Couples: How to co-manage your finances
01 April

Couples: How to co-manage your finances

How many of you have argued with your partner about money? If you answered yes, you’re not on your own. Whether it’s arguing over who picks up the bill in a restaurant, or something more deep-rooted, it seems to be something few of us can get away from. This disharmony can have really damaging effects - money stress is the leading cause of relationship breakdown, according to a recent study by law firm Slater and Gordon.

“Two-thirds of couples don’t know what the other earns” 

What can you do to prevent your relationship from becoming another statistic? Here are some tips to help keep your finances and your relationship on track.

Be honest

If you’re going to successfully co-manage your finances, you need to commit to being honest with each other. This means sharing your bank statements, and opening up about debt and where your spending weaknesses are - even if it’s just occasionally splurging on shoes - and beginning to look at your income and outgoings as a part of the household budget. But equally, it means tackling the great earnings taboo and coming clean with your partner about what you both earn. This may sound obvious, but research by credit rating agency Noddle found that two-thirds of couples don’t know what the other earns. Having a full picture of all incomings is crucial if you’re going to build up an accurate picture.

Use technology

Simplify your finances by using technology to help keep track. There are some great apps on the market that can help you do anything from making a simple budget, to ones that help you identify areas where you can cut down spending or make your money go further. Money Dashboard is good for newbies as it emails you a weekly round-up of expenditure, which it breaks down by categories, such as eating out, food and entertainment. There are even budgeting apps built specifically for couples, such as HoneyFi and HoneyDue, although these are currently largely limited to the US market.

Take joint control

Some couples avoid conflict by having one person in charge of financial matters. But this could leave the ‘non-controlling’ partner vulnerable should anything happen to the other person. Make sure you both have a good handle on what comes out of your account in bills and other expenses and get to grips with how these bills are calculated. At the other end of the spectrum, make a point of finding out exactly how much of your income is taxed and which taxes you pay. It’s all about building up a comprehensive picture of how your money trickles down to you.

Play to your strengths

Make the most of each person’s natural strengths when drawing up and sticking to a budget. One of you might be a whiz at setting up a simple, easy to use budget, while the other could be great at actually keeping track of what you’re spending. Either way, playing to your strengths is a good strategy to take, especially if you want to keep co-managing finances as low stress as possible.

Set a budget you’re going to stick to

These tips should stand you in good stead when drawing up your initial budget. But the difficult bit arguably starts now. So keep it interesting. Don’t just save for a rainy day: if you have the means, set aside specific pots for specific goals - many apps let you do this. You can even include treats in there, such as a holiday. 

The final word

Be patient with each other. As with any team, you’re bound to have different opinions at times on the best course of action, so don’t get disheartened if your plans don’t always land first time. As with many other areas of your relationship, practice makes perfect, so try not to give up at the first sign of discord.

Author @SophieRobson2 founder of Millenial Matters 

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