Personal finance

This Is the No. 1 Thing to Do to Maintain Financial Independence in a Long-Term Relationship, Advisor Says


Four in five Americans believe that women stay in unhappy relationships due to lack of financial independence, according to data from Bumble's State of the Nation 2023 survey.

If independence is important to you, it would be wise to maintain some financial distance from your partner, whether or not you feel your relationship is on shaky ground. 

"If your value system is to be able to be independent, then you've got to create that independence," said Mark La Spisa, a certified financial planner and president of Vermilion Financial. 

One money move you can make to guarantee your autonomy: Don't combine bank accounts.

Use the 'three-account method'

Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean all your money should be deposited in the same account. Instead, use the "three-account method," La Spisa said.

This means you and your partner each maintain a separate bank account and open a third one into which you both contribute an agreed-upon amount. 

This, he said, is the No. 1 way to guarantee that you can "walk away at any time." 

More tips for maintaining financial independence

Having your own credit cards is also important, La Spisa said. Any new housing you apply to will likely want to run a credit check, and you don't want a neglected credit score to hold you back. 

"You've got to keep your credit score up," he said. 

There are some mental adjustments you should take into account, too. 

"People are willing to sacrifice their happiness, in a lot of cases, for security or for stuff," La Spisa said. "They'll put up with unhappiness in the name of holding on to a lifestyle they potentially couldn't afford." 

Familiarize yourself with what your life would look like without your partner's income by creating a "before-and-after budget," La Spisa said. How much money would you have for rent? How many times a month would you be able to go out to eat? Would you be able to vacation as often?

Asking yourself these questions can help you visualize how your life might change if you were to rely only on what you earn.

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