March 17, 2009, 5:00 am

Should Unmarried Couples Merge Their Finances?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance
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Back in December 08, I wrote a 3 part series about financial steps for couples. This is a post written by Trisha Wagner, a freelance writer for DestroyDebt.com about a great question: should unmarried couples merge their finances?

couple-arguing


Handling your money is hard enough on your own so it is understandable that the thought of merging your finances with your partner might cause you some concern. As your relationship progresses you will eventually have to decide how you want to handle financial issues. Unmarried couples should consider the following tips about how to handle the mingling of assets in a relationship.

Talk about financial goals.

It is important to sit down and have a serious discussion with your partner to determine where they stand on issues such as financial values, goals and priorities. Everyone has their own money “personality” and many problems can be avoided by being aware of how your partner handles their finances. Once you have had the money talk you can then decide if you want to continue handling your finances separately or pool your resources as a couple.

Handling household finances.

When deciding how to you want to handle your household expenses you have a wide range of options to choose from. What works for your best friend may not be the best thing for your relationship and many times you have to make adjustments to your “plan” as time goes on. The following scenarios describe the most common ways unmarried couples deal with their finances.

  • Paying expenses from separate accounts. If it;s not broke, don’t fix it. If you and your partner are comfortable keeping things separate then paying expenses from separate accounts is probably the best choice for you. You can decide who will be responsible for paying the bills and collecting their partners share of the money. You may want to consider taking turns which will allow both of you to keep up to date on your expenses and where you stand financially. From a legal standpoint it is recommended you pay your share with a check which serves as documentation of your contribution to the household expenses.
  • Paying expenses from a joint account- Some people find it more convenient to pay expenses from a joint account. It is recommended that if you are going to go this route that you keep your own separate bank account for personal expenses. You will have to determine what expenses you are each responsible for or agree on an amount that you will each deposit into the joint account. Keep in mind that once you open a joint account you are both responsible for all checks drawn on that account. While no one wants to think of a relationship ending many people have learned the hard way when one person on the account removes all the money or trying to prove what amount is “yours” should the relationship head south.
  • Combining income and expenses- If you are in a long-term relationship you might find that pooling your income and expenses is the way to go. Each person puts their money into a joint account from which all expenses are paid. It is important that you both share the same financial goals and have a workable budget to keep things organized.


Legal complications

One thing to consider when making decisions regarding your finances as a couple is the fact that you lack the legal safeguards that benefit married people. Once you combine your assets you may find it difficult to separate them should things not work out in the relationship. That shouldn’t discourage you from merging your finances if that is what you have decided on, however make sure you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself in the event of breakup.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DestroyDebt.com, a debt community featuring debt forums. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of getting out of debt and personal finance.

You may read the full financial step for couples here:

Financial Steps For Couples Part 1

Financial Steps For Couples Part 2

Financial Steps for Couples Part 3

image source: Timeonline.co.uk

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Comments

Each person has a right to their own opinion. I feel that a couple living together should treat eachother like roommates until they are married. Person A handles the bills and Person B is responsible for rent. At the end of the month you sit down for 10 minutes and figure out how much is owed to the other person.

If that is too complicated for someone or it creates fights, then there is your reason for not getting married, you’re screwed if you can’t make that work.

Money always been a touchy topic for couples.
I’m wondering where is the point where you should put everything together if you don’t want to get married.
There are a lot of persons that live together without getting married these days…

I agree with the above comments. Keep ’em seperate if you don’t have a legal marriage just out of practicality.

Very personal choices there, but when in doubt, take the more conservative route?

by: Brad Ford | March 17th, 2009 (6:25 pm)

Never. Once you merge your accounts, you have the risks of merged credit without any of the protections marraige offers.

[…] The Financial Blogger had a guest post from Trisha Wagner, who asked if unmarried couples should merge their finances? […]

My fiance and I went the route of a joint account. We still maintain our separate accounts and move money into the joint account to pay the bills. Its worked out well for us but then again we haven’t broken up 😀