What's Mine is Yours is Ours?

OCTOBER 23, 2012
Money is the root of all problems, to paraphrase the New Testament, and that goes even for people who are in love—and especially for couples who are married. If you don’t want to risk ending your relationship when it’s barely just begun, you need to have a serious talk with your partner about finances. After all, you don’t want yours to become one of the 43% of first marriages that end in divorce—frequently due to problems or disagreements involving money. (The odds are even worse for second marriages, with a 75% failure rate.)
 
Even if you’re the sole earner, there are important matters that need to be discussed. After all, you and your partner may have very different ideas on how to manage your shared finances. For instance, as the head of household, you might be a bit more frugal with your hard-earned money than your spendthrift other half.
 
However, the more likely scenario today is that you and your significant other both work in some capacity, which means that you need to find a money-management strategy that works for both of you. Not so long ago it was a foregone conclusion that you and your partner would get married, move in together, and combine your finances. Things don’t always work that way anymore.
 
Last year, Slate.com asked its readers to take part in a survey on how couples handle their finances. Of the 6,000 respondents, 48% said they shared accounts, 11% kept their accounts separate, and 40% had some combination.
 
There are benefits to each of these approaches, but it’s important to make sure that you choose the one that works best for you and your partner. For instance, one benefit of the shared account is that once the money goes in, there’s no telling whether someone is paying for more, which could help avoid some fights.
 
While maintaining separate accounts gives each partner a bit more freedom to make purchases that they don’t have to justify, it also means that you have to agree on who is going to pay for what. If one person makes significantly more than the other, this could require some negotiations. Will one person pay for all of the expenses? Is it easier to just pick certain bills and expenses for each person to handle?
 
No one really wants to discuss money management and divvy up financial obligations at the beginning of a relationship, but you’ll be glad you made the time for it; otherwise you could find yourself arguing over how to divide your property as you go your separate ways.

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