Should You Combine Your Finances With Your Partner’s?

You’ve finally found one and now you need to figure out what to do with your finances. If happy couples on Instagram are any sign, you just mix all aspects of your life together and live happily ever after ever since. And that mash includes your money.

This is what you have to do, right? Are you in love. Who needs personal and financial boundaries? But you may have been burned by a partner in the past, or there are a few unclear points in your own financial history that you are still trying to fix. In this delightfully modern era, expressing love for each other doesn’t mean you have to fully or completely unify your finances.

Here’s what to consider before opening any joint accounts.

Trust your intuition and take your time

If you have any doubts about sharing financial obligations with the person you plan to work with, you should refrain from opening joint accounts.

“You have to be in a relationship in which you trust the person you are with, because [with] a joint account anyone can completely liquidate the account,” says Kari H. Lichtenstein, partner in family law practice at Stutman, Stutman & Lichtenstein. , said. “Both parties have the right to spend any money.” If you haven’t already talked about your financial situation (such as student loan debt), you might want to wait.

Because if that person runs away with your money and you break up (which I assume will be a mutually occurring event), trying to get that money back will be a big legal problem.

If you’re just moving in together or getting ready for a wedding (namely, if things look terrible in your future), you don’t need to consolidate your finances all at once. In fact, while researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that couples who have long-term obligations and who share their bank accounts are happier, they also found that couples who do so in their first year of dating do not. the same happy outcome.

Instead of diving into your head, you can open a joint account and only use it for certain general accounts like rent or utilities. True love does not require you to check your shared account via direct deposit.

There is no “right” way to combine your finances.

A 50/50 split is not required for a healthy long-term relationship.

The most important part of managing your finances for both partners is transparency about expectations and financial commitments, and finding what works for both of you. If you have two of the same income, you can decide to fund your general account evenly. If there is an income imbalance or only one of you is working, it may be more appropriate to contribute a percentage of your earnings.

“I’ve seen couples budget by opening a bunch of different accounts and labeling them for what they are,” Liechtenstein said. One unforgettable client had a bill for each child, a vacation fund, and a veterinarian. “They always had money if something happened to their dog. So they were kind of insured. “

Some ideas on how dual income couples can manage their cash flow can be found in this post .

Just because it’s separate doesn’t mean it’s yours

In some states, Liechtenstein warned, it doesn’t matter who owns which bank account. If you earned it in marriage, this money belongs to the marriage and can be divided in the event of a divorce. “If they don’t have a marriage contract, it’s not their own money,” she said.

Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are communal states where the income generated during marriage is owned by both parties. This joint ownership extends to debt as well.

The only way to ensure that your money or other assets remain completely independent of your spouse is through a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement does not need to be prepared just in case of divorce. It can also specify how partners will manage their money as spouses. And it’s not just for people who marry wealth. A prenuptial agreement can help you align your financial expectations from each other during good times, which can make bad times a lot easier.

As for the cost of a marriage contract, it depends on where you live and how complicated your finances are. The cost of working with a professional person (as opposed to an online service for filling in blank fields) will likely start at $ 2,000.

If you are not going to get married, but still want to establish some legal boundaries, you might consider a cohabitation agreement .

There is no shame in keeping certain things separate.

You are not an imperfect couple unless you combine all your financial accounts. Liechtenstein said it makes sense to have access to money separately from your partner, even if you’re happy to open joint accounts.

“You just never know what might happen,” she said, be it an emergency or just the moment you want to spend without reporting every penny to your partner. “I think it gives you a sense of some control over what you can and cannot do in a marriage or relationship.”


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