Love and Money: How Mingling Your Finances Can Impact Your Ability to Buy a Home
2.14.2023 | Category: Article
Love is in the air. And with it brings a desire to build a life with that someone special. According to TheKnot.com, proposal season starts with Christmas Day and ends around Valentine’s Day, with nearly 40% of all engagements occurring between this time.
With increased engagements, comes the question if coupling finances can impact major financial milestones like buying a home or saving for retirement.
If you're one of the millions of Americans considering the next step in your relationship, be sure to answer these important questions with your partner before commingling your finances.
Questions to ask before coupling finances.
What's yours is not always mine when it comes to combining finances with a romantic partner. In fact, you don't have to be married to make financial decisions together, like buying a house, or cosigning on credit. But laws vary from state to state and it's important to know what you're liable for if you decide to couple your finances.
A good rule of thumb is to read the fine print on anything you decide to sign along with your partner, including leases, loans, or any contracts that have financial implications for the two of you.
Every couple will manage their finances differently, but there are some common questions you should ask each other before deciding to share financial accounts together, and how they might impact your future.
What are our financial goals and how do they align?
When couples understand each other's financial priorities, they can make informed decisions about how to allocate their budget and manage their finances in a way that aligns with both partners' goals. For example, one partner may prioritize saving for a down payment on a house, while the other may prioritize paying off student loans.
Having open and honest conversations about financial goals and habits can also help build trust and strengthen the relationship between partners. It shows that both partners are committed to working together to achieve their financial goals and are willing to be transparent and honest with each other.
What is our combined income and expenses?
When couples have a clear understanding of their combined income and expenses, they can effectively and successfully determine a budget that works for both parties.
Discussing combined income and expenses can also help identify any imbalances in financial responsibilities or contributions. One partner may earn a higher income but also have more expenses, while the other may earn less but have fewer expenses. Having this information can help both partners work together to ensure that their financial situation is fair and sustainable.
Will we have joint or separate accounts?
Before deciding to have joint accounts, couples should consider factors such as their spending habits, financial goals, trust level, financial interdependence, and tax implications.
Having a shared account can simplify the process of managing your finances together. However, if trust is a concern, having separate accounts may be the best option. Alternatively, some accounts can remain separate, like business or retirement accounts, while other accounts are shared, like checking and savings.
How will we handle debt and credit?
Debt and credit can affect a couple's ability to make major purchases, such as buying a house, and can also affect the interest rates they receive on loans and credit cards. One partner may have a higher level of debt or a lower credit score, which can affect the couple's ability to obtain a loan or get a favorable interest rate of applying for the loan together.
Remember, sharing financial responsibilities does not necessarily mean that one partner's mistakes will impact the other partner's credit scores. Credit scores are not automatically combined when couples combine their finances. But co-signing on accounts, like if a couple decides to buy a house together, can.
By talking through these challenges upfront, both partners can work together to find ways to reduce debt and improve credit scores, such as creating a debt repayment plan, consolidating debt or seeking financial advice.
What is our approach to saving and investing?
Like discussing credit usage and debt management, talking about shared savings and investment plans can ensure that both partners are on track to reach their shared financial goals. Talk about goals regularly and make it a romantic date night to celebrate when milestones are met.
When challenges arise, lean on each other to come up with a plan to work together to address these. Open and honest communication will help overcome challenges in pursuit of your savings goals and hopefully bring you closer as you build your life together.
What to know before buying a house with a spouse or romantic partner.
Now that you understand how mingling your finances can impact your financial goals as a couple, it’s time to understand how combining accounts can impact your ability to buy a home.
Buying a home with a romantic partner can be a great way to achieve the dream of home ownership and strengthen your relationship. However, it's important to carefully consider the pros and cons and make sure you have a solid agreement in place to minimize the risk of conflict and financial disputes.
- Better Affordability: Combining finances with a partner can increase your buying power, allowing you to purchase a larger or more expensive home than you could on your own.
- Increased Savings: By pooling your money together, you can accumulate a larger down payment, reduce the amount of financing needed, and lower your monthly mortgage payment.
- Joint Responsibility: Sharing the responsibility of a mortgage can make it easier for both partners to manage the financial burden of homeownership.
- Financial Planning: Buying a home together requires a lot of financial planning and organization, which can help both partners develop better money management skills.
- Decreased Autonomy: Sharing finances means giving up some control over your money and having to make decisions together.
- Relationship Strain: Money is one of the biggest sources of conflict in relationships, and combining finances can add more pressure to the relationship.
- Lack of Privacy: When you combine finances, you open up your financial life to your partner, which can make it harder to keep personal spending habits private.
- Risk of Default: If one partner defaults on the mortgage, the other will be responsible for the debt, which can have a significant impact on their credit score and financial stability.
Combining finances with a romantic partner before buying a house is a big step in a relationship and can have both benefits and drawbacks.
No matter how you plan to approach finances as a couple, combining finances with a romantic partner before buying a house can have both advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to carefully consider all factors before making a decision.
Be sure to have open and honest communication about your financial goals and expectations, as well as a solid plan for how you will handle any future financial challenges.
And when you’re ready to make a decision, contact a Mutual of Omaha Mortgage loan specialist to help you and your partner, every step of the way.