Quick helpful tips for handling shared finances in a relationship

4 MIN READ | #list

Tackling shared finances in a relationship can have a lot in common with managing more general choresIf responsibilities like making dinner and taking care of pets aren’t being divided up fairly and efficiently, then chances are the responsibility for financial management isn’t being handled effectively either. When trying to fairly distribute household tasks, how could couples split finances?

Fairness means taking equal ownership

When applied to combining finances, fairness doesn’t necessarily mean each partner takes on the same number of duties, but it does mean taking full responsibility for the duties you have. Nearly 40% of American workers avoid dealing with their finances because they find them overwhelming.1 Tackling your finances with your partner can help make them seem more manageable, so taking extra care in this area can help reduce miscommunication, inefficiency and potential resentment. If both partners agree to take equal ownership of finances, whatever the specifics, you’re taking a step to put your relationship on a firm foundation.

Here are  five helpful tips for applying “equitable ownership” to the financial aspects of your partnership:

1. Make a list of all the responsibilities that involve household money

You’ll want to include tasks like setting up a budget, as well as delegating whose responsibility it is to make sure you’re sticking to it. Other financial chores include paying bills, filing taxes, managing insurance, planning for retirement and any other long-term money management.

2. Put each one on an index card or in a shared document

Once you’ve listed out all the major responsibilities on or in a shared document online, list all the sub-tasks required for handling that job. For example, filing taxes includes: tax planning, understanding tax law changes that apply to your household, compiling and organizing tax documents, buying tax filing software or hiring a tax advisor, etc. If each task has detailed expectations laid out, it creates greater transparency and accountability and offers helpful steps to follow for getting the work done.

3. Distribute financial tasks

Deal the index cards out or assign your online tasks in a way that makes sense to you and your partner. If one of you prefers a specific type of task, let that person claim the related responsibility. Maybe one of you is passionate about retirement planning, or feels a sense of fulfillment when paying off bills each month. Duties can be divided any way you like, so long as both partners feel the arrangement is fair and equitable.

4. Own the process

Taking responsibility for a task doesn’t always mean doing it by yourself, but it does mean understanding all steps and seeing them through to completion. For instance, establishing a budget requires a candid conversation with your partner about your shared goals, financial liabilities, income sources and anything else relevant before the budget is set out. If you choose to own the “Budget” task, then you have responsibility for making sure those steps happen, and your partner shouldn’t have to nag you or (without being asked) pick up your slack to get the job done.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Financial tasks can be complicated. People who work with a financial professional are typically more likely to have a long-term, written financial strategy, which can help you boost your savings, stay on track for your financial goals and be more financially confident.1 Having a written strategy can not only help you and your partner keep up with your respective financial responsibilities, but also develop better financial habits and hold each other accountable.

Solid long-term financial habits can have up to a 30% greater influence on an individual’s happiness and confidence than income, so working on these problems as a team can have a meaningful impact on your shared lives.1 You can use the concept of fairness to connect with your partner about money management issues in the relationship so you can have a conversation about systematically working together to cover all your financial bases, develop better habits and meet your shared goals.


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The Guardian Network® is a network of preferred providers authorized to offer products of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY and its subsidiaries. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.

 2022-146947 Exp. 11/2024

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1 The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence, 2021