Not every couple decides to merge finances but if this is the path you’ve chosen, it may be hard knowing where to start. Is there an easy way to join your finances in a relationship?
Well, that depends on your definition of easy. Merging finances requires planning, honest discussion and budgeting, according to Greg Pride, financial adviser with Centric Wealth.
“The issue is that each individual may potentially have had a very different approach to the subject of money and finances before they became a couple,” Pride said.
“So there will be a period of adjustment – ‘How did you do it? How did I do it?’”
Put money on the agenda
The best way to begin is to identify your individual financial goals, what you cannot live without and what you are happy to compromise on.
“The greatest success comes from writing down in an honest way what you are trying to achieve with your finances, then come together as a couple and look at each other’s notes and be open and honest and communicate. That exercise will be the starting point of the discussion,” Pride said.
Knowing your individual goals will help you develop a joint plan of attack – will you opt to save together for your own home or a holiday? Does one of you spend money on a daily lunch at work and will the joint goal be better served by cutting out or limiting that expense? Do you have separate pre-existing financial commitments that will need to be taken into account? For example, if one of you already has a mortgage. There will be plenty of questions to consider.
The joint bank account
After your honest discussion, you should arrive at your joint goals and an agreed strategy – and calculate a budget accordingly.
In Pride’s opinion, a joint bank account is the best way to tackle your joint expenses.
“A joint account is best because if you have continuing silos you will have continuing issues,” he said.
“At some point you need recognition that this is a joint issue and a joint project.”
The joint account will cover living expenses such as rent or mortgage, bills and joint dinners. Plus, money from it can go towards a holiday fund or into a joint high-savings interest account towards an agreed financial goal.
Pride also recommended that each person take out a weekly personal allowance – the same amount to keep things fair. That will cover personal expenses, such as clothes, beauty and grooming products, hairdressing trips, hobbies and the like.
If you save together for a joint financial goal – whether it’s a home, a holiday or a car – you will find it easier than going it alone.