5 Financial Decisions to Make With Your Long-term Partner

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Money worries are the leading cause of stress in relationships, but simply having open, in-depth conversations along the way can help reduce some of the pressure. Whether you're thinking about moving in with your partner, getting married, or you've already been together for a while and haven't had detailed discussions about money, here are five major financial decisions you'll need to sit down and discuss with your partner sooner rather than later.

Joint or Separate Accounts

Different couples have different responses to this question, so in truth there is no “right” answer. But what is important is that you sit down with your partner and decide just how much you want your financial lives to be interwoven.

Individual circumstances will also vary. Completely separate accounts can work if both people are working, but not if only one party is. Splitting the bills is another thing to be worked out in the case of separate accounts. One solution could be to open a joint account dedicated to paying off bills and other joint expenses, while still keeping separate savings accounts. In this case, each person may choose to contribute to the joint account in an amount proportional to their wages.

How to Deal With Debt

Research shows that 44 million Americans collectively hold almost $1.5 trillion in student debt, with 70% of college students graduating with significant loans. With this in mind, there’s a good chance that you or your partner have some form of debt, student or otherwise.

Generally speaking, individual debts remain individual even after marriage. In Pennsylvania, the couple is only jointly responsible for debt they take out together or have both benefited from. That said, marriage is a partnership, which means the two of you are in it together if you decide to get married. You also need to decide whether you want the debt repayments to still be borne individually, or if you’d like to work out an arrangement to jointly pay them off.

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Buy or Rent a Property

The debate about whether to buy or rent has proponents with solid arguments on both sides. Some people like the idea of setting down roots and purchasing a home, whereas other people feel that their money is better invested in other ventures. Once again, there is no “right” answer to this question. But since property ownership is such a major financial commitment, this is something that should be discussed in detail if you decide to move in together. If you are set on owning a property together soon, make sure you and your partner work out a savings plan to achieve your ownership goal.

Individual Budgets and Savings

Is one of you a shopaholic and the other a coupon cutter? Everybody has different views on the role that money plays in their lives, and this should be laid out and openly discussed. Your views will affect what portion of your salary you think should be saved, and will determine your individual monthly budgets as well.

Incongruent spending habits can lead to resentment, so you and your partner should lay out how much you expect to save and spend each month. Always remember that the key to a successful relationship is compromise.

Having Children

Even more so than property ownership, the financial commitment that comes with having a child is very large. According to the Investopedia & the Brookings Institution, it costs the average middle-income American family $310,605 to raise a child from birth until the age of 17.

If you both want to have children, the question of financial support must also be discussed. For instance, some parents are willing to pay for the cost of their children’s college educations, while others expect their children to pay their own way. Will both parents contribute equally to household finances once the baby is born, or will one parent stay home as a caregiver? How will you manage finances during any potential period of unpaid parental leave?

When open, honest conversation is prioritized in a relationship, financial stress and pressure can be greatly reduced. However, if both you and your significant other feel overwhelmed by all these financial decisions, we at Citadel are here to help. Schedule an appointment to discuss your situation in detail and let us help your relationship thrive. 

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