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Created on 17.01.2019

Managing a budget as a couple – how to make sure money doesn’t get in the way of love

When a couple move in and start to run a household together, this marks a new chapter in their lives and relationship. There are so many new things to discover and experience together. There are also new challenges to be faced. To avoid money and your budget becoming an issue, we provide some practical advice in this article.

An old Swiss saying suggests that love and money do not mix. That’s not entirely without foundation – money is one of the most common causes of arguments between couples. That is why it’s so important for you to plan your finances properly together and discuss your individual expectations. The issue usually festers away under the surface for a while before causing arguments. Not everyone shares the same ideals – there’ll always be things that are more important to your partner than to you.

A budget can be a very good way of establishing individual expectations with regard to financial outgoings in a relationship. This might rarely be needed when things are going well. But later on when somebody feels overlooked, harmony in a relationship can be quickly restored by working out a budget together.

Your budget as a couple will include these outgoings:

The first step in obtaining a financial overview is to list ongoing costs. In a joint household – whether it’s a couple or a family – there are fixed costs which are incurred monthly or annually. They can be easily planned. In addition, there are variable costs which you should discuss as a couple and are equally – or particularly – important.

Your budget should definitely contain these items:

Joint fixed costs

  • Joint rent or mortgage interest and repayments
  • Running costs: heating, electricity and water, internet access, TV subscription, streaming subscriptions (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Video, Spotify, Apple Music etc.), radio and television fees (previously Billag, from 2019 “Serafe”)
  • Insurance policies (household insurance, but also travel cancellation insurance, for example)
  • Taxes (for married couples or persons living in partnerships)

Other variable expenses

  • Food and other household expenses (e.g. washing powder)
  • Joint activities and restaurant visits
  • Joint holidays
  • Special occasions, such as engagements, weddings, moving home or the birth of children
  • Gifts
  • Saving (e.g. for joint big-ticket items or events – car, furniture etc.)
When working out your budget, you should also list your income and compare it with annual costs. How much is left over for individual outgoings (for example, meals, your own hobbies, public transport or motoring costs, saving for the pillar 3a pension plan)?

How to deal with situations where one partner earns more

Couples’ budgets are just as individual as they are themselves. They differ from one couple to the next and depend on your current financial situation. When your salary goes up and you have more disposable income, your lifestyle also changes.

If one partner earns more than the other, special agreements may need to be made. Does the higher-earning partner support the other by covering more than half of their expenses? This is definitely an issue that needs to be discussed – don’t shy away from expressing how you feel.

Separate finances or a joint account?

Have you considered whether to keep separate accounts as a couple or, alternatively, to set up a joint account for shared outgoings? If you choose the latter option, as a PostFinance customer, you have a complete overview of your outgoings at all times via e-finance. You can check on your joint outgoings and account transactions in just a few clicks. If you’d prefer to keep separate accounts, an app like The link will open in a new window Splitwise can help to keep tabs on things.

Get yourself organized and discuss your budget

Regardless of how you decide on organizing your finances, you should discuss your budget and personal expectations. Take advantage of the opportunity to get well organized as a couple. Clever digital tools are now available which make managing your everyday finances easier.

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