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4 Options for Sharing Finances with Your SO

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I was only 19 years old when my now-husband and I started living together. What started out as a platonic friendship turned into an ideal roommate situation and, later, a relationship. I remember the weird feeling when the relationship took the turn from “just friends” to “okay, maybe more than friends,” and with it came another realization: how we handled money together was changing.

We had always agreed to share finances 50/50 until then, but as we moved through college, we found that sometimes sharing finances equally didn’t always make sense. One quarter, his student loan refund didn’t come through. Suddenly I was footing the bill on a lot of our utilities and living expenses, and we found ourselves confronting a new question: should we share our money?

In our parents’ days, it seemed much more common for couples to pool all their finances, especially in times when only one spouse worked. But these days, the rules have changed. In times when both members of the couple need to work to keep up with rising costs of living, and when couples have endless resources to manage their finances independently, sometimes the status quo isn’t the best option.

Here are some common ways that couples typically go about sharing finances, but keep in mind that your solution doesn’t necessarily need to fit perfectly into one of these categories:

1) Keep Things Totally Separate

This is the way that many people – myself included – begin a financial relationship with a partner. In this situation, each person would hold their own accounts, and the couple would decide who pays for which bills. This has the advantage of allowing each member of the couple to budget for themselves without affecting the other, but the tricky part can be paying for joint expenses. For instance, if you adopted a dog together, who pays for the vet bill if Rufus has an emergency? However, with careful planning and communication, this can be an effective method for those who like to keep some independence. In this situation, you should decide with your partner if the portion of expenses each person pays will be equal to the other. That means, just because you’re paying the $1,100/month rent, it might be okay for his contribution to not total up to $1,100. Maybe $900 is okay. It’s all up to you.

2) Sharing Finances Somewhat – But Not All

Some couples choose the middle ground. By holding a joint checking or savings account, while still maintaining separate personal accounts, you can pool income for certain things – maybe rent or long-term savings – and use your personal accounts for other expenses. I know some people who have chosen this option for expenses that happen as a couple, like going out to eat or going to the movies, while the remainder of bills stays separate. By creating pools of “yours,” “mine,” and “ours,” this method can help some couples to better control their finances and you won’t have to get crafty when you want to buy a birthday gift for your SO.

3) Pool Everything

The more “old-school” route, this method can be better for those who have incomes that differ greatly from each other. By combining all income into a single account that is used for all expenses, the lines of “you contributed this and I contributed this” can be blurred. The pros are ease of payment and equal control of finances. The cons are that this can become tricky if one partner wants to splurge and the other doesn’t. A pro-tip for a healthy relationship on this method is to agree on a “fun budget” or a personal budget for each person ahead of time, so that there isn’t an explosion when one member of the couple decides that buying an Xbox One was the best use of funds this month.

4) The “Allowance” Route

Sometimes it works out that one member of a relationship can’t contribute—maybe it’s a lost job or the birth of a child. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start packing your bags or feel lesser in any sense, but rather just that it requires a bit of careful planning. In this situation, you should, of course, be sure to communicate with your partner to be sure everyone is cool with the arrangement. This style won’t work well if one person feels like a freeloader, or if the other person is resentful about the lack of contribution from their partner. It’s also important to make sure that the money given to the spouse isn’t seen as a favor; instead it is simply the way you’ve decided to share finances. One tip in this arrangement is to be sure you know exactly what your expenditures are and decide the allowance amount accordingly. You don’t want to build resentment in the relationship by causing the other person to continually ask for more money.

For my husband and me, keeping our finances mostly separate and paying equally-proportionate expenses has worked well. But thanks to mobile banking apps we are able to use technology to help keep the money playing field level. Sometimes there are months when he contributes more, or I take care of a majority of expenses, and that’s okay! In the end, as long as both partners are happy and all your bills are getting paid, all solutions are good solutions.

When it comes to sharing finances with your significant other, what are ways that work best for you? Leave us a comment below!


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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Are Americans Undervaluing Paid Time Off + Quick Trip Tips

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It’s August, which for many Europeans means taking almost the entire month off. So why is it difficult for Americans to take even the little vacation time they receive? A recent piece in The Economist states workers in the U.S. are doing it all wrong by going on short holidays which can add even more stress or taking none. Instead, it’s important for employees to recharge their batteries. It’s also beneficial for companies to have a consistent holiday month during which junior employees can head to the beach and managers can take stock of things, says the report.

While many Americans may not receive paid time off, especially those that only work part-time, even those who receive it generally don’t take all of it. What we don’t realize is that not taking a vacation is like giving money back to your employer especially with companies that have a use it or lose it policy. Which should encourage employees to use their time but unfortunately it does not. According to recent polls conducted by Bankrate, nearly 2600 US adults say they plan to take a quarter of their vacation days while 4% are not planning to take any vacation time at all.

Time off is a valuable perk, to the tune of millions of dollars! Just to bring the point home in 2017 Americans gave up 212 million days off that amounts to $62.2 billion dollars in lost benefits! So, take your vacations and follow the tips below to not break the bank while taking time off:

  1. Take a Staycation – Stay local and vacation somewhere that is less than a day drive away, this helps save gas, mileage, and spending on lodging. Look for local attractions, vineyards, interesting museums and landmarks or even travel to your closest big city and be a tourist for a day. You would be amazed at how much you can discover and learn by staying local and all on the cheap! It’s a bonus if you have friends in the town your visiting they can serve as a tour guide and let you stay over for free if they have the room.
  2. Book Flights Off-Season – July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day seem like a great time to go on vacation, unfortunately, everyone is planning to take time off during those busy weekends and ticket prices are through the roof because of it. Book flights after major holidays and during the week you will generally find that they are cheaper than weekend flights
  3. Take a Road Trip – Road trips are fun and cheaper than taking a plane especially if you must rent a car when you get to your destination anyway. Plan cool stops along the way and find interesting places to eat that way you can make the journey part of the vacation.
  4. Plan to Eat In – Food adds up on vacation so pack food and making one or two meals in your hotel can keep you under budget.
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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Top Ten Freshman Money Myths

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Photo credit iStock by Getty Images

Starting college is one of the most important and exciting times of your life. Now that you’re all “checked-in,” enjoy your college experience without worrying about where your next meal will come from by chasing away these common freshman money myths. (more…)

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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Do What You Love for Free – Here’s Why

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This is ParadigmMoney.Com, right? So, speaking about a paradigm shift should come as no surprise. In science and philosophy, a paradigm is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field. When speaking about money, most believe it is something you work for and not something that works for you. In all truth, the one percenters understand this concept quite well. In order, to wake up and do what you love, you too must shift your thoughts when it comes to finances.

Doing what you love for free allows you to create freely. You can come up with disruptive, out of this world, never seen before creations that will rock this planet. Take Elon Musk from South Africa, founder of X.com which went on to become PayPal and sold to eBay for 1.5 billion dollars. Musk is also the CEO of SpaceX which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. You may say, of course, he can do this, he is a billionaire and co-founder of Tesla.

Not true. PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX are all products of Musk doing what he loved. As a child, he was an avid reader and taught himself computer programming leading to the creation of X.com. He dropped out of college to start a company with his brother and here’s what he had to say about that PayPal deal… “My proceeds from the PayPal acquisition were $180 million. I put $100 million in SpaceX, $70m in Tesla, and $10m in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent.” Elon Musk’s current net worth is estimated to be at about $13.3 billion. No bad at all.

The reality of the matter is the less you are attached to money the more money flows to you. Pay more attention to creating things that move the culture forward. Starting at doing what you love with ultimately position you for financial success and happiness.

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