Meeting the person who you see yourself settling down with is exciting enough, let alone talking about combining finances. But if you are both serious about each other, having that “conversation” can really set the path and boundaries for your financial future….for better or for worse.
Personally, I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule as to when a couple should discuss combining their finances as all relationships are unique and evolve at different speeds. Nonetheless, when both people feel comfortable in sharing the finer details of their financial situation (even if it is warts and all), that is a good sign that the couple can potentially work together as a team.
When this conversation arises, it should be discussed slowly and calmly with each person given the opportunity to communicate how they envision the mechanics of combining their finances, and what each partner sees as fair and reasonable before embarking on any changes.
Combing finances as a couple is something that should be respected and only when both parties have agreed on all boundaries and rules. If both parties can sing off the same page, their financial future is more likely to be a harmonious one.
Issues can arise when one partner seems to be doing more spending than the other. Especially if they are combining incomes and savings. The other partner is left feeling taken for granted and may become resentful. Which is never good for a relationship.
Agreeing on joint living expenses is a good start, (basic household expenses like electricity, insurance, food etc.). And these should be written down in a budget that is regularly reviewed.
Then each partner should disclose what their personal living expenses are…for example money spent on clothes, restaurants, entertainment etc. So they can understand the cost of their lifestyle.
They must also communicate what is an acceptable level and type of spending and exactly how it should be funded. And is should never be based on credit.
Hiding fresh shopping bags from our other halves is a well-known sport amongst my fellow female friends! It is about as obvious as the “this old thing” tactic quickly followed by a change in subject…..
From my personal experience I believe that each partner should have their own sanity money, which they should be free to spend as they wish, without their respective partner’s judgement or dismay. Which then means they aren’t put in a position where they have to lie.
We should accept and respect our partner’s vices as a part of who they are rather than fight it, which can often make the situation worse.
So whether that be designer shoes and luxurious cosmetics or golf memberships and large rounds of drinks with the boys. BUT, as long as these sanity purchases are kept within pre-agreed boundaries, and no debt is being created and their savings and investment goals are not being jeopardised.
A couple that can work together on their other financial goals is twice as powerful, so a few cheeky and harmless purchases cannot hurt, but definitely no lies.