It may not always be easy, but one of the most important conversations to have at the start of a relationship is the money talk. And no, it’s not as simple as ‘I keep mine and you keep yours.’ (#wishfulthinking)
According to the Capital One Second Look survey, 77% of Americans see themselves as the CFO of their household, which means as soon as you begin making moves toward shared expenses, it’s essential to clearly identify financial roles. Shared gym membership? Who covers that? Flights to meet each of the parents? Who foots the bill? The sooner you get on the same page about who’s responsible for what, the better your relationship will be.
So because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we want you to spend the day of love, well, being in love, here are some expert tips for making sure your finances are just as happy as you are.
Set up monthly money meetings. Now before you book a boardroom, this doesn’t have to be a big scary “meeting” you both dread. Instead, order in your favorite food, buy a bottle of wine and spend an hour or so reviewing monthly payments and setting a budget. If you find you’re paying all of your bills at the same time, but would like to stagger them, this is a great opportunity to set up personalized payments that allow you to pick your own monthly due date and payment method.
Enroll in autopay. If you aren’t already using autopay, it’s a total game-changer. Not only does it eliminate the need to remember multiple logins to pay bills across different sites, but it also puts an end to late fees if you forgot whose turn it was to pay the cell phone bill this month.
Use mobile apps. If you aren’t utilizing your bank’s mobile app, you should be! Not only are these apps a great way to stay up-to-date on transactions on the go (like in a foreign country on vacation), but it also means important banking information is always at your fingertips. You’ll both be able to track your spending habits, which is crucial to sticking to a budget when you first open a joint account.
Pay attention to alerts. You’re probably used to getting alerts about potential fraud or a low-balance account, but don’t stop there. Capital One offers a “second set of eyes” through an alert system called Second Look that helps notify eligible cardholders of unusual charges, duplicate transactions or increases in standard monthly charges (like the premium cable package upgrade your partner “forgot” to mention that upped your cable bill by $50 a month, or the mistaken double charge at the grocery store). These alerts allow you and your partner to stay on top of your transactions, and help keep spending in check.
Make a deal about big purchases. My husband and I often trade off who gets to buy the “big” thing they really want from month to month. Sometimes it’s a trip to a tropical island for me, sometimes it’s new stereo equipment for him.
With these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to clear financial roles and expectations, which means you’ll have time for the important things in a relationship – like deciding what’s for dinner!
I wrote this blog post while participating in a program on behalf of Capital One and received compensation as part of my participation.