Love is grand. Love and money — eh, that's a little less grand. Hell, most of the time it's super complicated. Talking about your finances with your partner — whether you're quibbling over who paid for dinner last or deciding to make a big purchase — can be super stressful. And things get even more complicated when you start living together. When, how, and why you choose to combine your money is a tough decision, and every couple handles it differently.
While your friends and family will offer you plenty of dating advice, we tend to be less forthcoming with information about money management. And it's not so simple as just copying our parents. We're coming of age in a very different time: We’re the first group in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than our parents and grandparents had at the same stage of their lives. But it’s not all bad news. With more women working than ever before, 80% of millennials report being part of a dual-income couple. And we’ve found new ways to cobble together a living wage, with 38% of people under 35 relying on freelance work to contribute to their income.
So if you're not using your parents model for managing money, and you probably shouldn't demand to see your friends’ bank statements or 401(k) contributions, where do you go for real info? Well, we did the legwork for you, rounding up four young couples* — all somewhere between marriage and kids — who were willing to share the details of how they make their money work, individually, and as a unit. To help make the conversation as educational as possible, we asked Priya Malani, a financial planner and founder of Stash Wealth, to provide advice for each pair that’s also widely applicable.
*Names have been changed.