So you’re in a happy, healthy relationship, and you’re starting to become a huge part of each other’s lives. You both attend one another’s family gatherings, and are ever-present in each other's barkada get-togethers. Things are getting serious and it is but normal for couples to consider their finances as the relationship deepens. Your question is, should you and your boyfriend/girlfriend pool your funds together towards your future?

Eight couples give their two cents’ worth.

Thanks, But No Thanks
Nica and Migs did try setting up a joint account, but only four to five years into their relationship, yet they eventually reverted to handling their own funds. They kept a joint account for about two years, but found that it wasn’t their cup of tea. Admittedly, it did become reason for some arguments, especially regarding money being spent. Eventually they both decided that they were better off keeping separate accounts. Nica shares, "Besides, it’s very empowering for a woman to be able to stabilize herself financially."

Not a Joint Account, But a Condo
Ingrid may not have opened a joint account with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, but they did invest in a condominium unit together even pre-engagement. She dishes, "I would only recommend it if you're already at that point in your relationship that you're seriously talking about your life goals with each other. Yung mga where would we live, what can we do to earn more money, etc. yung serious talk, hindi yung parang wishful thinking lang." She also recommends being involved in the investment so that both parties are aware of what is happening with the business/property/money. "Talk about the real life situations first, before anything else, because those conversations can show you a side of him/her you might not have seen before."

An Issue of Trust
Kassy, on the other hand, does not encourage opening a joint account if the couple isn’t married. "Been there (with a former boyfriend) and I wish I never did it! The trust between two people when you're just dating is not sufficient enough. I believe that the only time you do this is when you're married." She and her husband opened a joint account when they were engaged. But even then, Kassy advises that it would be good to still keep separate accounts on top of the joint one. The shared finances went to paying the bills and necessities, but they kept personal finances that they could dip into whenever they wanted anything for themselves or for leisure.

Individual Baskets
Rae and Myk also once opened an account together as boyfriend-girlfriend, with the sole purpose of saving up for their wedding and to put up a business, but like Nica, Rae feels that women need to have financial independence. It was part of the transition in preparation for married life. But, as with Kassy, they did not pool all their money into that one account. They still maintained their own. "For couples who want to try it, go ahead, but you should not be tied to that one account. If you’re not married yet, it can be your way of trying things out."

For Personal Savings
Eka would fork over a certain amount of money to her boyfriend, primarily so that she could save. He is better at finances so she seeks his help in spending decisions. She is comfortable leaving money with him, and is confident that he will safe keep her share of the funds, but she doesn’t recommend this to others if the relationship is still new. "Talk about what the purpose of the account is, how much each one is expected to contribute per month and what will happen should a break-up occur."

Hidden Charges
Kamini’s experience wasn’t so pleasant. She had shared an account with her fiancé, but then the wedding was called off. Money was never an issue during the relationship, but an issue did arise post-breakup. She had asked him to withdraw his contribution so that only hers would be left, only to find out later on that his credit card was enrolled for auto payment, so there were deductions made against her money. "At first I thought it (having a joint account) was alright. But then I realized that it is not necessary for unmarried couples. You can still both save even if you have two separate accounts. It's just a matter of setting priorities."

Wedding Prep
Maria and Bernardo, also shared an account (hers) together a month after they got engaged, also to save up for the wedding, depositing a set amount each month. "We never had doubts about using one account. I remember, Bernardo very generously offered to ‘use’ some of the wedding funds when Papa passed away unexpectedly. Of course, I paid it all back."

A Nasty Surprise
Jenny shared an account with her fiancé, but it wasn’t until his untimely death that she found out about his real money situation. "It's important to know their financial situation if you plan to get married. The last thing you want is to find out you have a bunch of debt because of the other person – USD25,000! And three other women on the side."

Christina Steinorth MA MFT, a psychotherapist and relationship expert tells EHarmony that it’s best to wait about a year before pooling any finances together. A year should be a sufficient amount of time to get to know someone, as well as their habits. It would be wise to discuss financial philosophies, and to agree on spending limits. Talk about the nitty gritties of your separate finances and how it will impact your shared one. Does he/she have outstanding loans or debts that you need to know about? Set ground rules for when to withdraw money, how much at a time and if and when it should be paid back.

Sun Life of Canada Phils. Inc Financial Advisor Yolanda Roque advises unmarried couples who wish to share an account to open an "And Only" joint account, not an "And/Or," to ensure that both parties are aware of any movements in the account. "And Only" accounts need the signatures of both account holders before a withdrawal can be made.

Whether or not a couple should share an account depends on where their relationship level is at and how comfortable each one is with the idea of sharing finances. Open communication lines, and take the time to mull over the pros and cons. Although money can be a sensitive and difficult topic to broach, it is necessary to ensure that both parties are going into the decision eyes wide open. Trust your gut. If something about the whole thing makes you uncomfortable, delay the big step for a later time, when both are more at ease with the move. But keep in mind that unmarried couples don’t have legal standing as married couples do, so combine finances at your own risk.

PHOTO: Pixabay; GIFS: Giphy

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