A couple of years ago, we looked for an app that would allow us to keep an eye on each other’s accounts and understand our overall financial picture without making all our bank accounts and credit cards joint.
I’d read about the concept of a “financial threeway” in Manisha Thakor’s book “On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance.” We both liked the concept of yours, mine, and ours since we’d spent our 20s managing our money separately before we got together.
Because of that, we wanted to maintain some autonomy even while working toward shared financial goals such as buying a house and saving for vacations.
For example, what good is it if we’re both paying for Netflix or other expenses we could share?
Apps tailored to the needs of couples
At the time, we found plenty of budgeting and saving apps but none specifically addressed this need. With most of these apps, we found that if your name isn’t on the account, you can’t add it to your dashboard.
But we heard about an app called Honeyfi (available for iOS or Android) that addresses this pain point.
So, I did a little more digging and uncovered Honeydue (available for iOS or Android).
When I asked around for other examples on social media, I got some skepticism in response.
Why can’t couples just use one of the budgeting apps that already exist for individuals?
Others wondered: Do they really need a special app?
Yes! I insisted. Budgeting as a couple isn’t the same as solo budgeting.
How couples handle budgeting
Issues such as financial infidelity and lack of transparency in your relationship around money can be marriage killers. “We love these apps so much because it takes that out of play,” he says.
Money disputes are a leading cause of divorce even for high-earning couples, so both people need to get on the same page.
“One person says brew coffee at home for 25 cents, and the other says I can’t live without my Starbucks,” Simple things like that are tear money relationships apart.
Apps like Honeydue and Honeyfi promote communication around spending decisions. Both allow you to sync credit cards and bank accounts to your dashboard, mark them as joint or individual and choose if you want your partner to see transactions, balances, or both.
Viewing balances but not transactions or blocking certain transactions might be helpful for the account you use to buy gifts for your partner, for instance. In both apps, you and your partner can comment on each transaction, opening up the lines of communication around money.
Both parties must work together
While we support these apps and the communication they foster, we must also stress that both partners must be on board.
We are seeing couples fight now about the fact that one person is committed to the app, and the other person isn’t committed to the app.
If you’re more gung-ho about it, don’t bring up transactions or questions at every opportunity, because that’s likely to annoy your partner. Instead, she suggests setting aside time once a week or once a month to discuss financial matters in real life.
It is also important to read app reviews and choose a trusted app that will fit your needs.
Where do you struggle the most as a couple, and what are your money goals? Those two things are absolutely crucial to determining which app is going to be best for you.
Test drives of Honeyfi and Honeydue
When we tried out Honeyfi and Honeydue, we found both stressed budgeting and automatically categorize transactions, but someone who wants the ability to set up recurring bill reminders (for just you or both people) might favor Honeydue, while someone who wants more emphasis on tracking their net worth might like Honeyfi.
We also noticed that Honeydue uses the more secure two-factor authentication with your cell number when you’re setting up your account. Couples might also find that they prefer one user interface over another.
‘Save these apps’ for marriage
Although we support transparency around money, we must caution against too much transparency too soon. While some couples live together or even buy real estate as a couple before marriage, we don’t recommend using these apps before tying the knot.
We tell people all the time ‘Save these apps for when you have a legal piece of paper that legally binds you as a couple,’ You don’t want them knowing everything on your credit card balance and suddenly you break up, they know your super personal information.
With a divorce, there’s a legal process for dividing up assets, but break-ups with unmarried partners can fall into more of a gray area.
If you are sharing expenses with a partner before marriage, apps like Splitwise (available for iOS and Android) might be more suitable, since they’re designed for friends or roommates and don’t divulge as much personal information.
But for couples who are ready for this level of transparency, we couldn’t be more supportive of the idea of a tool to be able to bring your finances together.
Taylor + Megan