budgeting for couples

When a couple first moves in together, one of the first questions that should be addressed is how to tackle daily living expenses. Although it can be a difficult conversation to have, it's important to talk about your individual salaries and how you spend your money in order to develop a fair way to handle day-to-day living expenses and savings.

Start the discussion: Talk with your partner about how much money you earn and what that money can do for you now and in the future. Finding out what each other’s aspirations and fears are will help you develop a budget you can stick with.

Create a budget: Whether you do it on paper or on the computer, helps to have your household budget in black and white where you can see it. Figure out how to allocate your income for day-to-day expenses, savings goals and what to do about unexpected bills.

Pay yourself allowance:If you’re using joint checking and savings accounts, take advantage of credit union subshares. Under a joint account number, ask a member service representative to create subshares that allow you to separate money for different expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, food, gas and healthcare. Each person should also get their own subshare in which you will deposit an allowance into each month. This way, each person has a little bit of discretionary income for their personal expenses. Once you get used to the system, it becomes a game over who can save the most money and can help prevent fights over how discretionary money is being spent.