So many great topics and questions were brought up at Blonde on a Budget and I’s money talk meet-up last week, but one of them that got stuck in my brain was how to best manage money with your partner, especially if they are a freelancer with unpredictable income.
When asked what my HB and I do to manage our money since he’s a freelancer, I honestly didn’t have a solid answer. We’ve been together for over 7 years now, and up until recently we’ve been managing our finances completely separately. It just made sense when we were dating or living together, but now that we’ve been married for a year, we’ve both realized things need to change.
One of my biggest worries about managing our finances together was that it would lead to a string of arguments, judgement about each other’s spending habits, and basically a whole bunch of crap we’ve been able to avoid up until this point. But now that we’re in this life together for the long haul, it’s time to start looking at our entire financial picture as a family, not as individuals.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that we’re going to be pooling all of our money together any time soon. I know for a fact that would never work for us. That being said, we have combined our downpayment funds together, we share a joint chequing account for mutual expenses and a joint emergency savings account, and are in the process of moving all of our accounts to the same bank.
Besides that, the biggest change we’ve implemented is combining our separate Mint.com accounts. Up until now, we’ve always had an idea of how much the other person had in their respective savings and investment accounts, but only a few times a year would we actually sit down and look at the hard numbers. Now we have one Mint account with every one of our accounts in it. This way we can look at our Mint account and see exactly how much money we’ve got as a unit. I’m hoping this will not only make our lives easier and help maintain open communication, but motivate us to save and invest as a team too.
So, how does the element of my HB being a freelancer change things even further? Well, for one it means that our money management styles will always be a bit different. Since I know exactly how much will be on my paycheque, I can plan far into the future and put away the same amount into savings every two weeks.
Since he never truly knows how much he’ll make each month, things are much more complicated for him. Some months are really good for him and some months he needs to dip into his buffer money. That being said, he does keep track of every expense and stream of income in a spreadsheet, then averages out how much he makes per month. Unfortunately it isn’t until the end of the year that he knows how much net income he made.
At this point, I still don’t have the perfect answer about how best to manage money as a couple when one person is a freelancer. I do however think that we are on the right track to improving the way we do things, and I definitely plan on looking into creative ways other freelancers manage their unpredictable income.
So for any of you in a similar situation, my only piece of advice would be to communicate, communicate, communicate! Being on the same page is crucial, even when you make money differently or one person makes more than the other. As long as you talk about it and have the same financial priorities and goals, I truly believe that you will eventually find a solution that works for both of you.
How do you and your partner manage your money together?