Money Partnership

After a year of marriage, my partner and I have finally figured out what works for us.

Reality: 36% of divorces stem from financial problems.  Obviously, making sure we are on the same page financially is a huge deal.

Initial Thoughts

  • As a couple, you have to talk about your goals (both short and long term) together and make sure you are on the same page.  What does your life look like?  What are you saving for?  On what timeline?
  • Be open about your debts, expenses and credit cards.
  • Even though we have separate accounts, my partner and I have all our accounts input into Personal Capital to track household saving and spending.  This helps us see big picture as a couple.

Planning for Retirement

I came in swinging on this one.  I've been finance-obsessed and saving since 10th grade, so you can bet I had a plan.  Full optimization of retirement accounts and brokerage accounts, stepping social security dates, power saving certain accounts later, starting with my partner's account since he's older and switching to mine, and- OH.  My partner was not comfortable with this, at all.  He wants to save entirely separately and plan as though he will be alone for the rest of his life.  I was thrown a bit.  Obviously not a big deal, because I had been planning that way for my whole life, but I had to listen to his concerns and realize we weren't on the same page. 

We both max out our traditional 401ks and our HSAs.  I also max out my Roth IRA and continue to tuck away some savings.  My partner has a more conservative approach to his investing than I do.  He's older and closer to retirement age, so a mixed allocation makes him more comfortable.  He will have to work a bit longer to make up for a late start.  I still go all in on stocks since I have a ton of human capital left.  I will continue working at minimum until the house is paid off, but because I'm younger, I have to be strategic about where I am saving to make sure I can access it later in a tax-efficient way.

It makes sense to save for retirement separately.  My partner has been divorced before, so he knows it can happen again.  While the goal is to stay together, you never really know.

Bank Accounts

  • Yours, Mine, and Ours for checking and savings
  • Our investment accounts and retirement accounts are solely individual.

Every couple should have separate bank accounts with a bit of money set aside to ensure they are not putting themselves at risk financially.  If something happens, you'll have immediate access to the money and won't be at risk of the account being frozen or the funds being removed.  Far too many people are financially trapped by their partners.

If you aren't comfortable with separate accounts for whatever reason, that's okay.  I'm not here to judge.  Just make sure you are aware of the risks of not having your own account should something happen and make sure it's something you are comfortable with.

Household Expenses

  • Who covers what bills
  • How to divide

I own the house, so it makes sense for me to handle all the bills for the house.  I take care of the bills for the mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities, lawn care, pool care and cleaner.  We have a 60/40 income split, so each month, my partner puts money to cover 40% of the household expenses into the joint account.  We go solely based on income and don't include bonuses in the calculation.  They are usually close anyway.  My partner covers our subscriptions to Netflix, Disney+ and HBO in full as he's the one who watches them.

Going Out & Having Fun

My stepdad raised me to expect the man to pay.  Whenever we go out to eat, my partner pulls out his credit card.   I always say thank you.  I am usually the one who picks up take-out and groceries.  On the flip side, I like to do fun more expensive things, including theme parks and vacations, and I'm the one who usually covers those.

State of the Household

Money isn't a big deal for us.  When anything unexpected comes up, we review together to see how we can cover it as a team.  Usually, it's just a conversation during dinner.  We also have regular discussions to make sure we are on the same page (one to two times a month).  Keeping the lines of communication open ensures that we aren't surprised later.