-I don’t know you, you don’t know me but we are together-
I remember the banker’s face when I asked her to give a full permission to act on my bank account to my…19 year old girlfriend 😉 “Sir, are you sure you understand what this document is for?” She asked while staring at me (and ignoring my girlfriend that was sitting besides me). I was going to Europe for 6 months and I needed somebody to pay my credit card bills while I was away.
On top of that, I was already living with my girlfriend for a year. I knew she could cash in the money and run. But hey! I was thinking “Are we a team or not?”. Today, I am 27 and I have everything joint with my wife; bank account, line of credit, credit cards, mortgage, everything. However, I realize that there are financial steps before getting to this point. This is why I though of writing about different financial stages for couples.
I don’ know you, you don’t know me but we are together
This is usually the very first step in a relationship; you go out with someone but you don’t have any financial thing in common. You usually split your expenses when you are going out or, if you are lucky, your date is paying for you 😉 You can also be paying for the other one too 😉
This step is very important from both emotional and financial point of view. You are gradually learning how the other person react when things hit their wallet. Are they cheap? Too generous? Do they calculate everything to the penny? (I once seen someone telling his other half that he owed her $4.37 before they leave the store and get in their brand new Mercedes….).
While your relationship and financial relationship evolves through time, they don’t do it at the same pace. They are married people that still split everything “just in case”.
These are the good side of this financial step:
– Everything is clear and simple.
– Nobody owes something to the other one (over the long term).
– If you ever break out, there is not much to negotiate.
However, there are some disadvantages as well:
– It’s hard to manage when one is making double the income of the others.
– It’s hard to build something as a team as each person as its own budget.
– It’s definitely a trust test since you don’t know exactly what the other does with his/her money.
In my opinion, this is a necessary passage to another financial stage as a couple. However, some people keep this way of doing things forever and it works well.
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