning for major financial decisions that may arise five, 10 or 20 years down the road is necessary as well. While the college tuition of a child you are planning for might feel like a low priority, opening and contributing to a 529 savings account as early as possible can help avoid some stress in the future. Additionally - planning for natural disasters or medical emergencies that may occur should have a place in this process as well.

Getting a head start on financial planning when it comes to combining finances with a loved one is essential to having a successful and seamless transition. If couples put in the time and do the work, including crunching numbers and having those sometimes-difficult conversations, they will be able to overcome many roadblocks that may arise in the process. It is essential to connect with a trusted professional to explore your options and make sure there is nothing you are overlooking. Once the work is done, you can sit back and relax, and enjoy this new journey that you are embarking on with your partner!

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition.

  1. Retrieved from: https://www.creditcards.com/statistics/financial-infidelity-cheating-poll/
  1. Retrieved from: https://www.creditcards.com/statistics/financial-infidelity-cheating-poll/