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From time to time, I get emails from readers about their finances. Sometimes, it's very specific and we just keep the conversation with email.
Others, like this one, are more board and I think beneficial to discuss together (after I send a personal response).
How to Handle Joint Finances
This week I had a reader ask about combining finances (left out some details to protect privacy):
When handling couples finance and monthly budget are there certain areas that should be separated such as cell phone bills, car payments, clothing?
I know we are suppose to combine our finances but can there by spending items that are okay to be separated?
Finances as a Couple
As I've interviewed dozens of couples on the podcast, I've seen how different couples have built up their finances together.
Instead of giving hard and fast rules, one of the things I try to explore is having conversations about why. It gets easier then to figure out the how from there.
I've noticed a pattern with couples who achieved big goals, like getting out of six figures of debt or retiring early – they had a plan that both of them agreed to. Their finances, naturally followed their intentions.
Why Joint Finances Can Work
A few reasons couples may choose to go joint with most or all of their finances can be:
You each know what's in the account, the numbers are out there in the open.
With joint checking and/or savings you have to be aware of who is spending what so you two usually have to have conversations before you make big purchases.
Having money chats regularly is a wonderful habit to have and some couples feel like joint accounts pushes that into a regular thing.
It's easier to track a few joint accounts than several individual ones.
Create Goals Together
Whether you combine your accounts or not, I'm a firm believer that you need to have some goals you're working towards as a couple.
Sit down and discuss what some of them are. Maybe you may find you'd like to start off with a joint savings account for a vacation this, year, a travel fund to explore different parts of the country or world, maybe you want business launch fun, etc.
I also suggest having regular money dates where the two of you go over your numbers. It doesn't have to be long or boring.
There are some free tools out there like Personal Capital or Mint that help you track your money quickly and easily.
You two can then see what each other has in all the accounts and can get an accurate view of your financial health.
Being open with your finances can be a boost to your marriage. It's the secrets and hidden things that tend to hurt a couple.
Thoughts on Joint Finances
You have my take on it, I'd love to get your thoughts. How do you two handle your finances?