(CNBC) A partnership that pools resources and shares expenses can be a very good thing for a relationship and for each other’s financial well-being. However, different spending and saving habits can also be an enduring source of conflict for couples.
“Money stresses people out,” said Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner and president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York. “In general, the less moving parts, the better.
“If you’re paying bills and depositing checks from and into one account, it’s easy to see what’s going in and what’s going out.”
That, in turn, forms a good foundation to draft a common budget and establish financial targets together. It also gives both partners a good view on each other’s spending and saving patterns, and it can potentially highlight issues that need to be worked out.
Boneparth suggests that it’s better to find out about a partner’s spending habits, their debt obligations and general financial standing earlier rather than later.
“Ideally, you want to flesh it all out before tying the knot,” he said. “These things can create fractures in relationships.
“It’s about trust and honesty,” Boneparth added. “You need to address issues, find solutions, and support each other in these things.”
What to keep separate and when
A joint bank account is one thing, but comingling investment assets, sharing titles to real estate and other property is another. While people can and should designate beneficiaries for investment accounts and other assets, pooling assets and accounts with a partner may not always make sense.
Indeed, there can be a wide range of personal, financial and tax-related reasons why either comingling assets or keeping them separate is the best approach for a couple.
“There’s no one solution that is right for everyone; it’s a matter of individual preference,” said Boneparth. “There may be good reasons to keep some accounts separate and to divvy assets and liabilities up in different ways.”