Separate Finances: A Recipe for Marital Disaster
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Do you know what completely baffles me? Married couples who keep their finances separate.
The crazy thing is that I’ve been hearing a lot about it lately. I just don’t understand the logic. Call me old-fashioned, but I think marriage should be a partnership. Cray cray, I know. But, I think separating your finances is a really bad idea. Here’s why.
The Benefits of Marriage
I’m a total romantic at heart, which is why I was absolutely stoked to get married and combine our cash. Putting all of that dirty, sexy, money into one gigantic shared pile was a dream come true! I’d marry my wife all over again just to get the feeling of our pocketbooks (and our hearts, of course) becoming one.
All kidding aside, of the best biggest advantages to getting married is combining incomes. Yeah, it’s not all that hot, but it is practical.
Related: Who Wears the Financial Pants in Your Family?
Look, I love my wife and she loves me…most of the time. But when you get down to it, one of the best byproducts of that love is that our income instantly increased. After living on our own for years, we finally had two paychecks to pay the bills! Neither one of us was solely responsible for paying all of the grocery bills, utilities, rent payments, etc. We had two incomes, and we felt freakin’ rich!
Before we got married the thought of keeping our finances separate didn’t even cross my mind. It didn’t make sense to me, and it still doesn’t. Everything we make is ours, just like everything we have is ours. It’s not like I’m the only person in the house that uses the lights. I’m definitely not the only one who uses the shower or the heat. We are a couple, a family, a team. It seems ludicrous to divide those expenses from our separate paychecks.
Reasons Married Couples Keep Their Finances Separate
Keeping finances separate may be a trendy, but I think it can be a dangerous practice. Just because Stan and Mary do it doesn’t mean we all should.
Of course, there are exceptions. I can understand why retired widowers who get remarried may decide to keep things separate. After all, these people are bringing an entire lifetime’s worth of savings to the marriage – a savings that they accumulated with another person. In these situations, there are often adult children involved as well. I can totally see how it may be simpler to keep their finances separate so that those children receive their “proper” inheritance.
You got me. I’ll buy that. But, there are plenty of reasons that I won’t buy.
1) My spouse/fiance has a lot of premarital debt.
So, your future spouse racked up a lot of debt before you got married? Maybe they went on wild spending sprees with their credit cards. Perhaps they financed a brand new $60,000 car that they can’t afford. Whatever the case, they’re bringing a lot of financial baggage to the marriage.
But guess what…you should know all of this ahead of time. For realsies, I don’t blame you for finding this type of behavior troublesome. I really don’t. But if it’s so bad that you’d prefer to keep separate finances, you should probably be reconsidering marriage in the first place.
Some people like to play the “It’s their debt” game. That’s bullhonkey. You’re a team now. Plus, it is very possible that you have both benefited from some of this debt, especially when it comes to student loans. When one of you wins, the team wins. When one of you loses, the team suffers. Stop being a baby and clean up the debt together.
Nevermind the fact that you are a married team in spirit. When you get married, you are now considered a legal partnership in almost every state. Your debts are her debts and vice versa. Just because you keep your finances separate doesn’t mean that creditors won’t come after your money as well. You are now a legal partnership as well as an emotional one, so you may as well act like one. Instead of separating your finances, why not team up and knock that debt out together? You now have double the ammo to mow down your biggest of financial enemy, so take advantage of it before it becomes a problem for you both.
2) What happens if the marriage fails?
Several – if not most – of the married couples I know who keep separate finances have at least one member of the partnership who is divorced. Look, I understand that they may have gone through some traumatic times. But nothing says “We’re in this for the long haul” less than having a backup plan just in case things don’t work out. Essentially, you’re saying “I mostly trust you, but not with my money.” With this sort of attitude, how could you possibly fail??? *sarcasm drip, drip*
If you are this gun-shy about combining your finances, you’re probably not ready to get married again. Seriously folks, it’s 2015. Why not live together and skip the vows? You’ll be better off in the long run.
3) We don’t want to fight about money.
Personally, I think people who use this excuse are fooling themselves. They think that by keeping their finances separate and not communicating about money, they won’t ever fight about it. HA! Seriously peeps, what happens when one partner needs to borrow cash from the other in order to pay the cable bill? Is there an IOU system? Do you have to grant special favors to the spouse/creditor? This type of arrangement is bound to cause resentment, which usually means a big ‘ol fight.
In my experience, the exact opposite of this excuse has been true. A marriage is a team like any other. As I’ve said before, when the team is put before the self, the team prospers. When the team communicates with one another, the team wins. So too does the marriage team. When both partners are communicating about their shared finances, then the team becomes stronger – both financially and emotionally. When the team fails to communicate, the team becomes weaker. Whether you like it or not, when you are married, your money is the team’s money. The faster you get on board with your teammate, the better off you’ll be.
The Real Reason Married Couples Don’t Combine Finances
Let me jump even higher onto my soapbox to spell the rest of this out for you. For most married couples, the real reason that they separate their money is because they don’t want to grow up. They don’t want to tell themselves “no”…to anything. And, they definitely don’t want anybody else to tell them no either. They have zero intention of being accountable to anybody for their bad spending habits, especially their spouse.
With separate finances, it is easy for these folks to buy anything and everything they want without any consequences. Why? Because they can simply say, “It’s my money. I can do what I want.” If they had to be accountable to one another, they may actually have to change their habits to *gasp* benefit the team. They may have to stop selfishly spending on new shoes, purses, and clothing so that the family (team) could reach their common goal. They may not be able to buy the newest gadget, go to the big game, or go on that hunting trip because it wasn’t in the family budget. For this very reason, most of the married couples I know who keep separate finances are also some of the biggest overspenders I know.
Related: Combining Finances: Holly’s Perspective
Of course, I’m not suggesting that married people should never be able buy what they want. Neither am I suggesting that having a small “slush” fund is detrimental. I am speaking explicitly about those who keep completely separate bank accounts. My point is that marriage is a partnership in every way. Why should finances be any different?
Making Your Money and Your Marriage Work
Although many people may think that separating their financial lives is the answer to solving all the money problems in their marriage, that is definitely not the case. However, there are a number of things that you can do in order to make both your money and your marriage work.
- Talk. – Just like with everything else in your marriage, you need to communicate clearly about money if you’re going to make it work. Sit down with your partner and discuss your money issues, even if you are still dating. Talk about your spending habits. Create a budget together. Be clear about your wants and needs, and be respectful of how your partner handles money. Getting on the same page is key to financial happiness in a marriage.
- Be honest. – Talking is great, but you also have to be honest. If you feel strongly about something, let them know. Of course, it should go without saying, but lying and hiding your spending/debt is an absolute “no-no.”
- Don’t use money as a weapon. – Some people have a tendency to use money as a weapon in their relationship. Whether they are spending money in retaliation or withholding money to have control, they use money to hurt their partner. If this is happening in your relationship, you need to talk about it. It is a symptom of bigger problems. Talk about it. Be honest. Discuss it and make a change.
- Have a plan. – When it comes to money, you need to have a plan. Your plan needs to include both your immediate expenses and a financial plan for your future. Sit down each month and create a budget together. That way, you both have a say in how your money is spent each month. It is also a great time to raise any money concerns you may have with your partner.
- Clean up debt. – Getting rid of your debt is the quickest way to financial freedom. You can’t even imagine how comforting it is to not owe money to creditors each month. Besides the feelings of contentment you’ll achieve, you’ll also find that you’re able to spend your money on the things you love – like travel or entertainment. If you have the chance, clean up as much debt as you can prior to getting married. If you’re already hitched, remember that you are a team now. Tackle each debt as a team and you’ll be able to achieve financial fulfillment quicker than you ever imagined.
Become a Team
Look, I’m certainly not a marriage counselor, but I believe that being on the same page about money is absolutely crucial to a healthy marriage. If you are living separate financial lives, I believe you are headed down a dangerous slope.
We all know that money problems are one of the top causes of divorce in America. Why not get ahead of it and communicate? Force yourselves to talk about money by making your money decisions together. All that can come of it is that you’ll grow closer, financially as well as emotionally. Start talking to your fiance or spouse about how you are handling your money today. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did. I wish you luck!
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I totally agree with you. You know the old Alaskan saying: there are old pilots, and there are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold pilots. In the same way there are “separate” marriages and there are long marriages, but no separate, long marriages.
We are planning to celebrate our 40th anniversary next month and our secret? You know this thing where the woman always has the last word? Well, not in our house! I do, make no mistake about it!
That usually provokes a reaction… until they learn that last word is always “Yes, dear!”
In all seriousness, we have two joint accounts, which each operates separately. She takes care of the bills and the day to day expenses. (I used to be a CFO for many years, but she just does a better job, what can I say?) The “slush” is my baby (everything left over and the few unusual things like trips, etc.). We both have signing power and online access to each other’s accounts (if I can’t trust you with money, what can I trust you with)? In practice, though, we never use our access unless there’s a frantic phone call when one is at the store. (“Honey, can you please take a quick look and see if I have enough money for this?” “Sure, dear, what’s your password again?” LOL)
Regarding spending, our philosophy is simple: what Honey wants, Honey gets (both ways). We usually spend more on each other than on ourselves. Of course, it helps that we’re ancient, relatively frugal and by now pretty much have whatever we’ve always wanted. But the biggest help of all is that I lucked out and snagged the best woman ever made (no offense, Holly). That just solves a world of problems right there…
Congratulations on your 40 year anniversary!!! That is awesome. I too always get the last word, and I always use the same words as yours:)
As far as spending goes, at this point in our lives, neither one of us want much – luckily. What we do want, like going on trips and whatnot, we usually want do together. Each marriage is different and every couple needs to do what works for them. However, I think that keeping separate lives – in any form – tends to be bad news for a marriage.
My husband and I have been married for 10 years this Oct. I had two kids age 11 and 13 coming into marriage he had a 2 yr old. we never not once have had anything with our name on it together except our marriage license. Ten years later he has a major savings account and me well I paid all the bills and am in debt not bad but do have some debt. He has zero debt, how is this fair? Its not and our marriage has been rocky from about the 2nd year,from my experience merge everything together it brings much more closeness in th emarriage because i feel like i have a had a roomate for past ten years.
Same boat here, and couldn’t agree more.
Separate finances create mistrust and feeds the mine yours mentality…some husbands walk around with great credit and spending power and refuse to align finances out if selfishness. I make much less…have significant student loan debt and because our finances are separate..he benefits.
Seems to be your problem and sounds like your husband has to turn into your parent.
Peggy, I completely agree. It helps everyone stay honest. My wife was bringing in nearly 50% of the household income, len get’s laid off. I took this as an opportunity to discuss combing accounts again (again? another story for another time:). She’s adamant about maintaining separate finances, as she aggrees that we need to cut out all non-essentials until we’re back on track.
In the meantime, she ends up ordering a pair of earrings, a vintage wrought iron table lamp, and a new Dooney & Burcke purse, and a $426 grocery bill (for the two of us). An you may be thinking “What’s the big deal, if she has the extra money. Just after all of this self-pampering, she has me pick up and pay for her $287 doctor’ss prescription.
Why couldn’t she have simply avoided those unnecessary purchases so she would be able to pay for her medicines to keep her alive. It ends ups hurting me twice. First of all, that’s money that I can no longer apply to my debts. And second, it lowers morale and build resentment toward her. This won’t end well.
I love reading about this topic, because I am in the same boat and am increasingly perplexed as to the rationale behind keeping separate finances. My spouse insisted upon doing so. I have no idea why I agreed to it. Now, several years later, I harbor a great deal of resentment toward him. It is not a marriage! I feel I have wasted so much time pretending that it is. Remember, many states will grant 50/50 in a divorce (my state does). Withholding access to funds accrued during the marriage is control, plain and simple.
Same here. I am so full of resentment and not working at the moment. ANd he is upset. But when I was the main breadwinner he was happy to use my money for everything. So stupid of me. Still considering a divorce from my part. What is teh point. AS soon as I make some money I will leave. This is not a marriage. ANd obviously I must admit that if you really love a person this would not have happened.
I agree, I’m in the sort of same situation. I make the money, she stays home. At first we had joint accounts until one day I had no money to pay the bills. That was it, separate accounts now. Then she would overdraft her acct. and ask for money to cover the fees… She shops for food with no budget. Why am I still married ? Kids .. soon all will be 18. Then I’m gone. Enough is enough. Some people have respect for their spouses and some just don’t. I was fooled 25 years ago.
My wife and I have been married/lived together since 1992 — and from the git-go we established a separate/joint hybrid finance system that has kept us from adding money to the usual reasons we argue. And you’ll probably think our way of doing this is REALLY outrageous.
She has her bank accounts and I have my bank accounts (all set up to “pay upon death”) AND we have joint accounts for household expenses and for home improvement & repair. And here is the “outrageous” part: the joint accounts get funded by each of us in proportion to our incomes. It works out to one of us defraying 1/3 of our joint costs while the other defrays 2/3s. Of course, the one putting in 2/3 also ends up with way more personal discretionary money than the other. And the other does do more chores.
Does it work? Well, yes, it has. We’ve jointly purchased, maintained and improved several houses. And our trips and vacations are jointly planned and costed out 50/50. But otherwise… my wife drives the car she wanted to have and never had to ask me about it… I guiltlessly and hasslelessly plunk down 3-figure sums for video lecture courses she has absolutely no interest in… and so on. No fighting over money (unless we count the heavy discussions we always seem to have during our house buying).
My wife and I have the exact same system and it works extremely well. I can’t help but marvel at the judgment I am seeing from so many on this issue. My wife is a working professional. I am a working professional. We combine our forces for our shared expenses and bills, as well as experiences such a vacations, etc. There is nothing wrong with having separate accounts for separate spending. If I want to buy a video game that my wife will never play, I will not ask her to pay for it for me. Would she say yes? Probably, but I wouldn’t feel right doing it. I am not entitled to her money. If she or I am laid off from work, the other one simply picks up the slack. That’s how teams work.
How teams do NOT work, however, is one party doing the bulk of the work, while the other one makes little effort and then complains about not being able to spend his or her spouse’s money on a sports car or a pair of gold earrings.
I’d say this is pretty telling, “I am not entitled to her money.” So, basically she’s not entitled to yours either…
“So basically she’s not entitled to yours either”.
And? This is bewildering to me. When did money even become a relevant part of whether your relationship is healthy? You date a girl for 5 years and you’re engaged for the last 2 of those years – at any point did she write a check from your bank account? No. Did your relationship suffer or flourish because your finances were your own? No. Did any portion of falling in love and being happy together relate in any way, shape, or form to her ability to spend money you earned?
So why suddenly after marriage, does either party have to have access to, or create an issue out of the other person’s income? Because of some superstitious, idealistic, fairy tale nonsense belief that the minute you sign a piece of flat cut up wood with ink, something magical happens?
Love is love. Compatibility has nothing to do with how much money either party has. A proper relationship shows that love by contributing where it can, when it wants to. If that person doesn’t contribute and help in times of need, then you’re with the wrong person on a NON MONETARY level. That makes them a jerk. See how that works? You don’t need access to their checkbook. You’re dating a person, not a bank account. If that person doesn’t carry their weight, or act kind when situations come up, then the problem still isn’t the money. Its the person.
Please come out of the dark ages, and become enlightened. Start looking at relationships on a more mature level.
Yes! My husband and I do the same thing. We have a joint account, as well as seperate accounts. It has worked seamlessly for us since we got married in 2010.
I am a bit shocked at all the Judgey McJudgerson’s posting. While I’m well aware that finances are a major cause for divorce, I’m also smart enough to know it’s not simply because someone has a separate account. Clearly these people have many other issues going on.
When my hubby and I first got married we took Dave Ramsey’s FPU course. That was a complete game changer for us. And even though he is against separate accounts, we do what works for us. It is “personal” finance after all.
And for the record Greg, our separate accounts have nothing to do with us not being “grown-up”.
AJ, I’m getting the feeling you want to arm wrestle 😉
Not going to jump on the arm wrestling bandwagon as 1) I’m not a neanderthal and 2) broken arms aren’t so cool.
But what I would like is to have an open dialogue where you are able to see that “your way” because it’s “your blog” is not the only way. Plain and simple: what works for one couple won’t necessarily work for another. But that doesn’t mean you have to judge people because of it.
Secondly, have you looked into any marriage & divorce statistics? Because I have, in addition to having a keen ability to recall the facts from a previous Dave Ramsey podcast.
You are LESS likely to get divorced if:
– you and your spouse both went to college
– you did NOT cohabitate with your spouse before marriage
– you did not have a child out of wedlock
– you make more than 50K a year
– you married after the age of 25
– your parents did not get divorced
– you attended some type of premarriage counseling
I find these stats super intersting, especially considering that you tell people that they should just “live together but not get married if they aren’t ready to join finances”. That whole ‘cohabitating before getting married’ part….that can increase a couples chance of divorce by up to 40%! And here you are worried about someone like my husband and I who meet all of the above criteria, in addition to writing monthly budgets and communicating daily about our finances, just because we have joint AND seperate accounts.
My final point is that while money is known to be one of the top reasons for divorce, that’s just a symptom of the real, bigger problem. People aren’t filing for divorce because someone has a secret checking account or they racked up a bunch of credit card debt. It’s because there is a lack of trust, they aren’t working together, one person feels like they are entitled to _____ because _____, someone was lying/hiding something, a partner didn’t feel validated, etc. I know just as many people who fight about money or get divorced that have joint accounts, as I do people who have seperate accounts. End of story.
Here’s the thing about blogging: When you blog, you write your own opinion. You don’t survey the crowd and ask what everybody else thinks.
I have an idea. Start your own blog and write a post about how you completely disagree with everything we said. Hell, I’ll even share it on all my social media for you!
And, don’t forget to use our affiliate link!
Well, I have to point out:
1) I’d say we’re having a pretty open dialogue. (170+ comments including “Stupidest f*cking thing I’ve ever read.”)
2) Most of your argument is based on a fabricated quote, something I never said or advocated. I didn’t say “cohabitate before you get married” in the piece. When speaking about couples who aren’t ready to combine finances, specifically divorced people thinking about remarriage, I said the following: “If you are this gun-shy about combining your finances, you’re probably not ready to get married again. Seriously folks, it’s 2015. Why not live together and skip the vows? You’ll be better off in the long run.” Thus, a large majority of your argument is void.
3) You said, “…while money is known to be one of the top reasons for divorce, that’s just a symptom of the real, bigger problem. People aren’t filing for divorce because someone has a secret checking account or they racked up a bunch of credit card debt. It’s because there is a lack of trust, they aren’t working together, one person feels like they are entitled to _____ because _____, someone was lying/hiding something, a partner didn’t feel validated, etc.” Yes. Exactly. That is pretty much what this whole piece is about. Separating finances is often the cause (or effect) of a lack of trust, not being a team, entitlement issues, financial infidelity, etc.
Good for you!
I enjoyed reading this! I feel as if there is no hope with marriage! My husband of 9 years doesn’t want me on his bank account! We have been together for 20 years and I thought I married my friend! I am retired Navy as a Civilan and military disabled so I make more being home! I’ve been here through 6 kids of his 6 baby moms taking child support which has been over for 4 years, yet he owed IRS over $50K because he failed to pay. Until me that is! Ever year IRS has frozen my assets along with my bank funds! The system is so screwed up and they did not see use his accounts but mine! I believe he is selfish and self-centered and I feel like I don’t even know who I married 80% of the time!
I absolutely agree with you about combining finances. Regardless of who has more debt going into the marriage and who has the better/worse financial habits, you have to address it as a team. It’s not easy, but it is one of the most important issues to deal with as a couple.
Teamwork is key! It is difficult, but that is what marriage is. It isn’t all roses and romance all the time. That stuff is for movies. In reality, it can be hard work.
And it IS hard work.
I believe it more of a personal choice. For us we have common finances. Its true that often having common finance makes things easier like managing different accounts, tracking them, etc.
It is certainly a choice. If it works, great. However, I just don’t see it working in almost every instance that I know of.
Couldn’t agree with you more. If a couple can’t work together to manage their finances, I would imagine there will be a lot of other areas they will struggle with as well.
It really is one of the most important parts of a marriage, in my opinion. The way that a couple handles money bleeds into every other area of their life together.
I tend to agree with you here Greg as my wife and I have combined finances, and it does create a ‘greater closeness’ as we grow together in how we manage these finances and life in general. I think that closeness can be missing if a couple decides to go with separate finances….
That being said, I can support separate finances if both couples strongly desire it – it just means they need a high level of communication to stay close in this area of their lives. I also think you would desire some ground rules if you went this route. (like saving for retirement, no credit card debt, etc) Without any rules, then one person in the marriage can destroy another person’s finances without them knowing – which would be a big betrayal in my mind.
That would be a huge betrayal. I’m sure that it has been successful for many couples. However, in the cases that I know of, I do not see that success. Instead, I see them use it as an excuse to spend on whatever their heart desires.
But you don’t literally know everyone with separate accounts, so this is a sweeping generalization. That’s like me saying, “Everyone with joint accounts is great with money”. Not true at all.
I definitely didn’t say it was true in all cases. I said some people are successful. Those that I know personally have not been.
I think it just depends on the person. My parents have joined finances and my husbands parents don’t.. How you were raised has a big influence on how you approach your own marriage. My hubby and I manage our accounts together but we have individual accounts to our names. Works fine because we still act like a team.
Fair enough. I would say that you are the exception to what I have witnessed, and I’m glad it works for you. I expect the reason that it does is because it sounds like you manage your finances as if they weren’t separate.
This is the same as my parents and in-laws… my parents have separate accounts and my in-laws have a joint account. Personally my husband and I haven’t joined accounts because I would feel bad taking down his credit score and making him pay for debt that I incurred on my own. He basically pays for everything and I pay for groceries. He makes a lot more than what I make and I’m at the poverty level of income, at least until I graduate from grad school. I’d like to join finances but I don’t feel like a team player yet in the financial part of our relationship (2 years into marriage).
i agree what you see as a kid will shape you. i come from a single parent home my wife comes from a 2 parent home. we do not combine finances but we talked monthly about our finances and pay all joint bills together. every situation is different. my wife runs her own business and primarily operates financially out of that. i don’t see a reason for joint accounts. if there is a problem we share it openly.
too often we here about one spouse making bad financial decisions. if that is the case allow them to spend of their own money and that way you guys have a back up plan.
We are combined all the way – it was just a natural progression of our marriage being a team. How can you be a team if you’ve got separate play books? Not saying it’s asking for trouble, but all the marriages that we know with separate finances have either been separated or divorced at some point… Food for thought anyhow.
You don’t have to say it is asking for trouble, but I’ll do it for you:) In every situation I’ve seen with separate finances, it is either a) a brewing problem b) already a problem or c) a problem that has gone on to cause larger issues like divorce. This is in no way a scientific study, but it is simply what I’ve observed.
Everything of ours is combined, and it honestly works best this way. I think it all depends on the individual person/couple though. However, I don’t see us ever separating our financial lives.
That is cool. It seems that you and the boy have a great relationship going. Just be careful not to take on too much together before you make it official:)
What are you referring to? Michelle and her HUSBAND have been married for a number of years already. I’m so confused by your comment….
AJ, that comment was from 2012…before she got married. Michelle is a good friend of ours.
I am living with my partner, we have only been living together 3 months and everything is still separate. I am 60K in student debt, and he only has a small car loan and mortgage payment. I think we are years from combining finances, since it is going to take me a long time to pay off my student loans. I think eventually we will have joint accounts, but I would like to keep some degree of separation so that I don’t feel any sort of guilt if I decide to buy a shirt or pair of pants every few months. Perhaps we will have different spending money accounts, or maybe by then our circumstances will be totally different and who knows what we will do. I do think that combining finances is a good thing, but I don’t necessarily believe that keeping completely separate finances (even for married couples) is a bad thing.
If I were in your shoes, there is no way that I’d be combining finances. In fact, I really wouldn’t do it before engagement. There is too much risk, too much that can happen. However, once you decide to make that leap into marriage, I really don’t see the point of keeping finances separate. It simply doesn’t do any good, and – in fact – I’m much more concerned that it could be a source of unnecessary conflict rather than a solution to it. Thanks for stopping by!
I think you’re on the right track, Greg, but after 16 years in the trenches with families, I think it’s a lot deeper situation than just not wanting to grow up and be accountable. There are some huge psychological factors at work, and sometimes it’s for reasons of “love”, not “immaturity.” It may be misplaced love, but it’s surprising to see what’s going on in people’s heads about money.
Great piece. I enjoy this topic and your addition toward it!
Fair enough. Obviously, I don’t have the insight into your client’s thoughts like you might. However, I while they may give surface reasons like “love” as a reason to keep finances separate, my gut tells me that they are using that as an excuse. In my experience, couples use it as a way to further their denial about what is really happening with their finances. It makes it easier for them to say, “well he’s not saving so why should I?”
Of course, I have zero scientific data to back this up, so what I’m saying could be complete B.S. I’m just going off my own observations.
Thanks for your addition to this conversation:)
Great post! I could not agree more. I agree that the older couple you described at the beginning has the best or most understandable out in the combining of finances once married.
When you get married, you don’t stay as two separate individuals, or roommates or anything like that. You as the two become one. Very similar to the team analogy that you used. When finances are kept separate that can just breed problems.
What do you do if one makes considerably more than the other? Does the “richer” one live like a king and the other like a pauper? Situations like this can easily cause resentment between the two or even cause the couple to keep secrets from each other, which over time could potentially be cancerous.
Having a slush fund as you put it is a great idea, my wife and I do it. But, that is not keeping finances separate as some might argue. As you said, money is a leading cause to divorce in America, and by keeping things wholly separate, you’re just setting yourself up for potential failure.
Thanks again for the post!
“What do you do if one makes considerably more than the other? Does the “richer” one live like a king and the other like a pauper? Situations like this can easily cause resentment between the two or even cause the couple to keep secrets from each other, which over time could potentially be cancerous.”
I couldn’t have said it better. Right on. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!
I totally agree! Greg makes about 2/3 of our take home pay. Does this mean that I should only enjoy and benefit from 1/3 of our income? Does this mean that he should pay the mortgage and I should just pay a few little bills? Does this mean that I am only making 1/3 contribution to this family? Hell no, it doesn’t. Everything is “ours” and that includes debts, bills, income, and random windfalls of money that come our way.
I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing lately. Although money was handled separately in my previous long term relationship, it did still create major issues. When we weren’t accountable to each other with spending we both ending up overspending. Now that I’m starting a new relationship I’m trying to be very upfront about money from the start. She does have a bunch of money owing on student loans, but if we can get on the same page I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem.
The key is communication. I would definitely keep separate finances, meaning bank accounts, until we were at the very least engaged. There is just too much stuff that can happen. Separating that would be a nightmare. However, it is super important to get on the same page about money before you decide to marry. I think you are going about it the right way, my friend.
And good luck with the new relationship! I’m not sure you mentioned this on your blog…or maybe I just missed it somehow!
I totally agree with your reasoning of why couples don’t want to combine their finances. At least that’s the reason I kept financial secrets and different accounts when I was married. And now I’m divorced…shocker! Going forward into future relationships I plan to combine finances, money talks, decisions – the whole nine yards. In my experience, it’s a bad idea to have separate finances, or at least not something like a “yours, mine and ours” deal.
Thank you for volunteering to be our real life example Carrie:) I didn’t know that you had been married.
I think you definitely got the point I was trying to make. The idea of “yours, mine, and ours” can definitely be toxic. Unfortunately, I see a lot of couples doing that these days.
I can’t imagine being married and having separate accounts in which the husband or the wife doesn’t know what’s going on. I’m a firm believer in transparency and communication in relationships no matter what aspect of life they involve, thus this will be the path I take if the day ever comes 🙂
Personals Alert!!! Single, financially savvy, female blogger seeking financially savvy male to settle down with. Must know how to balance a checkbook. If you like it, you must be willing to put a ring on it…and combine finances. Interested parties should leave a brief message at http://www.bluepelicanloans.com/blog/.
🙂 Hope that helps Veronica!!! j/k
I enjoy these types of polarizing financial discussions.
I don’t think you’re right. But I don’t think you’re wrong, either. I simply think your position is biased. Just as all of our opinions about anything are created from our personal biases and filters.
In a client situation where separate finances are a source of conflict- I find the addition of two little words makes a HUGE difference in the discussion. Instead of “my way is right, their way is wrong” – try this – “my way is right FOR ME, their way is wrong FOR ME”.
The point is to understand, but you don’t have to agree.
Of course I’m biased. Its my blog:)
I think the whole “do what is right for you” can be valid. I also see it used as an excuse to not make substantial and relevant change.
I’m not saying that keeping separate finances could never work. I’m sure that their are people out there that are shining examples of it working. However, I have not seen it. In fact, in every example that I’ve seen, I’ve witnessed the opposite effect. Keeping separate finances has either caused problems, is causing problems, or is about to cause problems. So I guess if my observations are a bias, then I’m biased.
I also love these types of polarizing discussions. I think that they are a blast. I appreciate your counter point! Thanks for adding to the discusssion!!!!
These are some GREAT points and I’ve seen this problem a lot with the people I’ve coached over the years. I don’t know how a couple can really function and claim that they’re close if they don’t share the finances. Combining finances forces you to communicate and become a team. It forces you to grow up and sacrifice and be responsible to your family.
Thanks Jason! I couldn’t agree more. It forces you to communicate…if you want to succeed anyway.
I have a different viewpoint to share. I work as a domestic violence counselor at a large non-profit in the Chicago-land area. I have a master’s degree in counseling and I run an Economic Empowerment class for women (budgeting basics, credit basics, etc). In my experience, money in relationships (marriage or otherwise) has a real potential to be used to control others (control being a major element in abusive relationships). The women I work with (who come from a wide range of backgrounds: from high to low socioeconomic status, African-American, Caucasian, Asian, Indo-Pak, etc.) tell me stories about how combining finances led to their being isolated, controlled, and in some cases stuck with no access to the money and no way to leave a toxic relationship! I think in the context of the possibility of abuse occurring, having separate finances could serve as a protective factor against a controlling partner. Not all partners are obviously controlling right away either so keeping separate finances from the beginning could help people who find out years later they are married to a Jeckyl-and-Hyde abusive person.
I guess what I’m emphasizing is that there may be people in the world who NEED to keep their finances separate. Separate finances could help ensure both partners are skilled in money management (instead of one partner handling all money matters which can easily turn into control or exclusion of one partner from money decisions or one partner exiting a relationship clueless about money stuff). Keeping finances separate, especially for domestic violence survivors, often serves as a way to keep some independence which is so important since they’d been so hurt by lack of access to or control of “team” money in the past.
I do like the idea of keeping finances together if possible. I see it as an ideal that I hope many of my DV clients one day reach with a trust-worthy partner. You are right about there being a parallel process between how you treat your finances and how healthy the marriage might be. I wanted to put a little reminder out there that not all people can make that choice to keep their money together; sometimes how money matters are handled is a matter of safety and keeping access to an exit strategy handy.
I guess if nothing else, I tell the ladies I work with to keep at least ONE bank account separate from your partner… just in case 😉
Thanks for the opportunity to add a new perspective.
Hey Eryn! I appreciate your perspective. Also, I think you rock for working in such an noble profession!
In response, I’d say that what I wrote doesn’t really pertain to people in an abusive relationship. The couples I’m talking about are the everyday, normal, loving couples who simply choose to separate their finances for no other reason than because they want to.
Obviously, finances can be used as a weapon and often is in cases of abuse. Clearly, abuse victims are going to have some trust issues when they enter a new relationship. However, in my mind, if they are not ready to combine their finances, they really may not be ready to make another marriage committment. Until they are totally ready, I would think it best to simply live as partners. You can live in the same house and share your lives together. But if you aren’t ready to give your complete trust to another human being, no matter the circumstances, I don’t think you are probably ready to get married.
That was an awesome comment, and I thank you so much for stopping by and adding a different view to this conversation!
my partner (the male) and I have separate accounts, the main income is in my partner’s account and he has full control with that account. We are about to separate and it has a lot to do with money issues. He is a control freak!!
I’m sorry to hear about what you are going through. That must be very difficult.
So do you feel like separate accounts are good because you are splitting, or do you think that had you joined accounts it would have helped you get on the same money page?
I think we should have had one joint account, one business account and maybe a separate account for each of us. My partner decided there should be various accounts where he has full control and an account for myself where he has full control. So when I need money I haveto ok it with him first and believe me it is always a battle to get any. I am sure there are not many relationships that work this way just ours. From the first day we have been together its seems that we have always been two separate people not a couple and I am just realizing what a fool I have been.
Yikes. That doesn’t sound good at all. I would agree that he sounds like a control freak, and he was using those accounts to control you. As you said, when finances are being handled like that, you aren’t really operating as a healthy couple.
On the bright side, you have realized the issue. I’m sure you’ll learn from the experience and won’t make the same mistakes again. Don’t beat yourself up about it though. Everybody makes mistakes, and you’ll get back on your feet and be better for it when all is said and done!
You SHOULD be a team of equals. Why do you have to ask him for money, not earning enough yourself? That should be a danger sign for you!
This is exactly what happened to me in two marriages in a row. “Combined” or “team” finances meant total control on his part and complete financial isolation on my part. Both marriages led me to WRECKED credit, debts they took out (in my name), unpaid back-taxes with the IRS, and zero alimony and very little child support after divorce. I cannot agree with Eryn more!!! I wish I would have set aside some separate savings for the survival of me and my two children.
(Side note: I’ve experienced LOTS of counseling/learning/healing since those two marriages and figured out how NOT to attract the abusive type. Yay! However, in my current, wonderful marriage, financial struggle is very prevalent which is why I’m scouring the internet for marriage/monetary information. 🙂 )
I find combining finances quite simple but I have read many blogs where couples say that they find it very difficult to combine their finances and be open about what debt they have and how much money they have saved.
And you are correct about seniors having their reasons for not combining their debt. My father and his lady friend keep everything separate even though they live together 90% of the year. They even keep separate homes. But they can afford to.
I think remarried seniors are a totally in a totally different ballgame than the rest of us. There is a lot more financial baggage there that they have to deal with when they combine finances. It is easier, and probably safer, to not do it.
On the other hand, for couples who either are married or considering marriage, if they can’t be open about their debt and money, that should be a HUGE red flag. That is a big indicator of problems to come!
Yes, I completely agree with you! I see it all the time – couples with separate finances and it just confuses me! It just makes the most sense to keep them together. That way you have to be on the same page about your finances. It forces you to talk about finances, and where you want to cut back, where you want to be in a year, 3 years, or whatever. You have to be on the same page – it’s so important! Keeping separate finances makes it too easy to hide purchases, bad spending habits, or worse – a large amount of debt. These kind of things eat away at a marriage.
I love how you say people don’t want to grow up. They don’t really want to be a true partner with someone else – because that means answering to someone else. They also want an easy escape plan if things go awry.
Thanks Rebecca. Being on the same page financially is one of the most important things in a marriage. If you are not, you are almost destined to fail.
I love how you say being a true partner with someone else means that you have to be accountable to them as well. Right on! It’s not like one person is holding the other down. It is quite the opposite. You should usually be building the other up! In fact, if it is important to Holly to spend money on buying or doing something, most of the time I have no problem with that. Part of it is because we don’t spend much on ourselves throughout the year, but part of it is because I want her to be happy. However, keeping money separate leads to sneakiness, which is not a good thing for building trust.
“If this is the case and you find it so troublesome that you would prefer to keep separate finances, you should probably be reconsidering marriage in the first place.” PREACH IT! If you aren’t ready to “be one” monetarily (because of student loans or anything else) why the heck are you getting married??
I don’t know if the real reason is not wanting to say “no” to yourself. I think there could be a lot of reasons but they boil down to trust. Maybe you don’t want to say “no” to your partner because you think it may damage your relationship. Or maybe you don’t trust your partner to properly communicate with you around purchasing decisions.
I definitely think that trust is also a major issue. Again, though, if you can’t trust your partner, why get married?
As a single-income household, this isn’t really an issue for us. We have one checking account, several savings accounts, and a couple credit cards. All are joint. There’s no feeling of “my money” and “her money”
Just wanted to add that we are in the same boat, more or less. My husband is the only one with a steady paycheck. However, even when we both worked full-time, there was never an issue with sharing everything. Both of our checks went straight to the bank account that we’ve always shared.
That is how our income is too. It is never taken into consideration who has earned the particular income. It all goes into our various accounts where “we” decide what to do with it!
I agree that combining your finances when married is the smartest move in the long run.
We combined ours when we got engaged and haven’t regretted it once. We were able to team up and pay off debt, make financial goals together and spend money on what’s important to us.
I’ve never really understood why people would want to keep their finances separate, but everybody is different and sometimes that might be the best move for them.
We combined our finances when we got engaged as well. In fact, Holly is writing about that for tomorrow. We haven’t regretted it either!
Hope the house is coming along for you:-)
I agree 100%. I feel like if I can’t trust you with my paycheck, there’s no way I’m trusting you with my heart! Jefferson and I trust each other fully, and money is a big part of it.
Absolutely. Although it may be uncomfortable and a bit taboo to talk about, being on the same page about money is a huge part of any marriage. It can really make or break your relationship – pun intended!
My boyfriend and I are cohabitating, but we fully plan to combine finances when we have the legality of a marriage involved. Right now we pay for everything separately, but we do have a joint savings that we put money for trips and household necessities into. Surprisingly, you weren’t that “soapboxy” at all…hit the right balance I think 🙂
Thanks LBee! I hope I wasn’t too soapboxy!
In my opinion, you are doing it exactly right. Get your ducks in a row before you get married, and when you take the leap, you then become one team!
We have a hybrid system. Most of our money goes into joint accounts and she does the budget, pays the bills etc. I have a separate account that gets $100/week and whatever business income I generate that I use for paying down my pre-marital debt. That was originally paid from the joint accounts, but my wife hates it when payments don’t come out the same day every month, and some of my debtees aren’t very consistent about what day they take their pound of flesh.
Fair enough. You guys seem to communicate about what is going on though – which is key.
Also, I know it is none of my business, but why wouldn’t your creditors take their payment on a consistent basis? Is that even legal? I mean, people can’t just take money from you whenever the want, right? You have to know when it is coming out of your account.
Creditor. That was the word I couldn’t think of! If I could have gotten Bank of America to make withdraws on a specific day, I could have saved myself a few hundred in over-draft fees when I moved. But they always insisted that their system was set up in a way that they had no control over which day in a 3 day period the money would actually come out.
Wow, that is ridiculous. No wonder they are bleeding money.
A lot has been said here, but my only experience with this is my parents, and my own. My parents were HORRIBLE with money, and most of it stemmed from financial infidelity. They keep seperate accounts and have no idea what the other is doing, besides the bills that each is responsible for. They bring in over $100k a year and lost their house, cars, boat and went bankrupt because they weren’t in it together.
My wife and I have combined from the beginning. We are both working toward the same goals and have barely ever fought about money. Like, ever. I could NEVER imagine seperating accounts, because it’s just so much more difficult, and I think is a detriment to reaching financial independence and building wealth. It reminds me of a fact I heard. Clydsdale (sp?) horses can tow up to 8,000 lbs. individually, but if you pair two together, they can tow over 25,000 lbs. I believe this to be true with marriage and finances as well.
Wow. I love that quote Jacob. I have no idea if it is true, but I love the idea! Maybe that is because I agree with it:)
I completely agree that everything should be combined. I just got married on Saturday and as soon as we get back from our honeymoon everything will be combined. We already discussed our budget and who’s closing what accounts. I personally think I am now one with my hubby and I think we should do everything money related together. Besides it will be especially good for me to get away from being so controlling with my money. Now I have someone else’s input that has to be considered.
That is so awesome and I totally agree that you are now “one.” It sounds like you are off to a great start….and I wish you the very best!
I know several people who keep finances separate, and it works well for them (as much as let on, anyway). I used to think it was strange, but now not so much.
I think the key word is “as much as let on, anyway.” 🙂 I thought the same thing about a number of our friends over the years. They all make plenty of money and they projected that they were doing very well. Come to find out, they are all having money problems…which is starting to create marriage issues as well.
I hope that people that choose to keep separate accounts succeed. I really do. I just haven’t seen very good outcomes…and those outcomes are really avoidable.
Awesome post. My parents have been nearly married for 35yrs, and have their finances combined. I dated someone once a few yrs ago, who wouldn’t budge on combining finances (something we talked about when in marriage), needless to say….I moved on…and I hope you’re not wondering why 😉
I’d agree, if you can’t get together on the financial front, things probably aren’t going to work out well in the long run. Finances are so important to a relationship. It isn’t the most romantic thing in the world, but it has to be a topic where you can find common ground with your partner. If not, it is best to move on.
As a financial coach who is face to face with people struggling with money problems, I agree with you. Those who have separate accounts and a “her debt” and “his debt” mentality have more underlying issues that just money. Money is a reflection of our values…how we spend money just are the bubbles of what is happening under the surface.
Thanks for the comment Brent! I couldn’t agree more.
Great post! I couldn’t agree more. I have a couple friends who’s finances are kept separate, they each pay some of the bills, and they are constantly overdrawing their accounts. This is obviously due to other financial problems they have with spending too much, but I think it would help if they combined their accounts, at least they could only overdraw on ONE account instead of two.
Come on, folks. Just because merging your finances works for you, it doesn’t mean that having separate finances can’t work for other people. Nor does it necessarily mean that marriages with separate finances are disasters waiting to happen. In fact, I see the opposite happening. I see couples with joint finances struggling because they are in a constant tug of war.
I have been with my husband for over ten years. We have a joint account and a credit card for the mortgage and other joint expenses, but the rest remains completely separate, and it works perfectly fine for us.
Forget what everyone says and make up the rules that work for you.
Actually, I don’t think that having seperate slush fund accounts is necessarily a bad thing. Yes, couples with joint finances need to learn to communicate about money. That is the point. Seperate finances means there is no communication, creating a much bigger chance of failure in either your personal life or your financial life. Frankly, completely seperate finances means no accountability to each other. Why get married in the first place?
Wow! Really? “you must have joint accounts or your marriage is doomed to fail?” Ha! Married 32 years to the love of my life and we have always kept seperate accounts. Know why” “cause we each want some independence from each other. And you know what? It works for us. Always has and always will.
Congratulations on your 32 years of marraige! I hope we are able to make it that long:)
I don’t think you are doomed to fail as a couple simply because you keep seperate finances. However, what I see over and over again is that couples who keep seperate finances tend to have poor communication about money. This usually leads to fights about money, arguments about who’s money is who’s, or a terrible plan for retirement. That is not to say that it won’t work. I just don’t see it work very often.
I think that that is awesome- but that you are in the minority. What’s important is that it works for you…and I would say that after 32 years it is definitely working!!!!! =)
It just sounds so impersonal and distant. Its like you dont trust each other or want to keep some aspects of your life hidden from your partner. When you go out, do you ask her to chip in? what if you go on holidays or buy a car who pays , half each or the benefactor?
If one party earns considerably more than the other one is poor and one is rich ! What the?
Have joint account where full paychecks go into, and savings account each where 2-10% of combined weekly income goes into each savings account. If you can link it with mortgage this money can also help lower interest charged. Otherwise stay single douche bags
fernando, You say stay single “douche bags” if we don’t see things your way; So are you saying the only thing that makes the marriage is sharing money? Me and my husband have separate checking and savings accounts and we are not hiding it from each other; It’s just the way we prefer, we may eventually do a joint checking for some household expenses for convenience but it’s nothing of urgency as we have a system that works for us. Some couples might work best with joint accounts and some might not. Every person is different and every couple is different, any number of systems can work for different permutations of couples. Trying to say one system of money management is the only way to go is like saying there is only one way to make a sandwich.
My husband and I have been together 12 years and married for 6, we have two children. We have never combined our finances. Between the two of us I am the one with no debt and a paid off auto loan. I feel unworthy of his trust because he would not combine our incomes. We don’t own a house, I don’t even know how we are going to save money for a house. How does it work when I don’t even know how much he makes? Everyday I question if I should walk away from this.
I don’t blame you. That situation raises some serious red flags. How do you guys file your taxes???
It sounds to me like you need to have a good, serious sit-down and talk about your concerns. Not being on the same page financially can be toxic to a relationship.
Slow down there Mr. Romantic. I believe that I can love someone and keep their hands off my checkbook. A partnership does not mean I have to pay for things that I don’t want to. We split the bills according to the overall percentage of what each person makes and it works. We never fight about money and we don’t hold each other responsible for the other’s spending habits. With 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, why would you do it any other way?
Ha! “Mr. Romantic” 😀
I’m glad to hear that separate finances is working out for you. With that said, a lot of people who love each other fight about money. Furthermore, I don’t think I ever said that you had to combine finances in order to love your spouse. Even so, as I’m sure you know, there is more to making a marriage work than just love. I guess I’m old fashioned…if you are married it becomes “ours” and not “mine and yours.” When both partners aren’t committed to the financial well being of the unit, from what I’ve seen, resentment starts to build. Money is the number one cause of divorce. I’d venture to guess that many of those divorces are due to a lack of communication and accountability.
Besides, why wouldn’t you combine your finances? If it is because you “might” get a divorce, it sounds like you’re already looking for an easy way out…not you specifically…but in general. If you don’t want to make the commitment to completely combine your lives, including your financial lives, why get married? Why not just date exclusively?
Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate the comment!
My wife and I do the same thing and it works for us. Each couple is different and each couple has to define what works best for them. Both of us come from previous relationships where money was used as a weapon or there were constant fights over it. We split the bills based on our income percentages and the only thing we own jointly is our home. Once all the bills are paid, the remaining funds belong to us to use to do with as we please including savings, investing, vacations, hobbies, or improving our home. We never fight about money because we both feel we can be a couple but still have some control of our financial destiny.
This is all very interesting to me. Im married 5 years and we have never combined our finances. I guess i never thought i would ge married and when i did, i didnt exactly jump in with both feet. It took me two years to change my last name and I never felt comfortable relinquishing control of my bank accounts. My husband makes about 75% of our household income and he is VERY good at spending it. I however am extremley frugal and although we have no joint accounts, i do oversee our finances and have access to all accounts, credit card statements, etc. I might make a comment here and there about his spending when i go over our statements, but that is as far as it goes because I figure its his money and he can afford it so he can do what he wants.
We have no debt other than the morgage, and we each have plenty in savings and retirement accounts. We each have our own businesses and we do our own taxes which we file jointly. It is a nightmare of confusion every year, but once April 15th comes around its pretty much smooth sailing the rest of the year. I dont know if i agree or disagree with the article, but i would be very interested to hear what anyone has to say about my particular situation and any advice would also be appreciated.
Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I’m assuming that since you found this article you are at least considering that you should combine finances.
I guess, my question for you is are you both on the same page? Do you resent the other’s spending? Do you communicate about money? If you are feeling some strain due to finances, you may try and talk to him about your feelings/the situation. Also, you may both benefit from taking a money class together…something like Financial Peace University or an equivalent.
Again, thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you again soon!
It seems like ur damned if u do, ur damned if u don’t. As the major breadwinner for my family and my spouses spending out of control, I’m at my wits end. I have tried the calm communication route and its not working. My suggestion of separate bank accounts obviously caused problems because he doesn’t want my money to go away. But I’m not going to sit here why he spends thousands of dollars wastefully (pays for him and his friends to go to Whistler for the weekend – I didn’t go) while I’m at work. If I work and make a lot and you work a little and make a little then I think separate finances will keep your reaLity of money in check!
That sounds very frustrating! It sounds like you guys aren’t on the same page about money at all. =/
I definitely agree that sharing finances is a part of being married and united with your partner. I cohabitated with my husband for 4 years before we got married. All of our bills were split 50/50. There were times when he could meet his obligation because he spent his money on other things, and even when when met half way, there were things that I wanted to do, that he wasn’t able to financially capable of, like trips, movies, dining out. It was very frustrating and at times hopeless for our relationship. Still in love, we decided to marry. As soon as we did, I took over the finances. He was great about it, willing, and understanding that it was best for us and our marriage. 11 years later, we are in great financial shape, both with great credit scores. At the time we got married, he was surprised and upset that he was denied credit when purchasing furniture for our home. I was given the credit even though I.was unemployed at that time. 🙂 We have a joint account that both of our paychecks go into. The bills get paid, and we both get an equal allowance for spending. At Christmas time and tax return time, we get a bonus! We decide together how we spend our money on trips, dates, and other major expenses.
This has worked great for us. We have had heated discussions about some disputed purchases on non-neccesities, but the focus is always what’s best for the family. Love being married to a team player.
We have joint accounts as well obviously. It’s a great thing to come together and make decisions as a team. In the end, I think everyone is happier that way!
My fiance and I have kept separate finances for the duration of our co-habitation and throughout our engagement – approximately five years. We plan to maintain separate finances when we are married and divide all shared expenses – including the home we own together – equally in half. We are neither unwilling to grow up, nor are we over-spenders or unwilling to be held accountable for our spending habits – of which, we are quite similar and quite frugal.
I think you have missed a margin of couples for which this system actually works quite well. I think you also have missed a glaring reality. While unfortunate, many marriages end in divorce. And many couples have different spending habits, different credit backgrounds and different debt. Some might make more or less than their spouse and want to protest the assets they earned before getting married. I don’t see anything wrong with that; in fact, I think it is smart.
I don’t believe anyone goes into a marriage with the intent of getting divorced. But part of marriage is the merging of assets – it’s not all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. It’s a contract. Each person entering that contract should feel comfortable and be fully educated and aware of their marriage rights.
Thanks for the comment Megan! I appreciate your thoughtful response.
I don’t deny that this works for some people, and I’m glad that it seems to be working for you. Also, I agree that marriage is a contract. While there is more to it than money, in the eyes of the law it is essentially a legal contract where two people combine their assets. I would love to hear your reasoning as to why you would enter into that contract and not actually combine those assets? Honestly, when people share the reason that it is “in order to protect their own assets,” it sounds like they are worried about a divorce at some point. If that is the case, shouldn’t people question whether they should be getting married in the first place?
Again, no disrespect intended at all. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Sorry, but I have to resespectfully disagree and add one more reason to the ones mentioned above.
My husband and I just started separating our finances after 19 years of marriage. The reason? I am frugal and a planner for future, he is a big spender. Back when we met, we both were students and didn’t have much money. It took us years to build our life up. Later on in life we noticed that I never really changed my spending style with more money in hand, but my husband did.
At this time of our life, I am a green minimalist. I love the nature and living naturally and frugal. I also am an anti consumerist.
My husband on th other hand eats in expensive restaurants on his lunch breaks, bought the most expensive BMW motorcycle that ultimately cost us $35,000 , he is signed up at two different gyms and also spent tons of money on brand new expensive gym equipments for home. He is not even athletic. He own three bicycles, because he decided to take on that sport. He own more that twenty winter jackets while the temperature in our area never goes lower than 60 degrees. He also loves to go out with his friends and eat and drink like a milionair.
Well, you get the picture.
He agrees with what ever I say, but when it comes to action, he is having a hard time.
So after 19 years and tons of fights later, we found the solution. We just opened separate bank accounts and he is also going to give me 30% of his income for taxes and another 30% for savings. This way he pays his own bills and spends everything that is remaining on what he wants. This will save me the frustration of looking at his expensive lifestyle while I am pinching pennies to save for our kids college and our retirement.
We fight a lot less now and it is so much fun to see his shocked face when his account gets empty so fast. I love it. He is also finally learning to become responsible for his own money, something his parents failed to teach him years ago.
On my side, I can happily watch how my savings are growing and enjoy this short life 🙂
But wouldn’t you rather address the problem of why he wants to buy those things and overspend in the first place? Or shouldn’t you figure out what your mutual goals really are? Isn’t that the real issue? Separating accounts is just a band-aid and will not help either of you in the long run. If he admits he overspends, then he needs your iron fist and both of you need to come to agreement over that, not over just enabling him to do it more! You guys are supposed to be on the same team, presumably. He’s not a kid, he’s your equal, yet you’re treating him like he is not your equal and like he is a child.
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We know a lot of couples who combine finances, a lot of couples who don’t and some who do a combination. The couples we know who combine fight over finance far more often then the latter 2. A couple of points to consider and our thinking is backed up by our couples therapy friend. That each spouse has a sense of self worth when they have their own finances. A bit of control and say over the money they make. That the bills need to be divided into who takes care of what. We separate and I pay the mortgage and household bills as my wife , who makes considerably less, doesn’t have to worry about paying the mortgage, electric, cable, etc… She needs only to worry about her personal things and the household food bill. We don’t fight over finance EVER. She does not like it when we go on vacation and I foot the bill ( there is no need for her to pay), she feels like a beggar. So we have a cash drawer so she can save for vacation ( a month and half each year) and she can contribute to the vacation. She has a feeling of self worth and doesn’t have to feel like she is just mooching off her husband. Some woman love to mooch off their husbands, but mine doesn’t. We discuss finances, how savings are going, retirement, etc … There is no fighting over her spending lavishly, because she knows she’s going to get the bill. There is no fighting over me spending lavishly because she knows I’m thrifty and she would ask me if I did. She knows she’ll be taken care of if something happens to me, because we discussed it.
Combining finances is just an old way of thinking, something you just did like having kids if you get married. Some people just like to hold onto the old ways because it gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling of what is expected of them. Do what makes you happy and causes the least amount of drama in your marriage.
This is a great post!
Thank you so much for you insight!
I am struggling with my marriage because of that reason.
Before I met my husband I bought my flat. I am still paying for the mortgage which is quite high. I wanted to pay it all on my own and I have been managing so far although there is not much left for fun and entertainment afterwards.
My now husband also had his flat and pays for his mortgage and bills there. We live in my place during the week, and we go to his during the weekends.
He earns at least double than me and keeps all his accounts separate and secret. He can afford to buy pretty much anything he wants. He sold another property he owned recently and he is fully loaded. Good on him. Sometimes he buys me little presents that I don’t need, when what I relly need is some money to fix the bedroom light casket.
Now he has been trying to convince me many times of selling my flat and I don’t want to, because it means a lot to me emotionally. It is also my shelter and a legacy for our children.
So as a result he calls me selfish and expects me to pay for all our expenses 50/50. Which of course I can’t afford. So he keeps saying that I’ve never got any money and why should he pay for things with his money.
I am now pregnat and when I go on maternity leave I will have my salary slashed to less than half. I will not be able to afford the mortgage nor the baby on my own salary… unless I sell the flat…Or my husband contributes.
But will he? he says I am the selfish one who wants to keep the flat as mine. Although he forgets the faxt that he actually lives there for free!
Saying this I find myself having to find extra ways to earn some cash on the side and ask for help to my parents during maternty. Frankly a worry that doesn’t do very well to my pregnancy.
I am contemplating divorce or legal arrangements to protect myself in this marriage.
Sounds like you have a lot on your plate. I hope things work out for you!
I keep my finances separate from my wife’s because I do not want to take up her financial liabilities. I paid her credit card bills twice and now if she gets into debt, she better handle it herself. No more entitlement of a bailout. She must learn to grow up and take care of her bills. If she cannot then let her face bankruptcy.
I’ve been married five yrs from day one I had no desire to change me last name. main reason I didn’t want to separate my self from my kids name who have my last name vs father. I already have twenty credit cards and two auto loans all prior to marriage . With great credit history one yr after paid auto loans. My husband had bad credit and child support responsibilities I thought would effect me. Everything down to water,cable electric and insurance is all in my name. I recently purchased a home on my own due to students loan issues my husband didn’t qualify. And yes sometimes I fell overwhelmed with making sure everything is paid on time . Sometimes my husband makes me fell like he is very dependant on me . I would love nothing more to share the stress. Yes he gives me money for half the bills and the rest we both place in my account. never have issues with our money spending together just wanting him to have joint accounts with me..
Married for eight years and i totally agree with you!
Why would you trust someone with your heart and not your money??? Money is not nearly as important as your heart and, if either you or your SO is having money problems, that is an obstacle the marriage needs to overcome together, not leave it for one person. You can make money your whole life with people you don’t know, but you can’t do that with love.
Guess what? It’s not my husband’s fault that i ran away from home at 17/18 (i’m 32 now) across the country and financed that with credit to which i eventually had problems with and et cetera.
But you know what? Even if i say and do “i’m going to be the only one to pay this off so it doesn’t affect you”, it still affects him. He STILL has to wait for me or I for him to catch up. It is STILL getting in the way of our MUTUAL goals in life. That’s STILL money being displaced away from our goals. No matter what i do about it, just the fact that it happened, even if it was before i ever knew he existed, it is going to affect him and our marriage. And as it happens, if he’s great with money, why should he not be able to help? Why do we have to draw the line between whose problem is whose? It’s a community problem now, let the community help fix it (community of spouse + spouse).
I don’t understand how anybody could say different, because anything i’ve read or heard to the contrary is just justification for not communicating and/or fear of being vulnerable/of communicating to your SO, to which i say, “Why did you even get married then?” Why do you both not want to help make your community better than each of you individually? Acknowledge your problems and deal with them with your SO and vice versa. Do you not know how rewarding that is? Sure, it’s hard but suck it up. Your SO is worth it or you shouldn’t be married to them.
Do you know what happens when people refuse or stop communicating about things, ESPECIALLY things that are difficult for them? It is the end of your marriage, that’s what.
And for note, i am the breadwinner of the family. i own my own business out of our home and he owns one as well, although mine is the one that pays every bill and allows us our lifestyle. Everything is merged between the two of us. His is still small but growing well and he is very, very successful with what he has to work with in terms of percentages. He is an immigrant. He manages every bit of our finances except for business expenses on my part and gets the final say and decision, which are largely on one cc and paid off every month.
I mean, if you guys heard some of me and my husband’s conversations, you would probably throw up at how many (probably stupid to some) details we hash out before we do some things, but i wouldn’t trade it for the world. We absolutely do not ever judge what the other is worried about, just help the other person deal with the problem or concern they are expressing to both of your satisfaction and move on. Sometimes that means extremely long overly detailed discussions. Whatever it takes, don’t care. He’s worth it in spades.
THAT is how you avoid drama and how you build happiness in your marriage, communicate about everything that bothers you or not, whatever it is, just don’t ever shut up until you are both happy. If you sacrifice anything at all, he must agree to your sacrifice before you do it, terms, conditions, and vice versa. You don’t get to decide by yourself and then blame everybody else later when conditions that you had but didn’t bring up ever aren’t met (i say this as a person who used to be that way).
I agree with you 100%
I’m loving this topic, so thank you for posting your viewpoint on it. I will be getting married, but probably not for at least a couple years. I haven’t brought up this topic with my future husband because I don’t know how to approach it. I’m not even sure I have an opinion on it, really.
But here’s a question that think of most often regarding this topic – When we get married, I will be the sole wage-earner for our family, so I’m wondering how to divvy up casual spending money for the two of us? I’m more than happy for us to have shared accounts. I’m just wondering how to make sure both of us have adequate and fair access to the funds, whether it be for gas, a mortgage, or a cup of coffee.
I’m not sure that there is a hard and fast rule about doing that. It really is all about communication. For us, we sit down together every month and do a zero-sum budget. We talk about each penny that we are going to make and spend…and give it a purpose before we get it. As far as entertainment dollars, for the most part, we enjoy doing the same things – which we pretty much do together. For us, we always ask each other if we are going to spend more than $20. That limit can be higher or lower, but the key is having communication and mutual respect for each other.
My fiancé and I have been completely upfront and honest with one another and we will NOT be combining our finances after marriage. There is no benefit for us, it would actually negativity impact our finances. How is burdening him with my debts a positive? Combining finances would increase income which in turn would increase my monthly payments for student loans I took out on my own before we met. At 19 I started taking out loans to pay for college – both federal and private – and honestly had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even have a credit card at the time so words like variable interest meant nothing to me. I just knew I had to pay them back, and that would be no problem because I would land a job in my career field after college making good money. Instead I was stuck working retail (the only full-time job I could find) making $17,000 per year. I was able to put my federal loan in forbearance because my income was so low but my private loan through Sallie Mae didn’t offer income-based options so I was expected to make payments of $800 per month. I pleaded with Sallie Mae to lower my payments to something I could afford but they wouldn’t budge – I had no clue private loans play by their own rules. I made whatever payment I could each month attempting to show good-faith but the loan sat delinquent accruing late fees and interest for 6 months. On the cusp of defaulting, Sallie Mae finally offered a rate reduction plan with reduced payments but the damage was done, my credit destroyed. I would never in a million years expect my fiancé to help pay back my mistake – dragging him into this mess is completely irresponsible. My credit has improved slightly, I’m now making $30,000 per year at a new job and keeping up with payments but my debt to income ratio is so high, I would be of absolutely no help on a mortgage application. My fiancé has zero student loan debt, little credit card debt and makes slightly more than me per year with a much better credit score. He knows exactly what he is getting into and understands my debts aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We split rent and utilities monthly, pay our own credit cards and car payments and help each other out if needed. It’s not a matter of trust. People that expect their spouse to pick up the tab on a debt they acquired on their own make me sick. I know I screwed up my credit but that doesn’t mean we have to trash his. Marriage doesn’t mean you have to share everything, especially if there is no positive outcome.
I think you are starting out on the right foot if you are honest with each other. Unfortunately, we just have a basic disagreement. Marriage actually is about sharing and combining lives. That is what marriage is…the good and the bad. Whether you like it or not, you are pulling him into your financial situation because when you get married you enter into both an emotional and legal partnership. If you really don’t want to pull him into your financial situation, you might want to consider either A) waiting to get married until you’ve cleaned up your mess or B) not getting married and staying together as a committed couple. Frankly, if you feel that marriage isn’t about sharing and sacrificing for each other, then you probably aren’t ready to get married in the first place.
Separating finances SAVED our marriage.
Despite what people think, stepfamilies can be nothing like natural families. And we were having so many issues surrounding money. Now, peace.
Our bills are paid. Everyone’s needs are met.
No two marriages are alike do trying to set a hard and fast rule to apply to all is futile.
If any of you have ever been stolen from by the one woman who should never betray you (your mother!), then you will probably be hard pressed to trust any other woman.
As this has happened to me (my mum stole the money she saved up for me for expenses like education, first car, first flat etc. – and it’s not that she was broke and is paying me back or something…hell, saving up that money got her out of paying child support for me, too (and it was less than the child support!) because my dad agreed to it, in order for her not fight the family court ruling that granted him (as the more financially stable parent (he had finished university and was part of the german armed forces (airforce!) back then) who was not still in vocational training) custody of me!), I will probably NEVER trust another (even more fickle, as there is no blood relation in the play) woman with my money ever again (then there’s the other benefits: only woman who are truly interested in me will probably accept this, because I normally keep those reasons to myself, no one will try gold-dig here (not access to the money makes diggers leave!), divorce will not be so hard (yes, I think about that, too – after all: my parents divorced – my dad once, my bich of a mother twice and my stepmother was divorced once, too!) etc.
So it’s probably how life has treated you that makes you decide on this issue – please don’t paint all with the same broad brush (call us unfit to be close to someone for example) etc. just because you probably didn’t have someone either steal from you directly or make you suffer financially otherwise (and it’s bad, if you suffer emotionally to have an empty bank account, too – makes the world look worse then you already think it is!)
I think you’ve hit everything right on the mark. As a wife to a husband who demands separate finances, and also a stay at home mom- I am curious what your input on persuading my other half into unity is, or even if I should bother. Of course it is my preference, but I would like to know your thoughts on the matter. I agree wholeheartidly with what you’ve said, but my husband is in disagreeance. To him, I make no money, I’m home rearing children, therefore I have no money to bring to the table, and should not have any say in how he spends his money. I’ve struggled in this marriage for some time now, and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth it. What argument could I possibly have to making money my business? “I’m your wife”, does not work.
Thanks so much for your candid comment. I obviously am not a therapist, so this opinion is worth exactly what you are paying for it…but from what you described, it sounds to me like you have some deeper issues that are manifesting themselves in a struggle over money. Frankly, what he’s saying is crap. In my opinion, when you enter into a marriage, everything becomes “ours” – not mine and yours. Both parties should be working for the benefit of the whole family. It sounds to me that there is – at the very least – a lack of respect for both your feelings and for you as an equal partner in the relationship. You may want to look into some marriage counseling to help you both with these issues.
Your husband is being ridiculous, Baffled. Look, my wife stays at home with our son while I work, and I’d never consider the money I earn all mine. Why? Because what she does it just as, if not more, valuable than what I do. Tell him to consider what he’d have to fork out if you weren’t around to take care of the kids. And if you want to get detailed with him, share this: http://www.salary.com/stay-at-home-mom-infographic/
Marriage is a full time life commitment where 2 fragile hearts joins together as two bodies merged together in trust ” to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
There is freedom in marriage where true love exist.., But when greediness and selfishness emerges and becomes cancerous,’ Get treated quickly before you start breathing black mold for to long… for there is only one kind of alliance between a man and a woman.
It is written “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.., So then they are no longer two but one flesh…
This means “Once joined together, all becomes together as one… This is unconditional love, You are mine and I am yours and what’s mine is yours as yours is mine…. Marriage is not a Certificate that is man made for you to divorce if things doesn’t work out.., it is a binding contract with the Creator who made it so, from the beginning…
I agree 1000% with your idea that the reason people don’t combine accounts is they are not willing to grow up. Children want to keep their favorite toy and allow nobody else to have it. Children tend to be narcissistic and think only of what is good for them. My wife and I have been married for over 40 years and a long time ago we realized that a joint accounts works better than separate accounts. When the $3500 lawn tractor dies, with separate accounts who buys the new one? Joint account….no question.
One step past separate accounts is inheritance and the ability to share. At her death my mother left an estate valued at over $2 million to me. Read on-line and you will see that today’s trend is to use all kinds of legal forms to try and NOT allow the spouse access to the inheritance. Ha! Most States are Equity States and not Community Property States and they have laws that at death you can not disinherit a spouse. So all your greed ends at death. Knowing the law of disinheritance why in the world would you choose to live a life with your spouse, a life of greed that will create an undercurrent of resentment?
When I received my inheritance immediately there was not any thought of keeping the funds away from my wife. Not one! The dollars you get from work is green, the dollars you get from an inheritance is green, same debentures. The only difference between the two is where it came from. Why should what you get from your employer be considered different than the money you get from an inheritance. The only difference I can think of is emotional which can be whittled down to the word greed.
So today we see a world of high divorce and a world where narcissism rules. Perhaps it is time people start thinking again that marriage means creating one and leaving your narcissism back in your parents basement.
My husband and I share absolutely nothing – not a single account or bill. We were both married before. He earns around $100,000 a year, and because of a health problem that I’m healing from and a lack of work in my work-at-home business, I have nothing but a meager amount of child support for my daughter.
I pay a utility bill in ‘his’ house, and the rest is spent on my daughter’s needs. If I want him to buy me something, I have to ask – and I never do. Everything that I came into the marriage with is mine, and everything else is his. Nothing is ‘ours’, and I don’t feel married. He says ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘mine’ when referring to material things. It’s never ‘ours’ or ‘we’. The only time that I hear the word ‘we’ is in reference to something in the past regarding his ex wife.
I still feel like roommates. We’re not a team. The only time that we’re a team is when he needs something and asks. However, he just asked me to have ‘his’ new/used car emissions tested. I said NO. First of all, it isn’t mine, and it’s only covered for liability. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable driving it. I guess he’ll have to live with the inconvenience of keeping everything separate.
I don’t care if he goes out and spends every dime he has. He can buy sports cars and all kinds of toys for himself. It doesn’t matter to me. That’s the only good thing that comes of this. I don’t have the mental burden of dealing with financial problems that might arise or surprise bills that come with his name on them. HE has to deal with them. You can’t worry about what you don’t have. I have nothing to lose. Thankfully, I have very few bills.
However, when I’m back on my feet and working again, I’m going to save as much as possible for my daughter and I. What I have will be absolutely none of his business. I will never ask him for anything. I stopped asking ‘daddy’ for money when I was married the first time. My ex and I were a team in every way. I don’t know what this marriage is. He makes me feel like a loser.
I’m so sorry to hear that 🙁 Have you talked to him about this?
Yes it sad
I have a similar problem, which is also financial. But even though we can not afford vacation, she left alone. She puts her family and friend as priority before marriage… If I were not Christian, I would not be able to bare the weight of this…
So I wrote a letter to were she is vacationing. and this is what I wrote…
I though that marriage had no secrets, and now I have never felt so alone. Know that I am not against your friend, it is just I ask myself ‘where do I fit in as a husband in all this. All I do is cry and cry and cry to the Father in Heaven so that I can understand.
I am just a man who is wanting the attention your friends has that I don’t have, as a partner lovers and Best Friend.
I love you and their are no high enough words to express what my Heart feels for you right now ‘but the God who knows all things, and I know that it is pleasing to Him for you are the closes thing to Jesus, for He gave me “you”.
Take heart on who that I am the same way as to Christ for the reason He put us together.
I love you and misses you so very much.., and I will bare the weight of love with patience in silence, till you come back next Monday.
Again, ILOVEYOU!! And know that I do.
I pray that you will have a wonderful time for the remainder of your vacation with blessings, Amen.
Your Husband Michel EmojiEmojiOOOXXX’s
I’m sorry for the misunderstanding I am Michel the Husband.
I hope it works out for you. Make sure to talk about your issues in person. Have a conversation and clear up any misunderstandings. After all, marriage takes communication!
Married 25 yrs. and maybe 1-2 fights over money. EVER. Asked if I could handle the money, he said sure. Never hid anything. All there in the file cabinet for him to see any time. We talked about saving, spending and debt. Made him sell some savings bonds to pay off his car. Then, we came into the marriage both debt free. I had been divorced & had a very large settlement. Put every penny in both names. In for a pound, in for a dollar. I handled our money wisely. Told him he could retire @ 55. Didn’t happen because of the economy. But @ 59 it did happen. We both worked together, were honest going in and saw a future together. Isn’t that what marriage is about anyway?
That is awesome Cheryl! Congratulations. In my opinion, that is exactly what marriage is about 🙂
I have been married currently for 8 years with separate finances. I was previously married for 11 years with combined finances. I have to say the combined was a much better way of living. When I entered the current marriage I just had student loan debt from sending my daughter to school. I had a work at home job but the economy forced me to find a entry level job. I made enough to pay my bills but no extra. I ended up charging groceries, gas and clothing. I now have a large credit card bill from the last 6 years of basics. Having worked for the last 6 years at the same place and not having a raise for 4 years. I was the only female and the oldest. I just couldn’t take the stress of not being treated fairly so I quit. At the same time my daughter needed a babysitter. She now pays me to babysit my grandson. I am struggling to even pay my bills. My husband has since gotten a promotion and a large raise. He eats breakfast and lunch out everyday. I struggle to find enough to even eat. My daughter barely makes it and hardly has food for her and her son. I have taken to ramen noodles and rice. Yuck. You think he would notice that dinner is very scarce. I guess because he eats out twice a day it doesn’t matter. In the last two weeks he has bought all kinds of new toys and stuff. I am becoming very resentful to him. He is average income and I am in the low poverty level. I am realizing that he is also making me feel extremely degraded. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership and equal. I am starting to have major health issues from the stress levels but I can’t afford to get help. I am kinda at the end of my rope for finances.
Sorry to hear about your situation Sandi 🙁 It sounds like you definitely need to have a serious talk about this with your husband. If it were me, I would definitely have to speak my concerns.
Sad, your story is identical to mine, including the part about the ex. I have tried til I’m blue in the face to explain how this isn’t working and can’t possibly be good for a marriage when there is no unity…on anything. I can’t even get him to discuss finances, let alone set up one joint account for household expenses. He gets irate and refuses to discuss taxes and files separately every year. I have no idea how much he makes. He pays the bills and keeps everything “hidden”. Credit cards, bank statements, personal mail all go to his PO box or online. Only junk mail arrives in the mailbox where we now live in “his” house. The 2nd house has both of our names on the deed but his name only on the mortgage. It was built on my family land before we got married and is supposed to be our retirement home. Yet, same issue…i have no access to anything. I’m not “allowed” to see any bills. The bank wont even talk to me about the mortgage. If i had known back then i would have insisted my name be on the mortgage too. When our daughter was almost 2, i quit working at my 10 hours a day job which was 1 hour each way to work for a total of 12 hour days. We were living in two separate homes also. Needless to say long days with a little one at home by myself was getting old real quick. I moved into “his” house about 8 months after we were married with the hope of finding a decent job. No luck. I went back to school and just graduated a few weeks ago. Been married five years now and for five years I have had to beg for grocery money and anything else I need. Yes I worked 2 or 3 part time jobs while in school and even started my own business but i was still struggling. I got tired of begging for money to feed me, him, our daughter and “my” son from previous marriage so I started taking out student loans just to survive and put gas in my car. Meanwhile, he buys whatever he wants, leaves $20 tips on tables at restaurants, likes to throw neighborhood cookouts, etc and all I have is lint in my pocket. When I land a good job, I know what to do…start paying off my loans, save what I can and you know the rest. This is not a marriage.
We have friends AND family that separate finances. I’ve never really understood it. My wife and I are on a joint financial journey. Marriage is about uniting with your spouse and sharing EVERYTHING. When it comes to finances, you should be on the same page with common goals and direction. Maintaining finances separately seems to undermine the unity of marriage.
I agree 100%! What’s the point of getting married if you’re not going to share everything? Plus, you’re willing to share your bed and home, but now a joing checking account? It seems like something is definitely wrong there.
My wife and I have been married over 7 years. We have no kids. I wanted to combine accounts when we married but she wouldn’t and now that she has it worked less than 3 months in 2.5 years she wants me to put her on my account. I told her if she went back to work and got her probation in I would be willing to combine accounts but she continues to threaten to leave me and says she wont get a job in my town until I combine accounts. I feel like our problem is more a money income problem than a joining account problem. I am just continuing the beast she started But I would love to end it if she would just meet me half way.
My husband and I maintain separate money. I don’t like, and can’t believe I ever agreed to it. I now resent him because of it. The only thing we have on our names is the house. It has evolved into arguments over who spent the most on dinners, home repairs, etc. Yes, I am expected to pay for “date nights” occasionally. It is embarrassing to me to go to dinner and pay for my husband’s meal with my credit card. We live like roommates. I spoke with a lawyer who reminded me that what is accumulated during the marriage will be split 50/50, regardless of who earned it. In other words, his insistence that we keep our finances separate is simply a way of controlling me. In the event of a (likely) divorce, I will get half of what he has worked so hard to keep tucked away. I feel completely independent of my spouse. I have a career and my own income. I have yet to figure out the purpose of keeping our finances separate. It makes me wonder why the hell I am still married. It barely even feels like a “friends with benefits” scenario. My advice to people considering keeping finances separate in marriage is to avoid it like the plague. It will most likely create huge problems down the road. Don’t do it, and don’t agree to it now thinking it will change later. It won’t.
The amount of judgment in this article (and posts) is astounding.
My wife and I have separate bank accounts, but pay all bills 50/50 where possible. Should one of us be laid off (which has happened), the other one simply picks up the extra slack for the duration needed. Our approach has been fantastic for both of us. There are zero trust issues between us regarding finances. Why is that? Because we both have the exact same philosophy on spending and saving. We are both very frugal people. Having been together for nearly eight years, we have never once had an argument regarding money, which is great seeing many divorces spring out of money differences. If one of us wishes to spend money on something that the other one would not buy him or her self,, that’s fine because our primary bank accounts are separate (we have a joint one for expenses, home maintenance, etc). I purchased a PS4 earlier this year with my own earned money as my wife would not use it. What right would I have to coerce her to pay for it? It was a nonessential. If I had been unemployed at this time, I simply wouldn’t have purchased it. Plain and simple.
Will my approach work for everyone? Well, no. Not if you are your spouse have different philosophies on spending or if you already have underlying trust issues. If one of you is thrifty while the other one is a spender, your marriage is likely already in jeopardy. Should you stay together without addressing these concerns, you will either be looking at divorce or just a miserable marriage altogether.
It also won’t work if you feel entitled to your spouse’s income. If you disagree under the guise of being in a “partnership,” bare in mind that partners tend to at least make an effort to pull a good share of the weight.
The bottom line: Combining finances may work for you, but it may not work for everyone. Don’t make assumptions as to the reasons why some couples may not subscribe to your approach.
Hey man, I’m glad you have a system that works for you. If it works and everybody is happy, that is all that matters.
I do have to ask though, do you guys make the same amount of money? If not, it seems like one would have a lot more spending money than the other.
I was always against combing our finances but eventually caved it. It turned out to be the worst decision we ever made as a couple. Combing your finances only works if you are on the same financial wavelength as your partner. If you have different opionions about money it just causes arguments and stress.
Why was it the worst decision you made? In what way did things get worse?
I would disagree that combining finances only works if you are on the same financial wave length. It only works if you communicate and compromise. It’s also a great way to build wealth…together.
Dumbest fucking article that ive ever read.
Ha! I might be way off here, but I’m going to assume that you’d rather keep all of your money to yourself. Thanks for visiting!
Separate accounts proved a vital motivator for my wife to realize even a fraction of her earning potential. After 20 years of combined finances and she working low-pressure, low-responsibility, low-paying “hobby jobs”, I finally opened my own checking account in which to deposit my paychecks. (My income is 95 percent of household income.)
That got her attention! The children are grown, and now it is time for her to grow up, too. I am her husband, not her father or some unlucky befactor. Marriage is a partnership of equals, and there should be a fair distribution of financial pressure and responsibility.
Behind every female “church volunteer”, blogger, or consultant, there is some man paying the mortgage!
I’m a blogger and I make more than 50% over here!
Sexist much James? (since you chose the word “every”). There are plenty of women out there who volunteer, blog or whatever and STILL holds down a job just fine. And in case you a wondering I am a Computer Programmer full time and I still do some “hobby Jobs” on the side too like painting and other arts and crafts. My husband does not have to pay my bills, I pay half.
We’ve had “combined” incomes for the last 10 years. We decided that I would be a stay at home mom. For the most part of our marriage I would get a partrime job at our kids’ school, and everything I earned has gone into our joint account.
Money has always been a stress in our marriage. My husband has always accused me misespending. He says that I’m a waster, diva, and a taker of his money. He tells me I don’t pull my weigh around the house. He says this when I’m working full time most weeks, and I give all of it to him.
We tried a budget, but he doesn’t budget me in. At one point in our budget he had me down on a bra with tied know on it because the elastic had worn out. When I asked for socks, he had me wear his.
He has suggested to separate finances, but then tells me that if I do it, I’ll be making a big mistake. He confuses me.
I can’t leave like this anymore. I feel like a burden. I feel like if I separate finances it will make feel worth something.
I feel that I need to go back to school and get a better job so I can support myself. I’m a hard working person.
Love, love, love this great article! I have always thought that separating funds when married is a bad idea, but you have put real reasons into focus in this article. Thank you!
Separate finances works for me and my husband. It does not create any issues whatsoever. All our bills get paid on time and none of us are in debt beyond our mortgage and my student loans. So I have to pay my student loans off myself, but it was a debt that I built up getting my degree; I am ok with that. Maybe it helps that we lived together a few years first, by the time we got married we already had a system to split the bills just fine and it was easy to keep going that way. We do not particularly hide how much we have in our savings, checking, or retirement from each other either, we discuss it on occasion; We have found this way works for us just fine and by no means says our marriage is to be doomed.
My husband and I keep having this conversation. I was married before and had joint everything, and this is his first marriage. We have a mine, his, and ours account for house payment and utilities because he doesn’t want to combine funds. We pay for our own things. We have been married nearly 3 years, and I finally got access to his accounts, meanwhile immediately after being married I added him to have access to my accounts. This add resentment immediately. Add a child into this equation and certainly that has made things more difficult. I paid for the hospitalization and birth, daycare, clothing, and now my child’s insurance because it was cheaper for me, yet these are things I don’t get reimbursed from him. I brought up the idea of what happens when one of us needs a new car or major care repair, and I get crickets. Of course he wants all my financial information to bring to his financial planner, yet he is unwilling to discuss this plan with me. We both make the same amount, but I feel more poor married than when I was single. It’s to the point I’m contemplating a weekend job to plan for life’s mishaps because I feel I’m in this alone. Definitely have the discussion and plan for finances before saying I DO. I view marriage as a team venture in every way. Thought he did, too, unless you want to talk finances, then it’s suddenly a game of mine and yours.
What you are saying makes sense …if you are living before 2000.
Most of the couples I know have a joint account AND a separate account for each to spend on whatever they want. The couples that have all their money together are always fighting about $$$$.
My 2 cents
I agree. This article seems to be strictly opinion driven and not based on facts. I have read articles that are backed up by statistics and say having separate and joint accounts work the best. Still no secrets. but to have some “me” money to do what you want with it is healthy and allows couples who have a “free spender” to do what they want without being nagged all the time. And the same scenario holds true for the “saver” … they can save their portion of money. Or even spend it on themselves and then they don’t feel as if one party is sucking money because they too have some extra to buy something nice for themselves. I make the majority of the money in our house and we have separate plus joint accounts because my husband is a free spender and I’m a saver. I don’t bug him about what he does with his “me” money and he appreciates that. We have an emergency account for unexpected emergencies that we put money in each paycheck. We also have a main joint account that we pay our bills from and we have our own personal accounts that we get equal amounts of “me” money. It works great for us and we decided to do this after tons of research. In this article it stated that people who don’t want to put their money together just means that they don’t want to grow up…. This is where the article loss my interest. I’ve very responsible, never been divorced and having the separate account where we aren’t having to check and get approval for every little thing relieves A LOT of stress and prevents arguments. If either of us needs more, then we discuss and make a plan of getting it out of the “bills” account.
I agree with you. I think having joint and separate accounts makes the most sense — but only after all family bills and expenses are paid. Then, it makes sense to split the difference and maintain separate accounts for things like gifts, fun personal stuff, and “me” money. This seems to be the only equitable way to work it. The problem that I’ve had in the past is when one person keeps personal credit card accounts or acquires debt without consulting their spouse. It happened to me, and it really devastates a marriage not only financially but emotionally because you have that distrust piece. Also, in most states, debt is divisible in divorce because if it is acquired during the marriage, it is considered marital property and can be divided 50/50 and/or based on the discretion of a judge, depending on your state’s laws.
Thank you for writing this article. My fiancé and I keep our finances separate. When we started living together he kept his food in one side of the cabinet and made room for me. I am Bengali, so traditionally what I am used to is sharing everything I have with my partner. I kept up with his idea of keeping things separate but couldn’t deal with it anymore. I told him how it bothers me that we share the same cabinet space but our foods are sprayed. He understood and said he’s never done this before and that he won’t segregate me and my things anymore. But few months later he mentioned getting a premarital agreement as he does not want me to pay for any of his debts when he dies. I don’t know how I accepted this.. It still doesn’t sit well with me. I’m a flight attendant and he’s one of my pass riders. So last week I requested he comes with me to Japan for a day but things went wrong. Turbulence made us lay over at a different city than I had expected and the flights back from that city was fully booked! He had to come back to work the next day so I paid $1400 return ticket for him. He very lightly said that it’s not my fault and that he’ll help pay for it too.. But because he didn’t down right decline my money and didn’t forcefully say it’s okay… You are my love.. Just help me pay at least half I get the feeling that he deep down truly believes that it’s my fault and I should pay for it all. I make very little money and this incident is costing me almost the entire months pay. Lately I have been thinking that this is enough.. He says he loves me and truly believe him and feel the love but when it comes to money we are extremely separated! My instinct tells me to get out now. I wanted to thank you for this article because I was starting to feel that I’m alone in thinking that married couples should share everything.
My husband and I have been married for almost 2 years, and we have a 1 year old child. We both make really good income, but lately we are struggling with how to manage finance. We both graduated with about the same amount of student loans. I worked hard and lived like a college student for a couple of years to get all mine paid off and he is still paying the minimum on his. We recently just started a joint account for our child’s expenses, but it has been a headache because boundaries have not been set on what we could put on there. We are still in the process of trying to resolve this conflict. He mentioned that he wants to merge out accounts. I am considering it if only money can resolve our issues, but I feel like it might actually bring on more issues if we are not on the same wavelength when it comes to finances. I don’t think he is a big spender, but spends money carelessly and refuses to be on a budget because he has worked too hard to not be able to spend money on what he wants freely. I really don’t want to have to micromanage his spendings…then more fights will occur. It is like a vicious circle. Any suggestions?
Wait. So because someone doesn’t give you their money, somehow the relationship means less to you and its not a “partnership”. Call me Cray Cray, but that makes you sound pretty much the opposite of how you probably intended to sound. And accurately so.
The integrity of your love for someone has nothing to do with them being able to take a dollar from your bank account and spend it on themself. Period. And if that is somehow tied to your understanding of a “partnership” then maybe you should examine your actual motives, deep down inside.
Money is an important part of marriage. Both partners must be committed to reaching mutual family goals. Examples: starting a family, maintaining a home, retirement planning, vacations. Even if both partners don’t have access to the other’s money per se, ongoing conversations and transparency around money are critical components of any marriage.
I’m going through a separation. Before marriage, my husband said he wanted joint accounts. It was (is) important to me that we held each other accountable for spending and that each of us knows how money is made and spent. I’m not talking about the occasional $8 at Starbucks. I’m taking about basic respect and communication around finances, which was lacking in my soon to be previous marriage, and is a huge reason I am choosing to leave the relationship.
I make less than my husband, but in our marriage I was paying most of the bills and was always the “responsible” one when it came to money. After we married, he refused to have any joint accounts, including credit cards. (I hate credit cards and I only have a few of them and I have never carried a balance.) I managed and paid for all of our insurance, most of our rent, and all of our groceries. I did this using my income and my private accounts so that he could focus on starting his business. Meanwhile, my husband was “starting a business” which actually turned out to involve him purchasing things for himself and hiding credit cards from me. When I asked about those expenditures, he became defensive and told me I had no right to invade his privacy that way. When in reality, even though my name is not on those cards, money was being diverted to pay the balances on his personal spending when it could have been going into savings or toward family priorities. And that debt still belongs to me, because it was acquired during the marriage.
The truth is that we could have worked on paying the credit card debt down together. The money itself wasn’t really the entire issue. Most of it was about feeling deceived and disrespected when I brought up my concerns. These issues are about numbers, yes. But it’s also about respect, communication, and building a future with someone, and reaching common goals — together. That’s what a marriage is. And it takes money to do those things – as well as maturity, communication, and vulnerability.
I hope it works out for you. Make sure to talk about your issues in person. Have a conversation and clear up any misunderstandings. After all, marriage takes communication!
I found your blog while googling whether there are any benefit to having separate accounts. I am, perhaps, in a different situation than the others who have responded previously. My husband and I have been married for 27 1/2 years, and have always had joint accounts. Our deal was that when we married and had children, I would not work outside the home and would raise the kids, take care of the house, etc., while he would work and support our family. My husband is a physician, and I had previously never made more than $10,000/yr. in my life. We live in a small town, and aren’t out to impress anyone. I buy most of my clothes at Walmart, for example. We don’t take extravagant trips, drive our cars until they keel over, etc. A couple of years ago, I discovered that my husband was having an affair, which was less than a year old. We went to counseling, and he decided that it was a mid-life crisis type of thing and he wanted to spend his life with me. Because I have never made much money, and haven’t worked in decades, he has made sure that I have excellent credit and have a retirement fund. Due to some health issues, I am no longer able to keep up with the housework in our home, and he is against hiring someone to come in and help out. His suggestion was that we divide our money now, and I can pay for whatever I want out of my half, but we will share expenses. I asked him what difference it would make, because since we are still married, and I am not making any income, he would still need to put money into my account because he is still working. (He is planning to retire in about 3 years.) I am VERY suspicious about his reasons for wanting this, and I have told him that I thought it would be disastrous for our marriage. I recently found an article he had hidden in a shirt (I found when I was gathering clothes for laundry…not snooping.) regarding divorce and division of money. He has said before that he thinks it’s fair that we divide all of our assets if we got divorced, but he didn’t think it would be fair that I would get half of his retirement fund. I guess my question is, would there be any benefit that I’m not seeing to dividing our money now, even though we’re not planning on divorcing, or am I being paranoid? Thank you.
Thanks for commenting, and I’m sorry about your situation. I’m not a marriage counselor, financial advisor, or anything else. I’m just a blogger with an opinion 🙂 That being said, I don’t see ANY benefit – particularly for you – in dividing your accounts. Personally, I wouldn’t do it.
Thank you for responding, Greg. I haven’t found anyone who thought it was a good idea.
so because my husband and I have separate accounts we aren’t ready to grow-up and we are selfish?! I take offense to that. We have separate accounts but we talk all the time about spending and joint financial goals. We have a limit whe we need to ask the other about the purchase, and even then we usually talk about 98% of our purchases. We respect each other and are building a future together.
Your soap box is disrespectful and paints broad strokes of judgment over people who chose to live a different way. Maybe you are the one that needs to grow up.
Me and my significant other are a cohabiting couple. We have been living together for the past 11 years. We are both in agreement in our opinions of the concept of marriage, which I won’t go into as it is not salient to this post.
We keep our finances completely seperate. We are both working professionals. I pay all of the household bills, which is something that I have done for the past 3 or so years now. I’ve always paid the majority of the household bills until I completely took them over after she filed for bankruptcy 3 years ago.
She ran up thousands of dollars in credit card debt on store purchases. I would discuss this with her, saying “hey, your running up a lot of debt.” Her response would be along the lines of, well, at this point I’m not going to be able to pay it off anyways. That’s not to say she didn’t have anxiety regarding her debt, quite the contrary, she would have days where she was crippled with anxiety about her debt (but would continue to spend anyways).
To her credit, she has pretty drastically changed her spending habits since declaring bankruptcy (she no longer has any credit cards, so she can’t really do what she had before). What I find interesting is that she routinely asks me now to borrow money or help her pay her bills. I almost always do within reason, but I’m not an enabler and will not be an enabler for her poor money managment and excessive spending. It was surprising to me, after she filed bankruptcy, that she was surprised that my monthly expenses had increased by a few thousands dollars because I took on bills she could no longer pay (when she asked to borrow some money and I didn’t give it to her, I told her why I didn’t have the money). She thought she was the only person who suffered financially when she was so irresponsible with her spending and filed for bankruptcy. She never gave it thought that in the end it would cost me far more than it cost her. This was with our finances seperated. There wouldn’t be anything left if we had joint accounts. I wouldn’t have a pot to piss in. Let me reframe that, WE wouldn’t have a pot to piss in.
My wife and I have had separate finances for most of our relationship. We’ve been together 15 years, married for 10. We both have degrees. We both work. We have separate bank accts, credit cards, cars, etc. Except for our home, which is deeded jointly, everything else is separate. She has a child from prior marriage, now a teenager, too whom I try to be a good provider, role model and Stepdad.
Honestly, I wish our finances could be combined. The notion of making decisions together, working towards common goals, being on the same page, it all seems wonderful. But that’s not possible, at least not at this juncture. Maybe some day.
We lived together for a couple years before getting married, during which (in hindsight) she lied to me about her finances (in almost every respect). It wasn’t until 2 years after we married, when we were applying for a mortgage to buy our home, that the facts came out. Among them, over $100,000 in combined debt she’s failed to mention previously. And that’s just the beginning, but I won’t bother with the rest; it’s a very long story.
After buying our home, we tried combining our finances. But honestly, it was simply an act of desperation on my part. I had to get things under control. She was repeatedly borrowing money from me; little “loans” to tied her over. The proverbial stray was when she put home at risk of lien due to unpaid self-employment taxes (again, that’s just one incident in a long list). We combined finances. It lasted about 24 months, during which I managed to get us out of the proverbial weeds, but it was an awful period of time that I would not want to repeat. While we were on better footing, my attempts to pay bills was repeatedly thwarted by overdrawn accounts due to her siphoning the money out. We went back to separate finances; it was the only way.
We tried counseling, more than once, but nothing ever changed. I suspect it never will.
She has no patience, no discipline, no self-control. She lives for today and doesn’t concern herself with tomorrow; a modern day Scarlett O’Hara. She won’t take my advice, nor will she concern herself with my constant worrying about how her decisions/behavior impacting our marital relationship and financial future.
Fast forward to today; my wife hasn’t filed bankruptcy, but she has walked away from debts, lied to me about finances and manipulated those around her in order to get her out of bad situations.
All told, I don’t know if our marriage will last in the long run; I hope it does, but I’m confident that we would have long ago filed for bankruptcy or divorce (or both!) if our finances remained combined. Keeping our finances separate has helped ensure (because of my efforts) that our household remains afloat, our mortgage is paid, we have some emergency savings, we have insurance, and we have some semblance of retirement. But I resent (very much!) that I have to do all the work, so to speak. But alas. From my perspective, separate finances insulate (to some degree) my financial responsibility from the damaging effects of her irresponsibility.
Greg, while I agree with your concept in a general sense (and, as I said before, wish I could experience it), with all due respect, I think you’re painting with a very wide brush; it works in certain situations but falls short in general application. It seems to be that you’ve made too many presumptions (disregarding the complexities of marriage) to support such a strident position. In reality, marriage is far more complicated and challenging.
Great article if we were in 1950….we are in 2017 by the way and major things have changed.
– Women work a lot more than in 1950
– People spend a lot more than in 1950
– People have different spending habits
My list can go on but no need for it…..the best way is to have a joint account as well as a separate account each.
Just wanted to say that my husband and I have been happily married for 35 years. Right from the get go we combined everything, respected each other and were a loving team. After our 2nd child was born it became apparent that it was cheaper for me to stay home than pay for child care. I cared for the children, the house (inside and out) while my husband worked manditory overtime. When he returned home from work he could sit down and didn’t have to do a thing. We both had the same amount of work to do. This made for a very happy home. He did his job and I did mine and we had time to spend as a family We are retired now and everything is still OURS.
Me and my husband doesn’t combine finances together. I wanted to ask him to combine our money but I’m afraid he might tell me that I just married him because I want his money. The reason being is he earns 7times more than what I earn. I do had 2 jobs before I married him to have enough money to pay for my bills. However, I quit my 1 job after giving birth to my son. Now I don’t even earn enough to pay for my bills – bills that I incurred even before we got married. He even told me that his not gonna help me pay those out because it’s my debt not his. And I don’t blame him for that. I totally understand him. Do you have any advice for me?
We keep our finances completely seperate. We are both working professionals. I pay all of the household bills, which is something that I have done for the past 3 or so years now. I’ve always paid the majority of the household bills until I completely took them over after she filed for bankruptcy 3 years ago.
In my case, we worked together to get out of debt, we were following Dave Ramsey and that helped. My wife is a Dr and I’m an engineer, she obviously makes more money than me and she is the one who keeps the finances and I HATE it! I feel like a child asking permission everytime I want to buy something. I spent many years in school and work like crazy and every time I want something I have to consult with her! I’m not happy at all with this situation. Guys DON’T JOIN YOUR ACCOUNTS YOU’LL REGRET IT!
I’m sorry, I had to vent.
I agree with the author’s views and, after reading the comments, it is sad to see how many people have money-related problems in their marriage.
According to the law, money in a marriage is communal property, so the idea of “his money” and “her money” is flawed. Why marry in the first place?
A marriage where the money (which is an important aspect of marriage) isn’t shared is not a real marriage. However, many people refuse to see the reality and acknowledge the sham of marriage they are in.
Separating the money also makes some family choices downright IMPOSSIBLE when there are also children in the marriage: if one spouse or both spouses want to keep the money to themselves, children will logically only be raised by daycare providers all day long because one spouse will not be able to stay at home and raise the children.
Also, a marriage between spouses with too different incomes would be very hard. Say one can afford to eat better food and the other doesn’t? Will they eat separate food at the same table because that’s what each can afford to buy, or will one of them eat less? Or say one wants to go on an expensive holiday, but the other can’t afford it with their meager salary? Will the poorer one stay at home or go on a separate holiday that he/she can afford?
And no, paying in percentages isn’t helpful when your income is much smaller than your spouse’s because when your income is meager, you will have other priorities than the expensive holiday (like saving that little money, buying food, or paying your part of the bills). It’s ridiculous. So, this marriage will likely not function either.
And for the people who are financially abused, I think this is the worst situation in a marriage (along with violence). That’s no life when you have to beg for a pittance from your spouse! So, if talk and marriage counseling don’t help, your only solution is unfortunately divorce – if and when you can afford it, but you should strive for it because, as I said, that’s hardly a life to have no financial power whatsoever. Even if you’ll be poorer, poorer is better than being abused.
That is how find the article.
The “we are married we are one person now” is a religious and dangerous belief, specially for women.
You get married to build a future together but don’t become congenital twins or a two person in a horse custome.
Very important for women nowadays to have separate finances.
I was once one of those millennials to which you refer. As a child of divorce whose mother married two men with disastrous spending habits, the second of whom cost her several-hundred-thousand dollars to get rid of in the end, I was understandably gun-shy about combining finances with my husband. I also came into the marriage with a house, zero debt, and a good career, while he had lived in an apartment and drove an old beater (he now has a great job and contributes more financially than I do while I finish grad school). I even considered a prenuptial, especially since I stand to inherit a substantial sum down the line. Then, I found out I was pregnant, and our timeline moved up quickly for that and other health-related reasons.
We ultimately combined everything, which we decided was the only feasible way to handle things with an infant, especially after I had to quit working for several months due to pregnancy complications. I just don’t see how it could have worked any other way. Yes, we have had fights about money, including personal expenses that had gotten out of hand. So we found a very simple solution to that. Every month my husband and I both take 100 dollars IN CASH out of our joint account to use for whatever we want (e.g. beer, fast food), and this is the entirety of our discretionary budget. Every other purchase we make we discuss or make together. And this has worked great for us. We talk much more than we would have about money, both of us know everything that we have so there are no secrets, and a portion of each of our paychecks is automatically deposited into our joint savings account that we never touch unless necessary for a large, joint purchase. In my opinion, this is the only way to play as a team in marriage, especially with children. It’s not judgemental to say that, and if another system works for other couples, then fine. But for me, I decided if I was really going to jump into a life with another person and raise a child with that person, then why the hell would I maintain a “me and mine” attitude about money?