7 Ways That Couples Navigate Their Finances Together

Shot of a young couple going through paperwork at home.
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It’s common knowledge that one of the top reasons for divorce is financial troubles, yet we tend not to talk too much about the optimistic inverse of this: That a financially secure and transparent marriage can last. Talking about money with your partner can actually help your odds of staying together, as does having an open and honest plan about managing finances.

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But what does this actually look like in a union between two real people? Every couple is different, and what works for one may not work for another. But, in talking with happy couples, GOBankingRates put together a roadmap for what a healthy financial union looks like. 

Be Transparent About Everything

“​​As an independent woman from a very young age, it was hard for me to share financial responsibility with my better half, but over time I have come to realize that it is the best way to move forward knowing how communication and equality is important,” said Sue Hirst, co-founder and CFO of CFO On-Call. “Trust is a high risk, high reward commodity when it comes to finances.”

Building Wealth

Combine Income in a Joint Account

“Before we got married, we had a long talk about how our finances will be once we [wed],” Tony Grenier said. “Now, we combine all our sources of income into a joint bank account that we both regularly manage. Having a combined account makes it easier to pay the bills and pay for all the expenses in the house. I can just pay for the bills immediately since I don’t have to wait for her share anymore. This is also very beneficial in investing in properties, and even in stocks as we can just get it from one account.” 

Read: Do You Have To Tell Your Partner About All Your Purchases?
See: Money Questions To Ask Your Partner

Invest Together

“Our investing is done together,” Mark Beneke said. “[Rachael] and I are involved in both real estate and stocks and since we are a team, we make our decisions together as well. We treat it as a form of checks and balances. Since I am the one that does most of the research, I show my wife my figures before I pull the trigger. She then reviews my numbers to make sure I have not made a mistake and gives me the okay before putting in an offer or an order.”

Building Wealth

Talk Monthly About Investments

“We have money dates once a month to talk about investments,” said Rebecca Brooks, financial coach and co-owner (with her husband, Dylan) of R&D Financial Coaching. “We review our portfolios, share our insights and discuss thoughts we have on the current stock market and economy. Although I did recently learn Dylan had been investing in an index fund that he’s had great success with but hadn’t told me about. I don’t think I will ever let him live it down.”

Check Out: 10 Tips To Talk to Your Significant Other About Money
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Allow Your Partner To Build Up Their Credit If They Need To

“When my fiancé, Shawn, and I got together my credit was established and his, not so much,” Kiedra Hinkle Tyson said. “So we made it a point to focus on building his credit during that process. We were long-distance for a while, then I moved back to Saint Louis from Miami and bought a house in Saint Louis. I bought the house by myself due to his credit not being ready. This actually worked out in our favor because I was able to take advantage of first-time home buyers’ credits and programs. He was able to go from no credit score to a 720 score in about 8 months.”

Presently Tyson and her fiancé are buying a new house under his name, allowing him to take advantage of the same programs. They will then rent out the house that Tyson bought under her name. 

Organize Everything Together — and Individually

“Leverage a way to keep track of all this [financial activity], whether it’s a budgeting tool or a digital organization tool, so you always know what your whole life inventory is and what gaps you may have,” said Jaclyn Strauss, CPA and founder of My Macro Memoir. “This way, you can set goals together to achieve within a defined amount of time as you embark into this new chapter in your life for those identified gaps, which I like to call areas of opportunity.”

“Personally, [my partner and I] each have our own organizational tool in order to keep the privacy access as well as have different information included as we play different roles in the household,” Strauss said. 

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Keep the Money Conversation Going

“Each year we discuss our goals, financial and personal, for the year and make sure we have individual goals and goals as a couple,” said Kurtis Hanni of the Delve Into Money podcast. “Monthly we set a budget and check in to make sure we’re making progress towards these goals. Weekly we check in, even if for only five to ten minutes, to discuss the spending for the week and our schedules for the upcoming week. Each of these steps is important, as the broad annual discussion gives us direction and a rallying point to look back at on our weekly micro trends. We can determine [whether] our weekly and monthly spending match up with our annual goals.”

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Last updated: July 23, 2021

About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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