Month: June 2020

  • Money and Relationships: 9 Money Talks to Have With Your Partner at Each Stage in the Relationship

    I think we can all agree that talking about money isn’t exactly a fun date conversation. But it might be one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy relationship. 

    We’ve all heard the stats. Fighting about money is one of the leading causes of divorce, and more than one-third of people commit financial infidelity at some point. 

    And the best way to combat that? Talking openly and honestly about money with your partner early and often.

    My husband and I did exactly that. We had unique circumstances because I was recently divorced, and between the two of us, we had six figures of debt. There was a lot for us to unpack there!

    And while it may have been awkward at first, it’s led to us paying off our consumer debt, paying for a wedding in cash, living our dream of buying an RV to travel full-time and having a solid plan in place to pay off our six-figure student loans. 

    In this post, I’m sharing 9 money talks you should be having with your partner at different points in your relationship. Whether you’re just getting started or have decided to spend your lives together, there’s something in here for you!



    When you start dating

    When you’re starting a new relationship, it can be awkward to talk about money. You don’t feel comfortable asking the other person about their finances. You also probably don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing much about your finances. 

    In the early relationship days, it’s more about observing. When you’re dating someone, you can learn a lot about their finances without having to ask. 

    For example, you may notice that your partner regularly suggests expensive dates or that they splurge a lot on items for themselves. These could be a sign that they’re a spender or that they have a lot of disposable income. 

    During this part of the relationship, it’s really about making sure the other person’s financial habits align with your own. Pay attention to the way they spend their money, how they approach splitting costs, and how they talk about their future. 


    When things are getting serious

    When you and your partner start getting more serious, it’s time to have some real conversations about money. These conversations can help you to get on the same page and ensure you have similar financial values. 



    When your relationship starts to get serious, you’ll want to start talking about your financial background. This doesn’t have to be a single conversation — It’s more likely that it will be a continuous conversation.

    Things to talk about include:

    • Your beliefs about money
    • Your families’ financial situation when you were growing up
    • The money habits you developed either from your childhood or afterward
    • The role that your families play in your finances today. For example, do either of your parents help pay your bills? Is one of you expected to help support your parents when they retire?



    Alright, this is the big one. This is the conversation where you’ll lay out your current financial situation for your partner. You might be nervous, but it’s critical if you’re going to take the next step together. Here are some key points to cover:

    • How much do you make?
    • What are your monthly expenses?
    • How much debt do you have?
    • Do you carry a credit card balance or pay your cards off in full each month?
    • What is your credit score?
    • How much savings do you have?

    Keep in mind that it’s absolutely not necessary to share bank logins or account numbers at this point. This conversation is just about letting your partner in on what’s going on with your money and what they might be getting themselves into if you stay together. 



    When your relationship starts getting serious, it’s a good time to start talking about your financial goals. At this point, you and your partner each probably have your own individual goals. Maybe one of you wants to save for a vacation with your friends or plans to go back to school.

    Not only will this talk help to determine how your partner’s finances might change in the future, but it’s also a good way to figure out if your goals align with one another. For example, maybe you can’t wait to travel the world, but your partner is dead-set on buying a house and settling down. You probably want to figure that out sooner rather than later. 


    When you’re moving in together

    Moving in with your partner is a big step not only for your relationship, but also for your finances. There’s a lot of new ground to cover, and it’s more important than ever that you and your partner are on the same page.



    The first big topic you’ll have to cover together is your new joint bills. First, decide whose name will be on each bill. While it’s probably a good idea to have both names on the leases, you might have just one name on things like water and electricity. Keep in mind that if you stop paying, the person on the bill is the one who’s ultimately responsible.

    Another conversation to have is how you’ll split up the bills. You can either split everything 50/50, or you can split expenses based on your income. So if one of you makes 60% of the household income while the other makes 40%, then you’d each pay a share of the bills proportional to your share of the household income.



    Now that you’re sharing bills, you’re financially relying on each other. In the best-case scenario, you’ll both have a steady income and won’t have to worry about this. But it’s a good idea to talk about how you’ll handle a situation where one of you is unemployed. 

    Does one of you make enough where you can pay all of the bills in that situation? Do you have parents who might be able to chip in for your half? What sort of emergency fund will you each maintain in case of a job loss?



    Chances are, you and your partner will buy items for your home while living together. Discuss how you’ll divide up those items if you end up breaking up later. While it sounds pessimistic to talk about this now, it will go a lot more smoothly than when you’re in the process of a breakup and fighting over the assets. 


    When you’ve decided to spend your lives together

    Now you and your partner have decided you want to spend the rest of your lives together. Congratulations! Along with all the excitement of planning your futures together, there are also some serious conversations you’ll need to have about money. 



    One of the biggest financial decisions you and your partner will have to make is whether you’ll combine your finances, keep separate finances, or something in between.

    This decision is a personal one that will look different for every couple. Here are the three primary options:

    • Combine everything: You and your partner have joint checking and savings accounts. 
    • Keep everything separate: You and your partner keep all of your accounts separate and decide on a fair way to divide up the bills.
    • A little bit of both: You and your partner have joint accounts for bills and for large savings goals. But you also each maintain your own accounts for personal spending, bills, and financial goals.

    There’s honestly no right or wrong answer here. Some people have pretty strong opinions that one method is better than the others. I think that the best choice is the one that both you and your partner feel comfortable with. 



    Once you decide to spend your life with someone, planning for the future becomes a shared task. Whether it’s planning for a financial goal or planning for an emergency, you’ve got to do it together. Here are some things you and your partner should plan for:

    • Financial goals: What are your shared financial goals that you’ll save for together?
    • Retirement: How will you prepare for retirement? Decide what accounts you’ll contribute to and how much you’ll contribute monthly.
    • Insurance: What types of insurance will you have in place to protect you and your partner in case of an emergency? Examples may include disability insurance and life insurance.



    No one wants to go into a new marriage thinking about divorce, but it’s still a topic you have to address. I can tell you that when I got married at 24, it didn’t occur to me that it might end in divorce. But two years later, that’s exactly what happened.

    While we want to think the best of our partner, the person you marry isn’t the person you divorce. Just because your partner says today that you’ll split everything down the middle doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll feel that way later. For that reason, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. 


    Final Thoughts

    Money is definitely a delicate topic in relationships. It’s one of the leading causes of divorce and of conflict in relationships. But you can help avoid some of that conflict by talking honestly and openly with your partner about money early on. 

  • The Best Budgeting Apps for Couples to Manage Money Together

    Before Brandon and I got married, we struggled to find a budgeting solution that really offered everything we needed. 

    We weren’t quite ready to merge our finances yet. But we knew we were getting married, we had shared financial goals, and we wanted to be able to budget collaboratively. Now that we’re married and have shared finances, we have entirely different financial needs. 

    At different points in our relationship, we need different tools and strategies to help us manage our finances together. Luckily we were able to find the perfect apps to help us do that. 

    In this post, I’m sharing 6 of the best budget apps for couples. Some are specifically designed for couples with separate bank accounts, while others are better suited for those who share finances. 


    There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.


    Why couples should budget together

    Study after study shows that finances are one of the biggest sticking points in a relationship and that disagreements over money are one of the leading causes of divorce. 

    There are so many different reasons why couples fight about money. Plenty of millennial and Gen Z couples these days are entering into a marriage where one or both partners has student loan debt. 

    For example, see my article here about how my husband and I made a plan to pay off our six figures of student debt.

    Couples also argue about money when you’ve got one partner who is a saver and another who’s a spender. Financial emergencies like job loss or unplanned expenses can also place a major burden on a relationship.

    Even if you’re not married, budgeting together can be a great way to get on the same page with your finances and get into the practice of peacefully resolving money disputes that might pop up.


    What to consider when choosing a couples budgeting app

    There are many apps out there that can help couples to manage their household budgets, whether they’ve merged their finances or only rock separate bank accounts. 

    Choosing the right app for you can be daunting, especially when many budgeting apps operate as a paid service. What if you pay the fee and hate the app? Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

    • Are you willing to pay for an app, or will you only consider free apps? If you’re okay with a paid app, look for one that offers a free trial.
    • Do you want a service that has both app and desktop functionality? Some companies offer budgeting apps, but not a desktop version. I really enjoy the option of a desktop version!
    • Do you want to sync the app to your bank accounts and credit cards, or are you okay with manually recording transactions?
    • Are you a hands-on budgeter or a more passive one? Some apps really require you to make a plan for each dollar, while others allow you to monitor your spending passively.


    What if we don’t share finances?

    I know that not all married couples choose to merge their finances. And plenty of couples who haven’t yet merged their finances still want a way to budget collaboratively and set shared financial goals. This was exactly the case for my husband and me before we were married. 

    The good news is that each of these budgeting apps can still be effective if you don’t have shared finances. In fact, some of the apps are specifically suited for couples who don’t share a bank account.

    If you and your partner don’t share finances, you may not want to budget all of your money together, and that’s okay. When Brandon and I were dating, we made a budget for our joint bills and financial goals, but each tackled our personal spending individually.


    The best budgeting apps for couples


    Zeta is a budgeting app for couples with either shared or separate finances who want to budget together. It’s specially designed for those with separate bank accounts. 

    Zeta allows you and your partner to upload your bank accounts and credit cards and control what the other person can see. You can create a joint budget and track your spending together while keeping some expenses private. Zeta also allows you to set joint financial goals and track your progress.

    A feature that makes Zeta ideal for those with separate finances is that you can keep a running tab on who has paid for certain expenses and tag your partner when it’s time to settle up.

    Zeta has awesome features like the ability to keep a running financial to-do list and well-designed financial dashboards. 

    I didn’t know about Zeta when Brandon and I were budgeting with separate bank accounts. Otherwise, I probably would have used it! 

    Cost: Free

    Who It’s For: Zeta is perfect for couples who have separate finances and want to budget together. 



    Honeydue is a budgeting app that allows couples to add separate bank accounts and track spending together. When you add your account, you can control how much of your information your partner can see. Couples can set a joint budget and share financial goals.

    Another great feature is that you can set up reminders for you or your partner when it’s time to pay a bill. You can also message within the app to keep all of your money conversations in one place.

    One feature of Honeydue that really sold me (and the reason Brandon and I used it when we had separate finances) is that it allows you to track who paid for what and who owes you. 

    If I paid the rent bill, I would enter it and indicate that Brandon owed me for half. Honeydue keeps a running tab based on all transactions and allows either partner to settle up at any time. 

    This feature really addressed one of the more complicated parts of living with a partner and sharing expenses when you have separate finances.

    Cost: Free

    Who It’s For: Honeydue is perfect for couples who have separate finances and want to budget together. 



    Let me preface this by saying that You Need a Budget (YNAB) is my favorite budgeting app. It’s the one I personally use and recommend the most. 

    YNAB is a budgeting app that really allows you to make a plan for your money. Unlike more passive money apps that tell you where you spent your money that month, YNAB allows you to decide proactively where you’ll spend your money. 

    I also love YNAB for its tracking and reporting. When you add your debt and investment accounts, you’ll be able to see an accurate report of your net worth.

    YNAB is definitely pricier than some of the other options, but I’ve saved that at least ten-fold by using this budgeting method.

    Cost: $99 per year with a 34-day free trial

    Who It’s For: YNAB is ideal for those who prefer to take a hands-on approach to budgeting. If you’re inclined to track all your expenses in a spreadsheet, YNAB is a simpler solution for you. YNAB works for couples with either joint or separate bank accounts.



    Personal Capital is a financial planning app that allows you to monitor your budget while also keeping tabs on your investment and retirement accounts. For couples planning their financial futures together, Personal Capital is a great way to keep an eye on your progress. 

    Personal Capital is a great tool for seeing your entire financial picture in one place. But unlike some of the other apps, it doesn’t really allow you to intentionally create a plan for your money every month. 

    Personal Capital also offers more advanced features, such as wealth management services and financial advisor sessions at an extra cost.

    Cost: Free

    Who It’s For: Personal Capital is ideal for couples who want to monitor their investment and their progress toward reaching specific financial goals such as saving for a home. This app isn’t ideal for hands-on budgeters.



    Mint is a budgeting app that allows you to sync all of your bank accounts and track your spending throughout the month. 

    Mint is especially adept at automatically categorizing your transactions based on where you’re spending money. So for those who prefer to be more passive when it comes to your budgeting, Mint is a great option for you. Mint also has features that allow you to set and track financial goals. 

    If you’re looking for a low-maintenance app that you can set up once and then use check passively throughout the money, Mint might be right for you.

    Cost: Free

    Who It’s For: Mint is the perfect app for couples who want a low-maintenance budgeting solution. You can use this app for shared bank accounts, or separately add your individual accounts. 



    Tiller is a spreadsheet-based budgeting app that allows you to track your spending, income, and account balances in spreadsheets.

    One of the major advantages of Tiller — and something spreadsheet lovers will particularly enjoy — is that just about everything is customizable, from your spending categories to the reports you see. You can even add your favorite spreadsheet formulas and functions to the program.

    Cost: $79 per year with a 30-day free trial

    Who It’s For: Tiller is the perfect budgeting app for couples who love spreadsheets and customization.


    So what’s the verdict?

    If you read through this entire post, you might still be stumped as to which budgeting app is right for you. I’ve chosen my winners based on whether you and your couple have shared or separate finances.

    The best budgeting app for couples with separate finances: Zeta

    The best budgeting app for couples with shared finances: You Need a Budget


    Final Thoughts

    Dealing with finances in your relationship can be challenging, there’s no doubt about it. I truly believe that having an effective tool can help to ease some of the frustration. 

    I’ve used more than my fair share of paid and free budgeting apps, some of which have been better suited for couples than others. Whether you share a bank account with your partner or not, there’s definitely an app on this list to meet your needs.