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Managing your money in relationships that go against the norm

Intimate relationships impact how we manage our money — and when more people are involved, the more complex it can be. Learn to navigate your finances through different relationship constellations.

5 min read

From close friendships to family bonds, the relationships we’re in can affect how we manage our money. But when it comes to intimate partnerships, there’s actually no one-size-fits-all model. These days, many people are embracing different kinds of relationship models, such as polyamorous pairings or blended families. Different relationship structures can enrich our lives in countless ways — but just like with anything else, things can get sticky when money is involved. 

In this article we’re diving deep into various types of relationship models to explore how they can impact your finances, and what you can do to manage your money within them. 

The financial ins-and-outs of ethical non-monogamy

Ethical non-monogamy is an umbrella term for a whole variety of relationship structures. In essence, it means that you can have intimate and meaningful connections with more than one person at the same time. Here’s are a few common types of non-monogamous models:

  • Open relationships
  • Polyamory
  • Polyfidelity
  • Solo polyamory
  • Hierarchical polyamory
  • Relationship anarchy
  • “Monogamish”

Some of these non-monogamous structures involve having a primary partner, with one partner taking priority over other relationships, or one or more nesting partners, wherein a polyamorous couple or group live together. These two models are likely to have different financial implications than relationship structures like solo polyamory, polyfidelity, or relationship anarchy, where finances are usually less enmeshed.

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Managing finances with primary or nesting partners 

In a primary or nesting relationship, many of the “classic” financial challenges apply, especially when cohabiting. Creating a household budget, working out how to split bills fairly, and contributing to any shared long-term savings goals are all important topics to discuss.

However, a more unique financial consideration is working out how much money should be spent on any additional partners outside of the primary or nesting relationship. If finances are shared in a joint account, a discussion about this could be especially pressing.

Even if a primary or nested couple keep independent bank accounts, certain scenarios can impact any shared financial goals. For example, if one partner is in a long-distance relationship with another person and needs to spend a significant amount on travel, this could impact the amount they can contribute to shared financial goals. 

Like all relationships, the key is communication. Openly discussing any financial realities and constraints can help you find solutions and compromises that work for everyone.

Solo polyamory, polyfidelity, and relationship anarchy 

People who choose solo polyamory, polyfidelity, or relationship anarchy often don’t have a primary partner — although that’s not a given. In case you're not familiar with these terms, here are loose definitions of these relationship styles:

  • Solo polyamory: Individuals who engage in multiple intimate relationships without having a primary partner.
  • Polyfidelity: All romantic activity exclusively happens within a group of equal, committed partners.
  • Relationship anarchy: Traditional relationship rules and expectations are challenged and uniquely defined by the people in the relationship, with a strong emphasis on autonomy and non-hierarchy.

Navigating finances within these models varies from relationship to relationship, but there are a few topics worth considering. For example, as a solo polyamorist, you might find yourself juggling multiple savings goals between partners or budgeting to engage in shared hobbies

For those in a polyfidelity group relationship, they might need to talk about ways to fairly contribute to joint expenditures, or how to deal with feelings of financial inferiority if not all group members are earning equally. In these cases, listening and navigating these conversations without judgement is key. Meanwhile, relationship anarchists may want to reflect specifically on financial rules and expectations. This can help you develop a clear, critical view of what your authentic financial boundaries and needs are.

Blended family finances

A blended family is created when one or more people with children from previous relationships combine into a new family unit. Blended families often come with unique financial implications, including:

  • Child or spousal support: Legal financial obligations from previous relationships may cause financial strain on the newly formed blended family if not managed thoughtfully.
  • Child-related savings goals: What happens to savings goals from a previous relationship, such as saving for college funds, once a new blended family is formed? What new goals do you need to set now that the family structure looks different?   
  • Inheritance: There are important decisions about what happens to any assets and finances if one or more partners die. For example, do all children in the blended family inherit equally, or will wealth be distributed differently?

With blended families, it’s usually best to create an entirely new financial approach rather than reverting to models that worked in previous relationships. This could mean creating a family budget, saving up for an emergency fund, and deciding on shared financial goals together. It takes open communication and a willingness to discuss some sensitive topics, but it will help prevent conflicts later on. 

Jumping into joint savings 

Once financial expectations and goals are clearly communicated, it may make sense for some blended families to open joint savings accounts. These accounts can be used to pay for shared expenses such as rent, bills, childcare costs, and groceries. Having a joint account can make family budgeting simpler because you can see all household expenditures in one place. Plus, joint accounts can also make saving for shared financial goals more straightforward and rewarding as you watch your combined savings grow over time.

However, having a joint account doesn’t mean forgoing individual savings goals. As long as money is transferred into the shared account as agreed, everyone can maintain their own personal accounts and individual goals in a way that best fits your situation.

Your unique relationship at N26

Whatever your relationship style, N26 gives you the flexibility to manage your money the way if best fits your life. Whether that means creating joint savings accounts, gaining greater insights into your spending habits, or being able to send money to a partner instantly, we’ve got you covered. Find the right account for you.

By N26

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