New Financial App: Zeta and the Need for Couples to Financially Plan Together
"Select a partner carefully. Your spouse should have the same characteristics that are compatible with success."
If you've read some of my past articles before, you know that I am a big proponent of women being a part of the family's financial conversation. You can read those articles here, here and here. When it comes to money, we've covered the fact that women need to think differently about it, which is why it's important that they have a say in the family's finances.
I'm also a big proponent of having those financial conversations early on in the relationship. I get it, money is a taboo subject, but it's the most important. Money is prevalent in all that we do so why not talk about it early on. I also believe that if you are in a serious relationship and spend your precious time with someone that you start understanding and getting to know each other's money habits. Yes, it's easy to get blinded by love, but stay grounded in the reality of what your relationship needs to thrive on: honesty, transparency and open mindedness.
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It's MY Money, It's OUR Money
As your new found relationship grows and evolves, have that money conversation early on. The sooner the two of you share your money goals, the sooner both of you can start working towards them. By being transparent about your goals, you also set expectations with each other. It will be scary to expose your spending habits to someone, but regardless if this person is your forever partner, it has to happen. We all think we are statistically unique, but we are not. Our goals are very similar to each other and by identifying and sharing them with each other, we have a better shot of achieving them. You may think it's too early to think about finances as a new couple, instead, spin it a different way, don't let it be too late to talk about finances. There is significant value of getting a head start on your finances as a couple. The opportunity to save and eliminate debt early on can be a huge building step to creating your shared wealth.
So even if it doesn't work out in the end and a split happens, at least your finances are in order. How many of us can say that after a break-up? Not enough.
If you've also read one of the FI community's recommend books, The Millionaire Mind, the Fifth Element is to "Select a Partner Carefully." Studies have found a significant correlation between the length of marriage and wealth accumulation. Wealth is more often the result of self-discipline. Self-discipline requires mutual support. The caveat is that your support must come from people who have similar goals and dreams as you. Because if you share those same interests, your support system will know what to say to keep you on your path.
When it comes to love, select a partner carefully. If one partner, loves to spend money and the other does not, it leads to conflict in marriage. It also leads to dishonesty, arguments and a breakdown in trust. I know that we have all been socialized to think that men and women handle and understand money differently. Women are characterized as shoppers who love to spend money, while men are seen as frugal tightwads. These may be true in some cases, but it shouldn't be true in your relationship. There should be an equal responsibility when it comes to money and wealth building. The support of one another ensures that decisions that affect the family budget, future investments, home purchases, accumulation of wealth are made together and made with the same goal in mind Having equal responsibility also creates a sort of check and balances that is needed to ensure decisions are made properly and not out of haste or pressure.
A few months ago, I came across the Zeta Platform. I wish this tool was around when my then boyfriend, now husband first got together. I'm probably the one that pushed a lot of this personal finance stuff on my husband, but I don't regret any of it one bit because by the time we got married, we were significantly better of had we not talked about it. Because I'm a fan of having that financial conversation early on and I'm a fan of helpful technology, I found Zeta to fit the bill so I wanted to share it with you all today.
Zeta is essentially a platform that is designed to help couples deal with and talk about their finances. It requires that couples open up their accounts to each other. Sounds scary, I know, but think about it, if you are going to be spending your nights and weekends with someone and if you are potentially thinking about spending the rest of your life with this person, best to know how they manage money today than 5 years down the line when more will be at stake.
Zeta has two views: one for your partner and one for yourself. You determine what to share. Your partner DOES NOT get access to account credentials, but can see transactions and can flag certain things to keep you accountable. Accountability is key to personal finances. It's being accountable for your future well being, for your future partner and your future children.
Zeta uses the standard APIs to connect to your accounts and obtains read-only data so I don't see much concern about security here. Majority of the financial institutions use the same method. The good thing about this though is that you can remove sharing with your partner should it not work out in the end and you didn't have to share any account details at all.
Zeta is currently in private beta as they work to improve the platform with feedback from each cohort. I have no financial relationship with this company, but did get a chance to speak with the founder and thought this tool would be helpful to others on the path to FI. I did also get a sneak peak of the platform so these screenshots were taken of the current version as of June 2018. Aside from the platform, Zeta offers additional educational tools and a chance to connect with a CFP to further manage your finances.
Use Case for Zeta
If you are serious about your finances, then make sure to have that talk with your partner about your financial goals and how you want to manage your finances. If you are living together, I suggest two things: open a separate checking account for shared expenses and create a shared view of your finances on Zeta. Before you force your partner to get on Zeta, please talk about it before hand. Talk about the whys, talk about your high level goals, talk about your need for security, just talk about it.
Do you have to share everything? No. Share what you feel will be necessary for your relationship to thrive. Let Zeta help with opening up conversations about where money is going. No matter what, we have to talk about money. We have to remove the negative associations we have about money so that we can move forward.
What can you learn from having your spending transactions on Zeta? You may see duplicate expenses. Your partner may call out expenses that you weren't aware were even being made (oh those automatic subscriptions). You may notice certain hobbies your partner has that you weren't aware of. You may notice that both of you spend way too much on certain things, how can you combine both of your skills to do it yourself and save money. This reminds me of a time when my husband and I were first dating. We used to eat out all of the time. The thing was I loved to cook, but he didn't have a nice kitchen so when we moved in together, we made sure to get an apartment with a nice kitchen and invest in quality kitchenware. By doing so, we opted most nights to eat in instead which saved us money in the long-run.
What else can you do on Zeta? Setup goals so you know how you are tracking against it. Perhaps, this is a travel goal, a wedding expense, etc. You can track your net worth too!
Part of being a couple is supporting each other through the good and the bad. Part of being a couple is also learning to acknowledge MY money and OUR money. Of course, one thing to note here is that we are not putting all of our money into once place. Please don't do that. Keep finances in your own name unless you have a shared expense account, but manage it in a way that looks at everything holistically and takes into account both of your desired goals.
Is Zeta Right For You?
If you and your partner are just starting out, I would highly consider a tool like Zeta. If you are single and handling it, consider YNAB or Mint for your needs. Either way and whichever tool you use, make sure it's helping you take control of your finances. Remember, you control the money, it doesn't control you. When you do get to a relationship, make sure both of you are onboard with managing the shared finances.
As for myself today, my husband and I use Personal Capital today to track our finances, mostly because our budgets and day-to-day spending are as optimized as we can get it. Basically, we've learned to talk to each other about where money is going and our main goals now are to optimize our investments and increase income. Personal Capital allows us to view our investments all in one place so that we can see where our allocations are, where we need to reduce expense fees, and if we are over investing in particular stocks or sectors. It's a different view of our money. My only gripe with PC is that it doesn't allow separate accounts with a shared view so we had to link all of our investments into one account to get a holistic view. Read more about my Personal Capital review here.