Why this New York Jets linebacker wants to help Penn undergrads manage their money

“It was a huge distraction on the field,” the 27-year-old told undergraduate students packed into a room at McNeil Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus, just off Locust Walk. “I was sitting in meetings with the coach, supposed to be going over plays. But instead I was checking my phone, I was constantly running out of the room,” said Copeland, dressed sharply in a suit jacket and suede sneakers and sporting a behind-the-scenes, you-are-there grin.

Dear millennials, time to manage your own money

Imagine your organisation has offered you a project that you have been dreaming about. Would you ask your parents to do the project for you? In another situation, say you want to go on a holiday with your friends. Would you ask your parents to decide on the location, date and the things that you would want to do on the trip? Or say you want to go out for dinner with your friend. Would you ask your parents to select the food that your friend and you would eat?

The answer to all these questions, in all likelihood, will be no. But when it comes to finances, most individuals get cold feet and assign the job to their parents.

In the past, I have met multiple sports personalities, Bollywood celebrities, salaried individuals and even children of the richest 1% in the country who completely rely on their parents for money management and financial planning.

Money is one of the most sensitive topics to discuss with family members. I am not against the concept of parents managing your money. If your parents are extremely financial savvy and understand the nuances of money management, you should seek help from them.

But at the same time, it is important for you to be involved in the decision making process. If not earlier, at least from the time you start earning, money forms a key part of your life.

Your expenses, savings and investments together have an impact on your overall lifestyle. Just like you know which cuisine to try and which music to listen to, you should also know which fund to invest in and how to build your own investment portfolio.

To begin with, start taking interest in money management. The way you know that you have to go to the gym regularly and eat well to build your muscles, you need to similarly give time for your finances. You can start small, by collecting information about finances.

Next, start buying insurance for protection. You need to have adequate health insurance and in case you have dependents, a term cover.

Once you have protection, you need to build an emergency fund to take care of unforeseen circumstance such as job loss or any medical needs.

As a thumb rule, six-month expenses as emergency fund is good to begin with. Once you have put in place your emergency fund, you can start building your kitty to fulfil your financial goals such as retirement, child’s education and travel.

For this, you can diversify your portfolio by investing in different instruments such as equity through mutual funds, fixed income instruments such as Public Provident Fund (PPF), bonds and fixed deposits.

You can also diversify a portion in physical asset, if you like to have it in your portfolio. Once you have this structure in place, you will be more confident about your money.

However, a lot of people only focus on building the money or consider their job done once they get the income and leave the money management work to their parents.

Parents who are not financially savvy may end up taking not-so-wise decision, making the income earned not grow for you.

Even if they know how to manage the money, it is important that you too have a grip on money management. It is not cool to be daddy’s little girls and boys when it comes to money management.

HAHN: Don’t let financial secrets put strain on your marriage

Couples fight about money. Money fights can put a strain on any relationship and are a frequent cause for divorce. Divorce is one life event that will almost always derail a financial plan.

So how can you manage those money disagreements and keep your relationship on track? Communication and self-reflection go a long way toward generating happy relationships, no matter the topic. Here are some good strategies to employ to help work through some awkward situations.

According to the Creditcards.com Financial Infidelity Poll, “30 million Americans who live with a partner are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their significant other.” Another finding was that 20 percent of people polled said that “financial infidelity would be worse than an affair.” Being secretive about money undermines the trust with your partner.

My husband learned this firsthand when we got married. He knew about my mortgage, but I forgot to mention my small student loan and a car loan from my dad that I wasn’t good about making payments on each month. My husband endeared himself to my dad by making regular monthly payments until my car was paid off.

I have worked with couples where one spouse has hidden debt and is ashamed to disclose it. No matter how tough it is in the short run, allowing debt to fester is a recipe for disaster. In some instances, I recommend couples go to counseling or find a financial therapist to help them with the underlying issues.

Getting to know your partner’s money history and money mindset can help uncover sources of conflict. We each bring our own feelings and biases to the relationship, and gaining a perspective on your partner’s background can help you understand his or her financial decision-making and spending patterns.

Questions to ask include, “What do you remember about money growing up? What does money mean to you? What were you taught about money?” These attitudes and beliefs are usually unconscious, and we don’t realize the impact they have on our approach to money.

Another lesson we learned early on in our marriage was that we needed a regular date night to discuss finances. It wasn’t the most romantic evening out, but it let us discuss what was going on financially and helped us make big money decisions. We usually sat down at the beginning of the year and talked about big projects: new roof, tires, landscaping, vacation, etc. We would map out a five-year spending plan and update as our needs changed. We would also review our spending and see where we were off-track and brainstorm strategies to get us back on track. In addition to monitoring day-to-day finances, it helped ensure we had the same goals and could work on them together.

We still struggle with “yours, mine and ours” spending. It is important that we each feel we have some discretionary spending money that we don’t have to be accountable to the other for.

Over the years, that limit has fluctuated. I tend to make a lot of small purchases, while my husband is more into big-ticket items that are rarely approved. I am trying to be more deliberate about my spending and I am starting to rely on the “Checkout Checklist: Do I need this? Do I love this? Am I buying it just because it’s on sale?” I am also starting to add, “Do I have a place to put this?” and “What am I willing to give up?”

After 31 years of marriage, our differing approaches to money are still frustrating. I doubt if we will ever be in perfect harmony, but we continue to have an ongoing dialogue and recognize that navigating money issues is an ongoing process.•


Hahn is a certified financial planner with WWA Planning and Investments. She can be reached at 812-379-1120 or jalene@wwafp.com.

Should Arizona high school students learn more about finances? Bill would require it

Arizonans, who collectively rank below average in some measures of financial preparedness, probably could use more help, preferably at an early age, in managing debt, budgeting, balancing checking accounts and the like.

A bill making its way through the Arizona legislature would strengthen an existing policy that some high school students receive instruction in financial basics during a semester course currently devoted to economics, making it a requirement that all students receive some exposure to real-world money lessons.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee is one proponent of Senate Bill 1184, which passed the Senate Education Committee on a unanimous vote earlier this month and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

She considers personal finance to be a basic “survival skill.” When people don’t receive enough instruction in how to manage money, “They wind up doing things like taking out high-interest loans as adults,” Yee said.

Strengthen existing requirement

Arizona already is one of a dozen states that recommend some teaching of personal finance as part of a high school semester on economics, in addition to five states that mandate a separate course devoted to the topic.

SB 1184 would codify the half-semester of economics requirement as a state law, so that the Board of Education or a future board couldn’t diminish it, said Sharon Lechter of Paradise Valley. She’s a certified public accountant and best-selling financial author who spoke at the committee hearing in support of SB 1184. The bill also would require personal finance to be taught during the economics course.

MORE: 11 education bills to watch at the Arizona Capitol

The legislation is somewhat flexible, calling on schools to adopt their own curricula regarding financial literacy and personal financial management, while also giving them leeway in terms of when in high school students should receive the instruction, Yee said.

There’s a lot of high-quality financial information that can be downloaded for free from various websites such as those run by the JumpStart Coalition and the National Association of Economic Educators.

“There’s a tremendous amount of non-commercial, free curriculum,” Lechter said.

The legislation isn’t expected to have any impact on the state’s general fund. Republican Senator Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, is the primary sponsor.

Personal experiences

Holly Donahue feels strongly enough about the need for financial education that she agreed to speak to the Senate Education Committee when it considered the bill. While she’s successful now, as a market sales director for Dignity Memorial in Phoenix, Donahue struggled with money for much of her adult life.

“When I got out of school, I didn’t even know how to balance a checkbook,” Donahue, a 52-year-old resident of Goodyear, said in an interview.

Donahue said she juggled part-time jobs and, even after earning her college degree and landing better employment, still often lived paycheck to paycheck. She sometimes bounced checks unintentionally, incurred hefty bank fees and lost a car.

“I was probably 36 or 38 before I got my life together,” said Donahue, who senses many people are embarrassed to discuss their money issues so they struggle in silence.

“It’s imperative that children get this education,” she said. “I do feel strongly about it, and I’m very proud I broke the cycle.”

Parents can help, too

Pat Moran, an educator at the American Financial Literacy Institute in Scottsdale, said he believes the proposed bill would make a positive impact if it further encouraged high school students to learn about budgeting, how to open bank accounts, how credit cards work and related basics.

Still, he said the best instruction most teens and young adults are likely to receive on financial topics is learning by example from their parents, assuming they’re in a position to provide good guidance.

MORE: Are you financially vulnerable? Here are 10 ways to check

However, many Arizonan adults aren’t in good shape to mentor on financial topics because they haven’t gotten it down themselves.

A study last month by research group Prosperity Now ranked Arizona 36th among the states — below average — on a broad range of measures assessing financial vulnerability. It addressed issues such as low or volatile incomes, low credit scores, reliance on high-cost lenders, heavy household debt loads and the like.

Reach the reporter at russ.wiles@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8616.


Best Budget Apps For Couples (Divorce Proof) • Benzinga

Track The Money

Couples Allowed

Digit is the budget app that puts in the work for you. The app learns your spending behavior and then automatically allocates money to your savings, without you having to put any thought into it.

One of the most stressful parts of being in a relationship has to do with money and how we manage it. A study conducted to understand how couples handled money found that the number one cause for tensions in any relationship was – you guessed it – MONEY! And not surprisingly, the survey also found that talking and sharing thoughts about money caused couples to say they had a “great” relationship.

While relationship-building has to do with more than just money management, it’s clear that making money decisions alone, without consulting one’s spouse or partner, can have a deleterious impact on the union. Working together as a team to meet your financial goals can act as relationship-strengthening therapy.

And here’s more good news: By facilitating joint money-management, budget apps can help you hit your money goals. However, that’s only possible if you pick the best app that fits your specific needs. And that’s exactly what we aim to help you to do today!

Quicklook – Best Budget Apps For Couples

  1. HomeBudget
  2. Honeydue
  3. BetterHaves
  4. GoodBudget
  5. HoneyFi
  6. Zeta

What is a Budget App?

So, what exactly is a budget app? Well, it’s a piece of software that allows you to create a budget, categorize your income and expenses, and then enter and track your transactions against your budget.  The app then helps you see how you spend money against the budget by providing you useful reports and analysis.

Typically, the budget app runs on smartphones, but you’ll also find versions supported on desktops and other mobile devices.

What Couples Should Look for in a Budget App

So, what should the best shared budget app offer couples? Unlike general purpose accounting or finance software, couples should look for some specific “shared” features in the app they choose to help them co-manage their finances. Key amongst those features is the ability to sync budgeting data between devices owned by spouses. This allows both partners to know exactly what’s going on – ideally in real-time – with their finances.

The need for multi-device support is also a good feature to have. That way, if both partners don’t own the same type of device (iPhone or Android), you’ll still be able to use the budgeting app effectively. Desktop support is also a nice to have, especially if you like sitting at a desk and analyzing your transactions at leisure on a large screen.

Look for an app that allows you to customize your income and expense categories. Many couples would like the app to link to their external bank accounts and automatically download transactions. But if you aren’t comfortable with that, the app should at a very minimum allow you to enter account, payee and institution details while capturing transactions and use that data to track account balances.

It’s always nice to see your budget and spending patterns illustrated graphically – either in pie-chart or bar chart form. Additionally, if your app doesn’t store your data in the cloud (some couples might prefer local storage of data on their laptop/smartphone), then look for convenient features that make it easy to backup/restore your data.

Best overall pick: HomeBudget

The best way to save money is to manage it carefully. With HomeBudget, you’ll not only be able to manage your individual budget and track personal expenses, but you can do so for your household too.  If you’re looking for a highly flexible and versatile money management app for budgeting and expense monitoring, and you would also like to share that responsibility with your significant other-half, then HomeBudget fits the bill perfectly.

You can categorize Expenses (cash flowing out) and Bills (future expenses) under personalized headings, and monitor and track them separately. Using the Family Sync feature is a neat way to have your spouse/partner share the responsibility for also tracking and entering transactions against the household budget.

One neat feature, which not many family budgeting apps have, is the ability to handle Recurring Expenses with automatic payment. The app automatically prorates such expenses (e.g. a 6-month prepaid Home Insurance expense) into multiple months to allow for more meaningful actual-vs-budgeted comparisons. It can also handle Recurring Bills (distinct from expenses) with reminder prompts.

The app also supports recurring Income and recurring Transfers (from one institution to another), so you can set-it-and-forget it. Sometimes though, your recurring amount might not be the same as the actual expense – e.g. the family’s estimated monthly data usage charge. If the value of a recurring transaction changes, you can quickly update the amount once the app records the transaction. Flexible Bill tracking features also help you stay on top of payments coming due in the future.

HomeBudget is also great at tracking cash (ATM) withdrawals and cash expenses not incurred through a related bank/credit card account. For couples saving for a long-term goal, like a child’s college fund, the app allows you to use “paired transactions” – an “income” linked to a corresponding “expense” rather than just recording it as a recurring transfer.

If you and your partner love visual representations of your money, you’ll love how HomeBudget shows you different views of where your money is coming from/going. You can also attach images of receipts and invoices to your database for subsequent viewing/auditing purposes. And the app even provides built-in support for backing up and restoring your data from one device to another (iPhone to desktop) using WiFi connectivity.

The one feature that really makes HomeBudget stand out from its peers is the comprehensive documentation it provides its users. On their website, you’ll find loads of helpful PDF documents – from User Guides and FAQs to guides for specific operating systems and devices. You’ll even find well-illustrated documents for using the apps’ wide-ranging features, like Family Sync and Data Import.

The app is available for WindowsiPhone/iPadAndroidMac OS, and Kindle environments. HomeBudget is not free, but the relatively low cost for mobile devices ($4.99-$5.99 one-time) and desktop versions ($14.99-$19.99 per month) are worth it for this feature-packed app.

Pick 2: Honeydue

Honeydue is a neat budgeting app that couples can use to co-share the family’s money- management responsibility. It allows you to connect all your accounts – Bank, Credit Card, Loans – to the app. You can tag each of these accounts as either individual or joint – so you and your partner/spouse know at a glance where you stand with “ownership”. Categorize your transactions and even create custom classes for your expenses.

You can annotate transactions with notes that both you and your partner can view. This is a great feature that not only serves as a reminder for future recollection but also fosters relationship-building by communicating about your money.

If you are just starting out in a committed relationship, but haven’t yet taken the final step of merging your finances, this app provides you the ability to split expenses and keep tabs on who owes what to whom.  

All relationships harbor “secrets”, and Honeydue allows you to keep some accounts secret by hiding select accounts from your significant half – if that’s something that (both of) you want to do.

You can also set alerts and reminders that notify you and your partner so that you never miss out on a bill that’s due, or forget an upcoming expense. If you share responsibility for bill payment, you can also tag bills and invoices as paid, so you both know who has paid which bill and when.  

Honeydue is available free for iOS and Android devices.

Pick 3: BetterHaves

BetterHaves is a budgeting app that’s specifically designed for couples, but it also supports individuals in budgeting and tracking their money.  The app works using one of the oldest (before apps came around!) and most effective budgeting system: The envelope system.

Couples can use virtual envelopes to distribute their income and expenses into separate categories. This allows you to budget for specific events, such as entertainment, utilities, mortgage, dentist’s bills, and groceries. When you spend the money against each expense, the app withdraws the amount from its respective envelope, allowing you visibility into what’s left.   You can visually track where the money from each envelope is going.

This system reinforces good budgeting behavior because you’re forced to stop spending on specific discretionary items – like dining out or shopping – as soon as that envelope is empty. You can also use the app to tweak your budget to divert more money into the “savings envelope”.

Couples have visibility into their finances using separate individual or joint budget and expenditure dashboards.  Warning alerts and reminders help you stay on track with your budget while ensuring that you always deal with scheduled expenses in a timely manner.

While BetterHaves is a free app, the current version only works on and syncs between iPhones.

Pick 4: GoodBudget

GoodBudget, formerly known as EEBA (Easy Envelope Budget Aid) is another envelope-based budgeting app designed to help couples stay on track with their finances. If you and your partner are skeptical about the envelope budgeting approach, you should know that noted personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey swear by the envelope system – so it really does works!

The app revolves around the concept of digital envelopes that you create for various categories of expenses – Entertainment, Groceries etc. You can personalize your envelopes according to your lifestyle, and tie them to your credit or debit card. Each time you incur an expense, you record it against that envelope. The app then updates your income, expenses, and balances and shares them in real-time.

You create and manage all your envelopes in the cloud – on GoodBudget’s secure website. You (and your partner) can then sync your envelopes to your smartphone. When you are out spending – say, for groceries – you record it in the app and that expenses will automatically sync to your partner’s smartphone so he/she instantly knows how much money is now available in the “grocery envelope”.

The app is available for desktops and mobile devices. You can download the app for free for either Android or iOS devices. However, there are other premium features that only come with a paid version.

Pick 5: HoneyFi

For couples that aren’t too familiar with the budgeting process or those that just want a flying start on managing their finances, HoneyFi is probably for you. It automatically syncs household and individual bank accounts, credit cards, loan, and investment accounts to the app, saving you tones of time and effort from manually doing that.

The app syncs transactions between your bank and your device 3 to 4 times daily, or at minimum nightly. The best part of this app is the widespread network of financial institutions it supports – currently 10,000+ and growing!

Here’s the cool part. The app looks at your spending habits and based on what and how you’ve spent previously, it automatically recommends a household budget. You can then edit the budget and start tracking your spending immediately.

You can view and search your transactions across all linked accounts. And since communicating with your partner is the cornerstone of joint budgeting, the app allows you to do just that!  Quickly add notes, comments or tips and insights to a transaction and share it with your better half.

The app provides alerts and notifications on new transaction activity, as well as flags upcoming bill payments and other expenses. And if you are comfortable doing so, you may choose to only share specific transactions with each other – or hide some of them. This may be a desirable feature for couples in a trial relationship, or those who aren’t ready to share all their financial lives with each other – just yet!

To protect your sensitive data the app uses bank-level security and does not have access to your banking credentials.  Available as a free download, HoneyFi supports Apple and Android devices.

Pick 6: Zeta

Zeta is another free tool that helps you and your partner share the responsibility for money management. Built for couples, Zeta also allows you to determine whether you wish to manage a personal (non-shared) or household (joint) budget. It then manages and tracks both separately.

You can link multiple accounts to the app, and designate whether you wish to share the account or keep it as an individual account. The app then securely (using bank-grade security) syncs transactions from your financial institution and those accounts several times a day. It also syncs transactions from joint-designated accounts with your partner, while those designated as individual accounts stay hidden.  

The app allows couples to set up custom categories, split and track transactions, set-up shared and individual budgeting goals and manage them, and communicate with each other through memos and notes. It also comes with Bill Reminders so you’ll never miss bill payments or pay late fees for missed payments.  

Ideally, one partner would sign-up and then invite the other to join, allowing the app to link and share transactions from designated accounts. However, the app is flexible enough for individual sign-ups as well. You can then manage your accounts individually, and only share specific transactions with your partner.  

If you have bank accounts and credit cards linked to any financial institution in the U.S. or Canada, then chances are that Zeta will work for you. The app currently has established relationships with 10,000 plus institutions, including heavyweights like American Express, Bank of America, Chase and PayPal.

The free app is available for desktops and mobile devices supporting iOS and Android. The website also has a wealth of money coaching resources and games that couples can access for free.  

The Final Word

The apps reviewed here make co-managing money with others a breeze. By linking your checking and savings account you can take the stress out of budgeting and tracking your expenses manually. With the help of these apps, you’ll not only be able to collaborate better, but you’ll make more effective money management decisions – like agreeing on a cost-effective vacation or deferring the purchase of a new car – based on more financial transparency.

Can debt ruin your romance? We asked our viewers

Debt can be a deal breaker when it comes to relationships.

Well over half of the 2,761 respondents to our Yahoo Finance Love Money survey – 68% – said that any amount of debt would cause problems in their relationships.

“Couples that have a good financially healthy relationship feel free to talk what’s on their mind if something’s bothering them,” said Laura Fredericks, money expert and author of “The Ask.”

And couples are talking regularly — despite how uncomfortable it is. Forty percent of those surveyed said they talk about money once a week and more than half know their partner’s credit score.

Despite the baggage debt can bring into a relationship, 51% of respondents said they’d be willing to take on and help pay down what their partner owes. But it comes at a cost to the individual taking on more of the burden. Debt acquired in the course of a marriage, for example, can have the debt-free partner’s name associated with it and therefore penalize that his or her credit score. The partner who does take on the debt would probably not be able to save as much as they did before. And it could impact a couple’s ability to achieve milestones together like buying a house, a car, or even getting married.

With consumer debt reaching record highs, debt looms as a lasting implication when considering the future of a relationship. According to a recent WalletHub survey, 46% of respondents said they would break up with an irresponsible spender, and 53% wouldn’t marry someone with bad credit.

Reports have shown that partners do hide money from each other. In our survey, women say they hide money more than men do in relationships (34% vs. 23%), and this could be why women reportedly also feel more money guilt in relationships.

Guilt can also arise when one partner does all the buying in the relationship, says Laura Fredricks, author of “The Ask”. “If someone is continuing to pay for things there’s the expectation that they’ll just keep doing it – they enjoy it, you enjoy it – but suddenly you feel a little bit guilty.”

Secret accounts won’t likely help much in the event of a divorce. Part of any divorce lawyer’s due diligence is to look for hidden accounts.

Fredricks says that couples can sustain differences in their individual net worths, and that this won’t cause a problem if there’s consistent communication. “They can go on years and years and that’s fine, as long as there’s that transparent conversation,” she says.

More than half of our survey respondents said they felt on equal ground financially with their partner, though fewer women feel that way than men. It is common for partners to have disproportionate incomes or assets, but experts suggest that partners be wary that these imbalances don’t cross over into financial abuse.


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“When I was starting out [as an advisor], the general perception was that you, the financial planner, were the expert and had all the answers,” Robinson said. “Now, clients are much more, to their credit, intuitive and curious. They want to be educated and informed, not just told what to do.” Technology and open access to information, he said, is what’s facilitating the transition.

Couples’ money:how to manage finance, secret debt, pensions and the gender pay gap with your partner

Peter wheeled his new £1,000 mountain bike through the living room and past his wife to the back door.

Money was tight with three children so he splattered the bike in mud and told her it was a hand-me-down from his dad. With separate credit cards she was unaware of his financial infidelity.

Hiding debts from your partner is becoming more commonplace according to money experts at the investment firm Fidelity, with many millennials keeping accounts hidden.

In fact, recent research from the Prudential revealed that one in three people polled had built up secret savings.

  • 1/5

    Save the planet – and your pennies

    Don’t waste money on stuff you could get for free. All it takes is a little searching to join local sites such as Freecycle and Freegle. All across London people willingly give away used, but still quality items rather than see them added to landfill.

    Getty Images/Cultura RF

  • 2/5

    Go electronic

    Loyalty cards offer points which you exchange for money off or goods in the future. The Stocard app works with scores of retailers and will rid your wallet of all your plastic. To add your cards, select them on screen and either type in your card numbers or scan their barcodes. When shopping, you open the app, select the card you want and scan the barcode at the checkout. Easy, and free.

    Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • 3/5

    Switch your current account

    When it comes to banks, loyalty rarely pays. Instead, switching your account can give you a valuable cash bonus. HSBC’s Advance Account offers the biggest lump sum. If you can pay in £1,750 a month and pay out at least two direct debits, you will be credited with £150 after 30 days. Stay there for 12 months and you will receive another £50.

    Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • 4/5

    Switch energy suppliers

    You could save at least £200 by switching suppliers, according to gas and electricity regulator Ofgem. All you need is your postcode, a recent energy bill and a couple of spare minutes. Then in a few weeks, your supply will switch over seamlessly. If you are one of those who just can’t face the switching websites, you have an alternative: let Look After My Bills do it for you.

    Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • 5/5

    Use tech to save

    Saving is more difficult for those with fluctuating incomes. There’s a free app – called Chip – that links to 12 of the UK’s largest online bank accounts which does it for you. Chip works out how much you can afford to save without impacting your lifestyle, and puts away small amounts every few days into your new account hosted by Barclays.

    Shutterstock / Naresuan261

“This generation is getting married later so they are used to having personal control over money and the flexibility to buy without permission,” says Emma-Lou Montgomery, director at Fidelity.

Those who have seen their parents divorce may take comfort in “safe savings” or a “fall-back fund” separate from their other half in case the relationship breaks down, she explains.

Millennials have also lived through some seismic financial shocks, including 9/11, the global financial crisis and Brexit. “This makes them wary and means they have a tendency to stockpile,” says Richard Morris of investment advisers Killik Co.

Cards on the table

Being financially independent and financially open in a relationship should not be mutually exclusive. A bare-all debt date night with your partner is vital to plan safely and maximise your investment opportunities, adds Morris.

“Start with conversations about your debts and earnings. This entails complete honesty. Once you have tackled this, then you are on a really sound footing.” Fidelity’s Montgomery advises. 

“Knowing exactly what your financial position is, and what the financial position of your partner is, puts you in a stronger position when it comes to planning your future.

“If your spending has got a bit out of hand recently and both of you admit that’s the case, it can be a great relief to share that stress.”

When you both start to pull in your horns and save together, it takes a weight off both your minds, she adds. However, Montgomery does not recommend that you share details of all your spending. Some financial freedom is a good idea, she says, but it should be part of an overall combined plan.

You should both be completely clear on the details of your annual joint outgoings — household bills, holidays savings box, standing orders for memberships, household insurance, car insurance, everything.

If one person’s salary is far greater, then work out whether you should contribute different amounts to bills and the mortgage, in order to prevent resentment building up.

When it comes to money there is still gender stereotyping within relationships, especially if the woman has taken a career break or chooses not to work in order to raise children. Make sure the pension contributions of the carer are still being paid.

“It’s important that one person in the partnership does not take on the role of financial controller while the other remains in the dark,” says Montgomery.

“Money is a tricky topic when you’re in a loving place and it’s one of the main reasons why couples argue, so imagine how toxic it can become if a relationship ends and suddenly all sorts of unknown debts are thrown up.”

It’s deemed a smart move to open a credit card with a second cardholder. Should things turn sour, however, that can leave a lot of debt in one person’s name.

Mind the gender pay gap

Disparity between earnings, working part time to juggle childcare, being risk adverse to investment and relying on a partner’s wealth means that on average women retire with a pension income almost 40 per cent lower than men.

“This is the unknown gender pay gap,” says independent pensions adviser Stacy O’Sullivan. “Picture yourself at age 60 wanting to retire. You have nothing in the pension pot, your kids are still in their twenties and may need some support, your husband left you five years ago so all you have is your house.

“Don’t let that be your future. Have the conversation now and make sure there is provision for the future of the low- or non-earner.”

Join a workplace pension scheme while you are employed, says O’Sullivan, and if you are self-employed, set up a pension. If you leave work to bring up children, whoever is earning should continue to pay into their partner’s pension scheme. Pay in via a direct debit every month: “Don’t make it optional or you’ll never do it,” she says.

So how much is enough? “A good rule of thumb is 15 per cent of your earnings in your twenties and thirties. If you’ve not started by your late thirties, up it to 20 to 25 per cent.”

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3 money-management apps built for couples

Couple texting

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We know. There are all sorts of reasons to avoid sharing all of your financial transactions with your partner — beyond nefarious ones. There are the presents you want to keep as surprises. There are the questions you may want to avoid about this or that indulgence. There is also the general independence you may want over your earnings.

For some of us, joint bank accounts will never appeal; they’re laborious to undo. Already, there is some evidence that millennials — who are getting married later — prefer to have separate bank accounts from their partners more than past generations. But that’s only one more reason we’ll need help managing our money in pairs.

“Whether you like it or not, money will affect your relationship a lot,” says Sam Schultz, co-founder at Honeyfi. “It’s a leading cause of divorce, and it’s one of the biggest stressors on a relationship.”

In fact, 71 percent of the 500 millennial couples surveyed by Honeyfi said they feel stressed, overwhelmed, nervous, frustrated, and/or confused about saving for financial goals with their significant other.

But there is promising news for couples seeking to manage their money together without having to share a bank account or credit card: It’s an emerging area of interest among banks and fintech companies. Over the past couple of years, several built-for-two apps have popped up to help modern couples collaborate on their finances — with or without getting a joint bank account. While some, like Namu, are still under development, others are ready for download. Here’s the skinny on three of them.

1. Honeyfi

A couple of years ago, Schultz saw a gap in the market for financial tools built for two. Sure, there were joint accounts, but he thought couples needed something that didn’t require them to share an account to communicate about their money.

“We really thought there was an opportunity to help people make decisions and handle their finances the way they actually do it in real life,” Schultz says.

Honeyfi, founded in 2016, aims to do just that: It lets couples quickly create household budgets as well as receive alerts about upcoming bills and transactions. It also lets you comment on each other’s transactions the way you might on Venmo.

As Schultz sees it, the app is another option to managing money in a relationship without all the apprehension that a joint account could cause by revealing all of your transactions. “It’s uncomfortable feeling like you’re being watched,” he says.

That’s also why Honeyfi lets you control what you share through the app. You can share some of your bank accounts, but not all of them. You can also just share your bank balance — and opt out of revealing your transactions.

So far, Schultz says most app users are millennials who are pretty comfortable sharing most, but not all, of their accounts.

Cost: Free to download. Requires you to share your bank data.

2. Honeydue

Eugene Park knew there had to be a better way for couples to ask each other questions about transactions beyond sending screenshots of a mysterious purchase to one another.

“We thought, ‘Wow, that is so ridiculous,’” Park says. “We can build simple, collaborative features that allow couples to communicate with the same question without having to use (several) apps.”

In 2016, he founded Honeydue — another app for couples seeking to collaborate on money matters. Like Honeyfi, you’ll link your financial accounts on Honeydue. Then, you can use the app to make comments on a specific transaction much like you might make a comment on an Instagram post. If you share an account, the question might be: Is this your transaction or is it fraud?

Through the app, you can also set up budgets, set household spending limits as well as send a thumbs-up — or another emoji — to give your partner feedback. You can also pepper in privacy settings, including hiding transactions or limiting what data your partner can see. Perhaps you only share your bank balance, for instance.

Like Honeyfi, Honeydue’s typical users are millennial couples.

Cost: Free to download for iOS and Android. You choose what’s fair to pay — including $0. You will supply the app with your bank data.

3. Twine

Twine is a robo-adviser and personal finance tool under the umbrella of life insurance titan John Hancock. The big idea of the app is to help pairs work together on what often seems daunting: saving or investing at a time when most Americans struggle with money, coupled or not.

To start saving together on Twine, you will link your bank data to the app and establish shared goals, like saving for a wedding or making a down payment on a house. Then, you will select an investment portfolio or opt to save toward the goal in cash. While you and your partner will make contributions to shared goals, you are both opening accounts.

Steve Dorval, Twine’s CEO, says the experience creates an opportunity for couples to engage in a conversation about money, a subject still often considered taboo. As he sees it, the app is particularly effective for people who are just starting to think about how to patch their financial lives together, such as a newly engaged couple. “This is the way to dip their toe into the water,” Dorval says.

The majority of its users are in relationship. But if you’re single, the app still has utility: You can create individual goals. Over time, Dorval says he hopes the app is used in all kinds of relationships, including friends who have a mutual goal.

On Twine, you will earn 0.95 percent variable interest on your deposits held at an FDIC-insured sweep vehicle — it’s not an eye-popping rate, but it’s better than what many big banks pay.

If you open an investment account through Twine, you will be investing in a series of funds that are targeted toward your time horizon and risk profile. Remember, this is an investment account; therefore, it could lose value depending on market conditions.

Cost: If you’re investing on Twine, you will pay $0.25 per month or $3 per year for every $500 you invest. You can save in cash for free.

Caution in using these apps: Avoid overwhelming your partner

It wouldn’t be surprising to find one partner leading the charge on managing money in the relationship. Stay mindful of tensions that could present themselves while using these kinds of collaboration apps. Your partner may want to keep close tabs on transactions, but you may view that behavior as too controlling.

It’s a risk. But the greater risk, as the startup execs see it, is waiting to engage with your partner on important financial discussions, such as whopping student debt.

“Like with many things,” Honeyfi’s Schultz says, “they don’t get better by ignoring them.”

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