Pep Talk Tuesday {Merging Your Finances}

I have a slight disclaimer before I dive into this post. I'm not really the most frugal person and I have rather expensive taste (or as I like to say, I enjoy things that happen to ironically be expensive). I'm not the greatest with saving money and thankfully have a husband who can often talk me out of buying things or making unnecessary purchases should I be about to make an irrational choice. However, regardless of the dollas in my bank account I do have some strong feelings on whether or not married couples should share their finances. Like we've made pretty obvious on this blog, money sucks and it's awkward and sticky and uncomfortable so here we go.


My somewhat traditional husband always told me before we were married that we would be joining forces (aka joining funds) once we were married. Which to him meant me dumping my money and he dumping his into the same lone piggy bank and should either one of us need something, we would both understand that the money would come straight out of said piggy bank. The independent-stubborn (what a combo huh? Apb you are a brave man) woman in me thought husband to be was crazy. There was no way in h e double hockey sticks that this girl would be sharing her money, of all things! with someone who surely had enough of his own. Especially when there always seems to be a shortage of it in my own life. But that sounds mean when I word it that way. So lemme break it down.

{Listen To Your Mom} My mom, and my sweet late Nan, used to always tell me the same thing when it came to cash. "You save this little bit o' money so when you need it it's there. And no one has to know about it so shush!" I used to feel sneaky when they'd slip a twenty into my palm or leave me a bit of cash under the lamp base in my childhood bedroom. Except now I feel so grateful for this itty bitty piece of advice or rather this lesson in money because heaven forbid husband suddenly didn't exist where would I be and who would I then need to depend on for financial support? This is all sort of a metaphor for a point I am trying to make which is having your own money, whether it be a couple hundred or thousands, is beneficial for you and you only. And is crucial to helping you maintain a sense of independence, importance, self worth and happiness. Nan, Mom you ladies were both right. So very very right.

{This is 2011} And this is totally my crazy thinking but I like to think these days that men and women share responsibilities in a household and a relationship so why should finances (when applicable and where possible, not always do both parties work or rather, make equal salaries/money) be any different? Meaning if chores in your home are divided up why not divvy up bill payments? Or grocery bills? Or those nights out for dinner and a movie? Or even better, one person can handle the finances and another can make sure the house is clean, the meals are ready, the laundry done, etc. Sometimes we look at things in our home like husband buys the next home item purchase like the new dining room table and I'll buy the next dinner out. The dining room table surely cost more than the dinner night out, but it's not about keeping track dollar for dollar. It's about contributing as best you can and realizing that one day the tables may be turned and you may be the one making the bigger purchase. That right there friends is called a thriving relationship.

{Sharing is Caring} Or in most cases necessary to a strong relationship. Which is why I highly suggest that every relationship have at least three account: his, hers and a joint. Without telling you what should be done because I'm not saying my way is the only way to do things, here's what should go in each: in his, his money obviously, in hers, her money of course and in the joint, a sum that is TBD by the couple. Perhaps x amount of each paycheck go into the account. Perhaps the account stays stagnant except for once a month both parties deposit a determined amount into the account. Joint account can be used for things like vacations together, home repairs, groceries, gifts for family holidays, gas and so forth. The reason for the separation? I know that if I were to swipe a new shoe purchase using a card from the joint account, I'd feel sleazy and like I was being unfair to husband. Likewise if he were to use money from the joint account for a day out of beers and golfing with the guys, I'd be a little disappointed. Which is why personal accounts are a benefit. 

Thoughts? Are you for splitting up accounts or do you only use one shared account between you and your significant other?

36 Lovely Comments:

Rhiannon {Hey Gorg} said...

And one more thing: Believe me it took this exact example above (with the shoes and golf) to get my husband to reaalize that it's OK to have your own money for personal indulgences; could you imagine me buying husband a birthday gift? With money from our shared account? It surely wouldn't mean as much if I had purchased it with my own money and vice versa! :) XO

Lauren said...

I've always been very for a joint account. My parents have one and I know that it works. I also know that as the main breadwinner I don't mind that a certain percentage of what my partner may spend on something silly is mine because (hopefully) one day I'll have babies and not have a job for a while and I expect him to support me even if I want a new pair of shoes for my swollen feet.

It's probably because of the influence of my parents that this is my idea though. And I trust my boyfriend to not go and buy something really stupid and don't mind if he spends a little on himself or me.

xxx

Lauren said...

I've always been very for a joint account. My parents have one and I know that it works. I also know that as the main breadwinner I don't mind that a certain percentage of what my partner may spend on something silly is mine because (hopefully) one day I'll have babies and not have a job for a while and I expect him to support me even if I want a new pair of shoes for my swollen feet.

It's probably because of the influence of my parents that this is my idea though. And I trust my boyfriend to not go and buy something really stupid and don't mind if he spends a little on himself or me.

xxx

Nicole said...

I am not married yet, but I do have pretty strong feelings on the matter. In my opinion, when you're married, you're married. In every sense of the word. Two lives become one and I don't feel as though you should pick and choose the part of your lives to share. I definitely agree with you that each person should have a small sum of their "own" money to do little things with, but I think big purchases, groceries, and bills should come from the joint account. You're husband and wife, not roommates. Thanks for always opening up the best conversations! I so look forward to reading your blog everyday!

J (Sparkly Love) said...

I think you make a lot of good points and I think this can be a touchy subject. Me and the future hubbs (62 days to go) became one financially when we bought our house. He is the one that's good with finances, and while I don't spend much and am a total bargain junky, I am terrible with managing money. Joining financial forces may not be the right decision for everyone, but it was for us.

We put everything on our AMEX card. EVERYTHING. The gas in our cars, the food in our bellies, the utilities for the money pit, anything that can be paid on credit, goes on the AMEX. At the end of the month we make two payments. One to AMEX (bill paid in full) and one for the mortgage. The AMEX card gets us crazy silly points that we can use for house stuff (when we moved into our house we got a brand new steam washer and steam dryer with our points!) or vacations, or whatever. Our AMEX payment is an amount that neither of us could afford solo, so making one person responsible for that and the other responsible for the mortgage wouldn't work for us. We spent the first two months after moving in splitting everything up and doing math on napkins over breakfast, but our checks come in at different times of the month and we were running out of free bank transfers and we just decided that it would be easier for us at this point to go joint.

We occasionally run into issues (like how I was going to pay for the surprise groom's cake without getting busted) but they are few and far between, and my momma is usually right there to help me hide the goods!

Ashley said...

This post poses an interesting question, because this is one of those things that so many people don't talk about before getting married. We didn't work out what we were doing with our bank accounts before getting married but it's all worked out now. I actually lost my job and didn't have money being deposited into my account, so we just ended up merging everything into a joint account. Too often we were juggling money between accounts and transferring funds all of the time between our multiple accounts, so the single joint account (we also have a savings account) works for us!

I'm always curious what other couples do, because this is definitely one of those subjects that people don't offer up freely. (:

J (Sparkly Love) said...

Ps. I totally agree with Lauren's post. My parents went joint so I've always had a positive outlook on it. My dad was always the breadwinner. My mom got a newer, higher paying job two weeks after my dad lost his job in the downturn. It's a partnership in all aspects!

Caitlin said...

I'm not near marriage yet, and I'm quite sure it will be a long time before I am there but I always enjoy these posts of yours. I completely agree with you about having three accounts, I have seen way too many women that have zero control of their finances after marriage and honestly, I don't think that's smart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about topics that most are usually to afraid to bring up!

xxShivvyxx said...

I've never even thought about this but it's interesting how different peoples views can be! I just keep thinking about how no matter what, no 2 peoples salaries are going to be entirely equal! And my Dad earns a lot more than my Mum and i'd be he'd feel horrible if she couldn't afford anything because there wasn't enough in her account after putting some in the joint! I guess that is why they share everything!

Also as someone said it does sound a bit like flatmates - i actually had a joint account with my flatmates a few years ago and we each put a set amount in each month and that worked out perfectly!

In general...i dunno what i'd do! :P what a touchy subject that you've been very brave to talk about! xxx

Kirby said...

we are going to try the 3 accounts when we get married. the joint one will be mainly for bills, rent, food, pretty much anything that we share. but if he wants to take me our for dinner... his account! I'm also wondering if we should set up multiple savings accounts, one for fun things like travel, mutual wedding gifts, just in case savings and then a second one to start saving for a down-payment on a house? not sure yet about that, or if we should keep all the mutual savings together. but I'm sure we'll try things out and change them as time goes on.

Michelle Ellen Lee said...

In my opinion you nailed it right on the head and I agree with you 100%. I think it's a fair way to handle things, if each person contributes to a joint account, but also can keep a portion in their own account.

The joint account dollar amount is up to each - this is something each couple has to work out since one may make a lot more than the other.

Your point about the bday pressie is also very true.

Brooke said...

YOU always have the best posts because I was wondering how this all worked. I know I won't be bringing in most of the cash, but the money that I earn I'd like to keep for myself and maybe put some in the joint account that way we've got money all around ha. Keep these coming! I love it!

Anonymous said...

When my fiance and I moved in together...before we got engaged, he took out all his money and closed his account from a different bank and put all of it on my bank account and made it as joint account. When we got engaged, it wasn't an issue whether the money we used to buy my engagement ring is coming from our joint account because getting married was a mutual decision. I never felt like I'm buying my engagement ring just because it's coming out of our joint account.
We do everything together, we decide on things together, and joining our accounts is just like any other things that we share and do together. We don't get mad if one of us buy something as long as the other person knows. When it comes to gifts, we don't really buy gifts to each other for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, etc. especially since he has no idea what to give me anyway...lol! What we do is we go out, eat, drive and stay overnight somewhere, buy something that we both like...sometimes he will let me splurge at Anthropologie while he patiently waits for me trying on stuff!
My point is...joint account works perfectly fine with us.
Different ways works for different couples...as long as they are comfortable and happy with it!

Alicia@CharityWedding said...

Kyle and I sort of have a mix of this. We have been sharing finances since long before we were even living together in the since that if we went out to dinner or something we would alternate paying but not in a way that was organized because we never really kept track or cared. When we moved in obviously things became even more connected but we still maintained our own accounts-which even if you are for joint accounts and you are "sure" you will get married, please don't do it until you actually are. Now that we are married we STILL have our own accounts with the largest reason being it would have been one big fat pain to close accounts and such. What we do have is a credit card that we both use for nearly 100% of our purchases (so we can get points) and we pay it off each month with who ever's account remembers to pay the bill basically. While I have my own account I don't think of it as my money nor his accounts his money, it is still our money but I agree it is nice to have a little independence and the ability to buy gifts (or new shoes) without anyone knowing about it! We don't worry about who pays for what because in the end if he ran out of money I would have to pick up the slack and visa versa. Whatever people do, they should definitely discuss it EARLY on and find a system that works for both parties!

Dancing Branflake said...

We definitely have joint accounts. I love it and would not have it any other way. In fact, when we were married I kept one account open in my maiden name. After a year or so I closed it because it just felt weird.

J.Mill said...

I'm getting married in a month and we practice the "yours, mine and ours" mode of money management. We utilize Mint.com to help us do this and are loving the order and transparency it provides. We keep each other in check but also keep the conversation of money and finance open and honest - which can help avoid conflit and sh*t hitting the fan!

Perpetual Blind Date said...

I'm not married but I really struggle with the thought of this! I'm single and working hard for every dollar I earn. I really do wonder if I'll ever be able to release control enough to share all my hard earned money. I love the idea of his, hers and ours! - Alyssa

Miss K said...

sing it loud sister! i did a post on this too and my hubby to be is in the same boat as APB and you and i are on the same boat. hello! i didn't work my ass of in college to have no money for myself to spend on whatever i damn well please with no questions asked. My vote is his, hers and ours. no harm no foul...oh an a secret stash as well. you know, jic.

Shana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shana said...

Oh this one is a dousy isn't it! I love that you brought it up because I think so many people are afraid or embarassed to talk about money. My future husband and I are going through this right now and I am still not sure what the right thing to do is. When we bought our house, we were not engaged so to protect ourselves (just incase anything happened between us) we paid everything half and half. It was a lot of transfering and switching but it worked...sort of. As the bread winner, I kept putting in a little more, then a lot more and then there were the occasional arguments about things for the house. One of the worst was about a lamp. I wanted it for our house because I felt it completed things and the future hubby thought it counted as a purchase for me which shouldn't come out of "our" account....I know silly but man these arguments get tiring. Now we are trying to figure out, as a married couple, what will work the best for us. It is still a work in progress but I am hoping we will figure out something ( that allows me to buy a lamp or two ) Thanks again for bringing up the topic! Lady you are fabulous!!!!!

Paloma said...

my significant other and i are planning to move in together quite soon and similar conversations have begun! it's so helpful to hear your perspective, feelings, and what is working and not working for you. bookmarking this to revisit very soon! xo

bailey said...

We have joint everything. When we were dating it was always a switch off thing, or who's paying for this thing, and it was a big pain! Now it's so nice to slap down one card to our joint account, and never have that resentment of "I know I paid more than him!" My husband still likes to joke and grab the bill, put his card down and say he is "taking his wife out to dinner!" Ha good one.

Either way, my advice is to talk about it first!

Kody said...

Currently hubby and I share 2 bank accounts, our joint and savings account that my tax money goes into since I am 1099. We've agreed to keep the account like this until we've created a nest egg and then we can make personal accounts. That being said, I am with you 100% I have a taste for "high quality products" as well and feel extremely guilty when I make purchases for myself. This is a great post, hubby will be forced to read. : )

Krystal said...

lordy, this jobless girl would be broke as a joke if it weren't for my sugar daddy!

la petite coquine said...

Tricky, tricky, tricky. I think what's trickier still is when only one of you works-John's and my setup for the last year and a half while we take turns in grad school!

When John moved to SF, he didn't have a bank account. That's not to say that at 23, he'd never had one-he'd just decided he'd rather hoard his money in a bag like a crazy person. We opened a joint account so that his name would be on the checks (heaven forbid) but I handled our finances and John went to work.

Now that the tables have turned, having a joint bank account has occasionally been frustrating (I'm looking at you, EPIC argument we had after John treated himself to oysters and prosecco-not champagne- at lunch. On my birthday). John is impulsive, and I can obsess about a pair of black flats I already have 3 of trying to decide whether or not they're really right this time, too. But it's good been a good lesson, and I'm glad we've been able to work out the kinks. Maybe one day, when John's not in school, he'll get his own account. Or maybe he'll just start filling that bag again...

Megan said...

Definitely can be a touchy subject! I love how you explained y'alls reasoning!

My hubby and I have a shared account. I agree with what someone before me said, we are married in every way and I believe that our finances should be married as well. We don't look at it like "my money versus your money." We look at it as "our money." I would never ever be selfish with my money if for some reason I was making more than my hubby or something. We are one now, a team...and we share. We do have a limit that we can spend without having to call the other person and ask. But it's a high limit. So I don't have to ask him to buy a pair of shoes. Or ten. Haha. We are both very easy going with money though, so that helps. I can't imagine now doing a joint account, but it's nice to see the opposite side.

Different strokes for different folks, right?? : )

Megan said...

That last now should be *not. : )

Meena (NYDNweddings) said...

I'm just now getting to read the post - thanks for the always intriguing conversation-starters! This is something I've been thinking about/struggling with as we lead up to our wedding. I make less money than my fiance, but I also spend way less. I don't want to be in the position of nagging him about his spending on things he likes to do, and I don't want him questioning what I do with my money. So I love the idea of the three acounts - his, mine, and ours. Our good friends who just got married do it on a percentage - 75% pooled, 25% separate - which is an idea I like a lot. I just really don't want to feel self conscious about how much money I make! That's my main worry. So interesting to read everyone else's thoughts!

Michaela said...

Interesting post! Of course I'm no where near marriage, but I definitely would prefer a joint account. Perhaps two joint accounts...one savings and one spending. I like what Megan said about becoming "one" in all senses of the word. But it's also interesting hearing everyone's perspectives! I always love your thoughtful posts hunny bun (:

LouBoo said...

Happily, happily married but with very separate bank accounts! I keep my money - he has his - we put some (alot) in a shared account for bills. We both work, we both earn - although frankly mine is a drop in the ocean compared to his! If we didn't have separate accounts how else could I disguise my shopping habit?! I jest...but I love you for putting these topics out there! Lou x

Jamie said...

We're the same as LouBoo... We each have our own personal accounts, and then a joint "House account" which we both can access, but is used strictly for the mortgage, bills and groceries. Our own car payments come from our own accounts.

That way, if I want to go buy a new outfit, or get my hair done - I don't feel like I need to get permission or give an explanation.

Its great to have your own money to do your own things, but the house and family come first, so we first focus on how much we can each put into the house account on a biweekly basis. Then we budget our own needs and wants from our own money.

Greer Loves said...

A little bit of both. My hubby and I share a joint account, but we still have our accounts from before we were married. We pay our shared bills - mortgage, electricity, and groceries out of that account. Then I pay things like my student loan and car payment out of my separate account. I don't know if that's "right" but it works for us. I think down the line when my other debts are paid off (and we start thinking about kids) we may merge our finances completely. Until then, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Melissa @BirdcageBridal said...

I 100% agree with Nicole. Married is married. If I wasn't prepared to have two become one in my relationship, I feel like there is some kind of trust issue there that would make me feel anxious about being married. We are going to have a joint account and didn't even give a second thought to the 3 account idea. We are both independent people in our personalities and lives outside of our relationship with each other, but the thought of who pays for this, who pays for that is so petty and I feel like would cause more issues than it would solve. I understand the idea of having a sort of allowance account for each spouse, but I agree that it sounds like a roommate situation. What if you want something from the store and your husband is going to stop by to get it for you - what do you do in that situation? I'm going to be the breadwinner for many years until my fiance is done with his masters and I feel no bad feelings for him going out with the guys or buying a round of golf... We support each other in every sense of the word and are entering into a marriage without these types of financial guidelines, sounds silly to me! I just know that the 3 account rule is definitely not one that applies to the relationship that my fiance and I have.

Ashley said...

not needing to make an immediate decision on this subject, i say that i never thought of having separate accounts once i was married. my parents have a joint - it was just done. but the older i get the more independent i become. more and more people do three account idea and to me, it makes sense. But I am not sure if it's actually easy....

Kimber said...

I'm definitely in the camp of yours, mine, and ours, too! We aren't getting married for another 13 months, but we live together now. We split the bills, and that works for us. We can splurge our own money without guilt or having to "ask for permission" and be able to surprise each other with stuff. When we tie the knot, we'll have a joint account for household bills, and have a savings for those checks made out to Mr and Mrs.

Great post, Rhi. Something that no one talks about but needs to be talked about. :-)

Jas. said...

yay for posting this issue of the moula! I've spoken about this to numerous girlfriends, some have full joint accounts, some have the his hers ours and some have his and hers and spliut hairs over every bill. The latter, to my mind, is SO not worth the hassle! You're together to don't sweat it, you're not kids at xmas comparing who's present wouldn've cost santa more (this was my brother, but he's alot more relaxed now). I must say half the couple I know have his hers and joint and this works fabulously (and it's the route we'll go down should that day come, in teh meantime we have a joint 'holiday' account). The couples I know who have full joint accounts seem to have the most calls from their partner - you spent how much on those new shoes/new model remote control aeroplane. They also have issues surprising their partners as everything shows up on their join accounts and CC (I've put roses, gifts and hotel bookings on my own CC just so it's a surprise for their partner). If all in, joint account, was what was decided between us, I'd be requesting separate CC's so that if I want to surprise my man I can and then pay it off from the joint account - at least that way he doesn't know I've bought him stunt car driving lessons for his birthday!

Thankfully, we're his hers ours, so we don't have any probs :)