Discussions about money are often uncomfortable between significant others, easily stemming into serious relationship problems when handled incorrectly.
Whether you’re still in the dating scene and have practically memorized the old reach-for-the-check dance or are blissfully wed but haven’t had the money talk, it’s important for you and your better half to have a solid understanding of where your finances stand, especially if you or your significant other (or both of you) have a large amount of debt.
On the other hand, recognizing where the relationship stands before getting carried away is also essential — after all, explaining your entire retirement portfolio on a first date generally doesn’t make the best first impression.
When it comes to savings strategies within your relationship, financial success depends on understanding which stage it’s in. Essentially, there are two main distinctions: Just dating and committed relationship.
Dating: According to a Match.com survey, 28 percent of dating couples feel it’s important to have the “money chat” two to three months into dating. By this point, you and your significant other have had a few dates, all of which might have left you wondering who should cover the check at the end of each date night.
Committed: Being in a committed relationship can be a bit tricky when it comes to money. Expectations vary, as do personal living arrangements — some couples spend more time together than others, allowing for a deeper understanding of each other’s financial quirks.
3 Strategies to Save Money in Your Relationship, Whether Dating or Committed
To help you get a sense of the money saving strategies that could help your relationship, here are a few examples of what works in different relationships.
1. Savings Strategies on a Date
Dating: The 3:1 ratio is what what the guys at Ask Men recommend when dating. “This rule of thumb simply means that for every three dates you pay for, she should pay for one. Or in today’s world, whoever makes the most money pays for three, the other pays for the next,” said Ask Men contributor Matthew Lynch.
The 3:1 approach helps balance the spending — and consequently savings — between you and the person you’re seeing.
Committed: A regulated 3-to-1 schedule can work when a relationship is first starting out, but keeping count in that way can become awkward after some time. In my long-term relationship of about eight years, I’ve learned to gauge how much money my significant other has spent on our coffee runs and date nights.
If he paid for dinner the entire week and our coffee the past few times, I’ll make it up somewhere down the line with a weekend get-away trip. In the end, it works out.
Additionally, committed couples can take turns when it comes to major holidays. Jordan of Fun Cheap or Free” said this savings strategy saved her marriage.
“We trade off. Every year we trade V-day and our anniversary. My hubby takes Valentine’s Day this year, so I will be in charge of our anniversary in April. It’s been a marriage saver because A) there’s no awkward elephant in the room of ‘is he planning the date this year … or should I?’ and B) we aren’t trying to surprise each other at the same time. Plus, it gives my poor hubby a break!”
2. Strategies to Save Money At Home
Dating: This might seem premature for a couple in the dating phase of a relationship. However, if your boyfriend or girlfriend comes over regularly, and uses your resources, a little teamwork goes a long way when it comes to saving money.
For example, if you offer the luxury of premium HBO television, your significant other can chip in with TV entertainment by paying for a shared Netflix streaming account.
Committed: When you’re already living with your significant other, responsibilities for the home doesn’t have to always fall on you. One of the best money saving strategies when living together is dividing up financial responsibilities based on a percentage of each person’s income.
If you’re making more than your partner, consider a 60-40 arrangement, where you foot 60 percent of the household expenses, and your lower-earning partner puts in 40 percent. This ensures that neither in the relationship feels overwhelmed financially, and acts as an effective savings strategy since neither individual is held responsible for 100 percent of your joint expenses.
3. Long-Term Goals
Dating: Knowing one another’s values is key when deciding to pursue a long-term relationship. In this stage of the game, it’s imperative you don’t put your financial goals by the wayside just to afford a few extravagant excursions. Instead, engaging in open communication about your short and long-term goals (e.g. paying off your student loans by the end of the year, or saving money to buy a new car) should be relayed. The savings strategy here is to avoid sacrificing your steady financial path if you’re still uncertain where the relationship is going.
Committed: Anton Ivanov of San Diego revealed the savings strategies that helped his relationship grow financially: “My girlfriend and I have been together for over two years and combined our finances about a year ago,” Ivanov said. “The key to our success and conflict mitigation has been constant communication about our financial goals. We are on the same page regarding our budget, our major upcoming purchases and our long-term financial plans, such as retirement.”
The couple, however, decided to keep their own individual deposit accounts separate. “This has allowed us to maintain a level of privacy with our day-to-day purchases,” Ivanov said. “We don’t feel the need to check each other’s financial activity so long as we meet common goals, like contributions to our savings and investment accounts.
Photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões