How Real World Couples Do Money Together

Tiana Soto
September 5th, 2019 | 12 minutes
How Real World Couples Do Money Together
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When it comes to money, everyone has their own special way of doing things. This is especially true with couples who manage their money together. Some couples have all their accounts merged together and stick to hardcore budgets, while other couples have their accounts competely separate and don’t track their finances at all (just go with the flow baby). We talked to 6 different couples about how they manage money in their relationship, and the results varied across the board! It’s time to grab your honey, a bottle of vino, and a notebook.

Amanda & Tanner

Ages: Both 29

Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Financial Management Model: Completely merged finances

Relationship Status: Married

Kids (human or animal): None

Money Personalities: Both Goal Diggers

Length of Relationship: 9 years

Money Questions

When did you guys first start talking finance? How did that go?

We started talking about them when we moved in together. It was hard at first because we had different philosophies on money. I was extremely frugal and always had a budget while Tanner was a little more laissez faire about it. We were still really young and just out of college. We used to fight every time we looked at the monthly budget and I saw all the areas we went over in.

How do you guys feel about your current financial state?

We now have intense budgeting set up and feel great about being prepared for all those annoying surprise expenses that pop up. It’s a breeze now that we set budgets together as a team and have spent a lot of time working through our earlier issues.

Do you track your finances together?

We sit down every month to review our budget for the upcoming month. We decide how to prioritize new expenses and shift budget around based on what we care about that month.

Do you have any shared accounts?

We have our old separate checking accounts open but don’t really use them. All of our main accounts are shared.

What do you find to be the hardest to manage financially together?

We used to have a hard time managing expenses together but it’s easy now that we have those planned out. Luckily we both value the same things so we’re ok splurging on travel if it means sacrificing other areas like eating out.

What are you guys currently saving for?

We started saving up in the baby budget category so we’re prepared when we’re eventually ready to have kids.

If you could give any advice on managing finances as a couple to other couples, what would you tell them?

Plan for the unexpected. It’s always those annoying, large expenses that seem to be one-time expenses that keep popping up. One month it’s a broken car part that needs to be replaced, the next ends up being a cavity. The more you budget for those things, the easier it becomes to absorb these “hits” to the budget. Also, it’s best to involve both people and have an honest conversation about how each of you want to prioritize where money gets spent. Couples should avoid shaming each other over expenses and talk through the situation instead.

Carley & Jordan

Ages: 28 & 27

Location: Seattle, WA

Financial Management Model: Separate finances

Relationship Status: Engaged

Kids (human or animal): 1 Cat

Money Personalities: Carley - Goal Digger, Jordan - YOLO Artist

Length of Relationship: 2.5 years

Money Questions

When did you guys first start talking finance? How did that go?

Fairly early on! We moved in together after dating for less than a year, so we had to discuss who could afford what. On top of the fact that he was trying out for the NFL, so he was paying to train rather than bringing money in. We were always very transparent and come from very different financial backgrounds. Overall, it went well!

How do you guys feel about your current financial state?

We both always want to make more haha. But we feel like we’re in a pretty good situation despite my student loan debt and expenses like a wedding on the horizon.

Do you track your finances together?

Not really. We communicate, but at this point we do not have visibility into each others bank accounts.

Do you have any shared accounts?

No.

What do you find to be the hardest to manage financially together?

I think navigating the future of major expenses. Like our wedding or looking for a home. We just don’t know what things realistically cost, or the processes for things, so we’re just continuously researching and doing our best!

What are you guys currently saving for?

A wedding & a home.

If you could give any advice on managing finances as a couple to other couples, what would you tell them?

Be transparent. If you feel like you have to hide something from your partner, you probably shouldn’t be doing (or buying) it. It’s best to be open and on the same page about your financial goals.

Tiana & Zander

Ages: 26 & 24

Location: Yuma, AZ

Financial Management Model: Separate finances

Relationship Status: Living together

Kids (human or animal): 2 Dogs

Money Personalities: Tiana - YOLO Artist, Zander - Goal Digger

Length of Relationship: 9 months

Money Questions

When did you guys first start talking finance? How did that go?

We first started talking finances when we moved in together 4 months ago. Mainly just because we were going to be splitting bills and everything. We also were thinking of what our future would look like together financially. It went well. We made the decision to keep each other more accountable/aware of our spending habits so we could each get closer to our own goals.

How do you guys feel about your current financial state?

We think it could be better. We definitely get by just fine, but we’d both like to have more in our savings and be able to invest in property sometime in the near future.

Do you track your finances together?

Not really. We both have the Mint app, but only check it sparingly. Outside of that, we’re always in our individual bank apps checking our bank account balances.

Do you have any shared accounts?

We have no shared accounts.

What do you find to be the hardest to manage financially together?

Splitting expenses for sure. We always forget if we’ve paid each other back and how much the amounts were. We are constantly Venmo-omg back and forth.

What are you guys currently saving for?

We’re both trying to build our emergency funds up right now because they’ve been pretty much non-existent.

If you could give any advice on managing finances as a couple to other couples, what would you tell them?

Create a budget, stick to it, and keep each other accountable. This makes it so much easier to hit your shared financial goals together! A gentle nudge from your partner on your spending habits is always a good way to keep you in check.

Falynne & Nick

Ages: Both 26

Location: Telluride, CO

Financial Management Model: Separate finances

Relationship Status: Married

Kids (human or animal): 1 Dog

Money Personalities: Falynne - Goal Digger, Nick - Amasser

Length of Relationship: 6 years

Money Questions

When did you guys first start talking finance? How did that go?

We first started talking about finances before we got engaged when we decided we wanted to buy a house together. The conversation went great. We decided how much each of us would save for a down payment based on our individual incomes. From there the conversation expanded to our daily spending habits and how we would each contribute to bills/groceries/etc.

How do you guys feel about your current financial state?

We feel comfortable about our financial state. However we would like to improve on the amount of money we’re saving each month.

Do you track your finances together?

Yes - we have a spreadsheet we use on a monthly basis. But would love to get this transferred to a more useful tool or app.

Do you have any shared accounts?

Not yet! But we’re planning to get a shared credit card in the near future.

What do you find to be the hardest to manage financially together?

Nick pays for the majority of our groceries, eating out and activities that we do together. This makes managing his credit card a challenge. We think getting a joint credit card for the things we do together/grocery expenses will improve this so we both have visibility into how much we’re spending.

What are you guys currently saving for?

Honeymoon and backyard improvements.

If you could give any advice on managing finances as a couple to other couples, what would you tell them?

Finance Wednesdays! Going over our finances once a week or once every other week has been super helpful! Having visibility and a weekly reminder of balances and what you’re saving for helps keep the finances in check! Plus it makes the conversation much easier with your S/O and confirms that you are both on the same page.

Kim & Derrik

Ages: 28 & 29

Location: Boston, MA

Financial Management Model: Completely Merged Finances

Relationship Status: Married

Kids (human or animal): 1 Dog

Money Personalities: Kim - Amasser, Derrik - Goal Digger

Length of Relationship: 9 years

Money Questions

When did you guys first start talking finance? How did that go?

Finances have always been something we’ve been pretty transparent about. Our goal as a duo is to invest early and thrive later on. It’s a pretty regular conversation with us. When we first moved in together (4 years before we got married), we just casually decided to merge finances into one bank account. We both kept separate credit cards, but had one collective debit account where all income was deposited and most major expenses were drawn from.

For some reason, this was such a no brainer decision for us. From my perspective if we have control of our finances we can have freedom in the future...so my goal was to get complete transparency into what’s happening with our entire household finances. His strategy was to keep me in check when I may be overspending (he is very frugal, and I would not call myself a lavish spender, but I can definitely go rogue on unnecessary expenses!).

How do you guys feel about your current financial state?

I feel like we are definitely ahead of the bell curve when compared to our peers. But again, finances are something that I personally have devoted most of my freetime to understanding and attempting to master as much as possible. And I know most of my peers have not done this to the same level as I have. It’s a weird obsession of mine.

Do you track your finances together?

Not really. It’s more one-sided. We’re also not super concerned about a hardcore monthly budget. It should be something we pay more attention to, but it’s more of a once a quarter conversation we have. Sometimes once every 6 months. We focus on increasing the income bucket and keeping spending flat and not increasing spend as we earn more. I track net worth on a weekly basis but I don’t bother my S/O with that because he doesn’t care quite as much as I do. I just feel like net worth is far more accurate depiction of how we are doing from a financial perspective.

Do you have any shared accounts?

Yes, all of them. We both have our own businesses though and we have separate accounts for both of these. We also each individually have our own credit cards which neither of us have immediate access to. I find this gives us a sense of some freedom.

What do you find to be the hardest to manage financially together?

Monthly budget. It’s hard to account for the unexpected expenses that for us almost inevitably come up every single month. We don’t sweat about those types of things as much as others might. I don’t like to operate on a penny pinching mentality but rather focus on a way that we can increase income to compensate for these types of unexpected expenses. Luckily, we’re both in the position where we have our own businesses so we can have a little more control over this than the average person.

What are you guys currently saving for?

To purchase rental properties.

If you could give any advice on managing finances as a couple to other couples, what would you tell them?

Make sure you’re on the same page as your significant other. My greatest asset is the fact that both myself and my husband are on the same page and we support one another’s goals when it comes to finances. If there was one of us who was a crazy spender and didn’t think about how it impacted our future, we’d have a huge problem. We are a team, and you should find someone to join your team who you have complete trust in!

Katie & Roger

Ages: Both 32

Location: Cleveland, OH

Financial Management Model: Completely Merged Finances

Relationship Status: Married

Kids (human or animal): 1 Cat

Money Personalities: Both Amassers

Length of Relationship: 6 years

Money Questions

When did you guys first start talking finance? How did that go?

Within the first year of our relationship. We moved in together while dating. It went well.

How do you guys feel about your current financial state?

We feel ok about it. Of course, we’d like to have more in our savings. And have things like student loans and cars paid off. But overall we are ok.

Do you track your finances together?

Yes.

Do you have any shared accounts?

Yes.

What do you find to be the hardest to manage financially together?

Probably the miscellaneous purchases every month. $100 here, $50 there. That is stuff that tends to add up and we don’t necessarily give ourselves a budget for that. (Which we should)

What are you guys currently saving for?

Future children, a new garage, and mainly we like to always have a safety net of money in case something happens. There’s a certain number we do not let our savings get below; no matter what projects/vacations/hobbies we may want to do.

If you could give any advice on managing finances as a couple to other couples, what would you tell them?

I think sharing an account makes life a lot easier. And you have to cut each other slack with some things. But overall I think when you both can see what transactions are being made and where money is going, it’s easier to manage together than dividing up the expenses.

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