Shar­ing Money Tasks Healthy

Riverbank News - - PERSPECTIVE - HUGH NOR­TON

W hile learn­ing to dis­cuss and man­age money as a cou­ple can be a chal­lenge at first, fig­ur­ing it out can pay div­i­dends for years to come. It’s ben­e­fi­cial to start com­mu­ni­cat­ing about money early in a re­la­tion­ship and to main­tain open com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the sub­ject as time goes on.

One of the first money de­ci­sions many se­ri­ous cou­ples make is if and how to re­ar­range their fi­nances once they de­cide to spend their lives to­gether. As with many re­la­tion­ship-re­lated de­ci­sions, there isn’t just one ap­proach that will work best for ev­ery cou­ple. How­ever, th­ese are a few pop­u­lar ar­range­ments that could work for you.

Move your money into joint ac­counts. Clos­ing individual ac­counts and solely us­ing joint ac­counts is one op­tion. Some cou­ples feel do­ing so is a re­flec­tion of their com­mit­ment to one an­other, and it can be eas­ier to man­age house­hold fi­nances when you pool money.

Don’t com­bine fi­nances. Keep­ing your fi­nances sep­a­rate might be a good idea, par­tic­u­larly if you both en­joy man­ag­ing money on your own. How­ever, you may need to have open and reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tions to en­sure bills don’t get over­looked and you’re both on track with your sav­ings.

Open joint ac­counts and keep your sep­a­rate ac­counts. An­other op­tion is to open joint ac­counts for shared bills and sav­ings goals while also main­tain­ing individual ac­counts that each of you can use how­ever you want. The ar­range­ment isn’t ideal if one part­ner feels strongly about com­bin­ing or separat­ing fi­nances, but it can be a good mid­dle ground.

Also, re­mem­ber that your choice to com­bine your money or keep it sep­a­rate isn’t set in stone. You can try out dif­fer­ent op­tions, and you may find that what works best for you both changes over time.

Say you want to keep your fi­nances sep­a­rate at first. If one part­ner stops work­ing after you have a child, that ar­range­ment might not work any­more. You could then split the work­ing part­ner’s in­come be­tween shared and individual ac­counts or have it all go to a joint ac­count that you can both use.

How you di­vide your money among ac­counts could also play into how you split and share fi­nan­cial tasks. With sep­a­rate ac­counts, you both may have to take on some of the bills. But even with com­bined ac­counts, you’ll still have to de­cide who’s re­spon­si­ble for what.

One slip up can oc­cur when one part­ner is clearly “the money per­son” in the re­la­tion­ship. He or she may be more in­ter­ested in fi­nances and even en­joy bud­get­ing. You may be in­clined to let that per­son han­dle ev­ery se­ri­ous money-re­lated de­ci­sion, but that could re­sult in is­sues down the road.

When one per­son takes on 100 per­cent of the fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, it can ac­tu­ally lead to re­sent­ment in both part­ners: the money per­son has an added bur­den of po­ten­tially mak­ing the wrong de­ci­sion for the en­tire house­hold, and even if the non-money per­son doesn’t en­joy man­ag­ing money and is com­fort­able let­ting his or her part­ner han­dle the fi­nances, he or she might not want to be left in the dark when it comes to fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions or be made to feel like their in­put/help isn’t needed.

Bot­tom line: Man­ag­ing money tends to be com­pli­cated even be­fore you add in all the dy­nam­ics of a long-term re­la­tion­ship. How­ever, when you are part of a cou­ple, hav­ing a sys­tem for how you’ll share your money and make fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions to­gether could help you avoid prob­lems and keep small dis­agree­ments from be­com­ing bigger. Cou­ples can strengthen their re­la­tion­ships when they learn how to dis­cuss money and how to work to­gether to achieve shared fi­nan­cial goals.

Hugh Nor­ton di­rects Visa’s fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams. To fol­low Prac­ti­cal Money Skills on Twit­ter: www.twit­ter.com/Prac­ti­calMoney.

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