A long-term relationship brings many financial transitions, all of which affect many different aspects of the partners’ lives. From personal financial ambitions to credit card debt, the relationship will face new obstacles at every turn.
You may need to create new ways of handling personal finances in a new relationship, and most couples are unsure of what questions to ask and where to begin.
While it won’t be easy to figure out how to deal with these changes, planning will help you lay a solid financial framework for your relationship. Read on to find out how.
The “Dating Stage” of a Relationship
Dating is a friendly, no-strings-attached time. When you’re dating, you’re looking at your options and really want to have a good time.
While you’re worried about the other person to some degree, you are more likely to be worried about your own finances, and you don’t have to bring your date lavish presents or take them out at their order.
The First Date
Since the start of dating, the inevitable payment on a first date has been a constant subject of debate. Although it used to be customary for the man to pay on the first date, it is no longer the case.
It’s fair to say that the person who set up the date should pay for it. But, if you feel more relaxed by splitting the bill on the first date, feel free to reach for your wallet – even if you were the one who was invited out.
No Financial Obligations…. Yet
At the start of your partnership, you are not obligated to pay any of your partner’s expenses. This is only the beginning of the dating process.
Since your partner knows very little about you, they are unconcerned about your financial condition. You probably can’t trust them with your finances yet – if you don’t end up staying together, you’ll end up with a hole in your heart and pocket!
The “Honeymoon” Phase
The first few weeks of dating are often referred to as the honeymoon phase. You’re looking forward to meeting one another, and you’re probably going on lots of dates – and spending a fortune in the process.
This isn’t realistic for most couples, and things will most definitely end up slowing down. It’s important to keep in mind that how you treat money at the beginning of a relationship sets the stage for the rest of the relationship.
Being in a Long-Term Relationship
As your relationship grows, so do your financial discussions. For example, moving in together will create more shared expenses – and keeping track of them in your mind is harder than it seems.
Money is valued differently by everyone. However, the more you and your partner chat about your beliefs, the less likely you are to criticize them for making a financial decision that you do not understand.
When it comes to relationships, the nuances of “who should do what” change. You have feelings about your partner, you care for them, and you are usually more worried about them than you are for yourself.
So, if you and your partner are on the same page, the solution is to consider each other’s position and pay accordingly.
But if you’re not on the same page, it could be difficult to navigate. Here are some tips on how to successfully manage your finances together.
How to Decide Who Should Pay for What?
When you plan to move in with your significant other or even marry them, these money management guidelines will help you maintain a happy and stable relationship.
1. Discuss your finances
While you (hopefully) know what your partner does for a living, it is a good idea to get a deeper understanding of their financial situation. This means you’ll want to know:
- How much money do they earn?
- What sorts of bills do they accrue?
- Are they enrolled full-time at university?
- Do they have any pastimes that they love spending money on?
- Do they owe money?
Knowing all of this will help you decide how you and your partner will handle money. Of course, you’ll need to share your finances with your partner as well.
2. Set clear expectations
When it comes to finances and new relationships, it is vital to set clear goals early on. Moving in together and sharing expenses is probably not a great thing to discuss at the start of a relationship, but if you see things heading that way you can talk about it.
3. Don’t keep secrets
If you’re serious about handling finances with your partner, make sure you don’t keep secrets. Successful financial planning for couples needs complete transparency.
You’ll want to tell your partner about the good, bad, and straight up ugly. If you know you have a propensity to overspend when you’re nervous, you should tell your partner about it.
4. Keep the conversation positive
It can be difficult to talk about your monthly expenses or loans when you’re in debt. However, there’s a rewarding part of handling money as a couple: when you both strive to handle your money properly, you’ll begin to work towards bigger goals!
Focusing your discussions on your mutual interests and goals as a couple is one way to keep conversations about money optimistic.
5. Have an individual account
Some people tend to split the bill – at least in their bank accounts. The majority of unmarried (and many married) couples maintain separate bank accounts and lines of credit, and divide significant household expenses such as rent and utilities evenly.
Each partner can pay various monthly bills, or one partner can pay out of pocket and receive a check from the other.
6. Create a joint account – for the bigger stuff
If there is a need to spend money on something significant, such as stocks, a house, or a car, create a joint account so that both partners will know precisely what they can and cannot afford to buy.
7. Be frugal
If you don’t want to fall into debt together or have battles over money, start being frugal together early on. Know that it’s okay to search for deals, use discounts, and make inexpensive choices, especially when it comes to investing and handling money in new relationships.
8. Split the expenses
There’s nothing wrong with dividing most expenses 50/50 if you and your partner live apart. If you are not going to break it 50/50, that’s perfectly fine too.
It’s great if one party wants to take care of paying for dates or covering costs, as long as you chat about it – and ensure you’re both on board.
9. Save for retirement
People in long-term relationships should plan for retirement even though they’re young. If you’re committed to your relationship for the long term, retiring together and pooling your finances helps you to build an account that will help you both in the future.
10. Talk about long-term financial plans
Sit down and have a discussion about your financial objectives. Determine what you both want to save for in the future — whether it’s college tuition for future children, a new home, or a trip to Europe — and formulate a strategy to get you there.
Whatever you decide, keep in mind that your partner is by your side – and that once you’ve set a target, you should both be working toward it.
11. Set up a rainy-day fund
One of your first financial priorities together should be to establish an emergency fund. You’ll almost certainly face unforeseen expenses during your relationship. Whether its the loss of a job, major house repairs, or medical bills, it’s good to be prepared.
12. Don’t micromanage your partner
Managing finances together is not an excuse to keep an eye on your partner’s finances. Looking behind their backs and critiquing their spending habits will only push them away from you.
Confidence is an important part of being in a happy relationship. Be confident that when your partner decides they’re going to use the credit card to get groceries, they’ll actually do so.
13. Confide in your partner if you’re struggling
If you’re in a relationship with somebody who earns considerably more or less than you, you can talk about how to pay for dates in a way that works for both of you.
In a long-term relationship, it’s perfectly normal if one individual makes less money and ends up paying for fewer dinners or dates than the other, as long as they are doing everything they can. If you’re struggling, confide in your partner – and work out a solution together.
14. Work as a team
Working as a team is an integral aspect of being in a relationship. It’s much easier to make strides toward your goals when you’re both on the same page about your revenue, expenses, properties, and obligations.
15. Divide your financial responsibilities
Another way to preserve financial and relational stability is to have a transparent and frank dialogue about financial obligations. Who is in charge of making timely rent payments? How much do you pay for utilities as a couple?
It will help you find out what is appropriate if you’re specific about who pays for each bill. This will help you prevent late payments, the fines that come with them, and other unexpected costs.
16. Do what feels natural
For certain couples, doing what feels right be the best option.
Find out what works better for both of you. Discuss your financial issues with your partner so that you do not hold any resentment against one another about money over the years.
17. Communicate openly
Open communication helps couples come to an agreement and avoid disagreements over time. Be open and honest with your partner about your spending habits, and dig deeper into your money management strategies.
Understanding your financial motivations will help you influence potential relationships without being enraged or judging your partner’s wasteful spending habits.
18. Make a list of your assets and liabilities
Both partners should be mindful of exactly what each of them brings to the table, as debts and assets affect spending patterns and can affect joint loan eligibility.
Assets can include cars, properties, bank deposits, and retirement investments, while debts include loans and credit card bills.
19. Create a monthly budget
Create a monthly budget based on your financial goals, and set spending caps together. You’ll revise your budget over the course of your relationship, so it doesn’t have to be flawless the first time around; just make sure you can track expenses and assess the budget progress.
Then, determine which one of you is in charge of different day-to-day financial life planning and bill payment activities.
20. Buy insurance
Purchasing insurance is an important part of being an adult, particularly in a long-term relationship. For example, getting health insurance through a partner’s employer may be less expensive, and combining your car insurance into one package may save you money.
If you’re making monetary commitments that include two incomes, such as purchasing a property or starting a family, a life insurance policy will help you meet your financial obligations.
The Bottom Line
Money management as a couple can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Focus on maintaining transparent and regular contact, as well as preventing problems before they arise. Remember that this is a learning experience for both of you!
You’ll keep your relationship and financial life in check by having honest discussions. Working together to manage money from the start of your partnership can only deepen and expand your bond.