Money in Relationships

Master finances, friends, and family

Balancing relationships and money issues can be complicated. Let’s be real, getting along with people can be hard enough without adding cash into the mix. But have no fear, we spoke to Farnoosh Torabi, host of the popular financial podcast So Money, for tips on how friends, families, and couples can navigate the murky waters of the almighty dollar in their relationships.

AVOIDING THE PARENT TRAP

Your parents can probably spot that charming grin and change in your voice even before you ask them for a few extra bucks. If you’re trying your best to be the cutest you can be when asking for spare change, it may be time to admit that you’re getting a little old for this stuff. Torabi recommends pulling the financial umbilical chord with your parents “As soon as possible…. That said, parents may tend to help their children out financially in various ways. Some may help with the cell phone plan; others offer to help with the down payment on a home. Whatever the relationship, don’t get too dependent on a parent’s helpfulness. Appreciate it, but know that—at the end of the day you have to be accountable for your own financial well-being.” Ultimately Torabi advocates for autonomy, but if you’re feeling a financial pinch ask yourself these questions before you ask for help.

  • Can I help myself on my own?
  • Can I reduce my budget?
  • Renegotiate my rent?
  • Modify my student loans?

Torabi suggests, “If you do need to ask for money, begin the conversation by talking up your financial goals and how you’ve been focused on paying down debt and saving more. For requests for large sums, say more than a few hundred dollars, treat this like a real loan and promise to repay in a timely fashion. Create a clear agreement that includes the loan amount, repayment timeline and any interest. Have both parties sign and date it.”

For more information on sticking to a budget, check out our Basics of Budgeting article. Need a hand tackling debt, we’ve got you covered in our Advanced Debt Seminar.

Whatever the relationship, don’t get too dependent on a parent’s helpfulness.

FRIENDS AND BILLS

Bills come, and utilities go, so don’t let drama get in the way of asking someone to pay their fair share. Lucky for you, it’s the 21st century. “Venmo is my go-to app these days for requesting money from friends and for paying them back. A few others I recommend: SplitWise, Square Cash, and Splitzee,” Torabi says. An app like Splitzee can easily tally up bills and utilities and notify recipients when it’s time to pay up so you don’t have to. And let’s be honest, it’s nice to get your fair share without getting your hands dirty. If apps aren’t cutting it, Torabi suggests, “Not letting the resentment build up. Address it as early on as possible and offer ways to make the transaction easier. Consider a payment plan or timeline.” That’s sharing the wealth done right.

Also know that it’s okay to exercise boundaries with money in friend relationships. It’s more than okay to say “no” to friends who ask for loans. “There’s a way to do it kindly and respectfully. Show that you care by saying something like, “While I can’t offer to give you the money you need, how else can I help?” There’s more to helping friends than just giving cash. Can they borrow something? Can you help make an introduction to a friend who can help with a job inquiry? Can you have them over for dinner more often to help them save a little better? Can you carpool? Lots of ways to be supportive financially without writing a check,” says Torabi.

PUTTING THE ROMANCE BACK IN FINANCE

Are you knocking on the door of a serious relationship? If you and your partner’s financial lives are beginning to blend together like a kale smoothie… congrats, you’re in one. Torabi suggests, “Moving in together can be one big cost saver. Just be sure you’re ready for it! In general, sharing equals savings. Instead of each having your own place and your own car, consider having just one to share and save 50% or more. To save fast, some couples also try to live on just one person’s salary and save the other person’s salary for one year. That can be super helpful in the run-up to a wedding or buying a home.” Consider taking a few easy steps to simplifying your financial state of mind:

  • If incomes are more or less the same, split expenses
  • If incomes vary, consider having the person with the bigger paycheck pay a larger portion of shared costs
  • Maintain three separate accounts: yours, theirs, and shared (it’s healthy for each person to maintain some form of financial autonomy)

Is your partner in debt? “It’s best to cover more of the joint expenses for a while so that your partner can save and apply his or her savings to the debt. Bailing out your partner may be a fast solution to ending the debt, but it isn’t always effective in the long-term. It’s important to really go through the sometimes painful process of paying down your debt so that it really sinks in: being in debt is no fun and I never want to be in this position again!” Torabi suggests.

Becoming a Zen master of managing money in relationships is 100% within your grasp. It’s easy to avoid unwanted financial stress with friends and loved ones when you’re clear, honest, and direct. If nothing else, “You have to be accountable for your own financial well-being,” says Torabi. By staying on top of your game, you’ll help ensure that others do as well.

Keys to Managing Money in Relationships

Be upfront with money issues

Avoid dependence on a parent’s helpfulness

Use budgeting apps to save money and divide bills

Advocate for three accounts in a long-term relationship: yours, theirs, and shared

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