It’s a fact that money causes the most turmoil in a relationship and that it is the leading cause of divorce. Because of this, it is important to sit down with your partner and talk about your beliefs and ideals surrounding money. If you do this, you can save yourself many headaches later on. I have listed a few items that you should discuss. This list is not complete. I urge the readers to add anything else they think would be beneficial to talk about when it comes to money and relationships.
Joint or Separate Accounts?
Back in my parent’s day, combining everything was the norm. Joint accounts were the rule. If you had an individual account it was questioned. Nowadays, things aren’t so cut and dry. Many people are electing to have both a joint and individual account. My girlfriend and I talked about this and came to this conclusion.
We will have a joint account for all bills and savings for vacations, home improvements, etc. We will also have individual accounts for buying whatever we want. By doing this, we don’t have to “ask permission” from the other person to spend money in the joint account. Also, this makes it easier to buy gifts for each other without that person knowing what it is when the statement arrives or they check the joint account online.
If you plan on having children that is something that certainly needs to be discussed. But after that decision, you need to discuss how and if you will help pay for college. I spoke about this topic with my girlfriend and we are in agreement that retirement comes first and then college. We realize that there is no loan for retirement; we need to save everything we can to live the life we desire. We expect to be able to save something for college, just not enough to cover four years’ worth of tuition.
Sounds crazy but everyone’s idea of vacation is completely different. Some people want to do nothing more than lay on the beach for a week. Others want to go exploring and be active. Included in this is the cost of said vacation. You might think that $5,000 is right for vacation while your spouse may think that is way too much. It’s important to make sure that you are both on the same page so that you can both enjoy your vacation to its fullest.
Buy new or used? Lease or finance? This might not be a big deal to you, but your spouse may think otherwise. While it is usually a good idea to buy a used car over a new car, there are times, including now, when buying new might be a better deal. This is due to low interest financing and favorable pricing.
My girlfriend and I are on the same page here. We are open to a new car over a used car, but will only do what is financially the best move. We are both against leasing a car, so that is not an issue.
Lastly, there is debt. Some hate it with a passion, others are OK with it. You will need to understand where each other is coming from. In my case, my girlfriend hates debt because of her upbringing. I have to take this into consideration when I talk about buying a new car. In my ideal scenario, I have the cash for a new car, but take out a low interest loan. The cash I have is invested in short-term bonds or a savings account that earns a higher interest rate. She is opposed to this and doesn’t understand why I wouldn’t just pay for it outright since I have the money.
Had we not discussed this, it could have created an issue, not only when buying a car, but further down the line when the possibility of debt came up.
Make sure you discuss money with your significant other. If you don’t agree on a topic, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship. Step back and see where they are coming from. Then assess whether you are OK with doing things that way. After explaining the whole ‘take a loan for a new car’ logic above, my girlfriend is opening up to the idea. But I have decided that if she isn’t OK with it, it’s not the end of the world for me to pay cash.