Monday, October 01, 2007

Part I: Finances as an Unmarried Couple...

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...


Fabulously Broke in the City said...

Oh that is tough.

I can't imagine having to answer to another person or talk to another person about my money after so many years of handling it on my own. Luckily, Husband loves it when I handle it all and he sits back and does the manual labour LOL But I do keep him informed about what's going on, and I quiz him almost monthly on how much we owe and how much we have left.. just so that he's kept aware of what's going on.

The other question arises too is who handles the money from now on? Even with separate accounts, there MUST be a joint account or a budget drawn up and money put into it..

And if you're in the marriage together, what about retirement? Savings? Debt?... lots of things to talk and think about.

Living Almost Large said...

This is all stuff that needs to be discussed. But the truth is the older you are, the harder it is to change.

Amy said...

For what it's worth, my boyfriend and I have his/hers/ours account system. We initially split everything 50/50, but after 2 years I finally admitted that I couldn't handle that any more. I make a little more than half of what he makes, so when we bought a house and I totalled my car & suddenly had payments on a new car, the chaos caused too much stress on my finances. Now we pro-rate contributions to the joint account based on AGI (yes, we're huge numbers geeks like that, but it works for us). He would be just as happy to have 1 joint account for everything, but I like having my own account, for the feeling of independence and self-sufficiency.