When we get married we may choose to merge our finances or we may choose to keep them separate. Whether we have a joint account with our spouse or not, our individual money is still part of a couple’s budget. Whether we keep our money in the same account as our spouse or not is totally irrelevant, because we still use our individual money to pay for joint expenses.
US News recently published an article called The Biggest Money Mistakes That Couples Make. Of course couples are bound to make money mistakes at the beginning of our relationships until we work out all of the kinks. I started dating my boyfriend Nick when I was 19. As we all know 19 year olds are just learning about their own money, not to mention having to manage our money together with someone else. We made our share of money mistakes as a couple, but we lived to learn from our mistakes.
Here are The Biggest Money Mistakes That Couples Make according to US News:
Not Talking About Finances. In my opinion, this is the number one biggest couple’s money mistake. Communication and Honesty are the two most important components that make a relationship last, after being in love of course. If we are not comfortable enough to talk to our spouse about money then what are we doing in a couple?
Putting One Person in Charge of the Money. This, in my opinion, is the second biggest couple’s money mistake. Maybe it’s because I am a control freak, maybe it is because I work in personal finance, but I just couldn’t imagine having someone else take care of, manage, and tell me about my finances. I also couldn’t imagine making a big purchase without talking with my boyfriend Nick. I have been with him for more than one third of my entire life, and I couldn’t imagine making a decision without him.
Combining Accounts Too Early. Or if ever, in my opinion. Having a joint account does not make our money joint. If you are in a couple and you share expenses, your money is already joint; regardless of how you both access the money or where the money is kept.
Sharing Credit Cards, Real Estate, and other Debts. I would recommend sharing debt as long as it is joint and you are both equally responsible to repay it. Couples debt should be acquired to gain a joint asset such as a car, a home, a cottage or a boat. Couples debt can also be acquired for joint purchases such as furniture or a vacation. I wouldn’t recommend sharing debt as a couple for individual spending and expenses.
Ignoring the Fact that You Might Break Up. Anytime a couple is together whether it is by marriage or not, we have to consider what will happen to our assets and debts if we break up. Anything acquired as a couple should be split equally down the middle. Anything that we have acquired (whether it is debt or an asset) on our own is our individual responsibility. Since I come from a divorced family and I’m a total commitment phobic, I feel that breakups are inevitable…it’s just a matter of time. We always have to be prepared.
(Photo By Mike Baird)