Pair? How to know when it’s time to combine your finances

Hispanolic | E + | Getty Images

Money may not be in the first place if you are in love, but it deserves serious consideration if you want a lasting relationship.

A partnership that pools resources and shares expenses can be great for a relationship and mutual financial well-being. However, different spending and saving habits can also be a lasting source of conflict for couples.

From a family finance management perspective, sharing a joint bank account can make things a lot easier.

More from life changes:

Here’s a look at other stories that offer a financial perspective on important life milestones.

“Money stresses people out,” said Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner and president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York. “In general, the fewer moving parts, the better.

“If you’re paying bills and depositing checks to and from an account, it’s easy to see what’s coming in and what’s coming out.”

This, in turn, forms a good basis for drawing up a common budget and jointly setting financial objectives. It also gives both partners a good insight into each other’s spending and saving patterns and can potentially highlight problems that need to be resolved.

That's why millennial pre-marriages are on the rise

Boneparth suggests that it is best to find out about a partner’s spending habits, debt obligations, and overall financial situation sooner rather than later.

“Ideally, you want to flesh out everything before tying the knot,” he said. “These things can create fractures in relationships.

“It’s about trust and honesty,” Boneparth added. “You have to face problems, find solutions and support each other in these things.”

What to keep separate and when

A joint bank account is one thing, but the collection of investment assets, the sharing of securities on real estate and other properties is quite another. While people can and should designate beneficiaries for investment accounts and other assets, pooling assets and accounts with a partner may not always make sense.

In fact, there can be a wide range of personal, financial and fiscal reasons why both the best approach for a couple is to bring assets together or keep them apart.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a matter of individual preference,” said Boneparth. “There may be good reasons to keep some accounts separate and divide assets and liabilities in different ways.”

The universal solvent for many of these problems is simply solid communication.

Douglas Bonepart

President of Bone Fide Wealth

For example, a person may have business interests, property, or an inheritance that they want to keep separate from a relationship. In some cases, it could be to ensure that one spouse is not exposed to the potential liability that the other partner assumes as a business owner or professional. In other cases, it may simply be the personal choice of one or both partners to manage their finances separately.

The context of merging or keeping separate assets is often considered in the guise of a prenup prior to a legal marriage. Parents of a spouse, for example, may be concerned about the protection of assets they intend to pass on to their betrothed child.

This process can, of course, be a source of friction and pain between a couple, but it is essential to address these issues early and resolve any emotional issues.

The only way to ensure that spending, saving, earning and inheriting money don’t become a matter of conflict in a relationship is to put it all on the table and discuss it.

“The universal solvent for many of these problems is simply solid communication,” said Boneparth, who is himself married. “This is what makes a good relationship in general and a good financial partnership in particular.”