I won’t hide that I had to learn couple finances the hard way. For some reason I have attracted spenders, seriously big spenders, guys who spend like there is no tomorrow and end every month spending more than they earn. In those situations my more sensible spending compensated for their spending going overboard. And since I have always been the one earning less, I often ended without a penny while they would have had most of the fun spending tons on themselves. I don’t even want to think about how much I could have saved all those years if I had been less financially naive and chosen the mine, yours and ours approach earlier…
After those experiences I swore to myself I would never ever again put my own private financial security at risk and promised myself to work towards securing my financial independence.
With my current boyfriend I knew I wanted to avoid all my former mistakes:
– not building my own private savings
– not sharing all expenses 50/50
– not planning financial goals together
– not talking about finances
Why do I need my own savings?
Well I might sound pessimistic and I know that we all go into a serious relationship thinking that it will be a never ending happy story. But the truth is that life doesn’t always turn out that way. Couples separate or divorce, you can be hit by a car, you can get fired… Feeling that I would need financial help from my boyfriend or any relative in those situations just doesn’t feel good. I want to feel financially independent and I want to know I can tackle financial challenges by myself.
Why do we share expenses 50/50?
I feel this is more my choice than my boyfriend’s, he earns more and doesn’t feel good about sharing expenses equally with someone earning much less. But I have insisted on it and prefers it this way. We have one joint account where we contribute equally and where all our bills are automated. In addition we have a joint account for groceries, we also contribute equally to this one, we have one debit card each on this account and we pay with it when we buy groceries. Our mobile phone bills, student loans, credit card debt and discretionary spending are paid for separately from our respective private accounts.
Being the one who earns less, I really have to watch my budget to be able contribute to those accounts each month and pay my own private bills in addition, which is good discipline for a former shopaholic like me. Besides I am now in a situation where I am the saver and my boyfriend is more a spender. I think that sharing 50/50 and leaving what is left of my money in my private account is far less stressful than joining all the money and trying to control my other half’s spender tendencies. I feel better about it and we don’t have money fights.
Why do we plan financial goals together?
In any serious relationship, you will some day want to make plans together. And most plans involve money. You need to discuss the financial aspects together and be sure you agree on them and behave accordingly. If you dream of taking a year off and travel around the world then you need to discuss how you will get there and make a financial plan both of you will agree to follow. Same thing if what you plan on is buying a new fridge or going back to school.
My boyfriend and I still need to work on the long term planning. We have different goals and priorities and need to find a comprise or a common plan that will please both, but we are getting there.
Why talk about finances?
Well just because we track our expenses and pay our bills on time doesn’t mean that our finances are doing good. We currently have weekly financial meetings where we review all aspects. We check if we are on track, we review our spending and our bills, we plan on bigger expenses if needed. More importantly those weekly meetings reminds us of the fact that we are a team and they motivate us to work on our goals together.
What works for us might not work for you, but for me this is the most peaceful couple finance situation I have ever had and I would never go back to my old ways. I feel safe because my hard earned cash is mine, and I feel good because we are also building assets that are ours together.