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    Don’t Let Money Come Between You and Your Partner

    By Brandon Miller, CFP–

    It’s Gay Pride month again, the time when our wonderful city is festooned with lovely rainbow flags. This always makes me happy—and not just because I get to use the fun word festooned. Gay Pride reminds me of how far we have come as a community.

    As a financial advisor who has specialized in serving LGBTQ clients for nearly 20 years, I’ve been privileged to have a front-row seat for the ways that greater acceptance and changing laws benefit same-sex couples. But one thing that hasn’t changed is how hard it is for couples (or throuples) to talk about money.

    For some reason, money is a bit of a taboo subject. People will share every detail of their love life with friends, but not what they earn, spend, save, or heaven forbid, what they owe. So, I guess it’s not all that surprising that years of being closeted about finances makes people reluctant to open up even to their partners.

    But remember, when it comes to handling money together, you are sharing something with someone you love. You should be able to be open about what you want, hear what they want, and prioritize your relationship over money.

    It also might be helpful to view yourselves as a threesome—a “you,” a “me” and an “us.” Acknowledging that you’re an individual and part of a unit at the same time can help you to manage your money to the benefit of everyone. Say only one of you enjoys traveling. If your money plans only cover joint goals, obviously that won’t be one of them. But if your plans take into account what all three of you want, you’ll likely be much happier.

    Here are a few other suggestions on how to get you and your partner(s) on the same page about money.

    Be honest with each other.

    This might seem glaringly obvious, but hiding purchases and debts from your partner is not only bad for your relationship, but also it makes it difficult to get a true picture of your finances.

    Let each other know about any baggage or bad habits that you have, as well as how you feel about money and why. For example, one partner may save every cent because they were raised by a single mom who constantly struggled to make ends meet. The other partner may have lost a close friend in high school, so spending like there’s no tomorrow is their financial philosophy. Understanding each other’s point of view can help you to develop a solution that works for the two of you.

    Pool your money together into joint and individual accounts.

    This builds off my 1+1=3 philosophy and is one of the most successful strategies that I get my clients to use. The idea is to take all of the money that you earn as a couple, deduct what you need each month for living expenses, and then split the leftover amount between partners to spend however they wish. For example, if you bring in $10k a month and need $8k to live on, you deposit the $8k into a joint account and $1k each in your individual accounts.

    I can’t tell you how many issues this helps to solve. First off, it allows for some autonomy, since your partner gets no say in how you choose to use your “individual” money. Spenders can go to town with theirs, while savers can squirrel away their portion. It also gets rid of power dynamics when one partner makes significantly more than the other.

    Develop financial goals together.

    If you both agree on how much you should spend and how much to save, you’re more likely to stick with the plan. You can each write down what you want your money to accomplish, and then compare the two lists to see where you agree and where you need to make compromises.

    Make a monthly date to review your finances.

    Who says a candlelit dinner and credit card bill don’t go together? Make it fun to review your previous month’s expenses. Celebrate if you stayed on budget. And if you went over budget, well, someone might need to get spanked.

    The more honestly and often that you and your partner talk about money, the fewer fights that you’ll likely have caused by misunderstandings or resentment. And having a happier, healthier relationship seems like a perfect way to celebrate Gay Pride.

    Brio Financial Group is a registered investment adviser. SEC Registration does not constitute an endorsement of Brio by the SEC nor does it indicate that Brio has attained a particular level of skill or ability. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Brio Financial Group and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Brio Financial Group unless a client service agreement is in place.

    Brandon Miller, CFP®, is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.