Every partnership is unique, but one topic tends to introduce stress more often than others in a relationship: money. Specifically how we make it, how we spend it and how we talk about it.
Do we get joint bank accounts? Do we invest separately? How do we split the bills? Do we have to tell our partner about every dime we spend?
Finances can be a touchy subject — whether you’re married or not — but it’s an incredibly important one. What you do today can affect your future together (think: buying a home, going on vacations, retiring) and you need to be on the same page.
But “same page” doesn’t always mean sharing the same accounts. Here are the times you should combine your finances — and when you shouldn’t.
1. Combine: Car Insurance Payments
Did you know you could save money by combining your car insurance with your partner’s? Yep — by putting two cars on one insurance policy, you could be eligible for discounted rates. Some up to 20% per additional car.
That’s why this is one financial move you should make together, and one you should check out every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
2. Combine: Emergency Funds
If you share a life together, you’ll likely share the emergencies, too. Sick kids, company-wide layoffs and natural disasters don’t pick and choose their victims.
So having an emergency fund together is a smart move to make sure everyone is protected and has access to it.
If you’re looking for a place to safely stash that money away — but still earn money — don’t waste your time with a typical savings account. The 0.04% national average interest rate is nothing these days.
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
3. Combine: Homeowners Insurance
Did you know that even if your home’s mortgage isn’t in your name — just your partner’s — you can still be on the homeowners insurance? In case something were to happen, you want to make sure you can access the benefits — so combine this, too!
If you’re a homeowner, you probably have homeowners insurance, but you hardly ever think about it. That’s good — it means you haven’t needed to use it. But it also means you don’t know if you’re being overcharged for it.
It’s easy to find out, though. To see if you’re overpaying for your policy, check out a website called SmartFinancial. It’s a digital marketplace where you can get quotes and compare rates to make sure you’re getting the best price.
Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars when they switch home insurance companies this way. It takes just two minutes to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all your options side-by-side. Get started here.
4. Combine: Some of Your Credit Cards or Loans
You’ve got big plans. Maybe you’ve got your eye on a new car. Or you’re hoping to buy a house in the next few years. Or you’d even like to start your own business. But here’s the thing: No matter what your goals are, you might not realize how much your credit score is standing in your way.
But if you and your partner work together to pay off debts and keep low balances on credit cards, you can both benefit from any bumps in your credit score.
A free website called Credit Sesame makes it easy to put your credit score on track to reach your goals. We even talked to one guy, James Cooper, of Atlanta, who used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** He says they showed him exactly what to do — he was even able to open his first credit card.
What could adding 300 points to your score mean for your goals? It could easily save you thousands of dollars over the life of a car loan or mortgage.
Within two minutes, Credit Sesame will give you access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
Make sure your plans don’t get sidelined by bad credit. Sign up for free (it only takes about 90 seconds) and see how much you could improve your score.
5. Combine: Investments
When you invest in the stock market, you could earn an average of 7% year over year just by holding your investments.
And if you invest alongside your partner, you’ll also get an average of 7% — but 7% of a larger sum. That’s why it could be a smart move to combine your account with your spouse’s or open a new one together.
It’s easy to do with an app called Stash. Stash lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1
It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*
6. Combine: Tax Returns
This combined financial strategy might not work for everyone — it depends on how complicated your tax returns are or what your financial goals are.
But for most married couples, the tax credit you’d get on your yearly tax returns is enough to make it worthwhile. In 2020, a married couple filing jointly was able to take a $24,800 deduction, while filing solo only allowed for a $12,400 deduction.
7. Separate: Life Insurance
Ok, so you can’t combine life insurance policies even if you wanted to. But you should both have life insurance policies with each other as the beneficiaries.
Why? Because you need to think about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone — Like how they’ll pay the bills or send the kids through school. Now’s a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a term life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But you can get free quotes from a company called Policygenius in just a few minutes to help you find the right coverage for your needs.
Some policies start at less than $20 per month.* The peace of mind of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
Policygenius offers life insurance policies that don’t require the usual medical exam, so you don’t even have to get up from the couch. Click here to get a free quote from Policygenius.
8. Separate: Personal and Emergency Savings
Sharing an emergency fund is important — but so is having one all to yourself. Whether it’s for something fun like buying surprise gifts or having a financial layer of protection in case you break up, make sure you’re saving for yourself.
If you’re looking for ways to increase those savings, here are a few options:
- An Aspiration bank account that will give you up to 5% cash back on debit card purchases and earn you up to 16x the average interest.
- Cash back and gift card rewards for online shopping, like Capital One Shopping or Rakuten — both offer bonuses for signing up through these links.
9. Separate: 401(k) Retirement Investing
Setting aside money from your paycheck to put into your 401(k) is literally one of the smartest things you can do for your future. And if your employer matches each contribution, that could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your account when you retire.
It’s free money — and it’s only available to you. If your spouse’s employer offers them a match as well — double free money!
But if you can’t take advantage of this employer benefit because you need all of your paycheck every month, a company called Lendtable will give you the cash.
We know it sounds too good to be true. But if your employer has a 401(k) match program, this is money they already have earmarked for you. By using Lendtable, you’ll be able to unlock that free cash.
Let’s say you make $50k a year and your employer matches your 401(k) contribution up to 4%. If you put $0 in your retirement account this year, you get $0 from your boss. If Lendtable lends you the 4% of your salary your employer is willing to match, you get $2,000 from your boss, minus Lendtable’s fee. (This comes from the extra money you’ve earned, so there’s no sacrifice on your part.)
It takes three minutes to answer a few questions about your eligibility and sign up for an account.
Once you’ve gotten your full match amount from your employer, LendTable will take the money they lent you back, plus a small share of your profit. If there’s a penalty from your retirement account provider for taking money out, Lendtable will cover that, too.
The risk for you is basically nonexistent, so not taking advantage of your employer match with Lendtable’s offer would make Future Millionaire You bow your head in shame. Get started here.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
*For a $500K policy, subject to eligibility.