Here's How Suze Orman Suggests Couples Should Handle Their Finances

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Don't let money come between you and your partner.

Key points

  • Many couples struggle to manage money.
  • Suze Orman has some advice that can help couples figure out how to split bills fairly.

When you're in a relationship with someone, your financial choices affect theirs. If you're working on saving for shared goals, for example, you'll both need to be committed. On the other hand, if your partner spends irresponsibly or is deeply in debt, you could end up constrained in what you can accomplish together.

Since your money-management choices impact your shared future, it's worth taking the time to come up with a good plan to effectively handle your joint financial lives. If you aren't sure where to start, financial guru Suze Orman has some suggestions that could help couples effectively manage their money.

Here's what Orman advises couples to do.

Consider maintaining separate accounts

The first key piece of advice Orman gives is that couples should have at least some separation of their finances. “I would never, ever have just one joint account, and that’s it. Never, ever, ever,” Orman said to NextAdvisor in an interview.

Orman has been married to her wife for decades and during that time, they haven't ever shared a bank account. But she does acknowledge that some couples would prefer to keep at least some shared funds together. However, if couples do share an account, she firmly believes they should also have separate accounts in addition to their joint one.

Orman has commented that while the right number of accounts depends on what each person is bringing into the relationship, she recommends "you have at least three accounts: one for you, one for your partner or spouse, and one joint account where you pay the joint expenses out of it.”

The finance guru has warned about two possible problems with having only a joint account, including potential power imbalances as well as the loss of independence that could turn disastrous if the relationship ever comes to an end. If each couple maintains at least one separate account that's theirs alone, these risks are reduced.

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Split household expenses in a fair fashion

When couples maintain separate accounts, they have to figure out how to pay the bills together. Orman has a suggestion for this as well. She doesn't necessarily believe expenses should be shared 50/50 -- especially as it is possible that one partner may make more money than the other.

Instead, she suggests you should each contribute an amount toward the bills that's linked to how much of your joint income you provide. For example, if you make $3,000 a month and your spouse makes $5,000, you bring in 37.5% of your total combined income of $8,000. So you would pay 37.5% of the monthly bills and your partner would cover the rest.

By taking this approach, expenses could be split fairly without the partner who makes less feeling like they are overburdened with costs or the partner who makes more being constrained in what they can afford.

Now, this approach of course won't work for everyone. But if you aren't sure about the best way to manage joint funds and you don't want to link your finances completely and take on all the risk that entails, then following Orman's advice may just be an ideal solution for managing your shared financial life.

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