Finances alone can be tricky, but combining finances with another person can be downright confusing.
No matter where you are in your relationship – dating, engaged, living together, or other, it’s vital to discuss finances and your expectations for one another and what you want as a couple.
Married couples seem to already have their finances figured out, especially if they joined their accounts.
But when you’re just dating someone, it is more complicated. You both have your own bank accounts, and you both have your own income and budget. What’s mine isn’t quite yet yours when you’re dating.
The first thing to know is that there is no “right” way to handle your finances as a couple when you’re not yet married. Everyone does it differently, and it’s a matter of finding a system that works for you.
With that being said, there are some questions you should ask your S.O. If you’re spending any significant amount of time with another person, they will impact your finances. Being open and honest is the only way to stay on the same page financially.
So without further ado, here is how to handle your finances with a significant other when you’re not yet married.
Know your goals
Take some time and be honest about your own individual goals and what you want to achieve as a couple.
This deep conversation will be eye-opening for the both of you and will bring a new seriousness to your relationship.
Your goals likely will require money and you’ll need to make sure whoever you’re dating is 100% supportive, even if it isn’t convenient for them.
For example, my fiance knows my ultimate goal is to become a college professor, which requires a lot of expensive schooling. We are able to align our goals together to make sure that I will be able to go to graduate school in the next few years.
Once you have a better understanding of your goals, you’ll be able to create your budget to better reach your financial and life goals.
Share your income
You probably shouldn’t ask someone how much they make when you’re on a first date, but if you’re in what you consider a serious relationship, it’s important to know what you both are bringing in for income.
Some people hold their salaries as something that is extremely private. Everyone has a different opinion about this, but I believe it is so necessary to share your salary with someone who you are in a serious relationship with.
Being honest with your salary will open the communication about who pays for what. If there is a significant difference between your salaries, you’ll need to discuss expectations of one another.
Create a list of combined expenses
Any couple likely has some shared expenses, whether you live together or not. Create a list of all your shared expenses, like dinners out, rent, electric, holiday gifts, etc. Figure out how, or if, you will split these expenses.
Dating costs money, and you need to figure out how to handle the additional expenses.
You’ll want to make sure that how you split shared expenses works for both of your budgets. This is one example of why you must know each other’s income.
List all of your individual expenses
To complete your budget, you need to list all of your individual expenses.
If you already have a budget, you can just use that. But if this is the first time you’re budgeting for yourself, you’ll need to list all of your income and expenses.
The goal of doing this is to ensure that both you and your partner are secure individually and as a couple.
Keep the financial conversation open
Never be afraid to talk about finances with your significant other.
Check in with each other frequently, and be willing to adjust. Relationships, like budgets, are continually changing and need to be check on frequently to see if you need to adjust.
One of the most common things couples seem to do is to have good intentions and make a budget that they both can agree on. But then that’s it. The conversation is never brought up again, and both individuals are afraid to talk about it.
Keep the communication open and check in with your S.O. frequently to make financial conversation normal.
By talking about your budget, you eliminate the possibility of one person becoming resentful because they’re paying for everything, or one person feeling guilty because they can’t pay for much.
Honesty is the key to a healthy relationship, so even if you’re scared, just talk about it!