You signed up for it.

April 11, 2011 · 52 comments

I’ll never understand why some married couples keep their finances separate (yes, that is me quasi-judging some of you). Maybe it’s the traditionalist in me, but when I asked Girl Ninja to marry me, I asked her to marry ALL of me. This includes (but is not limited to) my sense of style, my obsessive compulsive behaviors, my smelly farts, my sucky artwork, and of course my finances.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a about how Girl Ninja was not only marrying me, but also my student loan (I think at the time I still owed about $10,000 to Sallie Mae). Whether she liked it or not, my debt was now her debt. A handful of commenters, however, disagreed. They felt that since I had acquired my student loans before I even knew Girl Ninja existed, they were solely my responsibility to pay back. One comment read, “I agree also that GN should have no part of your student loan. That was contracted before your marriage and is solely your obligation.”

Alright commenter, I’ll play your game. Going in to the marriage I was making $63,000/year. Girl Ninja was hovering around the poverty line bringing in about $20,000/year. My income was about three times Girl Ninja’s. It seems that if I followed the logic of the commenter above, I would then have three times as much influence in our financial decisions, or at the very least, should be allowed to spend three times as much on entertainment related expenses. After all, my income was larger than hers prior to the marriage, she has no rights to my pre-marriage income achievements…right?

I get it, Girl Ninja had no legal obligation to my debt, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have a marital obligation to it. The second she said “I do“, my debts became her debts. My income, became her income. And my love for California burritos, became her love for California burritos…oh wait…not so much on that last one, but you get the point. I don’t even know how separating finances in a marriage would work. Do you literally say “Alright honey, you need to transfer $50 in to my checking account ’cause I just paid our cell phone bill”?

Married Peeps: Do you combine finances? Do you keep them separate? Did you or your significant other have debt? If so did you work together, or keep the debts separate?

p.s. if you weren’t aware, I actually ended up paying off my student loans about a month before our wedding, so Girl Ninja never had to worry about Sallie Mae :)

{ 52 comments }

1 Amanda

We combined. There was no debt to speak of, but his and mine became ours. I was the only one with an income at first, and I took a second job at first. Then he started working and he has since way outstripped me in earning power. It’s all still ours.

2 Claire

We have both joint and single accounts. At the moment I work full time and DH is home looking after our son, and we get a family payment from the government. We worked out how much we get in, how much we need in the joint account to cover our expenses, and then divided the money left over equally between us to spend/save/invest as we see fit. So for example we might get $1000 pw, need $500 to cover expenses, and then get $250 each. then it doesn’t matter how much each person earns.

I do have a debt – a mortgage on my flat that I bought before I married. the house we live in is actually DH’s house which he paid for, so if you want to look at it from a strictly legal stand point, DH owns this house and I own the investment property. (which are simalar in value) I feel since DH has already paid for his house, he shouldn’t have to pay for mine as well, and besides there is a tennant that does that for me. When the flat is paid off, the money from that investment will go into our joint funds. the flat is part of our retirement plan.

It works for us. However we were both a lot older when we married – late 30s and I think that can have an impact on how you work out your finances. My parents have been married for nearly 50 years and that is pretty much how they operated their finances and they ran a business together.

And here is a reason for always having your own money. In Australia (don’t know the laws in the US) if you have only joint accounts or the money in one persons name, and the other spouse dies suddenly the bank accounts can be frozen until probate is granted. This can be especially tricky if the spouse dies in unexpected circumstances – for instance someone I know died in childbirth. The money was all in her name for tax reason, so he had no access to money for a short period of time. and I can tell you other simalar stories. I’m not sure of the exact legal situation, but I think it is extremely important to have some money of your own that you can access in emergencies.

3 catch

We combine. We had no previous debt when we were married, but even if we did, neither one of us agrees with separating finances. Doesn’t that sort of go against marriage? You are combining your life to make it better, combining finances just makes sense when you are trying to run a household, and 2 incomes will faster pay down a debt, cause whether the other person believes it or not, that debt is now theirs. I really don’t get couples that split it up, it just makes way more sense to have it all go to one account and make a family budget from that.

4 Mo D.

Hubby and I have joint chequing/savings/US $ accounts, but separate credit cards. We are both open and honest about credit card charges, and they’re paid in full every month (we both have access to view the other’s balance). I just wanted to be protected should something happen (I worked hard before I met Hubby to get the bulk of my debt paid off, and in turn get a really nice credit rating).

Hubby brought a little more debt into the relationship than I had, but we paid it all off (with joint finances) before we bought our condo 8 years ago.

I have a friend that is in her 2nd marriage (2nd marriage for her Hubby as well), and they keep their finances separate. She says it’s because he runs his own business and it’s just easier that way; I’m thinking it’s also got to do with the fact that both of them had been married before, and they knew the financial issues that happen with a couple splits up.

5 Kate

We keep almost completely separate finances. While you don’t understand why some married couples keep their finances separate, I don’t understand why so many married couples who do seem to be so evangelical about it! That’s not just geared to your comment- it’s something that comes up with regularity on other PF blogs as well. The vitriol that JD got (and continues to get) over his laundry arrangement with his wife… whoa.

I saw “almost completely” because we have three accounts that we both contribute(d) to for shared goals. One was our downpayment fund; the others are our emergency fund and travel fund. That said, they aren’t really “shared”. They were/are under my name only, but with contributions coming in from both people. Otherwise, it’s separate. Debt was deliberately paid off prior to getting married- frankly, as a financial commitment to one another. Nothing says love quite like “I worked my butt off to pay these debts so we could start off in our marriage with a clean financial slate”.

As for the actual mechanics of it- we know how much our fixed expenses are (cell phone bill, mortgage, property tax, etc.) We take that number and divide it proportionally (he makes 4/7 of the money, I make 3/7 of it). He takes care of the physical paying of the bill, and I’ve set up my bank account to automatically transfer him that amount on the 1st of every month.

6 Steph/seenonflickr

While you don’t understand why some married couples keep their finances separate, I don’t understand why so many married couples who do seem to be so evangelical about it! That’s not just geared to your comment- it’s something that comes up with regularity on other PF blogs as well.

Yes, this, thank you!!

We split our expenses pretty evenly, but the money comes out of two different accounts.

7 Tim @ Faith and Finance

We combine our finances. To be honest, I’ve never really considered separating them – it just wouldn’t make sense to us.

8 Echo

We combine finances and we helped each other pay off our student debts. I don’t understand the comment stating that the debt was incurred before you met so she shouldn’t have any part in paying it back. If you go and apply for a mortgage together the bank will see that loan on one of your credit reports and factor it in to your application jointly. So unless you want to apply for your mortgage separately too, you should bite the bullet and accept that those debts are now yours too.

9 Laura @ Wine and Cheese, Please

We combined everything, but we do transfer about $250 into our personal accounts each month for things like happy hours/dinners with friends (i.e. NOT with each other), clothes, kate spade purses (lol), etc. Everything else (including my student loans, haircuts, makeup, trips, etc) comes out of the joint account. We only did the “allowance” because I thought it would be easier for me to keep the household budget if I didn’t have to remind my husband to let me know when he spent $20 at happy hour so I could balance the spreadsheet. We plan to continue this way until we have kids and then will just use one account for the most part.

10 AffordableSeattle

I like this strategy!

11 Austin

Definitely combined everything: our income, our car payments, my school debt, our furniture.

“…and you shall become ONE flesh” is all-encompassing.

Awesome post.

Austin

12 Ninja

One flesh is right. Bone of my bone sucka!

13 Tom

Wasn’t this from a time whent the man had the final say on most household things? Hmmm… just a thought.

14 tom

Combined… everything is. We run big purchases by each other; i.e. $100+. Since I’m the CFO, it’s just easier to combine everything.

15 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I plan to combine them when I get married. Or if I get married

16 Brad Chaffee

My wife and I have always combined everything. I am like you and don’t understand the mindset behind — “this is your money, and this is my money.” Don’t get that confused with having some personal spending money. We have that because we have different things we like to do and want to be able to do them without guilt, but that money comes from the combined pot of gold. Every single financial obligation we have is ours together — EVEN IF it SUCKS! My money is her money and her money is my money — it’s ours. We got married. Some may disagree with this, but I think separating the finances is like saying “we don’t trust each other and can’t work together financially.” Otherwise, why not just stay single, move in with each other, and act like roommates?

P.S. I don’t hate or look down on anyone that decides to take the separate approach, but for the life of me, can’t understand it. The only thing I can think of is that there’s a difference in what marriage means to me and what it means to those that draw a line down the middle. To each is own I guess.

Dude – the smelly farts line was AWESOME!! LOL

17 momninja

We have always combined since I was an at home mom I had no money to contribute. I do not understand the yours mine and ours theory but don’t care if that’s what people want.

I do care however when they judge me and say but if you get divorced you will have nothing….
I did not enter into marriage with the goal of saving up for the day I want out.

If you want to keep your money yours I’m cool with that but don’t be hate’n on those of us that don’t.

18 Chrisy

I plan to combine, with some discretionary side accounts for fun things, presents I don’t want husband to know about, etc.
I have/will have a massive student loan from law school, but if I marry that person I’ve been with for the last four years (that’s the plan…), I will have no qualms about bringing it into the marriage. His family was able to pay for his entire education – bachelor’s and law school, so he has no student loans. All of my student loans have been taken out with discussion between him and I, and he knows what he’s getting into. We decided together that me getting this education was a good idea and if he benefits from it down the line due to an increase in our earning power, why should I be the only one paying back the debt?

19 slug

Unless you have a pre-nup, they’re combined no matter how you ‘feel’ about it.

Our finances are fully combined. We each have our own play accounts though that we can use for whatever whims we like without asking permission. These whims exclude illicit drugs and prostitutes however so they’re only partially playful :-)

20 Ninja

Ahh, no prostitutes…you guys aren’t any fun…haha.

21 Kate

I’m not sure that’s actually true in every jurisdiction. Gail Vaz-Oxlade has made several comments about it. I spent some time digging up the original article she wrote about it.

“You don’t automatically assume your partner’s level of indebtedness simply because you choose to tie the knot. The only way to be on the hook for your partner’s debt is to actually sign up for it. If you don’t co-sign, co-borrow, or in some way put your John Hancock on the paperwork, nobody can collect the debt from you.

However, if you have joint assets, his or her share of the assets could be affected when the bill collectors want their money back. They can force the sale of joint assets to get their piece of the pie. So the trick would be to not own anything jointly.

And your pal’s crappy credit history could come into play when it comes time to start fulfilling some of your dreams. A lousy history with money may mean your partner becomes dependant on your credit history; you end up doing all the borrowing in your name so you don’t pay exorbitant rates. Now you’re on the hook.”

http://gailvazoxlade.com/blog/archives/321

22 Brad Chaffee

HAHAHA!!

23 Brad Chaffee

That “HAHAHA” was directed at SLUG’s comment! Hilarious!

24 Beating Broke

We combined everything, for many of the same reasons you talk about. We’re in it together, so we need to pay it off as one. For us, it works. For others, I know that it may not, so I think it’s very much a personal decision for each couple.

25 SP

We combined, slowly and eventually throughout the first year. At first, keeping things a little separate (as we did when we were engaged but sharing significant expenses) was easiest. Then it became to be less complicated than just combinining, so we combined. I don’t know if I’d say “fully 100% combined”. The key thing was combining our savings accounts. We still have separate checking that we both use for cash flow purposes, but my checking account is used for joint expenses and so is his.

Some people don’t combine because that is what works for them and their relationships. I don’t think that their marriages are really that different. Managing money is nuts and bolts, it’s boring (for most) but has to be done. The logistics of how you do it really are not hugely important to the marriage. As long as you talk about your plans/goals together and are aware of money stuffs, I don’t think logistics are so important..

26 Zan

My experiences exactly mirrors yours. We started separate and once that started to get more complex we combined. I agree completely with your second paragraph!

27 Jared

G’morning Ninja,

“I don’t even know how separating finances in a marriage would work. Do you literally say “Alright honey, you need to transfer $50 in to my checking account ’cause I just paid our cell phone bill”?”

I’m sorry, Ninja, but I know that you’re smart enough that you could figure out how this could work. :-) It may be unintuitive, it may not fit your mental model of what a marriage looks like, and so forth, but if you sat down with it and approached it with a more ‘open mind’ I’m sure you could find a way to make it work. It might not work as well for you as combined finances, which is completely fine, but I’d be truly and genuinely surprised if you it wouldn’t work at all for you.

My husband and I aren’t legally married (the whole same-sex couple thing) and we’ve been keeping separate finances all throughout our almost 10 years together. For us separate finances is the obvious option and the idea of combining finances is the option we don’t see how couples make that work as well as they do.

In terms of how bills get paid, we pay bills relative to our income. He makes almost twice as much as I do and therefore pays almost twice as much of the total recurring bills. He pays for internet because he’s the “tech guy” of the family and is going to be the one who calls if something goes wrong, and I pay for car/renters insurance and utilities because I’m the one who set those up when we last moved. With respect to rent, he’s the one who uses our car the most and is therefore responsible for paying it (as he can drop off the check more conveniently). I have my bank send him a check each month with my share of the rent, and he just deposits those checks when he’s handling other banking details. It’s a very simple system, and I don’t see how someone could view this as being overly complicated or hard to manage.

We have a “monthly talk” where we touch base about a number of things about our family life: finances, our upcoming calendar, sex life, exercise/health, etc. If we’ve had a significant financial event in the past month then we’ll check in about how the money worked out to see if it’s in alignment with our overall spending plan. For example, last month we went to Hawaii to visit family, and after we got back we reviewed how much each of us spend. We spent roughly the same amount, so we had nothing to think about. If one of us had spent significantly more than the other, then I would have just adjusted my next monthly check to my husband to adjust for it. Again, it’s a very simple system, and I find it hard to believe that this couldn’t work for other people as well.

Also, there seems to be a false belief that just because couples keep separate finances they don’t view financial obligations as being joint responsibility. For example, my husband is just finishing law school (programmer by day, law student by night) and has accumulated roughly $35,000 of loans for going to school (which is much less than most people have when they leave law school). We both view this as “our debt” that we need to take care in the upcoming years. It’s in his name and I have no legal obligation to it, but it’s still “our debt.” We don’t need to have a joint checking account for us to feel this way.

Similarly, just because we have separate accounts doesn’t mean that we don’t view income as being “our money.” For example, when my husband buys a latté at Starbucks I completely feel like he’s wasting “our money” in doing so. *grin* :-) More seriously, all of our income is “our money” and keeping it separate makes it overall easier for us to track. I’m remembering a post you wrote a while ago about how you’d ask Girl Ninja how much things cost when she’d come home from the store so that you could track her spending and her feeling as if you were accusing her of spending too much. Similarly, my husband and I would run into the same issues were we to combine finances as our methods of tracking are somewhat at odds. Having me track my expenses and him track his expenses is overall less stressful, and since we touch base about our overall financial picture monthly we’re not losing any information. And maybe you’d say “Well, maybe you should find a way to deal with your different ways of tracking expenses without coming to odds with each other,” and I’d reply with “We already have.” :-)

28 Ninja

Wow, you just typed a blog post, ever want to guest post…haha. I guess you’re right. When I say “I don’t even know how it works.” I’m really saying “There is no way in hell that would work for me.” The fewer the accounts and the fewer times money changes hands, the better…in my opinion, but if you got a different system that works that’s all that really matters!

29 Jared

Hey Ninja,

I’d be honored to write up a guest post sometime if you ever need some material to tide you over for a vacation, computer meltdown, etc. :-)

30 David

We have combined finances, but separate accounts. Let that set in for a second.

Similar to the commentor above, we have different incomes, and pay a proportional amount of bills. I generally plan on the finances, and say “you pay these bills each month, I’ll take care of the rest”.

We kept our accounts separate (but are both listed as joint holders on all accounts), because it works for us.

I like an obsessive amount of detail in my checkbook (made my own Excel application basically), so I know everything at all moments.

The wife isn’t like that. She tracks her spending over the course of the month to make sure that she has enough to cover it all, but tracking each transaction would stress her out instead of comforting like it does for me.

We’ve never combined our accounts, because having two people that may or may not be drawing from the same account tends to lead to problems and accidentally overspending. Plus it would clash with both of our detail styles.

So it’s definitely possible to have separate, but equal finances in a marriage.

Also, not sure why people are judgemental of those who have separate accounts. Just because you share an account doesn’t mean you love your spouse any more than the rest of us. It doesn’t mean you’re not hiding things from them. It’s just a different way of doing things.

31 David

Edit – not sure why *some* people here are judgemental of those who have separate accounts. Ninja isn’t, but some commentors are.

32 Laura

My husband and I combine our accounts and make financial decisions together. We have spending budgets for each other and pay for everything we can with our costco amex. Then we pay it off monthly and track everything in mint. We decide on large purchases together but mostly just stay within our budgets. We are both very detailed about our spending, saving and investing.

33 Ryan

I don’t get how keeping debt separate would really work. One person having $30,000 to pay back is going to affect both partners. The partner in debt is going to have less disposable income than the other one so maybe they can’t afford a vacation. I guess the other partner goes by themselves? ;)

From a pure mathematical standpoint, it makes more sense for a couple to pool their money and pay down the debt with the highest interest rate. They’d paid it down quicker and pay less in interest, freeing up money to use for other goals.

34 Kaye

We have combined finances. I truly don’t want the hassle of separate account. Instead, I’ll take the hassle of combined accounts. What I mean is, we do have to keep each other in check sometimes. While I am currently the primary bill-payer (we’ve traded that role a few times), we have to be open enough to communicate our finances when things are tight. If we only have $200 in the bank and have a $130 bill coming up (AHHH!), I have to make sure he is aware of that so that he doesn’t think we have $200 in the bank to spend.

Yes, it has caused fights in the past when one of us felt smothered (the non-payer) and the other feels like they have to nag (the payer), we have learned better how to communicate in all areas of life through this.

If we had separate accounts, I would think it would feel awkward when one is out of work (our current circumstances) and couldn’t pay their percentage of the bill. When it all gets jumbled up in one account, it is more of a “we’re in this together…thick or thin” feeling to me.

35 krantcents

Whether it was her loan or not, it comes out of your combined net income! That means it affects both of you. I am old therefore I am old fashioned! Right? Combining your finances is more symbolic and convenient to manage your money.

36 TTGOOD

I have to agree with both Jared & David. We have separate accounts but combined finances. This is our 1st year of marriage but 8th year living together. In those 8 years we found what worked best for us but have the same financial goals. We are joint account holders on our accounts but each have our own checking accounts because we have found that works best for us. This is something that could change later but for now we are happy with the situation.

We both have debt that we are working to clear and have came up with a plan to clear that debt together. I think you can be on the same financial page without having 1 checking account.

37 Crystal @ BFS

We combined our finances a few months before our wedding, lol. That said, we do each have our own fun money account. They each get fed $120 a month and we don’t get on each other’s nerves when hubby wants $300 of Curling supplies or I want to buy a plane ticket to Detroit to visit a blogging buddy. :-)

38 Momma Star

We combined ours as soon as the question was popped. There was a lot of people that disagreed with us combining our finances before the marriage paperwork was completed but we trusted each enough to do so before. I came into the relationship with no debt, hubby on the other hand had a boat full of debt but we worked together and got it cleared up in no time. Combining finances in a relationship is like having trust in each well to me anyways.

39 jmc

We have EVERYTHING separate. I had 30K debt from school. The idea that he might have to pay any money into MY mistake is morally abhorrent to me. The rent and utilities are in my name. At the end of the month, he transfers 1/2 of the rent + utilities into my account …… it only takes 5 seconds. How is that complicated?? We each pay for the weekly groceries every other week. My car and insurance is in my name. His car and insurance is in his name. He pays for his gas, I pay for my gas. He pays for his cell phone, I pay for mine. We each have separate checking/savings/investment accounts. We each pay for our own debts from our own accounts. There are SOOOO many advantages to this, least of which is we have NEVER EVER had a disagreement about finances, it literally never even comes up. Another advantage that I really like is that if we have no joint assets then if something bad happens with his finances, like bankrupcy (heaven forbid) people can only go after his assets….. We will always have a whole set of assets (car, savings, investments) that will remain whole, no matter what happens to the other’s credit.
As far as entertainment, we switch off just like when we were dating. This made the transistion from singlehood to marriage COMPLETELY seemless. It’s like nothing even happened.

40 jmc

Plus I think that it shows the UPMOST in trust if we don’t have legal rights to each others assets……. and if one of us dies we have that persons savings going back to their respective families. What do I need his money for? I’m an adult, I can fend for myself, I don’t agree that abled bodied should ever live off the income of another unless it’s absolutely needed (like a job loss)

41 Jenna

I’m not married, but if/when I do get married. I would assume that we would combine our finances. Got any tips on how to actually do that?

42 Jon | Free Money Wisdom

When I get married next year, combining my finances just makes sense. It’s also a commitment that I believe in. As a Christian, sharing finances is the only option. Everything is shared, no questions asked. Well, maybe not my Acura, haha just kidding of course.

43 Barbara

Did Jesus say that married people should combine finances? If it’s your choice it’s your choice, but I’m not sure how being a Christian factors into it.

44 Edwin @ Cash The Checks

All income is separate, personal expenses are separate too. Even taxes are done as married filing separately. It works just fine for us.

45 Goblin

My boyfriend and I have only been together a few years and marriage isn’t on the cards just yet. Nonetheless it is something I think is going to happen. I have found this discussion really interesting. Personally I have always been careful with money. I worked all through Univesity so I don’t have loans. I also chose a school I could afford so as not to need to take loans, which meant turning down an offer from a better school. That was my choice of course. On the other hand, my boyfriend chose to attend the more expensive school (way back when I didn’t know him yet). Ultimately we have the same qualification so his investment is not going to benefit me financially in any way. So, I don’t see any reason why I should have to shoulder his debt.

He is currently earning more than me, because he is a few years older than me. In my, humble, opinion he should take responsibility for his decisions earlier in life. How I see it now -and I admit I might change my view on this in a few years- we should calculate our monthly expenses and each put in either half or our relative percentage depending on our slaries. If one is earning more than the other then they will still have more money at the end of the month. From his ‘personal’ money I expect him to pay his loan repayments. From my ‘personal’ money I can buy all the shoes I can afford, if I choose to. Why should I be paying for him having had fun before I knew him? Of course if we do decide to buy a house in the future then his loan will become my problem. But we are not looking at houses and I have told him I think he should repay his student debts before we do.

I realise that we are a team now. In fact, in our few years together we have had a lot of tests because both of us have been unemployed for periods due to the recession. In situations like that all bets are off and we work together and look after one another. But in normal times, where we are both in full time employment, married or unmarried, I don’t want to have arguments about whether his technology indulgences are wasting my hard earned money. I think that he also does not want to know how much I spend on consmetics or other ‘essentials’. Further down the line I imagine that we will try to get our savings in line, even if they are not in the same account. But when it comes to debt I really don’t agree that you should have to take responsbility for other people’s decisions before you knew them.

note: the one exception I would make is Chrisy who says her partner agreed she should go to law school and now they share the loan. I think debt you acquire during your relationship is a different matter.

46 Brad Chaffee

@Goblin – First let me say that everything I will say here is for the sake of discussion, not to say that my way, or I, am better than you. This is just my opinion.

Personally, I think it is a bad idea to combine finances before getting married for a variety of reasons, so I agree with you on not being responsible for his debt at this time. However, once married, why would you still think the same? The whole point of marriage is to unite two people, not parts of two people. It’s a completely unity.

Everything that person has done and became, is who you fell in love with and decided to make a life long commitment to. I guess I just can’t understand how two people who are married would still have this disconnect between them that says, this is still yours and this is mine, don’t touch.

You didn’t run up debt for school, and trust me when I say I admire that. (I’m currently going to school debt free too and think the way you did it is the absolute smartest way to go,) Your boyfriend did though, but ultimately, if you were to get married that income would benefit the two of you, not just him, as your income would do the same.

Marriage is about taking a lifelong journey as one, which in my mind includes absolutely everything, not just what I find interesting or beneficial. My wife had $10,000 in student loan debt and I couldn’t imagine saying to her, “You ran it up, you pay it off, and I’ll spend my money on things I think are fun since I didn’t run up student loan debt.”

If a person has run up tons of debt before the marriage, then I would say that it would generally say a lot about that person’s ability to manage money, In that case, if the debt bothers the other, it might be a good idea to look for a mate that has not been so irresponsible with money — excluding the student loans of course. :D

I just don’t understand the separation. Marriage is the ultimate unity. It’s saying I accept and support and love ALL OF YOU — even your debt if that’s the case. Two people working together to reach one common goal is much easier than separating and itemizing responsibilities. If you both have a goal of having a decent retirement, then you both do it together. What if one saves better than the other? What if one was slack with putting away for retirement? Do you then say, once you reach retirement age, “You’re on your own because I saved more and did better than you”?

When you go out to eat after being married, do you split the bill and pay for only yours because you decided to get the special and your spouse decided he wanted a juicy steak?

Again, I ask all these questions as respectfully as I can out of curiosity, not disgust. This topic is definitely a passionate area of personal finance no matter which view you take. I would also like to say that when you referred to electronics and cosmetics, that those issues would be resolved together by deciding, at the time the monthly budget is discussed, when both parties agree on an amount to give each other. (It encourages communication and trust, something I feel is essential in building a solid marriage) Whatever that amount is, the other person would use their money however they see fit, without guilt or question. However, and this is the reason I think separating the money does more to separate than unite, there is a level of responsibility each spouse would have to be reasonable in those expenditures. There’s no accountability at all if everything is separate and as a PF guy, I think accountability is a key factor to creating and accomplishing common goals as husband and wife.

Whew, talk about a blog post. Sorry it was so long. :D

47 Goblin

@Brad Chafee
Thanks for commenting back. I appreciate your opinion. I suppose maybe I am naive, I don’t know. Like I say, I am not married, so I don’t know yet what that commitment feels like. But these days many people don’t actually marry so for now I am just trying to create a situation where we feel we are equals and neither one is supporting the other.

Regarding eating in a restaurant. We usually have a shared wallet with equal money from both of us. Food and drinks also come from this wallet. There have been moments where I have felt a bit begrudged because he can eat and drink a lot more than me, but this is my concession that we are splitting the costs together. I know couples who split everything, even small expenses, and I think they are nuts. But when I see those couples, friends of mine, I realise that different things work for different people.

I think the argument is getting into the realms of marriage and I am not qulified to discuss that. It is certainley interesting and I would say that it is nice to see that diffeent things work for different people. I suppose that, so long as both parties are happy with the agreement then it is working on some level. Maybe when/if I do get married I will change all my views about debt!

48 Fig

My fiance and I are getting married this year. While I’ve always been a fan of the combine into one big pot type of girl, I don’t think that is going to happen. I think we will keep our finances separate. I plan to do this mostly because I have a sole proprietorship that needs separate accounts as well as my banking being based in a different country than the one we will live in. In the current situation for us it doesn’t make sense to try to combine everything technically, but we do have the combined mentality. My money is his money, his money is my money. Debts are OUR debts, although I do feel responsible to pay off my credit card debt before we get married and the “our debt” apply more to student loans which will be about the same amount for both of us.

49 Rebecca

When we married I had no debt and my husb had mountains of it, both credit cards and school loans, we worked hard to get those cards paid for, and they are we have zero credit card debt now. But we sent him back to school to get a degree he is actually using. The first time he racked up loans getting an architecture degree he has NEVER USED! So we put him through school again to get a degree he is using and enjoying in computer graphics, video and web design. Now he supports our family and I am a stay at home mom. I don’t work outside the home, but work my butt off being a mom. I also handle all the finances because I am 1: more anal and tend to worry when I am not in control and 2: my husb could care less and that is how he got into tons of debt in the first place.

I cannot imagine having separate finances. Would I have to ask for money every month because I have no income? It honestly never even occurred to either of us NOT to combine our financial lives when we became married. His school loans are just the school loans. The house is in both our names. The car is technically in mine, but is paid for completely and is OUR car.

50 The Modern Gal

My fiance and I are working on combining our finances. We operate with one combined budget each month, and we’ve split up the bills in a way that I’m carrying more of the load of paying the monthly bills so he can aggressively pay off his debt before the wedding. Because to paraphrase you said, nothing says I love you like starting your marriage off debt-free.

I guess it’s best that every couple does what works best for *them* since money is so often the source of failing marriages, but it doesn’t make sense to *us* to have separate finances.

51 DonCarlos

We keep our stuff separate, but we are each allowed to audit one another’s finances. We’ve split up various responsibilities (I pay for mortgage, taxes and insurance, she pays utilities, kids’ education funds, daycare, etc.). We consult one another on major financial decisions and work out how much we have to pay for various things (we’re re-modeling the boys’ room, she’s buying the bunk beds and I’m getting the mural and other furniture). We keep our investments separate but consult each other on what we’re investing in (I’m a bit more aggressive and she’s a bit more conservative, so we end up with a good mix between the two of us). We thought about combining everything, but just decided not to. Not that we’re against it or anything, we just sort of figured that what we were doing worked for us, so we’re keeping at it.

52 Mike

We combined, but had friends who didn’t. When we went out with them one time, he had over spent his food budget with just enough to cover a meager dinner out. she wouldn’t cover the $5 for an appetizer or a beer. Still don’t understand how that worked. Good news is they just brought a kid into the mix. I guess one pays to dress the top half and the other pays for pants?

Previous post:

Next post: