Skip the candy; talk candidly.
If you want to be successful in managing your money, you must find comfort in talking first. Being transparent about your earnings, debt, and money philosophies may feel uncomfortable, but full disclosure is critical when it comes to making joint financial decisions like whether you want to merge finances or how you want to tackle bills. Make check-ins a regular conversation (versus a one-time event) so that when financial hurdles happen, you'll already have a baseline sense of how your partner will want to move forward.
Create joint financial goals.
What do you want to achieve as a couple? Do you need to create an emergency fund or start saving for a home purchase? Do you need to budget for an upcoming vacation or pay off a high-interest credit card this year? Narrow down the primary financial priorities you can tackle in tandem, and then decide how you want those goals to be reflected: as a shared document you periodically refer to? As a vision board? As categories within a financial app? Everyone has their own preferences; the importance here is finding common ground when it comes to money milestones.
If your money philosophies are aligned and you generally see eye-to-eye, congratulations! Who spends what is half the battle. On the other hand, if fully merging finances is a pain point, consider keeping three accounts: one for you, one for your partner, and one for joint spending. Decide what – beyond just your house payment and utility bills – falls under the shared category. For example, will medical expenses and gifts for family be shared or separate? Take time to fine-tune what constitutes "mine," "yours," and "ours," (and how much you want to budget within those categories) so that discretionary spending doesn't feel like something either of you need to defend.
Track your spending and savings.
Once your accounts are organized accordingly, there are several options for syncing up finances. Check with your financial institution to see what tools they have available, or consider one of these three popular options all offering free versions:
Mint: tracks income, savings goals, and your credit score, and also syncs with your credit cards and checking/savings accounts.
Honeydue: Ideal for couples who appreciate the ability to chat about bills and transactions within the app (versus later at the dinner table).
Goodbudget: A good option for curbing spending. Acts as an envelope system in which you can only spend the amount that's in each designated envelope (you can have up to 20 envelopes before switching to the paid version).
Planning for Your Future
Need a little guidance when it comes to planning your finances or creating a realistic household budget? MEMBERS1st has partnered with GreenPath Financial Wellness to provide our members with access to trained financial counselors and resources to help you make informed financial decisions and find your path to a bright financial future.