Money can cause a lot of stress in a relationship; one of you might enjoy spending spontaneously on whatever you fancy, happy to use cards to pay for things; whereas the other might prefer to be more cautious, saving every penny.
It’s likely that a couple’s different approaches will cause friction and arguments at some point.
But it is possible to manage your finances with confidence together, so you can make money work for you and both enjoy spending it on the things you want. This blog looks at the best ways of working together as a team.
Honest open communication grows understanding
It’s really important to talk openly and honestly about money, even if it feels slightly awkward. Having a conversation early is likely to head off problems further down the line. It will also help build understanding and set shared goals.
It’s good to start by finding some shared goals; a dream holiday, being debt free, buying a home / moving to a bigger place…
Other important things to talk about might include: debt and savings; how you feel about combining your finances and what you think about sharing income / expenses. It’s also worth talking about what money means to you, your attitudes as well as experiences growing up because these shape our behaviour.
Don’t hide anything, if there are any problems eg a poor credit history or a debt then you’ll build trust by bringing it into the open. Secrets will cause even greater problems in the future!
There is lots more about talking with your partner in our blog: 10 tips to make talking about money with your partner a little bit easier.
Agree how you want to manage finances to build trust
There are lots of ways of managing money as a couple: joint accounts with everything shared; , separate accounts with shared bills; main earner gives the partner an ‘allowance’; separate finances with some things shared…
There is no right or wrong way, all have pros and cons — read more… It can be risky for couples who are just getting together (check out below, BE CAREFUL IF…) so you might want to start with one idea and see how it goes, you can always change the way you do things later as you grow in trust. It can be helpful to write down what you agree. Whatever you decide, do what you agree to do and talk openly, which will continue to build trust.
It’s tempting to let one person carry the load, especially if they are ‘the one who’s good with money’. But, it’s better for both of you to see where the money is going, and if something happens to one of you the other partner will be able to manage the bills.
Make a plan together to make money work for you
It’s not rocket science, couples who make joint decisions around finances have fewer problems and more likely to experience harmony at home.
Drawing up a budget together is the best way of managing money because:
- If done properly you’ll know what money is coming in and going out so you don’t spend more than you earn, possibly ending up with debt problems.
- You’ll know what you can afford to spend, so you can feel free to enjoy spending.
- You will also be able to work out what you want to save and ‘give’.
- You can plan for the future, for your long term goals.
- You’ll be able to see where you can make savings.
Often budgets don’t work because people use figures for a ‘typical’ month, which doesn’t allow for emergencies, holidays, saving for the long term and more. Toucan Together’s Money Module gives you a comprehensive free budgeting tool, practical guidance for completing it and money saving tips.
Track your spending and enjoy it!
If you’ve spent time drawing up a detailed plan you’ll be able to enjoy spending what you’ve planned!
Track your plan against spending and review it regularly, which might be monthly at first and then only once a quarter or annually as things settle.
Make your review times enjoyable, perhaps over favourite coffee takeaways or other treats. Spot red flags and take action. Adapt to changes in your relationship, eg buying a home, having a baby…
Learn new skills to get the most from your money
Managing money well can bring freedom, peace in the home and greater security. It can also help you become, or stay, debt free; save; give generously and achieve financial goals. It’s worth learning new skills to plan and manage money even better.
Toucan Together’s Money Module will frame positive conversations around important areas: what money means for you, what you experienced about money growing up and spending priorities. The module also gives practical insights and tools to help you with savings, handling debt, building budgets and managing change. There are helpful tips and videos where couples honestly share their stories. GET STARTED | LOG IN
BE CAREFUL IF…
- One of you has a poor credit history. As soon as you open a joint bank account or mortgage the credit score of the other partner may be affected.
- One of you has a lot of debt. Taking this on jointly is a big step and it’s important you both understand the implications and responsibilities of paying it off. There are sources of help below.
- If one of you has a lot of savings you might want to safeguard against the other dipping in without the other knowing about it. Open a separate joint savings account and start from there.
- You disagree on spending and debt. Don’t avoid problems, they may grow bigger if you do. Make joint decisions and stick to what you’ve agreed. Seek help if you suspect there are problems.