Connect Love

Ask These 5 Questions Before Merging Finances With Your Partner

Casandra Andrews  |  May 1, 2023

Combining finances can be a great way to provide financial fairness in a relationship. Here's what to ask before you take the plunge.

You’ve found the person you want to build a future with, but that means more than having a travel companion and someone to pay for half of the Amazon Prime account. You also need to consider sharing your finances, because many of your big — and small! — life goals require being on the same page about what you save, earn and invest. 

Whether you want to eventually buy a house, a car, or just take an amazing vacation together, you and your partner need to align on your joint money goals. This is why combining your finances — either completely or partially — can be a great way to provide financial fairness in a relationship, and to ensure you’re on track to meet your goals. It can also provide some of the glue that holds a couple together, a new survey reveals. 

Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2022 shows that couples who pool all of their money (compared to partners who keep all or some of their money separate) experience greater relationship satisfaction and are less likely to break up. “Though joining bank accounts can benefit all couples,” the authors note, “the effect is particularly strong among couples with scarce financial resources (i.e., those with low household income or who report feeling financially distressed).” 

But with that said, we also know that combining your finances can pose some potential challenges. Here’s a list of questions to ask your partner before you merge your money, to make sure you’re setting yourselves up for success. 

Question: What’s Your Money Story?

A good way to better understand where your partner is coming from when it comes to finances is to see where they have been, explains Natalie Taylor, a certified financial planner and head of financial advice for Monarch Money. Another way to pose this question is: ‘How did you grow up with money? Taylor says this doesn’t have to be a four-hour conversation. “You’re seeking to understand how they were raised when it comes to money, in their own words.” 

Understanding what money felt like for them growing up, she says, will usually give you more insight into how they handle money. She uses her own family to illustrate the point. “My husband and I were both children of business owners,” she explains, which gave them common ground, but in other ways their money mindsets were very different. Taylor grew up with the idea that saving for the future was key to survival. “I felt like you had to put a ton away,” she explains, adding that she preferred to sock all their family bonuses away for a rainy day. “But my husband’s philosophy was more ‘You’ve got to enjoy the good years because they are not all good years.’ ”

“It wasn’t until we actually verbalized our money stories, and really listened to the other person that this became clear,” Taylor says. What happened next? Once they recognized their money differences, they changed their approach. So after that, whenever one of them received a bonus, half would be used for fun and half would be used for savings or debt reduction. It was a compromise that worked well for both — a compromise that could only have been reached by having these important money conversations. “This is a conversation you should have, even if you think you know each other,” she says. 

Question: What Do Your Finances Look Like?

It’s important to know how much your partner has in checking, savings and investment accounts — plus how much debt they have and where. If you aren’t sure where to begin, using a program such as Monarch — an all-in-one web-based budgeting platform — can guide you through the different aspects of each person’s financial life. 

Monarch can be a great tool, Taylor says, because you can link all of your accounts in one place to gain a more cohesive picture. “You can see what things look like and understand where you stand as a team, and not just individually.” The Monarch platform allows users to do things such as track net worth, get alerts about your budget, link retirement goals and more. 

Question: What Are You Good At When It Comes To Handling Money?

No, not everyone loves to pay the bills, track expenses or figure out how much you can save monthly for a bucket-list trip. So, if you ask what your partner is “good” at when it comes to managing money, they might answer with an exasperated “I have no idea.” If that happens, don’t panic! 

This is where you can share with them something you admire about how they handle money, explains Sarah Sprague Gerber, a certified financial planner and founder of Momentum Financial Planning LLC. “This allows any conversation to start on positive footing and prevent the other person from feeling attacked, especially on such a sensitive topic as money.”

You can also approach this question as a way for both of you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses on the financial front, Taylor explains, noting that “if you don’t say (what you want to do) out loud, you might just default to what you’ve been doing. But if you combine the things you are good at, you’ll be better as a team.”

Question: What Money Goals Are You Working On & What Goals Are On Your Radar?

Most of us are not mind readers. That’s why it’s important to let your partner know exactly what your goals are when it comes to money. Do you want to retire early? Do you plan on funding (or partially funding) a child’s college education? Is your goal to save $2 million in your 401(k)? Even if you and your partner don’t have the same goals “you can still agree on the priorities you want,” Taylor says. Having honest conversations about your money goals is a great first step to making them realities. 

Question: How Do You Manage Your Spending? 

Getting a handle on your partner’s daily or monthly financial interactions will give you a better idea of what it’s going to look and feel like if you blend your finances. When you ask about their spending, try not to make this question come out like you’re an IRS agent auditing a criminal — you’re talking to the love of your life. 

So, one great question could be, simply: “What does your budget look like?” Why ask this? “It’s important to understand how your partner interacts with their money,” Taylor says. “Do they just let it be? Do they track super closely?” 

Sometimes we make assumptions with our partners, Taylor says, “and then we get annoyed with them and then have to figure out how something is going to work.” Doing your homework first — and asking the right questions — will give you both an advantage when challenging money situations pop up down the road.


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Note: This content is part of a paid partnership between Monarch and HerMoney Media.

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