If you and your boo have ever had an argument over who should pay for groceries, dinner or movie tickets, you’re not alone. Disagreements over money are super common in relationships, especially when a clear budget is not in place. By creating a thoughtful money plan, you can focus on what actually makes you happy in a relationship rather than nitpicking about who is paying the cable bill. Once you’ve got all the deets worked out, you can turn your partner into your financial soulmate too. To help you in the process, we picked an expert’s brain to find out why exactly creating a budget that works for both you and your S.O. is so crucial.

couple on laptop

1. Everyone should have one. Before you create a budget with bae, you definitely need to have your own personal money sitch worked out. “Budgeting is important for everyone,” says personal finance expert and host of the podcast HerMoney, Jean Chatzky. “It’s about figuring out where you are and where you want to be in the future. You should already have an individual budget, and as soon as you and a partner start having joint expenses (like meals out, vacations and home supplies), you should start working on a joint one.” Understanding your personal finances before jumping into a financial convo with your partner will allow you to know what you can reasonably contribute and what’s within the realm of possibility for you.

2. You don’t have to share everything. Sometimes couples are resistant to creating a budget together because they think it means they have to fully integrate their finances completely. Fortunately, this is totally not the case. “I’m all in favor of keeping separate mine and ours accounts if you’re hitched or in a long-term partnership,” says Chatzky. “If you haven’t made a long-term commitment yet, keeping accounts separate but pitching in to joint expenses could be your best bet. And if each partner makes a significantly different amount of income, choose a plan that works best for both of you. That could mean splitting those joint expenses equally or, more likely, each paying a percentage based on income.”

3. You’ll both be accountable. People naturally have different priorities and preferences when it comes to what they spend money on. Maybe you want to save all of your disposable income, but your partner wants to spend it all on buying clothes. These differences are fully manageable as long as you’re aware of them. “One of the biggest benefits of a joint budget are having someone to keep you accountable and having regular money talks. The drawbacks are that one person can start to feel resentful or ‘policed’ — that’s why I’m in favor of always maintaining a degree of financial autonomy in a relationship. Being open and honest and having regular money talks are really key.”

Do you budget with your partner? Tell us why @BritandCo!