Money can’t buy love … but it can sure turn relationships and the warm, fuzzy feelings you have for your partner ice cold. Couples handle finances differently; which of these scenarios below suits you and your partner? Take our quick quiz.
There’s no doubt about it, money issues are a mood killer. In fact, finances are cited as one of the top reasons for sending a couple to Splitsville. Don’t let that happen to your relationship – get ahead of the problem by having the important discussion upfront about how best to handle your cash together and agree on the best way to do that.
Answer these questions about your and your partner’s money relationship habits to see which type of money couple you are.
What kind of salary does your partner earn?
A: I have no idea, but they seem to be doing okay for themselves.
B: It doesn’t matter to me, as long as they are contributing all they can to our life together.
C: Enough to share our expenses and a bit to look after themselves.
D: None, I’m the breadwinner.
Your anniversary is coming up, you…
A: Have a huge surprise planned – they won’t know what hit them.
B: Plan the celebration together.
C: Agree on a set amount to spend on gifts for each other.
D: Are planning and paying for the whole thing.
You both want to travel overseas next year. How do you plan to make that happen?
A: I’m saving up to book my ticket soon and hope bae can afford to join me.
B: We’ve got a plan in place to cut down on spending so we can afford the holiday.
C: We’re saving up for flights and accommodation, but our spending money is our own.
D: I’ll book the trip when I think we can afford it.
Your car is giving problems and you really need to buy a new one, but your partner thinks you should just have your old one fixed. You…
A: Find out how much you can spend on a new car and take your partner with you to test drive the one you like so they can share in your excitement once they get a whiff of that new car smell.
B: Get a quote to repair it and start shopping around for a new car – you and your partner will make the final decision once you’ve weighed up your options.
C: Check in with your partner on how much you can afford to spend without it affecting your shared budget.
D: Buy the car you want.
How did you score?
Mostly As – You do you
Each partner came into this relationship as an individual and that’s how you intend to keep it. You both have separate bank accounts, credit cards, retail and cellphone accounts, and pay for your own insurance. Maybe you take turns picking up the bill on a date night, but when you’ve got your eye on some pricey new shoes, that’s none of your other half’s business and clear financial boundaries are maintained in relationships.
Not having a joint account shows trust in a relationship and lets you hang on to your identity and individuality. On a less romantic note, it also keeps your money safe should the relationship not work out.
Separate finances make it hard to know how much your partner earns and spends, which makes keeping track of joint expenses (rent, food, holidays, etc.) trickier and saving up towards long-term goals (wedding, buying a home, kids’ education, etc.) difficult.
Mostly Bs – In it together
Your love bubble extends to your money. You and your partner share everything, so it makes sense to have a joint account where both of your earnings go and, more importantly, from where your expenses and bills are paid.
By merging your finances, it’s easier not only to settle bills but also see the shared bigger picture, which is especially helpful if you plan to buy a house, or are planning a trip, or saving for a rainy day. According to a US study, married couples who combine their cash are happier in their relationships and less likely to break up.
If there’s a big difference between the money you both earn, there could be some resentment when a partner splurges on an item that is just for them or, worse, racks up a bunch of speeding fines that waste your hard-earned money. To make it work, you need to budget accordingly and decide how much each of you can spend on luxuries.
Mostly Cs – Joint-ish
You’ve got a joint bank account for bills and everyday expenses, and even save for a big purchase or safety net, but each of you still keeps a separate bank account. Your bank account is where you keep money that can be used for gifts for yourself and for your partner (to keep a little spontaneity and mystery alive in the relationship).
This approach allows for balance. With most of your money in a shared account you handle expenses and long-term saving as a team, but you also retain your individuality by putting aside some money that only you have a say in how it’s spent.
There can be a bit of disagreement about where the money should come from when unexpected expenses or purchases arise. Set boundaries upfront in relationships and agree on how much is fair for both partners to contribute to the shared account. Transparency is key!
Mostly Ds – The money boss
Either you or your partner control all the finances – and the person who does that may or may not be the sole earner. The other person needs permission to spend or is given access to funds for everyday costs while “the money boss” keeps tabs and oversees the bigger picture.
With one person managing all investments and budgets, it should be less complicated and easier to have a single view on long-term goals.
Aside from potentially awkward power dynamics creeping into your relationship, one person has no control, no real say in the bigger picture and no money of their own. This is particularly dangerous if the relationship falls apart.
Tips to avoid relationship conflict over money with your partner
- Draw up a budget together so that you can have a clear picture of where your money goes every month.
- Talk about money often. Research shows that couples in healthy marriages and relationships discuss money daily or at least weekly.
- Be willing to compromise. You need to have a good understanding of each other’s lifestyles and be realistic about whether you can afford them or whether sacrifices need to be made – on both sides.
- Be honest and open about your earnings as well as the purchases you make.
- Set goals and expectations together. Discuss things like paying off debt, how soon you want to buy a house, plan a wedding or travel.
- Use TymeBank’s GoalSave calculator to work out how long you need to save for your goal, how much you need to put away every month or how much your money can grow by using the GoalSave tool to earn interest on your savings.