money & coupleTerry and I are a team both at work and at home. I cook the meals. He cleans the dishes. I groom the dog. He walks her. I call attention to spiders, slimy things and runny toilets. He makes it all disappear.

Couples tend to fall comfortably into partnerships. Yet, when it comes to couples and expenses, the roles and rules aren’t always clear. So, how do you split the bill without tearing apart the romance?

Here are some suggestions:

1) Decide who pays what bills and then each of you can deposit your designated payments into a joint account.

Easier still is to set up pre-authorized debit plans for each bill. If you get an ATM card, you can even get the bank to program it for deposits only, no withdrawals.

2) Apply for loans and credit cards separately so that you’re each responsible for your own debts and credit ratings.

While couples often ask me about splitting expenses, I’m asked just as frequently about combining finances.

Personally, I’m for it. Clients who do usually fare better simply because, in effect, you combine forces. Should you separate, money accumulated during the relationship is usually treated as “family assets” and dividable anyway.

One exception: in the case of second marriages late in life, when children are on their own and independent, have a good co-habitation agreement or marriage contract.

The most important advice I can give to couples managing finances together is this: identify and work with each other’s strengths and weakness, keeping dialogue open, non-judgmental and ongoing. Also, don’t forget that Terry and I are always available for consultations.