Saving

Mint Answers: Should I Open A Savings Account With My Girlfriend?

What percentage of your income do you save each month? How often do you change computers? How shoudl you go about setting up a savings account with a long-term girlfriend (or boyfriend)?

In this week’s round-up of Q&A activity on Mint Answers, we feature these seemingly random questions – though when you think about it, they do have the same underlying theme: saving money.

Saving money is one of the most popular topics on Mint Answers, a relatively new feature we launched with the idea to give consumers a platform to voice their personal finance and investing questions and discuss them with other Mint users and community members.

Here are some answers to the questions above. For more, or to chime in with your response, click on the links below.

How do I set up a savings account with a long term girlfriend?

I have been with my girlfriend for 7 years, we recently turned 22 and are looking at putting some money away so that it is easier to take trips together.  Up until now we have simply put cash away.  How should we go about setting up a joint account?  Should we?

Answers:

1. Sure, if you’re on the same page about how the money will be spent, who will contribute what to the account and how often, etc. I’m assuming that you trust this person enough to stick to whatever agreements you make together about the account.

Keep in mind: you don’t HAVE to combine any part of your finances as a committed couple. It’s never a requirement, so don’t feel pressured into it. How you handle your money as a couple is up to you, but lots of people find a joint account (if not accounts) convenient and a big part of how they handle the money question with their Significant Others. Just make sure you’re both clear on the “rules.”

3. You can open a savings account solely for the purpose of saving for your trips together. Be aware, though, that if you are joint owners of the account one person can just clean it out without the other person’s permission. Of course, this hopefully will never happen, but I think as long as you trust your partner it’s a risk that is manageable. Speaking for myself only, I would not combine finances with a partner unless we are married or become legal domestic partners, but I would have a joint savings account  – assuming that I can lose my contributions to that account and still be okay. In other words, I won’t put in what I can’t afford to lose.

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How often do you change computers?

My first computer lasted me 6 years, but towards the end it was extremely slow and difficult to use. I’ve read that you should plan on changing your computers every 3 years. How long do computers last for you?

Answers:

1. Computers made these days are almost at the level where speed should not be much of an issue in determining when you should buy new, as long as you are maintaining everything. If you really want to keep costs down get an external hard drive and save everything to that, and then just use a cheap laptop or netbook and swap out for a new one each time they die.

2. I use ‘em until they die on me :) My first laptop lasted from 2003 to 2007, I bought a secondhand laptop in ’07 that was fine until 2009, and now I have a cute little netbook….

I use a computer for at least ten hours a day, so I need it to be reliable and not annoying (read: fast). It seems reasonable to buy a new one every three years or so. What does NOT seem reasonable is to buy a new laptop, a new desktop, a new smartphone, and a new notebook every three years.

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What percentage of gross income do you save each month?

This includes retirement, emergency fund, and other short-term savings.

Answers:

1. Last time some friends and I got in a discussion about this (yes, I know, fun times), we got to a sticky point about whether debt repayment counts as savings. “Nah,” I said. “Oh yeah? What about debt repayment above the minimum which could just as well go into a savings account?” “Hmm.”

Anyway, my answer is currently 33% of net. Gross is tricky to calculate, since I don’t have a pay stub handy and it includes some compulsory retirement savings.

2. My wife and I are also currently at around 40%. But we also really enjoy going on a large trip during breaks (wife is a teacher) so we end up spending a chunk of that so at end of year we are at around 25%.

3. It’s around 40-50% in good times, less in bad. Although I think that I’m definitely on the extreme end of things (doesn’t seem extreme to me though). I just can’t believe how some of my peers think 10% is way more than enough to retire someday. If you can get up to around 20-25% that seems like a much better place to be, but there’s no one size fits all.

4. While I would love to save like some of the above do the money just isn’t there right now (wife stays @ home with the kiddo).  I save for retirement between 8%-10% and then periodically contribute to a 529 as well as other savings goals e.g. car replacement, increased emergency fund etc. 

This has also reduced a little since we have recently shifted focus to paying off student loans so I guess I are be saving more if you consider the extra debt payments we’re making.

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Do you have a money question that you feel has no black-or-white answer? Go to Mint Answers and ask away! While you’re there, feel free to answer questions from other community members. Come back often, as we introduce new enhancements to this feature.