June 18, 2015
It’s no secret that money can be a serious wedge issue for couples. Survey after survey reports that when couples argue, finances are often at the heart of the discord.
Here’s how every couple can lay the groundwork for financial compatibility.
• You’re Both In Charge and Responsible. You both have to share equally in all money decisions. From the monthly spending to the long-term retirement planning. I don’t care if one of you “likes” to handle finances more than the other. You can delegate who takes the lead on things, but that does not mean that the other person can just tune out. There is to never be any decision made before it has been fully discussed and understood by both of you. Fail to do that, and I have to tell you, your relationship is at risk of failure.
• Your Money Vow: Yours, Mine and Ours. I want you to have at least three separate checking accounts. The “Ours” account is the joint account that is always sufficiently funded to cover all your household’s essential spending and saving. That includes everything from the rent/mortgage to the monthly automatic deposits you are making into retirement accounts. If there is more money left over after meeting all of your monthly needs, I think it is healthy for you both to also have separate accounts as well. The Yours and Mine accounts are how you avoid fighting over different spending habits. Because you are already meeting all of your essential needs through your Joint account, you are both free to spend (or save) the money in your individual accounts as you want. No discussions or arguments necessary.
• Retain your Own Credit Cards. It’s fine to have joint credit cards, but I also want every person to always have a credit card in their name only. Use it responsibly each month: make a few charges that you can pay off in full when the bill arrives. We never know how marriage or any relationship may play out. I wish all of you endless happiness. But my job is to protect you from life’s what ifs. Having your own credit card and using it responsibly will play a big role in helping you maintain a strong FICO credit score that isn’t tied to anyone else.