Managing your finances as a unmarried couple is tough. There are many stages of dating, and even trickier is the many stages of finances. This weekend an old roommate (K) visited and is coming back next weekend. She's been with her BF for 3 years and they are 29 and 31 years old respectively.
So we were talking privately when she asked how DH and I manage our finances. We all had been joking about not having money and DH said "I never see my paycheck..." So she asked if we didn't have separate accounts? So we dicussed how to merge finances.
K said that even after dating three years and planning on moving in together next year, they hadn't discussed finances at all. She had no idea about his money yet, because they took turns paying for eating out. Then they knew the other person shopped and bought stuff but she didn't know if he had CC debt. She said it was tough because they were older, independent, and used to not answering to each other about every penny. They earned similar amounts of money but they didn't reveal to each other how much in retirement savings they had.
So she was a bit scared of sharing accounts and money. Having to be accountable to each other. But the plan was to move in and split all common bills in half. I couldn't give her much suggestions because I had nothing to hide when I met, moved in and married my DH.
I think that being an older, more established couple makes the merging of finances more difficult. You suddenly have to ask the other person to reveal their financial background. You have to share important decisions like buying a house, car, debt. You no longer have the final and ultimate say. It's so much harder to compromise when you've lived without ever needing to.
I don't know if K will ever have just one account. From the way it sounds even if they marry, K and her BF want to keep separate accounts. But I did suggest really discussing their future finances and finding out how much savings and debt they each have. She metioned they have glossed over these discussions but not in detail. He knows she's got a ton of student loans, and she knows he doesn't have much saved. But the details.
Part II...buying a home...