When was the last time you talked candidly about money with your partner? If you can’t recall…there is no time like the present.

It’s widely known that money is a significant stressor for many couples in America, and this is especially true when it comes to syncing up your respective finances. Whether you’re married or a long-term couple looking to take things to the next level, here are some best practices for planning your financial future as a team.

Talk Money (Personality)

It may seem obvious, but open communication around money is the first step towards any successful financial partnership. What is your money personality and how does that complement or challenge your partner’s personality?

Maybe you’re a Saver who is oriented towards the financial long game, and this creates friction with your partner who is a Pleasure Seeker prone to frequent purchases. Gaining a deeper understanding of your respective views on saving and spending is a good place to start before you dive headlong into budget planning or discussions around debt.

Manage Accounts

Do you want to merge all your accounts or maintain some financial independence with separate accounts? There’s no one-size-fits all approach, and some couples arrive at a middle ground by adopting the “yours, mine, ours” model: a joint account for shared expenses (for example rent, groceries, and utilities) and individual accounts for personal spending.

Once you’ve ironed out what accounts will be joined vs. separate, agree on who will handle bill management and consider automating payments to avoid confusion and unnecessary late fees.

Choose the Right Budgeting Tool

User-friendly, intuitive design ensures that you can navigate the app effortlessly, saving you time and frustration. Look for apps that allow you to quickly input transactions, set budgets, and track your spending without a steep learning curve.

And before you commit to a paid subscription, take the time to research budgeting apps that are free or that offer a free trial period to find out whether the functionality is worth the spend. Many apps offer free features (like transaction tracking) with the option to upgrade later if you want to unlock added features.

Create Shared Goals

After you’ve planned budgeting and bill payment, create some shared financial goals together. Whether it’s saving for home improvement, pooling funds on a shared investment account, or creating an emergency fund, the key is to break down these goals into actionable steps.

Regularly check in with each other and adjust goals as your circumstances change. Also be mindful of money personalities again…your goals shouldn’t force either partner to cast their personal money values aside for the sake of appeasement.

Strategize Debt Repayment

If either partner has existing debts, decide how you want to handle debt repayment. Tackling debts as a team not only lightens the burden but also reinforces your commitment to each other’s financial well-being.

The debt snowball or debt avalanche methods allow you to focus on eliminating one debt at a time, and in our current economic climate, you may wish to prioritize high-interest payments first so you’re not losing more money in the long run. Depending on your situation, you may also qualify for a Debt Management Program that can lower interest and shorten your repayment period.

Celebrate Milestones

Money management stress can take a toll, making it more important to acknowledge your financial milestone accomplishments, big and small. Whether it’s buying a new vehicle, finally saving enough to afford a vacation, or eliminating a longstanding debt, verbally acknowledging these successes strengthens your bond and incentivizes you to continue working towards your shared financial aspirations.

Seek Guidance

If navigating finances as a couple becomes overwhelming or if you encounter complex financial decisions, don’t hesitate to reach out. GreenPath’s empathetic, NFCC-certified counselors can offer valuable insights and help you make informed decisions that align with your unique situation and goals. Financially ever after is not just aspirational; it’s a reality that can be achieved through collaboration, understanding, and commitment.