Portland Relationship Counselor: Partners and Finances

September 18, 2014 by

Many couples choose to combine their finances when they marry, making it (somewhat) easier to work out things like paying for a car, mortgaging a house, and splitting day-to-day expenses. But what can you do if you’re in a long-term relationship and haven’t combined your finances?

This is a question that plenty of millennials (as well as older generations) have been asking as they choose to put off marriage, either because they see it as too expensive, want to spend longer dating their partner to ensure compatibility, or just don’t want to get married for personal reasons. With a significant percentage of couples choosing long-term relationships over marriages for the time being, partners need to figure out how to handle shared financial decisions so that money doesn’t become a point of contention.

The first step to working out how to handle finances with your partner is to sit down and have a frank discussion. You may find it helpful to talk with a Portland relationship counselor as well, especially if you’re about to make a big decision such as buying a house together. Here are a few other things to consider when working out a financial plan with your partner.

Split the costs of dates. If both you and your partner are comfortable sharing the costs of dates, try trading off on who pays. If one or both of you is on a tight budget, brainstorm inexpensive dates that you can both enjoy.

If you’re sharing household bills, create a joint account. Many long-term couples first live together in a rented house or apartment and split the cost of household expenses like rent, utilities, gas, and internet. While you may choose to use money from your separate checking accounts when paying the bills each month, you might find it easier to create a joint account specifically for household expenses that you can both deposit money in each month.

Split the cost of shared daily expenses, such as groceries. If you and your partner are living together (or even just spending most of your time together), you may want to talk about splitting shared expenses, such as groceries, down the middle. Again, this decision comes down to what you’re comfortable with, but many couples can reduce money stress when they feel that both partners are contributing to shared daily expenses.

Create a joint account for shared long-term goals. If you and your partner are both hoping to make a somewhat expensive purchase in the future, such as a vacation to Europe, you may want to open a joint account so that you can both contribute money towards this goal.

Keep discretionary spending separate. It may be a good idea to keep separate accounts for discretionary spending, such as personal entertainment and going out with friends, especially if one person in the relationship tends to be a “spender” and the other tends to be a “saver.” This can help you avoid conflict over purchases that one person may not want to contribute to.

There are plenty of other approaches you and your partner can take to handling shared finances, from creating spreadsheets to track your spending to signing a contract when you move in together. There’s no one perfect financial solution for every long-term couple, so talk to your partner to determine what will work best for the two of you.