Feeling frustrated when it comes to money in your relationship? Often, it’s easier to sweep things under the rug than have those tough financial discussions with your partner.
Or maybe the talks themselves aren’t difficult, but it’s tough to keep track of all the little details that make up your financial life.
You’d rather be enjoying your time with your loved ones, not checking to make sure the bills are paid or nagging them for going over budget. This is where the new financial app Zeta.
Designed specifically for couples, Zeta is 100% free and allows for improved financial communication between you and your partner without sacrificing privacy.
Here’s how it works:
What is Zeta?
Zeta is both a website and app (available for iOs and Android) that is designed for money management. Like other money management apps, Zeta connects with your bank accounts and other financial institutions. What makes Zeta different from similar tools is the fact that you sign up with your significant other, and you can track your finances together.
The web app allows you to share your finances with your sweetheart, track your overall net worth, review your monthly spending, and get targeted advice on how to improve your joint finances.
What’s more, each member of the couple has 100% control over how much they share with their partner. For instance, if your business account is at the same bank as your personal account, you can choose to only share your personal banking information with your spouse.
This means that Zeta is a great choice for couples who maintain separate accounts but want to coordinate their financial decisions. It also makes for an easy management tool even if you do have completely merged finances.
The best part is that Zeta’s core app is completely free. While the company plans to offer paid opt-in services in the future, they are committed to keeping the main app 100% fee-free.
Signing Up with Zeta
Signing up for the program is easy. The site recommends that one member of the couple sign up first. Once that is done, you can then invite your significant other to join. The process makes it simple to link your accounts together so that you can each see what the other is doing financially.
You always have complete control over what you share, so you can still keep some of the mystery alive if you’re trying to plan a surprise party for your sweetheart or if you simply want to keep some of your non-shared finances completely personal.
Zeta takes your comfort level with sharing very seriously. That means that whenever either partner adds an account, they have the option of marking the account either personal or shared. If it’s a shared account, then all of the information is automatically exposed to both partners.
Side note: I appreciate how Zeta uses the word “exposed” in their promotional literature, rather than “shared.” Zeta clearly wants their tool to be used by couples who recognize just how intimate sharing finances can be–and why you need to be careful who you are financially vulnerable with. I’ve written more on Zeta’s commitment to your security below.
Even if you mark an account as personal rather than shared, you can still decide whether to keep them entirely secret or expose some information to your partner. If you do decide to share your personal accounts, Zeta will only share balances, not transactions, with your partner.
When you sign up, you are prompted to link your bank and other financial accounts. Zeta supports over 10,000 banks in the US & Canada. These include some of the biggest heavy hitters in North American banking (think Chase, Bank of America, and the like), as well as online services like Paypal and Venmo. This means you are likely to find all of your financial institutions represented.
Using Zeta as a Couple
Once you have signed up and linked your financial accounts, Zeta gets to work in helping you get on the same page.
To start, you can create shared and individual budgets to stay on top of your finances. Zeta then breaks down your finances across those shared and individual pools of money. You get to customize what you track in your budgets, rather than have to use a cookie cutter budget.
Zeta also lets you tag your partner on specific transactions or split a purchase to keep a tally. The memo function in the app allows you to ask questions or keep notes about specific transactions. All of these tools do a great job of making sure you don’t have to remember (and argue about) who paid for dinner out last week and if your partner has already reimbursed you for his half of the utility bill.
Speaking of bills, the app also helps you keep tabs on your bills and will send you reminders to pay, ending those inevitable “I thought you were going to pay that bill!” arguments.
Finally, you and your partner can set and track your financial goals, individually and as a couple. The app will let you effortlessly keep track of how close you are to your goals. This is a wonderful way to motivate yourselves since you’ll be seeing the progress you’re making as a couple. It can also help you feel closer since you will be working together on a future you both care about.
See Also: How to Talk About Money with Your Honey
Building a Budget as a Couple
Coming together and agreeing on a household budget is extremely important for getting ahead financially. This is where you start working together as a team, rather than as two separate individuals. Take some time to discuss the future and the past. What are your money dreams, and your financial hang-ups?
A few good questions to ask yourself and your partner:
- How do you feel about having a budget?
- How much debt do you have?
- How big of an emergency fund do you feel comfortable with?
- How much money can we each spend before having to consult the other person?
- What discretionary spending would you hate to give up? (ex, happy hour with co-workers, Sunday brunch, or a hobby)
- What discretionary spending would you be willing to give up to meet other goals or if things got tight?
- How will we pay for large purchases? (ex, take debt or save up over time and pay cash)
- What do you want your retirement to look like, and have you started saving?
Zeta’s program has a 20-minute budget builder tool that will help you and your beloved craft a shared monthly budget.
Provided you have the income and expense information you need, it will take you 20 minutes or less to create your shared budget on Zeta. The budget builder is similar to any number of budgeting tools and apps out there. However, crafting your budget together makes it yet another way Zeta can bring you and your partner closer together. Instead of being the source of friction and resentment, Zeta’s budget builder can help money become something that strengthens your bond.
Security with Zeta
Zeta takes your security seriously, in more than one way. To start, they reassure users that their financial information is secure. Zeta even offers a Security Manifesto on their website which clarifies that the program does not store logins for your financial institutions. Zeta does this to avoid becoming a target for potential hackers.
Instead, the program securely connects to your financial institutions using a third-party tool called Plaid. In addition, all passwords are encrypted just in case of hacking.
Finally, Zeta follows a two-step authentication process with your partner before exposing what youâ€™ve chosen to share with them, just to be sure that your information is only shared with people you have approved.
Zeta Understands the Risks of Financial Abuse
Zeta does not (and can’t!) move money around on your behalf. This means your money is safe from both hackers and the possibility of an abusive partner. If you do need to shut off your partner’s access to your financial information, Zeta has a “breakup” feature. This instantly cuts off your partner’s access.
The breakup feature shows that Zeta has done the tough work of thinking through all the potential security problems. The worst security issues often come from “inside the house” so to speak. So it’s good to know that Zeta recognizes that and protects its users with the breakup option.
The Bottom Line on Zeta
The ways that couples handle their finances are almost as varied as the couples themselves. From keeping everything completely separate to merging it all to having yours-mine-ours accounts, what works for each couple is specific to the couple.
What makes Zeta shine is that it is set up to handle whatever couple money strategy you might have. It also recognizes the importance of keeping some financial information private, even within a marriage, and it allows couples to share what they are comfortable with.
Zeta makes it possible to merge what’s shared, protect what’s personal, and work together to make your joint money work harder for you both.
How do you and your partner handle money management together? Tell us about it in the comments!