Can a couple where both participants have different attitudes towards money and different incomes survive in a relationship with combined finances?
A differing philosophy or income is not an automatic problem. What’s really important is the goal. If two people agree on some basic principles, there is room for differences in habits.
In a partnership, there are ways each individual keeps the other in check and offers compromises.
Don’t go into the fusing of your finances with the intent on changing the other person’s philosophy. It’s true that he or she will have to be willing to compromise on some issues, but most likely, if you’re reading this, you will be leading the charge. In compromising, you may also have to be willing to loosen your grip, but just a little bit.
Consolidating your finances can be accomplished, but varying philosophies and major differences in income can make the transition difficult. Focus on these thoughts:
What are your goals? Are you looking towards retirement with each other? If so, then saving for retirement must be a priority for both of you. Do you plan on having children? The two of you may not be able to contribute equally towards these goals. Your investment actions, including asset allocation and risk tolerance, should support your goals.
Which accounts should be combined? Any accounts you pay bills from can be combined, with each contributing the amount or percentage of their income that you decide is fair together. Any savings accounts for future couple-related goals, like purchasing a house, can be combined. Do you want to keep separate accounts for some fun money? Some couples do this and use their fun money to “surprise” the other with gifts or spend on singular indulgences.
Who will manage the money? It’s best when only one individual in the couple tends to the details. The family money manager should keep the other periodically (and briefly) informed of the financial state of the union. Even with one money manager, major financial decisions should be discussed together.
Be prepared for sacrifices and compromises. That probably goes without saying, as any relationship requires this. Money tends to amplify the issue. How will you handle disagreements?
What are your obligations? Mortgages or rent, phone bills, cable, and insurance are only the start. Will you be expected to take care of an aging relative? Does your partner have outstanding student loan debt, or will you be supporting him through medical school?
Working together as a team towards shared goals can help to overcome other differences, allowing spenders to work together with savers and high-earners to work together with low-earners. Accept the other for whom he or she is, and everything is easier.