| May 22, 2013

Few couples discuss joint financial matters

When couples move in together, get engaged or tie the knot, most being merging belongings, sharing vehicles and otherwise building a life together. However, it appears that finances are often excluded from these relationships, as many couples blindly trust one individual to take care of the whole of the finances, including joint accounts.

According to the results of the Country Financial Security Index, 63 percent of respondents said they fully trust their partners’ financial savvy and money management abilities, and 42 percent said they did not discuss how they would manage joint accounts prior to getting married. Partners reluctance to discuss management of their accounts differed by several factors factors, such as whether they entered the relationship with credit card debt or loans, and whether they had children.

For example, 44 percent of respondents that entered relationships in which one or both parties had debt said that the balances played a role in their talks about how to manage joint accounts. However, this was not the case for 17 percent of individuals who said they brought debt into the union. Children appeared to change the dynamic around joint financial discussions as well, with 75 percent of couples who have kids reporting they make decisions together about their spending versus 63 percent of those without kids. 

Limited financial discussions can lead to problems down the road

While trust is crucial to a successful and meaningful relationship, industry professionals caution couples against relying too heavily on one person to manage finances that affect both parties equally. 

“It’s important to have open communication about your finances both before and during marriage,” said Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at Country Financial. “Love may be blind, but your financial plan shouldn’t be. Couples should be upfront about their spending and savings habits, their financial history and their personal financial goals.”

Further, many couples don’t want to think about the prospect of financial infidelity, but the truth is that this breach of trust is very common, according to CBS New York. Financial infidelity can be as small as making purchases that are hidden from a spouse to racking up tens of thousands in credit card debt. In many cases, lying about finances can be just as damaging to a relationship as cheating. While each couple may have their own money management style that works for them, being able to be open about budgeting, spending and saving goals may help couples reach common ground and accomplish their joint goals. 

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