If you are operating with shared finances of any kind, then you need a budget—together.
I know this can be a sensitive, complex and emotional topic, so I will try to treat it as such. Understanding that everyone’s situation is different, at YNAB, we recommend that if you are merging your life with someone else, you should also merge your finances.
We talk a lot about simplicity. We believe in simplicity. The idea being, if you can get a simple money management system in place, then you don’t actually have to spend a lot of time managing your money. You spend more time just living your life. You can spend your time on the important decisions (What do I really want my money to do?) and focus on your progress. If a system is more complex, inherently, it is more difficult to build habits around, and more difficult to maintain. And so we strive for simplicity.
Generally speaking, we advocate for fewer accounts, fewer categories, fewer budgets…
So when two people come together—each with an individual money management systems and a unique and personal set of goals, fears, habits and history—well, it can get complicated and emotional real fast.
Where do our preconceived notions about money come from? Probably our parents.
Who should we blame? Our parents, of course. We all deal with what we deal with. (I’m joking here. I love my parents. They’re awesome. And they never read this blog so I’m not just saying that.)
So any two people attempting to merge finances, will have two individual systems and two sets of emotional baggage to consider. It can be exhausting.
We want to help you reduce stress about money and help you develop a system that you will stick with in the long-term, and for those reasons, we believe in joining forces. Don’t try to cobble together two existing and probably overly complex systems. Create a new system. Start from scratch, be honest about your goals, fears, habits and history—put it all on the table—and build a system that everyone is comfortable with. Build a system that is simple, that you can create habits around, a system that will help you reach your shared goals.
Lots of patience will be required but not fighting about money is absolutely worth it.
If you can’t wait until next week for more whiteboard wisdom, subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you have a question or an idea you’d like us to address in a future Whiteboard Wednesday episode—we’d love to hear from you: [email protected]