A Better Way For Couples To Manage Shared Funds

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adding money to a piggy bank
A pre-paid, re-loadable card may be the perfect money management tool for your relationship.

The honeymoon phase of a relationship is easy to coast through—there's little to argue about while relishing in a new romance. Once a couple settles down, however, arguments are a bit more likely. And, more often than not, many of these spats center around one big issue: money.

As if managing funds while flying solo wasn't difficult enough, adding a partner into the mix complicates things even further. Balancing a budget when it comes from two different accounts requires patience and—if a 50/50 spending split is the goal—a tedious tally. Joint accounts are useful, but watching the money dwindle down after the mortgage payment goes through and the groceries are bought leaves little opportunity for those "just because” flowers and chocolate. Who has the money for that, right?

As a late twentysomething, I've seen my fair share of former classmates rush into marriage only to watch it crumble when they couldn't tackle budgetary issues. Though I'm not married myself, I am in a serious relationship, and money is something constantly on our radar as we plan for our future (and what we'll eat for dinner this weekend).

What my boyfriend and I need is a way to share funds in an organized way that doesn't require us to rush into opening a joint account. We manage things fine now, but still do that awkward, "So, are you paying for this or am I?" dance when it comes to certain expenses.

Which is why I like this new concept I've stumbled across: a prepaid, reloadable card that functions just like a debit card. Fifth Third Bank offers one called "Access 360"; the fees are low, the minimum balances are low and users can't exceed their spending limit. It's perfect for couples: shared funds can be easily managed, budgets followed and awkwardness avoided with the stability of the account.

This sounds like a win-win for my current relationship. Though the only huge purchase in our future is a trip to the Bahamas (see you next June, sweet vacation), such a card could easily be used to book our getaway online—no payment split between debit cards necessary. For day-to-day use (groceries, dining out, miscellaneous expenses), it's more secure than cash and allows for a bit of recordkeeping, if necessary.

The way I see it, a card like Access 360 from Fifth Third Bank helps alleviate the stress that money can cause in a relationship, leaving plenty of room for more pleasant conversations, like what resort my boyfriend and I will stay in once we reach the Bahamas.

Brought to you in partnership with Fifth Third Bank.

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