First comes love, and then comes finances…wait, that was never in the traditional rhyme! Making that next move with your partner to merge your money can be a bit daunting and also a bit of a hot topic. There are a few things that you both need to discuss before making the financial plunge and the sooner you do it, the better.
- Be Honest about your Financial Weaknesses: We all have them, those traits that make us good with parts of a budget but not others. It is important when you are talking about merging your money to be completely honest with each other about what strengths and shortcomings you have in the money arena. Ask your partner what their view is of your financial capabilities, because sometimes we are unable to see when we are being a bit too spendy or cheap. Financial weaknesses don’t make you weak, they just let your partner know what areas may be best managed by their strengths. Remember you are a financial team now.
- Reminisce about the Past: Be honest about how you have handled your money in the past and what debt you already have. Communication is the key when merging finances and you need to feel comfortable with sharing your past with your partner. The more you both know, the better equipped you can be to make a game plan for your future together.
- Map Out a Budget: This is one of the most important steps of making a financial future together, and one of the most ignored. You can’t ignore the facts when your financial choices are laid out in black and white, and a budget can avoid many costly arguments. Decide what expenses are important to each of you and stick to the plan you make. You can always alter your budget if you find there is something else you need or don’t need along the way.
- It is Okay to Dream: It is very important to talk about your long term goals. What do you want for the future of your family, for yourself, and for both of you as a couple? What steps will you need to take to attain those dreams and how will that affect your day-to-day budgeting? Money is no fun if you are only worrying about monthly total. You will surprise yourselves with the exciting future you both know you will have together.
- Decide who’s the Boss: Make a decision on who is going to be in charge of the finances and if he/she will handle all of the finances. Since you have already talked about what your strengths and weaknesses are, it may be clear who is going to manage the money. But, make sure you are both comfortable with your decision. If it is still unclear, then divvy up the financial responsibilities and revisit the success of those choices at a further date.
- Set a Date: Making a financial planning date once a week, or every other week, is as important as making time for your regular date night. Find a time and place where you can both talk alone and focus on the topic of your finances solely for that time. It doesn’t need to be a long time, but it needs to be enough that you can talk about your choices for the week and revisit how your budget is working for both of you.
- Get Technical: Decide how you plan to merge your accounts, what accounts you want to merge, and decide on spending limits. Some couples merge some of their accounts, but retain some personal ones for some financial independence. Make sure you know which account all your bills are coming out of and which accounts are for savings. Set a dollar limit on purchases that don’t require a discussion so that you both feel free enough to splurge or buy a gift occasionally. This is the last step before heading to the bank and making your financial dream team a reality.
At the end of the day, it truly is about making a team effort. Stay on the same page, always discuss your feelings and plans and commit to it.
Featured Image Credit: http://missmoneybee.com/2012/08/can-joint-accounts-damage-your-personal-finances/
Inside Image Credit: http://www.quickquid.co.uk/quid-corner/2012/09/10/coupling-up-key-conversations-to-have-before-you-merge-your-finances/