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Financial Fundamentals

How to Manage Finances in a Serious Relationship or Marriage

β€” Alexandra Ardelean

Hey everyone, my name is Marco and welcome back to Whiteboard Finance. In this video, I'm going to be talking about how to manage finances in a serious relationship or marriage. This is a topic that I've been wanting to cover for a while now, and I think it's very important because money is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. So if you're in a serious relationship or you're married, this video is for you.

So, let's get started.

Five Core Tenets for Financial Management in Relationships

When it comes to managing finances in a serious relationship or marriage, there are five core tenets that I believe are crucial. These tenets are based on my personal experience and what I've learned from others who have successfully managed their finances as a couple.

Let's go through each of these tenets one by one.

Tenet One: Honesty and Transparency

Before you get married or make a serious commitment to someone, it's crucial to be honest and transparent about your financial situation. This means disclosing all of your assets and liabilities to your partner.

Assets include things like your 401k, Roth IRA, paid-off car, home, or anything with equity. Liabilities include things like student loans, car loans, credit card debt, etc.

Here's an example of what you should disclose:

  • Assets: 401k, Roth IRA, paid-off car, home, anything with equity

  • Liabilities: Student loans, auto loans, and credit card debt

Being honest and open about your financial situation lays the foundation for a conflict-free path toward achieving shared financial aspirations.

Tenet Two: Setting Shared Financial Goals

Once you've been honest and transparent about your financial situation with your partner, the next step is to set shared financial goals. This could range from saving for a house or a vacation to paying off debt or investing for retirement.

For example, my wife and I have joint savings accounts for the following:

  • Emergency fund

  • Travel

  • Taxes

  • House expenses

  • Car expenses

  • Investments

By setting shared financial goals and working together as a team, you can achieve more than you would on your own.

Tenet Three: The Joint or Separate Bank Accounts Debate

One of the most common debates when it comes to managing finances as a couple is whether to have joint or separate bank accounts. In my opinion, the best approach is a hybrid model that combines the benefits of both options.

For example, my wife and I have separate checking accounts for our individual spending money. However, we also have joint savings accounts for our shared financial goals.

We contribute a portion of our income to cover shared expenses like our mortgage and utilities, and we save the remainder in our personal checking accounts. We also have an agreement to discuss any purchase over $500 beforehand.

Additionally, we both have life insurance policies from Policy Genius that we pay for out of our individual checking accounts. This ensures that we're both financially protected in case something happens to one of us.

By using this hybrid model, we're able to maintain some financial independence while also working together to achieve our shared financial goals.

Tenet Four: Budgeting Together

Another important aspect of managing finances as a couple is budgeting together. This involves listing out all of your recurring joint expenses (e.g., mortgage/rent, utilities) and making sure they're covered by your combined income.

In addition to covering your joint expenses, it's also important to pay yourselves first by contributing to tax-advantaged accounts like 401ks and Roth IRAs. This ensures that you're both saving for the future while also living within your means.

By budgeting together and paying yourselves first, you can avoid overspending and work towards achieving your shared financial goals.

Tenet Five: Regular Financial Reviews

Finally, it's important to have regular financial reviews with your partner. This could be on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis depending on your preferences.

During these reviews, you can track your net worth (i.e., assets minus liabilities) and make any necessary adjustments to your budget or financial goals. By staying on top of your finances together, you can ensure that you're both working towards the same objectives.

Author's Thoughts on Taxes, Estate Planning, Marriage Work, and Kids

In addition to these five core tenets for managing finances as a couple, there are a few other things that I want to touch on briefly:

  1. Taxes: When you get married or enter into a serious relationship with someone, it's important to understand how your taxes will change. For example, marriage can alter your tax bracket and eligibility for specific deductions and credits. Consulting a tax expert before taking this step may be wise.

  2. Estate Planning: If you're married or in a serious relationship with someone, it's important to have an estate plan in place. This includes things like wills and powers of attorney so that your assets are distributed according to your wishes if something happens to one or both of you.

  3. Marriage Is Work: Managing finances as a couple requires open communication and compromise. Just like any other aspect of marriage or relationships in general - it takes work! You won't always see eye-to-eye on everything but if you keep an open mind and communicate effectively - you'll be just fine!

  4. Finances With Kids Are More Complex: Once kids enter the picture - things get more complex! You'll need additional life insurance coverage (term life insurance is usually best), college savings plans (like 529s), etc. The key here is planning ahead!


I hope this video has given you some valuable insights into how to manage finances in a serious relationship or marriage. If you found this information helpful - please consider sharing this video with someone who may benefit from it!

Also - don't forget about Whiteboard Finance University! We have three amazing professors offering courses on real estate investing (from beginner all the way up through commercial real estate), personal finance & budgeting (from beginner all the way up through advanced topics like tax planning), and stock market investing (from beginner all the way up through options trading).

I truly believe that education is the key when it comes to building wealth - so please check out Whiteboard Finance University if you're interested in learning more!

Thank you so much for watching - I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Have an amazing day!