Posted November 26, 2008
There is nothing quite like that first breath of romance to whisk you off your feet and make you feel giddy with excitement. But once you are safely back down to earth again, you need to think about the practicalities of being with someone for the long term - and that includes money and currency issues.
Money is one of the biggest problems between couples all over the world, and it can lead to divorce or separation if the two people involved don’t know how to handle it.
So what is the best route to go down? Some people think it is best to keep finances completely separate, even in marriage, while others cannot imagine doing so and open up joint accounts so they can share everything possible.
It is clear that the way you manage your accounts is not the most important factor. This should only be a problem if you disagree on how you should proceed - although of course, both parties need to agree to having a joint account. If one person doesn’t like the idea then that could cause a problem.
The most important factor is undoubtedly how you handle the money that comes in to you. Let’s look at an example to see how this works. If both people in the relationship are working, then there will be two salaries coming into the household. If those are kept separate then you need to decide who will be paying which bills. This isn’t a problem if everything is joint, since it will all come out of the same account.
It is obvious then that if you don’t sit down and have that practical talk about money that all couples should have very early on, then you are simply storing up trouble for later. It’s wonderful to be in that first flush of romance and forget about all the practicalities for a while, but if that means spending lots of cash and not keeping track of how much money you have left each month, you will certainly be heading for trouble.
Different people view money in different ways, too. The About website has a lot of good information on this subject, and a good place to start is at the following web page, http://financialplan.about.com/cs/familyfinances/a/CouplesMoney.htm. We are all brought up in different families and it is perfectly possible for those upbringings to have a huge bearing on whether or not we want to merge our bank accounts and cash with each other later on, when we meet the person we’ve been looking for.
Let’s say for example that one person has been brought up with parents who were quite happy to spend money - even if it meant not being able to afford to pay the bills. That is quite a reckless way to approach money, but it does happen.
And let’s suppose that the other half of the couple has been brought up with a family who never had a lot to spend. And so they scrimped and saved in order to make sure they never had to go into debt.
Those patterns are likely to follow the offspring into whatever relationship they end up in - and that can be a cause for disaster if they don’t sit down and discuss the clash of styles they are used to.
The ideal situation is to find a middle ground on which to stand and build a future together financially. It is good to save, but you don’t want to do so to the detriment of actually enjoying your life. And it can be worthwhile to spend money and treat yourself every now and then, so long as it doesn’t prevent you from paying any money you already owe.
It is this act of sitting down and discussing how to proceed that many couples find difficult. But putting it off can lead to financial difficulties in future, so it is wise to get it sorted out and over with before you embark on a life together. And that applies no matter whether you have separate or joint accounts.
There will always be disagreements over money to some extent. No one has exactly the same views, and it can be tricky negotiating those disagreements at times. But understanding and listening to each other opens the way for a solution to be found, and that is the secret to building a worthwhile and long lasting relationship in which respect and trust are the founding entities.
Money doesn’t have to come between you - with the right approach it can make you stronger.