Firstly, let’s normalise talking about money in romantic relationships. Unique financial challenges faced by queer couples, such as legal and societal disparities, require thoughtful planning and open communication. Here are some strategies for equitable budgeting between you and your partner that can help build a strong financial foundation for a shared future.
Open and Honest Communication
Establish a safe and non-judgmental space to discuss financial goals, values, and concerns. This dialogue is essential for understanding each other's financial backgrounds and developing a shared vision for the future. Learn each other’s trigger points and strengths. Easier said than done, but if we take small steps together, we can discover new ways to support and be supported by our significant others.
Equal Contribution or Proportional Sharing
Equity doesn’t mean 50/50. If you’re earning £20k a year and your partner is earning £35k, equity doesn’t mean you have to always pay half each. Choose to contribute to shared expenses equally or proportionally based on your respective incomes. This approach ensures that each partner's financial situation is considered, and it can help reduce financial stress and resentment. Feel like you can’t match your partner’s spending? Say so. Feel like you’re always covering your partner’s bills? Say so. These are everyday concerns that every relationship will, at some point, have to navigate. Choose your words kindly and with a position of mutual growth.
Emergency Funds and Savings Goals
A golden rule of finances is to pay off debt (assuming you have to pay interest) before saving. Even if you aren’t yet ready to start saving, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for it. Financial independence can seem like a fantasy to many, especially when the cost of living keeps rising, when we have to manage mental health and wellbeing, and a host of other things that result in a common truth for so many: there is always more month than money. Some of the practical joys of committed relationships are not only sharing the costs but also keeping each other accountable. Have realistic goals that aren’t so daunting. Start small and expand as you go.
Retirement planning is crucial for all couples, and queer couples should explore their options for retirement accounts and benefits. Consult with a financial advisor to develop a retirement strategy that aligns with your goals and provides security for both of you. We have written before on finding queer/ally financial advisors.
Tax and Financial Benefits
Queer couples should research and understand the tax and financial benefits available to them based on their relationship status. Tax laws and benefits can vary significantly from one location to another, so it's essential to stay informed and take advantage of any available benefits. Here is a resource for those based in the UK.
Separate and Joint Accounts
Couples can maintain separate bank accounts for personal expenses and have a joint account for shared expenses. This allows for financial independence while ensuring that essential bills and financial goals are covered. A joint account has the added benefit of acting as proof of relationship should you or your partner need to apply for visas.
Regular Financial Check-Ins
Money is emotional. So find a time that suits you both. If you feel like your partner is resistant to talking about money or going over goals, ask them how you can support them, or when they feel most in control of their finances, and don’t be afraid to share that this is important to you and that you need their emotional investment in money management to feel safe.