Skip to main content

It worked for us: How we combined finances to eliminate debt and reach our goals together

ANJIE AND RJ, FOUNDERS OF RICH BY INTENTION  • Jan. 13, 2023 • 7 min read

Making the decision to combine finances with your partner is not always easy. The very first step all couples should take before combining your finances is to ensure you are on the same page about money.

Arguments over money can be a serious pain point. Many couples do not have the awkward, sometimes difficult and transparent conversation about money while dating, which can lead to unresolved tension during relationships. 

When we got married in 2017, we didn't want money issues to be a source of stress and conflict in our marriage. So, the day after we got back from our honeymoon, we decided to take action and create a plan to eliminate our 6-figure student loan debt for good.  

When we initially mapped out our plan, we thought it would take us close to four years to pay back our loans. We never imagined it would only take us one year to pay them off in full. How did we pay it down so quickly? I would say it was because we were on the same page about our money goals. We got laser-focused and worked as a team to create a budget , reduce our expenses and eventually increase our incomes.  

We refused to let our student loans become an anchor in our journey as husband and wife and impact our financial future together. So, we wanted to share some tips on how you can get on the same page with your partner.

Establish a common vision, values and goals

A vision helps you determine what you want your future to look like. Casting your vision for your money is an important step before setting your goals. Understanding how your partner values money gives you insight into their decision-making with money. Once you each have an idea of what your values are individually, work together to create the values that will guide your money goals and decisions together.

You both need to be moving in the same direction. Imagine if one of you was pulling while the other was pushing? You wouldn't gain much progress, would you? Two is better than one when trying to achieve a goal. Make it a habit to check in on your goals frequently. Post them somewhere both you and your partner can see them often and discuss them.

You will reach your goals quicker, and you will achieve more than you thought was possible if you work as a team.

Get educated about money together

Now that you have established your common vision, values and goals for your money, think about what areas of money management you can each learn more about together. If you are more knowledgeable about an area of personal finance, what resources can you share with your partner? 

Sharing and discussing your thoughts, opinions and ideas about the topics you are learning can help you gain a new understanding of your partner's relationship with money. Take time to read the same books, listen to the same podcasts and consume the same content so you are on the learning journey as a team.

Communicate openly about money

Important questions about money should be discussed well before your wedding day. Will you combine your bank accounts? How would you handle emergency expenses? How much debt do you have? Do you budget your money? Communication is key in any relationship, so being able to have open, honest, and even vulnerable conversations with your partner in a safe space will only help to strengthen your bond. 

This isn’t an opportunity to condemn or shame your partner for any past money mistakes or how they view money but an opportunity to help your partner learn more about your relationship with money and find common ground. A lot of us have past money traumas from our childhood that our partners may not even be aware of. Be honest with each other about how you spend money and how you feel about money. 

Hold regular money date nights

Scheduling time to discuss money with your spouse is a vital step to ensuring you both are on the same page when it comes to your finances. Talking about money doesn't have to be boring. Make it fun by pouring your favorite glass of wine, getting some food, cuddling up next to each other and dreaming together. Start your money date night by reflecting on your common vision, values and goals for your money. This will guide your conversation as you review your budget, expenses and investments.

Find a system to organize and manage your money that works for your relationship

A way we found that helps us manage our finances and keep all our money in order is using our different bank accounts for specific purposes. Here is a breakdown of our various accounts: 

  • Deposit Account - This is the account where all our income is deposited into. No expenses are taken out of this account.

  • Bills Account - This is the account our bills are paid from, such as our rent payment, utilities, car payments, car insurance, etc. 

  • Emergency Fund Account - We recommend saving at least 3 to 6 months of expenses in this account and ensuring it is easily accessible in a high yield savings account. Remember, only access this money in case of a true emergency.

  • Sinking Fund Account - We use this account to save for something in the short-term like a vacation, car repairs, home maintenance, etc. Some banks allow you to open several savings accounts with no additional fees.

  • Allowance or Spend Account - An allowance or spend account gives you the freedom to spend your money and not worry about how it will affect your budget. Anyone can benefit from setting a specific amount each month to spend freely and not worry if you will have enough money for your bills. When creating your budget, determine how much to allocate for spending on things like clothes, coffees, dinners with friends, gadgets and more, and dedicate that money to this account. 

Remember you are on the same team 

We know this can be challenging some days, but this is the most important of all the tips we’ve shared so far. If you are against each other, you will not make progress. Your spouse is NOT your opponent. You must move in the same direction, together, as one. You will reach your goals quicker, and you will achieve more than you thought was possible if you work as a team. 

Here are a few things you both can do: 

  • Cheer each other on

  • Give grace

  • Speak with respect

  • Celebrate small & big wins

  • Find compromise instead of feeding conflict

  • Remember why you chose your partner

Joining finances in marriage is an important step and should be considered thoughtfully with your partner. Have the tough conversations early and often so that when the time comes to combine your finances you are both on the same page about your money and future. 

Anjie and RJ are a millennial, married couple and the founders of Rich by Intention, a platform to help married couples manage money and everyday life with intention. They are hosts of the award-winning podcast, Rich by Intention, where they share the stories of powerful and ambitious people to inspire listeners to take action to build the life they desire. After paying off $123K of student loan debt in a year, they are now on a path to financial freedom. Their story has been featured by numerous national media outlets. Learn more

Explore more

Save Home Budget

Read next