Couples don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to financial planning or financial sharing for that matter. As individuals our conceptions about money often come from our parents as our values and belief systems are developed. Often one person is the ‘perceived spender’ and the other the ‘perceived saver’. Let’s face it, one person in the couple will always spend more than the other but it doesn’t mean that the ‘spender’ isn’t growing their net worth or making conscious pre-planned purchases. In other words, being financially responsible.
What I have seen a lot of lately is couples who have separated their financials. Keeping separate bank accounts and investments and sharing in costs such as mortgage payments and property taxes. Often, one doesn’t even know what the other has in the way of savings or accumulated debt. As a financial planner, I find it mind boggling to financially plan a future that is dependent on my partner/spouses’ cash flow in our retirement years without seeing the bigger picture. Couples are dependent on one another’s savings and ability to provide incomes through pension plans and RRSP savings which is impossible to plan for without the information.
Lack of disclosure can also create mistrust which can then fester into other parts of the relationship. So what is the answer? Should couples financially share?
Some couples feel that, perhaps, the big picture should be disclosed but that separate bank accounts for spending might be a good idea. This allows each individual to have some independence when it comes to their spending habits. What is important, however, is that the couple agree what expenses they are jointly responsible for and what they need to save for their future. Separate spending accounts can actually buffer small bickering and self-justification on purchases.
So for couples who don’t always agree when it comes to financial planning or financial sharing it might be important to share the bigger picture while maintaining some financial autonomy by having individual spending accounts.