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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: DSKla on January 26, 2015, 11:37:21 AM

Title: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: DSKla on January 26, 2015, 11:37:21 AM
My gf and I got into a lively debate last night about how we think finances should be shared between a married couple with unequal incomes, which we both believe is in our future. Now seems like a good time to hash it out since we make exactly the same yearly salary.

I am aiming to FIRE, she is not. While she isn't super extravagant, she does enjoy buying lots of clothing and shoes on sale and at thrift stores, and generally does more optional spending than I do.

My thought was: split all expenses 50/50 regardless of incomes, then each of us keeps our own money in separate accounts after that. She feels that expenses should be split proportional to income, e.g. if someone brings home 2/3 of the money, they pay 2/3 of the expenses. And though it wasn't clear, it sounded as if she wanted just small personal accounts, and that a lot of the money gets pooled together.

We won't be sharing incomes for a few years at least, but what's a fair strategy? Getting her 100% on board with my spending habits is incredibly unlikely, but she isn't outrageous or super high maintenance either, so I don't see her impeding my goals or vice versa if we can come to an agreement.

Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?

I'm trying to find a compromise. Perhaps pooling a certain percentage into a joint account that requires agreement for any purchases, and the rest into personal accounts that are for whatever the individual wants?

Note: this will only be an issue if I end up being the higher earner. If it's her, I will happily pay my 50% of expenses and never ask her for a dime of her money to use on my hobbies and optional spending.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: J'onn J'onzz on January 26, 2015, 12:13:35 PM
My opinion is that once you are married all money earned is household money regardless of which person is earning it.

When budgeting then you decide how much money per month each person gets as personal spending money.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Psychstache on January 26, 2015, 12:18:13 PM
My gf and I got into a lively debate last night about how we think finances should be shared between a married couple with unequal incomes, which we both believe is in our future. Now seems like a good time to hash it out since we make exactly the same yearly salary.

I am aiming to FIRE, she is not. While she isn't super extravagant, she does enjoy buying lots of clothing and shoes on sale and at thrift stores, and generally does more optional spending than I do.

My thought was: split all expenses 50/50 regardless of incomes, then each of us keeps our own money in separate accounts after that. She feels that expenses should be split proportional to income, e.g. if someone brings home 2/3 of the money, they pay 2/3 of the expenses. And though it wasn't clear, it sounded as if she wanted just small personal accounts, and that a lot of the money gets pooled together.

We won't be sharing incomes for a few years at least, but what's a fair strategy? Getting her 100% on board with my spending habits is incredibly unlikely, but she isn't outrageous or super high maintenance either, so I don't see her impeding my goals or vice versa if we can come to an agreement.

Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?

I'm trying to find a compromise. Perhaps pooling a certain percentage into a joint account that requires agreement for any purchases, and the rest into personal accounts that are for whatever the individual wants?

Note: this will only be an issue if I end up being the higher earner. If it's her, I will happily pay my 50% of expenses and never ask her for a dime of her money to use on my hobbies and optional spending.

Honestly, I you have to phase things as "we won't interfere with each others life goals" instead of "we will work together on our life goals", you should really think long and hard about whether or not this is a relationship you want to make permanent.

Not that you can't have a relationships with someone with disparate life goals, but in my experience, it seems to open the door to all sorts of problems (frequent fights, resentment, etc).
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Capsu78 on January 26, 2015, 12:21:44 PM
+1- shared pot, doesn't matter who puts what up on the scoreboard. Over 30 years we have flip flopped a couple of times.  I think it is great to be having this conversation during "courtship" as they used to say, but don't let it be the only.  Things like views on children, parenting also very important and sometimes neglected.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: pminkler on January 26, 2015, 12:22:43 PM
Right now, my SO and I have wound up on an "income based" sharing plan.  He makes 34% of our total household income,  I make 66%.  If it's shared, (groceries, rent, utilities, alcohol) he pays 34% of the bill and I pay 64% of it.  We mostly eat the same things.  If I get tea that he doesn't use, and he gets tiny oranges I don't like...then it mostly evens out over time to an amount that doesn't really matter.

We keep a Google Drive spreadsheet that has a form attached to keep track.  Buy groceries?  Fill out the form.  At the end of the month, the spreadsheet does the work to see who owes the other person what.

Anything after what we need to survive and live, is the other person's option.  We both have separate accounts.  We only argue if he's coming home with optional stuff and wonders why he can't pay his 34%. 

This also helps in conversations about FI, in the blue moon he brings it up, to demonstrate how somebody can save 60-75% of their income...since the percentages are all the same regardless of income.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: DSKla on January 26, 2015, 12:23:05 PM
My gf and I got into a lively debate last night about how we think finances should be shared between a married couple with unequal incomes, which we both believe is in our future. Now seems like a good time to hash it out since we make exactly the same yearly salary.

I am aiming to FIRE, she is not. While she isn't super extravagant, she does enjoy buying lots of clothing and shoes on sale and at thrift stores, and generally does more optional spending than I do.

My thought was: split all expenses 50/50 regardless of incomes, then each of us keeps our own money in separate accounts after that. She feels that expenses should be split proportional to income, e.g. if someone brings home 2/3 of the money, they pay 2/3 of the expenses. And though it wasn't clear, it sounded as if she wanted just small personal accounts, and that a lot of the money gets pooled together.

We won't be sharing incomes for a few years at least, but what's a fair strategy? Getting her 100% on board with my spending habits is incredibly unlikely, but she isn't outrageous or super high maintenance either, so I don't see her impeding my goals or vice versa if we can come to an agreement.

Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?

I'm trying to find a compromise. Perhaps pooling a certain percentage into a joint account that requires agreement for any purchases, and the rest into personal accounts that are for whatever the individual wants?

Note: this will only be an issue if I end up being the higher earner. If it's her, I will happily pay my 50% of expenses and never ask her for a dime of her money to use on my hobbies and optional spending.

Honestly, I you have to phase things as "we won't interfere with each others life goals" instead of "we will work together on our life goals", you should really think long and hard about whether or not this is a relationship you want to make permanent.

Not that you can't have a relationships with someone with disparate life goals, but in my experience, it seems to open the door to all sorts of problems (frequent fights, resentment, etc).

Very true. Although the only difference I meant to imply is that I would like to FIRE and she is very happy doing what she does, and likely has no desire to retire early. Which I completely understand. Otherwise our values are very similar.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Peacefulwarrior on January 26, 2015, 12:24:55 PM
"And they that were two shall be made one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh."

If you are not ready to share everything you are marrying the wrong person. Fighting over money is one of the top reasons people get divorced, so don't take this lightly. You need to be 100% on the same page before tying the knot.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Future Lazy on January 26, 2015, 12:28:27 PM
DH and I are both 22. Last year, he brought home about $15,000, where I brought home around $25,000. We split our necessary expenses ~50/50. That's housing, utilities, food, internet & phone bill. We keep separate bank accounts, and all personal spending (or savings) comes out of there.

Monthly, I have a surplus of 40-50% of my income, but currently DH is working part time and sometimes doesn't quite make ends meet. Even though it would be helpful to his pocketbook to split expenses 40/60 (or whatever), I don't want to be helpful to his pocket book. I want DH to be motivated to get a better job that he doesn't hate, and financial pressure is what I can provide. I don't want 15k/yr to be his acceptable income baseline.

I honestly think this depends on what the earnings are. "Fair" division of expenses, or the decision to combine incomes, is an incredibly personal decision. If you're talking about a situation where someone makes 50k/yr and someone else makes 75k/yr, it shouldn't even matter if the expenses are under control. In other words, if individual incomes are well over 25k-30k/yr, that should leave room for tons of savings (or spending) for both parties.

And though it wasn't clear, it sounded as if she wanted just small personal accounts, and that a lot of the money gets pooled together.

This is where DH and I will eventually end up (I think): Where the majority of income is pooled and saved or used to pay bills as needed, and a fixed allowance is moved to a personal account once a month ($50/mo per person?). Personal accounts are personal, and if she spends it all on clothes each month and you save yours up to buy a big ticket item next year, whatever. It's your personal money. 

I'm just not willing to combine finances with a low wage earner. :) I'm afraid that it'll allow DH to relax and feel like things are ok, and not achieve more with his life. I don't want to be mooched off of. The downside to this is that I've got a fair amount of money saved, but my DH feels broke as balls all the time - because he is. It also means I have to foot big ticket items (such as car repairs) and ask DH to pay me back.

That being said, what I hear you saying is... "I'm not ready to/don't want to combine incomes, but she is/does." That's understandable, since that's basically marriage. Do you guys plan to get married? If not, then you probably shouldn't have a joint bank account. If so, then everything is a shared pot. 

Sorry if that was a bit rambling, I tried to bold the part that really matters! This has been on my might a lot lately too. Hopefully you guys can come to a good equilibrium/agreement for yourselves.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: DSKla on January 26, 2015, 12:28:41 PM
"And they that were two shall be made one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh."

If you are not ready to share everything you are marrying the wrong person. Fighting over money is one of the top reasons people get divorced, so don't take this lightly. You need to be 100% on the same page before tying the knot.

I agree. That's why we are trying to reach an accord now, before we're permanent and while we are making the same amount of money. Because fighting over it once we're married is not something I ever want to do. And if we can't agree, obviously that would make us reconsider quite a bit, but easier to agree/divorce now than after a marriage.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Peacefulwarrior on January 26, 2015, 12:42:09 PM
"And they that were two shall be made one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh."

If you are not ready to share everything you are marrying the wrong person. Fighting over money is one of the top reasons people get divorced, so don't take this lightly. You need to be 100% on the same page before tying the knot.

I agree. That's why we are trying to reach an accord now, before we're permanent and while we are making the same amount of money. Because fighting over it once we're married is not something I ever want to do. And if we can't agree, obviously that would make us reconsider quite a bit, but easier to agree/divorce now than after a marriage.

Whoever brought up not sharing everything regarding income is completely disillusioned regarding the commitment it will take to create a lasting and happy marriage. Hell, the primary legal implication of getting married is that you own everything together (unless you go for a pre-nup). In no way am I a big fan of marriage, and I think if you really want to do it at least it needs to be done 100% or it's really meaningless. Sounds like someone is more into the romantic thought of having a wedding than to really make two become one.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Timmmy on January 26, 2015, 12:48:45 PM
DW and I share everything.  All money goes in to a joint account and all bills come out of a joint account.  We give ourselves some pocket money each month and big purchases are discussed.  I can't even grasp how annoying it would be to be married to someone with different financial goals than me. 

We have been married for 6 years and we have flip-flopped the bigger income several times and neither one of us cares who earns more.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: NoraLenderbee on January 26, 2015, 01:00:50 PM
There's no one right way. I know of successful marriages where they do a proportional split, and ones where they pool money only to pay common household expenses (mortgage, etc.) and keep the rest separate. Just keep talking with her until you find the plan that you're both most comfortable with. If children are a possibility, consider that a 50-50 split (or any split) doesn't work well if one partner stops working or cuts back to do parenting.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: starguru on January 26, 2015, 01:13:45 PM
DW and I have separate accounts.  We just never combined them.   We talk about money frequently and never really argue about anything financial.  Our accounts are open books to one another.
I make ~2.5x what she does so I pay more (mortgage, 3/4 childcare, she covers health insurance since her work plan is better), which I am happy to do.  It works really well for us.  We both have the same long term financial goals.

I can't stress that communication is the key for us.  Every major purchase is discussed and analyzed.  She convinced me to buy less car when our old one broke down.  I didn't need permission to make a very unmustachian purchase (but it was still discussed) that she didn't agree with.  If she wants to do a home improvement project, we discuss it and figure out who pays for what.  We make sure that we both increase our savings every year.   

Keeping separate accounts does have 1 key advantage -- both partners have their own money and hence power in the relationship.  There is no asking permission for things.  She doesn't need my permission to buy something and I don't need hers.  Of course we live well below our means so it never becomes a problem; while we might occasionally make purchases the other doesn't agree with we save a shit-ton of money so its not an issue; we are on the trajectory we want to be on. 

In the end, if both partners have the same or similar long term goals I don't really think it matters if the accounts are combined or not.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: RunHappy on January 26, 2015, 01:33:51 PM
Right now my SO and I are living together and we share the communal expenses 50/50 (even though he makes more than me).  The reason is we share space in the house 50/50 and not any other type of fraction.

When we get married we plan to create a his/hers/theirs situation and I will most likely be in charge of the household budget, because I'm better at it.  Edit:  We already treat each others bills a household responsibility to a certain extent.  Example: individual car maintenance, pet care, etc.  What we leave separate is clothing, other individual entertainment, and debt we had before we got together (he has student loans and a previous mortgage). We factor those into our overall household responsibilities, however payment for those come from his salary, not mine.

When it comes down to it I know many couples who have split their finances a variety of different ways.  One couple, he pays for EVERYTHING and she is in charge of savings.  5 years after they bought the house, she told him she saved enough to pay off their mortgage + 5 years living expenses (quiet a team!).

Another couple I know have everything joint and are constantly overdrawing everything because no one person is in charge of all the bills.

Another does the percentage split and they never fight about money.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Future Lazy on January 26, 2015, 01:38:07 PM
"And they that were two shall be made one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh."

If you are not ready to share everything you are marrying the wrong person. Fighting over money is one of the top reasons people get divorced, so don't take this lightly. You need to be 100% on the same page before tying the knot.

I agree. That's why we are trying to reach an accord now, before we're permanent and while we are making the same amount of money. Because fighting over it once we're married is not something I ever want to do. And if we can't agree, obviously that would make us reconsider quite a bit, but easier to agree/divorce now than after a marriage.

Whoever brought up not sharing everything regarding income is completely disillusioned regarding the commitment it will take to create a lasting and happy marriage. Hell, the primary legal implication of getting married is that you own everything together (unless you go for a pre-nup). In no way am I a big fan of marriage, and I think if you really want to do it at least it needs to be done 100% or it's really meaningless. Sounds like someone is more into the romantic thought of having a wedding than to really make two become one.

We had a courthouse wedding in front of no one we knew. Afterwards, we went for a hike, and to my late BIL's memorial service. I didn't share the news with my parents for many months afterward. Marriage is for ourselves to be strengthened as a unit, an expression of commitment to the struggles ahead, not a show put on for others. A relationship is a puzzle, where marriage is a single piece, and wealth is a single piece, and there are many more pieces. The idea that marriage is final, a finishing seal on a 100% complete finished relationship, I think, is a fundamentally flawed outlook.

Whether or not incomes and financial resources are pooled or kept separate is a personal decision. Both systems work.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: pagoconcheques on January 26, 2015, 01:48:43 PM
The trick to a long relationship is recognizing that there are three parties involved: you, your SO, and the couple you comprise.  The system you use has to work for all three parties. 

We've always just had one checking account into which all of our earnings go.  This works for us.  We know happy couples who handle it many different ways, so pick what you want just keep all three parties happy. 

Additionally, we take turns doing the accounting (we use Quicken) and paying bills.  Each takes a turn for three months, and we have a hand-over session each time we switch.  This forces transparency and accountability for actually doing it properly.  At tax time, we do it together using TurboTax. 

Once the taxes are done we treat ourselves to a nice restaurant and make two plans.  One is for the coming year and includes professional and personal goals as well as financial and spending.  The other is a five-year plan that covers the same stuff.  We typically fit each of these plans on one side of a 3x5 index card, but we've used paper napkins or the back of a receipt if we forget the cards. 

It's not just HOW you do it, it's making time to REFLECT on how you do it. 

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: CommonCents on January 26, 2015, 02:05:48 PM
What happens in your plans if you have kids?  How do you allocate those expenses?  Particularly if one of you takes time off to be with them?  What happens if one of you gets sick and can't work anymore?  That's the issue with the pots of money situation I feel, that it only really works when both parties are earning equally.  When you're earning unequally, it really breaks down a lot (particularly if the partner earning less is contributing a lot more than 50% to the household in other ways, such as grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, kids, etc.) 

We got married and share equally - but kept our separate bank accounts.  We added each other to the bank accounts, and feel no hesitation on asking/answering questions, but they are still thought of as "mine" and "his" (that's just because we both liked our own for different reasons and neither wanted to give theirs up).  We don't *have to* ask permission for purchases, but in practice, we talk through most big purchases.  It doesn't really matter who makes the big purchase (or pays the mortgage that month) in the end as we feel it's one pot. 

But maybe it helps in that at one time or the other in the relationship, we've each been the one earning double that the other one earns.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: wtjbatman on January 26, 2015, 02:12:10 PM
We are getting married in three weeks. Several months ago we combined our finances. We opened joint checking and savings accounts, and deposit all of our income into those accounts. We compiled a list of our debts, sorted by interest rate. At the end of the month after all of the bills are paid, we put whatever money is left over towards our debt with the highest interest rate. We don't look at it like my money is paying her debt, or her money is paying my debt. It's our money and our debt.

Let me tell you, it's one of the best things we've ever done. Since combining our finances we basically never argue about money. We both know what's coming in and what's going out, and there's question we are both contributing as much as we can to our life together. I can't imagine not combining finances and having a loving, successful relationship. Considering when you become married your assets start becoming combined legally, it only makes even more sense to combine finances when getting married.

Of course we also kept our separate bank accounts. Personal allowance money (an idea we tried for a month then gave up on), gift money, small side hustle earnings, etc can be deposited in those accounts if either of us really want to. So far we don't really do that, as we agree on 99% of purchases from the joint account, but it's always an option.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: southern granny on January 26, 2015, 02:18:36 PM
In our 39 year marriage there were times when he made a lot more than me, there were years when I made a lot more than him...  but it never mattered.  All of our money is our money.  Neither of us made large purchases without running it past the other one. Our accounts are all joint accounts.  It works for us.  I know another couple married almost as long, but they have always kept their finances separate because one of them likes to spend too much.  That works for them.  You just have to figure out what works for you.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on January 26, 2015, 02:21:14 PM
My opinion is that once you are married all money earned is household money regardless of which person is earning it.

When budgeting then you decide how much money per month each person gets as personal spending money.

+1.  My wife is a SAHM, but an equal amount for "fun money" is allocated for each of us. 

I can't imagine keeping separate finances once you are married, unless someone has child support / alimony to pay from a previous marriage and you want to isolate that from the rest of your finances.

Other things to discuss before getting married:
1. Kids?  Yes / no, number, when.
2. Will one of you stay home if you have kids?
3. Job offer requiring a move - what is the criteria for uprooting the family.
4. Financial assistance for relatives, yes / no
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 26, 2015, 02:23:08 PM
My husband and I share our money - there is no his money and my money.

I had friends who did the "my income is mine and yours is yours" thing. I don't know exactly how they split household bills, but man was it uncomfortable when someone would invite them to some sort of event and wife would say "YES! Sounds great" and husband would say "I'm sorry, I'm out of money this month."  Then wife either felt like husband was holding her back (because she'd be pissed she had to stay home with him) or husband would be upset he went out without her.

It also seemed like there was occasional power struggle "Okay, I'll treat this time..." because one of the spouse's income was lower than the other.

I know some people do the "fun money" allotment, where each spouse can spend it or save it as they please, we don't do that because my husband and I have similar views on frivolous spending so no one is going to drain the accounts we keep together.


Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: seattlecyclone on January 26, 2015, 02:25:02 PM
My wife and I share accounts. It works well for us. Having separate accounts for some things and sharing other expenses would be pretty hard to keep track of, and I think it would lead to more arguments about things, about whether an expense is worthy of paying out of the shared account or whether one partner has to use "their" money to pay for it. As is, anything either of us buys is spending "our" money and we have to be able to justify the spending on that basis. That doesn't mean we don't allow each other to spend money on something for just one of us, but it means that we're one unit and all purchases (personal or joint) add into the overall financial picture and we need to be mindful of that.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 26, 2015, 02:28:33 PM
We pay for joint things 50/50 (rent, internet, groceries), our own things individually (cell phones, haircuts, personal things) , and sort-of-joint things typically around a 1/3, 2/3 split. Neither of us has a desire for a relationship that involves subsidizing the other's lifestyle choices.

We make decisions about how much to spend on joint expenses based on what we're both comfortable paying. Neither of us has expensive tastes.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on January 26, 2015, 02:34:10 PM
My wife and i have joint CC's for what i consider normal expenses.  we have a gas card and a grocery card.
up until  i found MMM i was splitting the mortgage with her 50/50 now after finding this and her not wanting to FIRE i pay a larger portion of the mortgage so i can have her max out her 401k account.  i'm the larger earner of the 2 of us but most things are split equally ... all things considered.  at the end of the day i think she will come around to FIRE but she may not. 

i feel your pain on the "if i become the larger earner side" ... this should not contribute to some slush fund so she can spend more on useless stuff. 

this gets much more complicated when kids come into the picture ... my wife and i will have to talk our finances then and probably end up with a card thats for kid stuff. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: gecko10x on January 26, 2015, 02:34:20 PM
My opinion is that once you are married all money earned is household money regardless of which person is earning it.

When budgeting then you decide how much money per month each person gets as personal spending money.

Exactly this.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on January 26, 2015, 02:43:14 PM
But there is not right or wrong answer if it works for you... i see it much more common in my generation to keep separate accounts.  it leads to no real bickering over money.  if i wnat to save 60% i save it if i want to buy a boat i buy it.  as long as we are paying for the household needs who really cares what the other does with their money. 

If person A make 100k and person b makes 50k ... and person B wants to buy something and its split 50/50 then maybe person B should re-evaluate how much they make.

NOTE: we're both engineers... we both have the options to make more or less money if we want to ... and we both could be very similarly paid if we chose to.  so i'm not being cold and heartless when i say this.  Now say you married someone with much less earning potential ... i would probably re-evaluate this strategy.  but our earning potential is eqaul... what we get paid is a personal choice about where we work and what we are striving to be / become / our effort at work.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: looking for FI on January 26, 2015, 02:53:01 PM
Honestly it doesn't matter because if you were to get divorced and she had 50k in credit card debt and you have 50k in a brokerage account both of you walk away with nothing. She has no debt and you have no investments. However you choose to view it is irrelevant all income is joint and all assets and liabilities are joint whether the account is titled that way or not.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 26, 2015, 02:55:33 PM
I just got married last June, and we immediately added each others' names to our bank accounts, which were already at the same bank.  We consider all money "ours," and all bills/debts/savings "ours."  We know (and knew before marriage) that there will be large income gaps for basically our entire lives.  I'm currently in school, so our monthly budget is based entirely off his income.  Anything I earn is extra and goes straight to savings/debts.  That way we're not in a position of relying on my income, so I can cut my hours to study for finals or whatever.  When I'm done with school, I'll jump to a starting salary around 100k, which is significantly higher than what he brings in.  The disparity will likely continue for the rest of my career, unless he goes back to school or starts his own company or something. 

I think the flip flopping is pretty standard -- you never know who might get an amazing job offer or laid off, etc etc.  Keeping everything in one pot is the simplest way to do it, imo.  I really wouldn't want to calculate changes in the portion of monthly bills I owe every time I got a raise :/ That just sounds annoying!
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on January 26, 2015, 02:57:42 PM
But there is not right or wrong answer if it works for you... i see it much more common in my generation to keep separate accounts.  it leads to no real bickering over money.  if i wnat to save 60% i save it if i want to buy a boat i buy it.  as long as we are paying for the household needs who really cares what the other does with their money. 

If person A make 100k and person b makes 50k ... and person B wants to buy something and its split 50/50 then maybe person B should re-evaluate how much they make.

NOTE: we're both engineers... we both have the options to make more or less money if we want to ... and we both could be very similarly paid if we chose to.  so i'm not being cold and heartless when i say this.  Now say you married someone with much less earning potential ... i would probably re-evaluate this strategy.  but our earning potential is eqaul... what we get paid is a personal choice about where we work and what we are striving to be / become / our effort at work.

So what happens when person A wants to take their boat and move to the Bahamas when they FIRE at 35?  You are going to leave your spouse behind because they aren't in the financial position to do so?  Geez...
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: whiskeyjack on January 26, 2015, 03:00:19 PM
There are some questions you and your gf need to discuss before coming to a decision.   

Do you intend to have children?

If you have children, will one of you be giving up some/all of their working income to stay home and care for those children?   Is one of you more likely to take on the responsibility of taking a day off because your child is sick and you couldn't find a sitter at the last minute?  How you make these decisions is going to influence your career path and total earning potential.

What if one of your children has a disability, would one of you become a SAHP then?

Keeping completely separate finances works best when both partners are contributing equally in terms of paid vs unpaid labor.  I feel the same way about a percent-income split.   It works fine unless there is an imbalance somewhere else.   If one of you has to give up some earning potential to take on more unpaid at-home responsibilities, it's important that both members recognize that effort as valid and important.

We have disparate incomes and completely pooled finances.  In our younger days we each had a 'fun money' account that each could use without having to track or justify that spending to each other.   Over time the separate accounts went away because we are better aligned in our thinking and spending.

In your particular case where no children have been mentioned, but there is a likely disparity in income, I would suggest doing something similar.   Pool all resources, pay all necessary combined household expenses out of that (and I'd work in a minimum required savings contribution).  This includes "John invited us to XX and I really want us both to go".   If you both go, it comes out of the pooled funds. The remainder can be split into your individual discretionary spending.  Yours can go to more aggressive RE savings and hers can go to whatever she values more.

Have some conversations to make sure she won't be burning with resentment if you are able to RE and she cannot (but if you set a good example of how you are living a happy and fulfilled life WITHOUT all the spending, she might come around on her own.)

I am assuming that you are both fully committed to each other, and both believe the other is contributing equally to the relationship even if the financial numbers are different.

Neither of us really enjoys having the minutae of our spending analyzed and so even before we had kids, a by-income-split would have caused more stress for us than this.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: factoryflame on January 26, 2015, 03:05:32 PM
We did a proportional split. My partner made more, so he put in 2/3 of shared expenses and I put in 1/3. It worked well for us when we were just living together. Then, after official commitment, we prepared to have a baby by living on just his salary and paying off debt with mine. When debt was all paid off, we used all of mine for emergency fund and investment. Now that I'm home with the baby, we live on his salary alone, and can live comfortably within our means.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on January 26, 2015, 03:08:35 PM
But there is not right or wrong answer if it works for you... i see it much more common in my generation to keep separate accounts.  it leads to no real bickering over money.  if i wnat to save 60% i save it if i want to buy a boat i buy it.  as long as we are paying for the household needs who really cares what the other does with their money. 

If person A make 100k and person b makes 50k ... and person B wants to buy something and its split 50/50 then maybe person B should re-evaluate how much they make.

NOTE: we're both engineers... we both have the options to make more or less money if we want to ... and we both could be very similarly paid if we chose to.  so i'm not being cold and heartless when i say this.  Now say you married someone with much less earning potential ... i would probably re-evaluate this strategy.  but our earning potential is eqaul... what we get paid is a personal choice about where we work and what we are striving to be / become / our effort at work.

So what happens when person A wants to take their boat and move to the Bahamas when they FIRE at 35?  You are going to leave your spouse behind because they aren't in the financial position to do so?  Geez...

my FIRE plans put it so we can both FIRE at that age if she wants to keep working thats her prerogative but we will have kids and i'm not just gonna take the boat and head to the bahamas... that would likely end in divorce papers being sent my way... i'm not saying its black and white ... but you can make separate finances work.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: wtjbatman on January 26, 2015, 03:16:47 PM
Neither of us really enjoys having the minutae of our spending analyzed and so even before we had kids, a by-income-split would have caused more stress for us than this.

We are like you. My fiance earns salary but monthly income fluctuates thanks to commissions and bonuses, my income is hourly and fluctuates because of OT some weeks and working less than 40 hours other weeks.

Are we going to sit down every month and use some formula based on our income and bills to determine who pays what down to the dollar? I know we have some real math nerds around here who eat this shit up, but me and the fiance aren't those people. It would cause more stress than anything gained by being "fair" with our money. Which, as I said before anyway, we consider to be both of ours now.

I think the most important thing is that we talked about it and figured out a plan that we believe will work... all before getting married. If you talk and come up with a income/bill % plan that you both feel will work, then go for it. You are already better off than all of those people who barely discuss their finances and wing it month to month.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: studentdoc2 on January 26, 2015, 03:36:01 PM
My spouse and I place a big emphasis on partnership in our relationship, but we have very different careers and very different skill sets. We each use those to the best of our advantage for our common goals and the future we want. For us, it would never work to split things 50/50 or in proportion to our income; first, our incomes are likely to be very different (possibly by 10-fold), and second, we both contribute to the household in different ways (e.g., he hasn't had to deal with figuring out a budget or paying a bill in two years (although we routinely check in so he know's where money is going and why and has full access to those accounts), and I've cooked less than 10 meals for the two of us in the same time)). I'm more FIRE-oriented than he is, so we've had some long conversations and compromises about the end goals and the rate at which we are approaching them. Sharing finances (with separate accounts for a monthly discretionary stipend, gifts, etc.) has helped us really focus on the type of life we want together and ultimately has led to fewer resentments. I think I would feel very lonely if I were working away for FIRE on my own totally unsupported by my spouse. Plus, I've never understood how the split/proportioned finances work in the event of big purchases like a house.... But I know there are couples that make this work!
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: ShortInSeattle on January 26, 2015, 03:39:12 PM
I agree that there is more than one way it can work. So as long as you are both happy, it's fine.

We went the "pooled income" route and it is what I would recommend in most cases. If you were already FI and marrying late in life, or if your spouse had a spending addiction that was going to harm the family, separate finances make a lot of sense. But for most couples, shared accounts offer advantages:

1. It reinforces that you are a team. - no resentment or stinginess from a "mine" vs "yours" attitude.
2. It simplifies accounting. - no need to calculate percentages.
3. It encourages shared decision-making. - big expenses can be discussed, budgets can be agreed upon.
4. It equalizes power. - All "contributions" to the household are equally valued. Money isn't a measure of who gets more say.

Early on in my marriage I earned more, now my SO does.  It's never mattered all that much. We're married - entangling our lives under one banner was kind of the point for us.

Let us know what you guys decide, OP.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: KMMK on January 26, 2015, 03:40:55 PM
Our incomes are similar so we split 50/50 and keep most things separate.  We'd  fight all the time with joint money so that seemed silly to combine when We are both happy with separate and never fight.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: ShortInSeattle on January 26, 2015, 03:43:12 PM
The trick to a long relationship is recognizing that there are three parties involved: you, your SO, and the couple you comprise.  The system you use has to work for all three parties.   

Wise words!
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: bigalsmith101 on January 26, 2015, 04:06:22 PM
I'll add another "100% joint account" to the mix.

I recognize marriage as the epitome of a "joint/team effort" in all manners of the term. We've been married for 6 months, but together for the past 7 years. We essentially joined forces financially when she graduated college in June 2012.

My income has consistently been 2-4 times greater than hers and will likely remain at least 50% greater even after her education is completed. She comes from a slightly different family financial background of semi-split finances, and so initially had a hard time  relying on my income as the financial support when we first joined accounts.

Since then however, it's all been a wash. We earn money, it goes into the account. It's spent on necessary things. We're on nearly exactly the same page financially and so no outrageous spending even comes to mind. 

 My wife will soon be unemployed this coming fall when she begins a 9 month internship. It doesn't even matter because it's all part of the plan. Tuition will be paid for by "the money", food, rent, gas, cellphone, etc will all be paid. It's an investment, as when she completes her education she'll be much more able to contribute significantly to our FI plans.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: PEIslander on January 26, 2015, 04:13:37 PM
My bride & I were married 27-1/2 years ago. We started our marriage without jobs & two hundred dollars in the bank! We had no doubt that somehow we'd make it together. All our income has always been our income. All our expenses have always been our expenses. All our savings have always been our savings (although in separate accounts 'cause that's what the taxman makes us do). Neither of us gets an allowance. We are free to spend money however we see fit. The thing is with sharing equally comes some responsibility. Neither of us is likely to spend extravagantly (or selfishly) without considering the other - it hasn't happened yet. It just seems to come with the role of being an equal partner. If anything, through most of our marriage we both would have been okay if the other would actually spend more on themselves.

The most significant financial thing in our marriage was the early decision to build up a nest egg. Having savings has always been liberating. We always knew that if life was getting too tough we could afford to take a vacation. We always knew if our jobs became unbearable we could afford to quit and then take some time to find a better one. We always knew if some unexpected cost came up we'd be able to deal with it. That freedom allowed us to not be ruled by money. (In contrast, friends always seemed to live paycheck-to-paycheck and sadly a lack of money has ruled their existence). In recent years as our attention is getting more focused on retirement we have more explicit financial goals. The only difference is this makes us a little more focused on saving.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Future Lazy on January 26, 2015, 04:25:07 PM
DH and I are both 22. Last year, he brought home about $15,000, where I brought home around $25,000. We split our necessary expenses ~50/50. That's housing, utilities, food, internet & phone bill. We keep separate bank accounts, and all personal spending (or savings) comes out of there.

Monthly, I have a surplus of 40-50% of my income, but currently DH is working part time and sometimes doesn't quite make ends meet. Even though it would be helpful to his pocketbook to split expenses 40/60 (or whatever), I don't want to be helpful to his pocket book. I want DH to be motivated to get a better job that he doesn't hate, and financial pressure is what I can provide. I don't want 15k/yr to be his acceptable income baseline.

I'm just not willing to combine finances with a low wage earner. :) I'm afraid that it'll allow DH to relax and feel like things are ok, and not achieve more with his life. I don't want to be mooched off of. The downside to this is that I've got a fair amount of money saved, but my DH feels broke as balls all the time - because he is. It also means I have to foot big ticket items (such as car repairs) and ask DH to pay me back.

That being said, what I hear you saying is... "I'm not ready to/don't want to combine incomes, but she is/does." That's understandable, since that's basically marriage. Do you guys plan to get married? If not, then you probably shouldn't have a joint bank account. If so, then everything is a shared pot. 

Sorry if that was a bit rambling, I tried to bold the part that really matters! This has been on my might a lot lately too. Hopefully you guys can come to a good equilibrium/agreement for yourselves.

I don't want to start an argument and if it works for you that's great, but it comes off as trying to parent your spouse (at least to me).  If my spouse was making $15k per year (and it was out of laziness and not because she was....saving baby african black rhinos or something I don't know) then I'd think we could have a discussion about it.  Does your SO know that you using this as motivation?

Yes, I am doing some parenting. When you marry someone who didn't have emotionally/physically present parents, that's to be expected. Surprise: Kids don't raise themselves very well. My parents were equally absent, so we both have exaggerated handicaps. For example, he's teaching me how to drive, and is 100% more consistent about chores than I am. I still have to tell him to rinse his dish before he puts it in the sink, and to pick up food dropped on the floor. I'm fairly good with money, but he's better at adulting (being responsible and on time) in general. There is definitely parenting from both sides. We're still kids.

Also yes, he explicitly knows that I don't think his current trajectory is going to meet our goals, and that hating your life while working part time for Orange Hardware Box Store is not an acceptable career path. Back this up with information about the cost of having and raising up to 4 kids(! DH's ideal number!), as well as the cost of a house large enough to put them in. And not B.S. ".5mil to raise one child" costs that the mainstream thinks is normal - but it's still far more than what is affordable on our current financial trajectory. DH would like to be the SAHP, and we've discussed how that's not going to happen without gaining the financial momentum now.

It's not about DH making as much as I make - that's not important - but what is important is having the prerogative to earn enough to cover at least 50% of the bare necessities ($800/mo) and also project yourself into the future toward a financial goal, such as SAHParenthood.

If DH made $0 saving baby rhinos full time.. Or working at a Dumb Friends League, or traveling to obscure places and living with the native tribes of wherever, or playing his bass guitar in YouTube videos - whatever he was passionate about, I would be absolutely fucking thrilled. If he was passionate about working for Giant Orange Homeowners Mart, then 15k/yr would be just fine; I maintain the belief that if he was passionate about it, his bosses would notice, and he wouldn't be making 15k/yr for long.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: DSKla on January 26, 2015, 04:50:45 PM
Wow, lot's of good responses here, and it seems like a wide variety of workable plans. Thanks for all the suggestions.

I can see how kids throws a wrench into the mix as well if one parent stops working to care for them. Guess it's just going to be a big discussion that potentially evolves over time. The bottomline for me is I am trying to achieve a certain savings rate to FIRE, so at the end of the day it shouldn't matter to me whether the accounts are separate as long as I can achieve my desired savings rate, and she can achieve hers, which is going to be a much lower rate since she is happy working and will want to continue for quite a while.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on January 26, 2015, 11:58:07 PM
my FIRE plans put it so we can both FIRE at that age if she wants to keep working thats her prerogative but we will have kids and i'm not just gonna take the boat and head to the bahamas... that would likely end in divorce papers being sent my way... i'm not saying its black and white ... but you can make separate finances work.

Obviously the way you're doing things works for you, and that's great.  Since I like to argue about hypotheticals on the interweb, what happens in your earlier scenario if:

The $50K income listens to higher earner with equal qualifications, decides that they aren't earning up to their potential, and finds a job for $75K.  But, that job would require the couple to move to an area where $100K earner can only find a $90K job.  Overall, they would be ahead if they moved, but the separate finances / separate goals scenario would lead the higher earner to have to adjust their plans to account for the drop in income.  I guess you could negotiate a $10K payment from the $75K earner to make you financially whole, if you don't mind sleeping on the couch for the rest of your natural life.  Any other outcome would result in a joint financial decision.

I would argue that once you're married, the finances are not at all separate, even if you have your paychecks deposited into separate accounts.  At some point the goals of the couple (or family, when the kids arrive) will be put ahead of the goals of the individuals, and if they don't, why on earth did they get married to begin with?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Spondulix on January 27, 2015, 12:41:58 AM
Sometimes there are practical reasons to keep your finances separate. Do either of you want to go into business on your own (either as a primary job or as side income)? It can be a lot easier to do taxes/figure out business expenses with a separate account. Are you looking to buy a house? It's much easier to have combined finances when you need to prove income or make large payments.

The important part is setting a budget together - where the money lives is just a matter of logistics. DH puts his income in a business account (and mine in a personal) so we sort of have separate finances. We're both on both accounts (for transfers, checks etc), and everything shows up in Mint. So even though our accounts are separated, there's complete trust and transparency. Like others said, I think communication is a huge part - We talk about any purchase out of the ordinary that's above $200 or so (even if it's just, "hey I had to buy this thing, so you'll see it on Mint.")
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: deborah on January 27, 2015, 01:49:45 AM
We have been together for a very long time and have never shared finances. We work out what each of us is going to pay for, and we do it. If one of us doesn't have enough for something, the other is happy to loan that amount, if it is a one off. If one of us just cannot afford what they pay for (say that food goes up 100% or something like that), or thinks the distribution of payments is no longer fair, or has time off work, we re-work who pays for what.

We always had different investment strategies - and didn't like how the other was investing, so investing separately was the best way. Neither of us imposed our values on the other. We both became FI many years ago, and are both now retired, so this strategy does work.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Unique User on January 27, 2015, 07:43:59 AM
My opinion is that once you are married all money earned is household money regardless of which person is earning it.

When budgeting then you decide how much money per month each person gets as personal spending money.

Exactly this.

Same here.  But maybe it's because we're older?  I'm 45 and my DH is 50, we've been married 21 years and have always had a joint accounts.  Some years I make more, some years he does.  Since we don't buy things unless we agree or they are absolutely needed, I see no reason for separate accounts. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 27, 2015, 07:56:39 AM
My opinion is that once you are married all money earned is household money regardless of which person is earning it.

When budgeting then you decide how much money per month each person gets as personal spending money.

Exactly this.

Same here.  But maybe it's because we're older?  I'm 45 and my DH is 50, we've been married 21 years and have always had a joint accounts.  Some years I make more, some years he does.  Since we don't buy things unless we agree or they are absolutely needed, I see no reason for separate accounts.

I don't think it's age -- I'm 23 and DH is 29 and we have the same philosophy.

However, for at least my generation, I think it might have something to do with how far along (financially, career-wise, etc.) you are when you get married/get serious enough that you start factoring the other person into your financial plans/goals.  It's very easy to say "it's all our money" when you don't have any :D
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Terrestrial on January 27, 2015, 07:59:07 AM
I agree there are many ways it can be done, I think the most important thing rather than the actual scheme used is COMMUNICATION.  Of the two methods you listed, proportional makes the most sense to me, but to each their own.  50/50 with vastly different incomes would breed resentment, I think.

How my wife and I handle it:
I make ~75% of our household income, my wife 25%, and the split seems to widen further every year due to our career types.  We have always pooled it all into one mutual pot, there is no 'his/her' money besides very minor fun money accounts for hobbies that both get equal funding.  All accts are joint ownership, we talk about and agree on major expenses.  Should we divorce we will add up what we have and split it 50/50.  To me this is fair, I may make more but we are a partnership, she contributes more than her fair share in a variety of other ways.  Marriage can be hard enough even when you have a good one, we always felt that we didn't want money to be a source of friction, and so far it has worked.  Equal partners, no resentment, zero fighting about it in 5+ years now with this system.  Also I feel like now that we have kids this method is beneficial... I would hate to try and figure out how we split expenses for our children, college funding, etc. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: jms493 on January 27, 2015, 08:01:12 AM
Yes you work as a family together.  There is no more I....it is WE!  Household income,  make a plan,  create a budget that WE agree on and stick to it.  Dont be roommates be a family with goals that move together in agreement on everything.

Since wife and I have been on a budget we dont worry or bicker about money.  It is actually more freedom IMO.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: terran on January 27, 2015, 08:15:31 AM
I say combine it all, then fight about goals, not money. If she wants to buy clothes/things and you don't, figure out how much you're both comfortable spending and budget for it. If you want to FIRE and she doesn't, figure out how to budget for you to FIRE while she keeps working. If your idea of being FIRE'd requires that she also be FIRE'd talk about that until you come to an agreement.

If you can't come to a mutually satisfactory agreement on all these things (and all the other things you'll come up with) then you're not compatible and you shouldn't be married. This isn't to say that you won't both have to compromise and give up a few outfits or a few extra years of work as compared to your own ideal situation, but if staying together is worth the compromise to you, then make the compromise. If you/she feel it's not worth the compromise then something else is wrong because either your goals are too far apart or you don't want to stay together enough to shift your goals.

 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 27, 2015, 08:42:13 AM
I don't think there would be any agreement or compromise I could come to if we had combined accounts that would leave me not feeling intensely irritated when my boyfriend bought a $500 video game console, and I imagine he would feel similarly about my dance lessons. As it is now, separate accounts means neither of us cares, we both get what we want, and we're both happy. No point introducing pointless stress/discomfort into a relationship if you  already have a system that works.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Lia-Aimee on January 27, 2015, 08:49:35 AM
Separate finances for everything but the necessities of life.  Create a budget for the necessities.  I think a split based on income is fair in most cases, but perhaps if the higher earner has very cheap tastes when it comes to food or the lower earner wants to spend more for a nicer apartment (etc), there'll be some tweaking involved. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: skunkfunk on January 27, 2015, 09:37:15 AM
My wife and I pool our money into our checking account. Mint.com tracks our expenses, and it doesn't matter where money came from once it's there. Every now and then I keep a little cash in my pocket from side gigs, but only after mentioning it to her and getting the go-ahead.

We each have a $200/month category in Mint that we get to spend as we feel it is needed (or not spend and zero it out at the end of the month. Just checked, my wife used $10 and then zeroed out this month.) This money is not just "spending play money" but can be used to buy TV service (DirecTV comes out of mine), cell phones (I pay my cell out of this), hobbies (brewing, tennis, others), food (if I want a grocery we can't agree on,) anything. Every other category is mutually agreed upon.

It has worked perfectly.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: CommonCents on January 27, 2015, 10:28:03 AM
I say combine it all, then fight about goals, not money. If she wants to buy clothes/things and you don't, figure out how much you're both comfortable spending and budget for it. If you want to FIRE and she doesn't, figure out how to budget for you to FIRE while she keeps working. If your idea of being FIRE'd requires that she also be FIRE'd talk about that until you come to an agreement.

If you can't come to a mutually satisfactory agreement on all these things (and all the other things you'll come up with) then you're not compatible and you shouldn't be married. This isn't to say that you won't both have to compromise and give up a few outfits or a few extra years of work as compared to your own ideal situation, but if staying together is worth the compromise to you, then make the compromise. If you/she feel it's not worth the compromise then something else is wrong because either your goals are too far apart or you don't want to stay together enough to shift your goals.

 

This.

I was going to write this, but Terran beat me to it.  It sounds to me like the issue isn't really dividing up or pooling the money, but it's really that you disagree on the goals for each other and as a couple.  THAT's going to take a lot more discussion to work out, but in the long run, you'll be better off if you talk it out and come to some level of agreement on how you spend your money and what are priorities to save/spend on.  If this means you have no, small or large "no questions asked" amounts of personal money, or you come up with a different plan, all that matters is that it works for you.  But I think it's really hard to build a life with someone when you don't agree on finances, because it's so entwined.  (Particularly if one sacrifices for another by moving location, staying home or just taking care of the house due to the hours another has.)  It affects your vacation plans, your plans for children, your plans for FIRE, your choice of house, etc.  This is important to work out some compromises.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: overlord34 on January 27, 2015, 11:28:17 AM
Terran and CommonCents hit the nail on the head.  The problem is not so much working out your finances, as it is reaching a compromise on your goals.  I know because my wife and I have the same problem.  Over the last few years we've both tried to implement savings toward FIRE with me very much in favor of it while my wife realized she prefers to work.  We had been pooling our money but I'd get upset each time she bought things that I felt were cutting into my FIRE plan and she correspondingly felt powerless over her financial decisions.  Neither of us felt satisfied with what we were doing.

Here's what we decided to do to compromise on our goals and work together.  It's important for her to have a little bit of a more comfortable and therefore more expensive lifestyle.  She's still very frugal and we'll plan to keep our overall costs lower than most of America but probably higher than the ideal FIRE scenario - as an example, she prefers to live in a more expensive location which is important for her quality of life whereas I wouldn't mind staying put.  The compromise that we agreed to is that I'm willing to share the burden on these higher costs if it makes her happier, in exchange for her agreeing to split those costs with me 50/50 even if she's making less money than I am.  That way I can still FIRE relatively still on schedule, and she can work and live a lifestyle more in line with what she wants. 

We'll see how it goes out but after a lot of disagreements/fights about our life goals over the past year, I'm glad we finally have a plan in place that seems like it'll be a win-win and make us both happy. 









Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: rmendpara on January 27, 2015, 11:48:38 AM
Wow, lot's of good responses here, and it seems like a wide variety of workable plans. Thanks for all the suggestions.

I can see how kids throws a wrench into the mix as well if one parent stops working to care for them. Guess it's just going to be a big discussion that potentially evolves over time. The bottomline for me is I am trying to achieve a certain savings rate to FIRE, so at the end of the day it shouldn't matter to me whether the accounts are separate as long as I can achieve my desired savings rate, and she can achieve hers, which is going to be a much lower rate since she is happy working and will want to continue for quite a while.

I will just add that she does not have to also want FIRE for herself, but should be willing to consider a future where she works (for income) and you may or may not work for income (or a lower income in a different position that you enjoy). If your one true goal is to FIRE with your spouse, and if she truly does not want that, then you must go your separate ways.

Hopefully she can at least be willing to support you slowing down your work/career at some point, then you can probably find something that works. The "name" on each account is less important than how you view the owner of those funds (i.e. do you make joint decisions on everything, separate decisions on everything, or some of both).

This is surely a tricky subject. Just be sure to be respectful and avoid "my way or no deal" attitudes, and things should work out. Good luck
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Spondulix on January 27, 2015, 12:53:06 PM
If your one true goal is to FIRE with your spouse, and if she truly does not want that, then you must go your separate ways.
I disagree with this. It's one thing to say "we're going separate ways because we disagree on whether to have kids" because a child becomes part of life 24 hours a day. FIRE is something that one spouse can achieve without the other - it's a choice, not a lifestyle necessity. There are plenty of couples on here who live different (and separate) financial lives. Can it be a strain? Sure. Is it a requirement to be in complete alignment on financial goals to make a marriage work? Not at all.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on January 27, 2015, 01:15:34 PM
If your one true goal is to FIRE with your spouse, and if she truly does not want that, then you must go your separate ways.
I disagree with this. It's one thing to say "we're going separate ways because we disagree on whether to have kids" because a child becomes part of life 24 hours a day. FIRE is something that one spouse can achieve without the other - it's a choice, not a lifestyle necessity. There are plenty of couples on here who live different (and separate) financial lives. Can it be a strain? Sure. Is it a requirement to be in complete alignment on financial goals to make a marriage work? Not at all.

kids are a choice not a necessity. 

What he was saying is if the OP's goal is to FIRE WITH his spouse, not FIRE on his own while his spouse continues to work, then this could infact be viewed the same as parting ways based on the CHOICE to have or not have kids. 

If say i wanted to FIRE and start traveling the world with my spouse and she didnt want that... she wanted to keep working... THEN thats just as big an issue as have or not have kids.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: gluskap on January 27, 2015, 01:30:20 PM
We do a combination of joint account and separate accounts.  All joint expenses come from the joint account.  We each put in an equal amount into the joint account to cover all joint expenses.  This works for us because we have roughly similar incomes (it's flip flopped a few times who's made more).  If we had very different levels of income then we would probably do a percentage into the joint account.

I think this is the best of both worlds because you are still working as a team with your joint account/spending but you don't have to answer for every little purchase which you make from your individual account.  I plan on FIRE earlier than the hubby and tend to save more so I would get irritated seeing all his expenses but this way we don't have to fight.  I think once he sees me FIRE that he will want to stop working too. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Philociraptor on January 27, 2015, 01:47:45 PM
Another drop in the joint everything bucket. We share a single checking account and set of savings accounts. I manage all the money moves, from vacation and Christmas funds to Roth IRA's and 401(k)'s. We talk about our overarching goals and discuss our monthly spending. Leftovers get allocated do additional savings or debt, depending on what makes sense at the time. We discuss big purchases and don't sweat the small stuff.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Spondulix on January 27, 2015, 10:05:19 PM
If your one true goal is to FIRE with your spouse, and if she truly does not want that, then you must go your separate ways.
I disagree with this. It's one thing to say "we're going separate ways because we disagree on whether to have kids" because a child becomes part of life 24 hours a day. FIRE is something that one spouse can achieve without the other - it's a choice, not a lifestyle necessity. There are plenty of couples on here who live different (and separate) financial lives. Can it be a strain? Sure. Is it a requirement to be in complete alignment on financial goals to make a marriage work? Not at all.

kids are a choice not a necessity. 

What he was saying is if the OP's goal is to FIRE WITH his spouse, not FIRE on his own while his spouse continues to work, then this could infact be viewed the same as parting ways based on the CHOICE to have or not have kids. 

If say i wanted to FIRE and start traveling the world with my spouse and she didnt want that... she wanted to keep working... THEN thats just as big an issue as have or not have kids.
I'm saying that FIRE itself isn't a lifestyle choice. Theoretically, it's like getting married - it's a legal designation. Life doesn't change just because you got married or went FIRE - it's your own choice how to integrate it into your life and relationships. You can differ on FIRE and still co-exist; OP is a perfect example of this. He wasn't here asking how to get his SO on board. He's asking for ways to keep his finances separate.

The example of kids was merely pointing out that there are some actual lifestyle choices that directly affect both parties, whether they want it to or not. One parent can't say "I'm changing my lifestyle to accomodate my child" while the other says, "I'm not changing my lifestyle or our relationship one bit - I still expect you to have the same priorities, values and lifestyle choices with me after a child as before." It's unrealistic. If you want to move or travel the world (FIRE or not) and your spouse isn't interested, it's merely a difference in interests. If you want to go FIRE and your spouse wants to keep working, it's also just a difference in interests. You can either compromise or you don't. The real issue here isnt even about differences over travel, FIRE, or kids, though - it's whether you need to do these things with someone.

I think it's crappy to say, "my spouse needs to do this with me, or we need to go separate ways." A similar example would be, "I'm Catholic and my wife is Jewish. I want her to convert to Catholicism because that's what I want, but she's not interested. Therefore we shouldn't be together." It's forcing someone to put their values aside for your values, instead of respecting their values. When you break it down, which is more important, faith or your marriage? Travel or marriage? It's possible to have different life values and lifestyles (including FIRE) and still have a rewarding and fulfilling marriage. So when I hear, "I might get out of this marriage because my main goal in life is FIRE and my wife doesn't want that," it sounds like retirement is more important than marriage... in which case, there are probably bigger relationship issues than just vacations or kids.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Grog on January 28, 2015, 03:58:44 AM
without children, we had completely separate finance + a joint account in which we put the same amount every month, also it wasn't proportional to income.


Now that we are expecting a child, and some of us will be home with the baby, we have changed strategy and we are keeping "Purchasing Power Parity". That means that for reeeeally personal stuff like clothing, gift to not-shared friend, vacation/activity without the family, hobbies etc both of us has 1k/mo at disposition. What is not used goes to private saving of me/my gf and not shared savings, so, even the ability to put something aside personally must be equal.

The rest is dumped without looking in a giant joint account and used to pay for everything else, inkl taxes, retirement account and stuff

Every now and then (6 months?) we will evaluate the joint account and if we feel that is growing too large (we can dump in it 3k+ in excess of rent/childcare/grocery) we will take out something, split in 2 and add it to our personal saving.

This made everything so simple and we really have a feeling of mutual equality, since our personal purchasing power is the same.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: PEIslander on January 28, 2015, 04:56:16 AM
One advantage I see of combined finances relates to balancing retirement accounts so when you eventually draw on them you can minimize taxes. My ideas may be influenced by being Canadian and our rules -- perhaps they don't apply in the USA or other countries.

First, let's say there's a couple here that has strictly separate finances - each spouse's money is their own. The each contribute to a household account to pay the bills. For such a couple it is quite possible to eventually retire with very unequal retirement accounts as each only contributed to their own. (Does one have a comfy, relatively spendy, retirement while the other is poor?) If they are to survive their retirement one spouse may have to make larger withdrawals. The taxes paid on that higher income may be higher than if the same total income could have been split equally between the two spouses. The second scenario is a couple with shared finances. Over their saving years they try to balance out the values of their individual retirement accounts. If one spouse earns $75k and the other $25k they may save $25k in each spouse's retirement accounts so their account values are the same. When retirement time comes they draw upon both spouse's accounts at the same rate. In Canada at least, this second couple will likely pay lower taxes than the first couple based on the same total income. Due to those taxes the FI date would be at least a little earlier for the couple who shares.

Another observation I have based on couples I know that have separate finances is they tend to have power imbalances and from an outsider's perspective are not equal partnerships. Of course people are free to structure their relationships however they like.

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: skunkfunk on January 28, 2015, 04:10:39 PM
We do a combination of joint account and separate accounts.  All joint expenses come from the joint account.  We each put in an equal amount into the joint account to cover all joint expenses.  This works for us because we have roughly similar incomes (it's flip flopped a few times who's made more).  If we had very different levels of income then we would probably do a percentage into the joint account.

I think this is the best of both worlds because you are still working as a team with your joint account/spending but you don't have to answer for every little purchase which you make from your individual account.  I plan on FIRE earlier than the hubby and tend to save more so I would get irritated seeing all his expenses but this way we don't have to fight.  I think once he sees me FIRE that he will want to stop working too.

What exactly are these non-joint expenses? Aside from cell phones, I don't even buy anything that isn't a "household necessity" or at the very least mutually beneficial. $1k/mo each in personal expenses??? Good god, how is that on this forum? That's $24k/yr just on whatever the hell you two want.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Static Void on January 28, 2015, 05:13:35 PM
In our Western culture, the concept of marriage confounds two important things:

1. A social statement between the participants and to their community, about commitment, love, support, sometimes implied sexual monogamy, etc.
2. A business contract, the exact contents of which are not in your hands.

In particular, in USA community property states, the debt of one partner can be collected from the other. Therefore, you *are* pooling your money.

If you have different goals with financial implications, it may be prudent to make a statement about your commitment and love and stuff, but without mixing up the government in your bank accounts.

Me and my partner? We shacked up for love, and ten years later married for money.

Edit: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/debt-marriage-owe-spouse-debts-29572.html
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: CommonCents on January 29, 2015, 10:20:16 AM
We do a combination of joint account and separate accounts.  All joint expenses come from the joint account.  We each put in an equal amount into the joint account to cover all joint expenses.  This works for us because we have roughly similar incomes (it's flip flopped a few times who's made more).  If we had very different levels of income then we would probably do a percentage into the joint account.

I think this is the best of both worlds because you are still working as a team with your joint account/spending but you don't have to answer for every little purchase which you make from your individual account.  I plan on FIRE earlier than the hubby and tend to save more so I would get irritated seeing all his expenses but this way we don't have to fight.  I think once he sees me FIRE that he will want to stop working too.

What exactly are these non-joint expenses? Aside from cell phones, I don't even buy anything that isn't a "household necessity" or at the very least mutually beneficial. $1k/mo each in personal expenses??? Good god, how is that on this forum? That's $24k/yr just on whatever the hell you two want.

I feel like we have a super luxurious lifestyle compared to many here.  And we do have items that would fit into your non-joint category.  We buy non-thrift clothes (on sale), and have the occasional meal or drinks out with a friend w/o the other.  My husband eats lunch out a heck of a lot more than me (I can't get him to bring lunch in).  I sometimes buy things like makeup (rare) and still get my hair cut by a hairdresser (though infrequently and I stopped highlighting...).  But even with that...I agree, how the hell is $24/yr just sitting around for spending and not defined in your budget?  That's just mindboggling.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on January 29, 2015, 10:30:19 AM
We do joint everything, but of course before we married we talked through how we would approach money.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: theonethatgotaway on January 29, 2015, 10:33:19 AM
Everyone that we know that does the 50/50 split is miserable.

Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on January 30, 2015, 12:33:42 PM
Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

It is almost like they are just really friendly roommates and not a partnership.

Almost all of the people who replied that they keep things separate cite 'lack of confrontation' or some flavor thereof as a key reason why they have separate piles of money.  IMHO, all that does is delay the inevitable -- either you share the same values and can compromise on common goals or you can't, and you should find that out as soon as possible.  I would rather find that out that we could not compromise on long-term goals before getting married than hope we can compromise once she is pregnant, wants to stay home with the baby, and the mine/yours/ours approach of household cash flow management is blown out of the water.

<rant> It's amazing how many people here view their relationship as some sort of corporate joint venture.  You'll invest what you need to in hopes of short-term harmony and success, as long as it doesn't screw up your own balance sheet in the long run.  I can understand that for the first couple of months of dating, but once you are thinking engagement, it's time to align your lives.  Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than the "Your side of the boat is sinking!" arguments. </rant>
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 30, 2015, 12:47:23 PM
Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

It is almost like they are just really friendly roommates and not a partnership.

Almost all of the people who replied that they keep things separate cite 'lack of confrontation' or some flavor thereof as a key reason why they have separate piles of money.  IMHO, all that does is delay the inevitable -- either you share the same values and can compromise on common goals or you can't, and you should find that out as soon as possible.  I would rather find that out that we could not compromise on long-term goals before getting married than hope we can compromise once she is pregnant, wants to stay home with the baby, and the mine/yours/ours approach of household cash flow management is blown out of the water.

<rant> It's amazing how many people here view their relationship as some sort of corporate joint venture.  You'll invest what you need to in hopes of short-term harmony and success, as long as it doesn't screw up your own balance sheet in the long run.  I can understand that for the first couple of months of dating, but once you are thinking engagement, it's time to align your lives.  Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than the "Your side of the boat is sinking!" arguments. </rant>

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.

In my case, we have the same goals, have similar spending levels, and will be retirement-ready at the same time. But we spend on different things. Is our relationship doomed because my eye would twitch a bit seeing $400 disappear out of a joint account for a video game console, or my boyfriend would cringe when the transaction for my dance lessons for a similar amount posted? I see no reason why that would be the case. Delaying inevitable conflict is one thing, but avoiding pointless, inconsequential conflict makes for a happier relationship.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on January 30, 2015, 12:48:04 PM
Everyone that we know that does the 50/50 split is miserable.

Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

why does someone stop bringing in an income when you have kids.  my wife and i are both engineers.  we are both going to work full time once we have kids.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: jms493 on January 30, 2015, 01:01:30 PM
Another advantage I see is simplicity.  Easier to have everything dumped into one bucket and have it dispersed from there.

I also find that communication is much better between wife and I.  Our finances are an open book and everything is discussed every month.  There is no question about any purchases.

Also I wonder how a couple does it if 1 person is making 150K and the other is making 40K.  How do you NOT combine those.  One might be scraping by and the other is not.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 30, 2015, 01:12:05 PM
Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

It is almost like they are just really friendly roommates and not a partnership.

Almost all of the people who replied that they keep things separate cite 'lack of confrontation' or some flavor thereof as a key reason why they have separate piles of money.  IMHO, all that does is delay the inevitable -- either you share the same values and can compromise on common goals or you can't, and you should find that out as soon as possible.  I would rather find that out that we could not compromise on long-term goals before getting married than hope we can compromise once she is pregnant, wants to stay home with the baby, and the mine/yours/ours approach of household cash flow management is blown out of the water.

<rant> It's amazing how many people here view their relationship as some sort of corporate joint venture.  You'll invest what you need to in hopes of short-term harmony and success, as long as it doesn't screw up your own balance sheet in the long run.  I can understand that for the first couple of months of dating, but once you are thinking engagement, it's time to align your lives.  Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than the "Your side of the boat is sinking!" arguments. </rant>

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.

In my case, we have the same goals, have similar spending levels, and will be retirement-ready at the same time. But we spend on different things. Is our relationship doomed because my eye would twitch a bit seeing $400 disappear out of a joint account for a video game console, or my boyfriend would cringe when the transaction for my dance lessons for a similar amount posted? I see no reason why that would be the case. Delaying inevitable conflict is one thing, but avoiding pointless, inconsequential conflict makes for a happier relationship.

Does an 'eye twitch' at a transaction you don't necessarily agree with always lead to 'conflict'?  To me (in my specific relationship), that would signal deeper issues.

DH and I spend on things the other doesn't give a crap about fairly frequently (he is a big gamer, and I ride horses (well, taking a break atm to focus on school), both of which can get very expensive.  I don't see why that has to be a conflict -- it makes me happy to see my partner happy, and likewise for him.  The only time it became a 'conflict' was when I wanted to spend 20k on a horse (worth 50k), which didn't happen because when we sat down and looked at numbers, I was forced to face the reality of the situation, which I had known deep down all along.  It wasn't a fight so much as a mutual commiserating that we weren't able to afford the horse I'd spent months building an awesome bond with and that we both enjoyed greatly.  And we trust each other not to spend significant chunks of money without agreement/warning -- my riding lessons and horse lease payments were a mutual decision, as is any console purchase.  Well, tbh, DH doesn't have a clue about our financial situation so I literally get asked if he has enough money in his personal spending account for $5 Steam games...

Couple's therapy has taught us that (our) marriage shouldn't be about avoiding conflict, it should be about reaching compromise. 

Edited to make this less aggressive and more focused on my individual relationship.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Timmmy on January 30, 2015, 01:31:21 PM
Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

It is almost like they are just really friendly roommates and not a partnership.

Almost all of the people who replied that they keep things separate cite 'lack of confrontation' or some flavor thereof as a key reason why they have separate piles of money.  IMHO, all that does is delay the inevitable -- either you share the same values and can compromise on common goals or you can't, and you should find that out as soon as possible.  I would rather find that out that we could not compromise on long-term goals before getting married than hope we can compromise once she is pregnant, wants to stay home with the baby, and the mine/yours/ours approach of household cash flow management is blown out of the water.

<rant> It's amazing how many people here view their relationship as some sort of corporate joint venture.  You'll invest what you need to in hopes of short-term harmony and success, as long as it doesn't screw up your own balance sheet in the long run.  I can understand that for the first couple of months of dating, but once you are thinking engagement, it's time to align your lives.  Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than the "Your side of the boat is sinking!" arguments. </rant>

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.

In my case, we have the same goals, have similar spending levels, and will be retirement-ready at the same time. But we spend on different things. Is our relationship doomed because my eye would twitch a bit seeing $400 disappear out of a joint account for a video game console, or my boyfriend would cringe when the transaction for my dance lessons for a similar amount posted? I see no reason why that would be the case. Delaying inevitable conflict is one thing, but avoiding pointless, inconsequential conflict makes for a happier relationship.

Survival bias?  Anyone care to comment on past relationships where money sharing strategy was different than current and how it did or didn't work.

We've never considered having separate finances since DW and I got married.  I have no idea if it would work or not.  Combining everything works great for us and that makes it hard for me to understand how not combining works great for other people. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on January 30, 2015, 01:38:25 PM
What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

At least for me it's more that the idea of separating something like money sets off alarm bells for me because that's just not a relationship I could be in. So my responses might be more strident than they ought to be. (I'm not going to bother re-reading all my posts to find out.) I never want to imply that it's wrong for people to live a different lifestyle than me.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 30, 2015, 02:15:06 PM
Does an 'eye twitch' at a transaction you don't necessarily agree with always lead to 'conflict'?  To me (in my specific relationship), that would signal deeper issues.

DH and I spend on things the other doesn't give a crap about fairly frequently (he is a big gamer, and I ride horses (well, taking a break atm to focus on school), both of which can get very expensive.  I don't see why that has to be a conflict -- it makes me happy to see my partner happy, and likewise for him.  The only time it became a 'conflict' was when I wanted to spend 20k on a horse (worth 50k), which didn't happen because when we sat down and looked at numbers, I was forced to face the reality of the situation, which I had known deep down all along.  It wasn't a fight so much as a mutual commiserating that we weren't able to afford the horse I'd spent months building an awesome bond with and that we both enjoyed greatly.  And we trust each other not to spend significant chunks of money without agreement/warning -- my riding lessons and horse lease payments were a mutual decision, as is any console purchase.  Well, tbh, DH doesn't have a clue about our financial situation so I literally get asked if he has enough money in his personal spending account for $5 Steam games...

Couple's therapy has taught us that (our) marriage shouldn't be about avoiding conflict, it should be about reaching compromise. 

Edited to make this less aggressive and more focused on my individual relationship.

I don't particularly like having my eye twitch. It means I'm irritated. If I can easily avoid being irritated, I do. Sort of how I choose to spend my personal time with people I like, rather than people I dislike. It makes for a happier life.

Some things need to be compromised and agreed on as a couple (house, number of kids, life goals). Some things don't (personal spending as long as goals are met). I don't see the point in compromising on things that don't need to be compromised on. Conflict is fine if it's for something important, but eliminating unnecessary conflict from your life can be very freeing.

Another example: He likes to keep a large buffer is his chequing accounts, I like to keep the bare minimum. We both currently do the one that we prefer. How would it possibly benefit our relationship to compromise on that? How would it possibly harm our relationship to continue the current setup, which we're both thrilled with?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 30, 2015, 02:22:32 PM
Does an 'eye twitch' at a transaction you don't necessarily agree with always lead to 'conflict'?  To me (in my specific relationship), that would signal deeper issues.

DH and I spend on things the other doesn't give a crap about fairly frequently (he is a big gamer, and I ride horses (well, taking a break atm to focus on school), both of which can get very expensive.  I don't see why that has to be a conflict -- it makes me happy to see my partner happy, and likewise for him.  The only time it became a 'conflict' was when I wanted to spend 20k on a horse (worth 50k), which didn't happen because when we sat down and looked at numbers, I was forced to face the reality of the situation, which I had known deep down all along.  It wasn't a fight so much as a mutual commiserating that we weren't able to afford the horse I'd spent months building an awesome bond with and that we both enjoyed greatly.  And we trust each other not to spend significant chunks of money without agreement/warning -- my riding lessons and horse lease payments were a mutual decision, as is any console purchase.  Well, tbh, DH doesn't have a clue about our financial situation so I literally get asked if he has enough money in his personal spending account for $5 Steam games...

Couple's therapy has taught us that (our) marriage shouldn't be about avoiding conflict, it should be about reaching compromise. 

Edited to make this less aggressive and more focused on my individual relationship.

I don't particularly like having my eye twitch. It means I'm irritated. If I can easily avoid being irritated, I do. Sort of how I choose to spend my personal time with people I like, rather than people I dislike. It makes for a happier life.

Some things need to be compromised and agreed on as a couple (house, number of kids, life goals). Some things don't (personal spending as long as goals are met). I don't see the point in compromising on things that don't need to be compromised on. Conflict is fine if it's for something important, but eliminating unnecessary conflict from your life can be very freeing.

Another example: He likes to keep a large buffer is his chequing accounts, I like to keep the bare minimum. We both currently do the one that we prefer. How would it possibly benefit our relationship to compromise on that? How would it possibly harm our relationship to continue the current setup, which we're both thrilled with?

Why does your partner having a hobby he enjoys irritate you?  Why does you having a hobby you enjoy irritate him? 

Maybe the difference is that DH and I can both see the value in each other's hobbies and sometimes enjoy them together.  I enjoy gaming/nerdy stuff (though not as much as he does), and he grew up riding horses and often comes to the barn to hang out with me and watch me ride.  There really isn't any conflict over these specific issues, though of course there is over other things! 

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: gaja on January 30, 2015, 02:43:52 PM
Everyone that we know that does the 50/50 split is miserable.

Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

why does someone stop bringing in an income when you have kids.  my wife and i are both engineers.  we are both going to work full time once we have kids.
It is hard to predict stuff, especially regarding the future. There is something called hyperemesis gravidarum, another thing called chronic pelvic pain, the birth is a risk, the children might need some extra care for some reason, you might find it hard to work without sleep, etc. Dh and me were planning to do the fulltime thing after children, but it didn't turn out like that in real life. Luckily we had backup plans.

Married couples doing separate economies should also consider the following, when calculating who pays what:
-Do both agree on the spending amount of common goods? Would the "poorer" one prefer a smaller house, cheaper food, less electricity consumption? Splitting the mortgage down the middle is not fair if one of them are driving the cost up. Then it is better to split the cost of the cheaper solution, and let the fancy one pay for the extra cost.
-If one of the couple is doing more work at home, the economical value of this should be calculated. Either compared to the cost of buying those services, or compared to the added income the other one is able to make. If I can get OT because DH takes care of the house and the kids, the extra income earned should be split between us. If he fixes the washing machine, I should pay him the avoided cost of the repairman.

This is all too much work, so we just share everything.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 30, 2015, 02:44:22 PM
Does an 'eye twitch' at a transaction you don't necessarily agree with always lead to 'conflict'?  To me (in my specific relationship), that would signal deeper issues.

DH and I spend on things the other doesn't give a crap about fairly frequently (he is a big gamer, and I ride horses (well, taking a break atm to focus on school), both of which can get very expensive.  I don't see why that has to be a conflict -- it makes me happy to see my partner happy, and likewise for him.  The only time it became a 'conflict' was when I wanted to spend 20k on a horse (worth 50k), which didn't happen because when we sat down and looked at numbers, I was forced to face the reality of the situation, which I had known deep down all along.  It wasn't a fight so much as a mutual commiserating that we weren't able to afford the horse I'd spent months building an awesome bond with and that we both enjoyed greatly.  And we trust each other not to spend significant chunks of money without agreement/warning -- my riding lessons and horse lease payments were a mutual decision, as is any console purchase.  Well, tbh, DH doesn't have a clue about our financial situation so I literally get asked if he has enough money in his personal spending account for $5 Steam games...

Couple's therapy has taught us that (our) marriage shouldn't be about avoiding conflict, it should be about reaching compromise. 

Edited to make this less aggressive and more focused on my individual relationship.

I don't particularly like having my eye twitch. It means I'm irritated. If I can easily avoid being irritated, I do. Sort of how I choose to spend my personal time with people I like, rather than people I dislike. It makes for a happier life.

Some things need to be compromised and agreed on as a couple (house, number of kids, life goals). Some things don't (personal spending as long as goals are met). I don't see the point in compromising on things that don't need to be compromised on. Conflict is fine if it's for something important, but eliminating unnecessary conflict from your life can be very freeing.

Another example: He likes to keep a large buffer is his chequing accounts, I like to keep the bare minimum. We both currently do the one that we prefer. How would it possibly benefit our relationship to compromise on that? How would it possibly harm our relationship to continue the current setup, which we're both thrilled with?

Why does your partner having a hobby he enjoys irritate you?  Why does you having a hobby you enjoy irritate him? 

Maybe the difference is that DH and I can both see the value in each other's hobbies and sometimes enjoy them together.  I enjoy gaming/nerdy stuff (though not as much as he does), and he grew up riding horses and often comes to the barn to hang out with me and watch me ride.  There really isn't any conflict over these specific issues, though of course there is over other things!

Hobbies are great, and we both enjoy our own and support each other's. At the same time, it would really bug me if the large $ amounts were coming out of an account with my name on it. As it is now, with separate accounts, I couldn't care less! Neither could he! This fabulous system allows us both to do whatever we want, while not harming our long term goals or causing conflict.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: bogart on January 30, 2015, 02:47:26 PM

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.


I haven't joined in the discussion, but am a joiner, not a separator.  It might be interesting to grab the stats of those posting here and see whether those who separate tend to be younger and/or in relationships that haven't yet run as long as the joiners; I don't have time to do so at the moment.

I dug around briefly and didn't find lots of scholarship on the subject, but this piece (not scholarly!) is reasonably interesting (and does cite a couple of studies in the paragraph I paste below the link):
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/home_economics/2011/02/yours_mine.1.html
Paragraph with studies cited:
Research suggests that when low-income couples have kids, their relationships tend to suffer when they keep all their money separate. A recent study of couples with children in the journal Family Relations shows that couples who earn less than $50,000 and have independent money management systems "reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction and less agreeable methods of resolving conflicts than when couples share a joint account." This goes for both married and cohabitating parents. Another study of mothers with young children (PDF) and their partners showed that married couples who kept money separate were more likely to split. This makes sense: If you can pay to feed your kids only by pooling resources, it will lead to strife when you don't.

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Peacefulwarrior on January 30, 2015, 02:53:37 PM
Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

It is almost like they are just really friendly roommates and not a partnership.

Almost all of the people who replied that they keep things separate cite 'lack of confrontation' or some flavor thereof as a key reason why they have separate piles of money.  IMHO, all that does is delay the inevitable -- either you share the same values and can compromise on common goals or you can't, and you should find that out as soon as possible.  I would rather find that out that we could not compromise on long-term goals before getting married than hope we can compromise once she is pregnant, wants to stay home with the baby, and the mine/yours/ours approach of household cash flow management is blown out of the water.

<rant> It's amazing how many people here view their relationship as some sort of corporate joint venture.  You'll invest what you need to in hopes of short-term harmony and success, as long as it doesn't screw up your own balance sheet in the long run.  I can understand that for the first couple of months of dating, but once you are thinking engagement, it's time to align your lives.  Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than the "Your side of the boat is sinking!" arguments. </rant>

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.

In my case, we have the same goals, have similar spending levels, and will be retirement-ready at the same time. But we spend on different things. Is our relationship doomed because my eye would twitch a bit seeing $400 disappear out of a joint account for a video game console, or my boyfriend would cringe when the transaction for my dance lessons for a similar amount posted? I see no reason why that would be the case. Delaying inevitable conflict is one thing, but avoiding pointless, inconsequential conflict makes for a happier relationship.

The OP asked "how we think finances should be shared between a married couple". As you wrote - you and your boyfriend. You are not married. That is the difference. When you get married two become one. By definition. By law. Your money is his money and vice versa. I'm all for relationships with separate accounts, and I think they are great. But if that's how you want to live your life then don't marry, because that will change things and by law your money is no longer separated, so trying to make them be that way is against the nature of marriage.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 30, 2015, 02:54:40 PM

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.


I haven't joined in the discussion, but am a joiner, not a separator.  It might be interesting to grab the stats of those posting here and see whether those who separate tend to be younger and/or in relationships that haven't yet run as long as the joiners; I don't have time to do so at the moment.

I dug around briefly and didn't find lots of scholarship on the subject, but this piece (not scholarly!) is reasonably interesting (and does cite a couple of studies in the paragraph I paste below the link):
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/home_economics/2011/02/yours_mine.1.html
Paragraph with studies cited:
Research suggests that when low-income couples have kids, their relationships tend to suffer when they keep all their money separate. A recent study of couples with children in the journal Family Relations shows that couples who earn less than $50,000 and have independent money management systems "reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction and less agreeable methods of resolving conflicts than when couples share a joint account." This goes for both married and cohabitating parents. Another study of mothers with young children (PDF) and their partners showed that married couples who kept money separate were more likely to split. This makes sense: If you can pay to feed your kids only by pooling resources, it will lead to strife when you don't.

It would likely be easier for very low income families to pool resources as much for logistics as anything. But given the demographics of Mustachians - mid to high earners, educated, financially aware and organized, expenses WAY below income,  and having appropriate numbers of kids for their life situations - I'm not sure it's comparable.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 30, 2015, 02:57:09 PM
The OP asked "how we think finances should be shared between a married couple". As you wrote - you and your boyfriend. You are not married. That is the difference. When you get married two become one. By definition. By law. Your money is his money and vice versa. I'm all for relationships with separate accounts, and I think they are great. But if that's how you want to live your life then don't marry, because that will change things and by law your money is no longer separated, so trying to make them be that way is against the nature of marriage.

Technically, under BC law we're considered married for all practical purposes (see the recent Family Law Act). We've been "living in sin" longer than many couples stay married for.

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Peacefulwarrior on January 30, 2015, 03:06:00 PM
The OP asked "how we think finances should be shared between a married couple". As you wrote - you and your boyfriend. You are not married. That is the difference. When you get married two become one. By definition. By law. Your money is his money and vice versa. I'm all for relationships with separate accounts, and I think they are great. But if that's how you want to live your life then don't marry, because that will change things and by law your money is no longer separated, so trying to make them be that way is against the nature of marriage.

Technically, under BC law we're considered married for all practical purposes (see the recent Family Law Act). We've been "living in sin" longer than many couples stay married for.

I'm from Europe so I have no detailed idea of how things work where you live. But I'm glad that you are happy and I hope things keep working for you. I have no intention of telling people who are happy that it's not working. My primary point is to keep people from getting married if it sounds like they are not really ready to commit. Best of luck.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 30, 2015, 03:54:47 PM
Does an 'eye twitch' at a transaction you don't necessarily agree with always lead to 'conflict'?  To me (in my specific relationship), that would signal deeper issues.

DH and I spend on things the other doesn't give a crap about fairly frequently (he is a big gamer, and I ride horses (well, taking a break atm to focus on school), both of which can get very expensive.  I don't see why that has to be a conflict -- it makes me happy to see my partner happy, and likewise for him.  The only time it became a 'conflict' was when I wanted to spend 20k on a horse (worth 50k), which didn't happen because when we sat down and looked at numbers, I was forced to face the reality of the situation, which I had known deep down all along.  It wasn't a fight so much as a mutual commiserating that we weren't able to afford the horse I'd spent months building an awesome bond with and that we both enjoyed greatly.  And we trust each other not to spend significant chunks of money without agreement/warning -- my riding lessons and horse lease payments were a mutual decision, as is any console purchase.  Well, tbh, DH doesn't have a clue about our financial situation so I literally get asked if he has enough money in his personal spending account for $5 Steam games...

Couple's therapy has taught us that (our) marriage shouldn't be about avoiding conflict, it should be about reaching compromise. 

Edited to make this less aggressive and more focused on my individual relationship.

I don't particularly like having my eye twitch. It means I'm irritated. If I can easily avoid being irritated, I do. Sort of how I choose to spend my personal time with people I like, rather than people I dislike. It makes for a happier life.

Some things need to be compromised and agreed on as a couple (house, number of kids, life goals). Some things don't (personal spending as long as goals are met). I don't see the point in compromising on things that don't need to be compromised on. Conflict is fine if it's for something important, but eliminating unnecessary conflict from your life can be very freeing.

Another example: He likes to keep a large buffer is his chequing accounts, I like to keep the bare minimum. We both currently do the one that we prefer. How would it possibly benefit our relationship to compromise on that? How would it possibly harm our relationship to continue the current setup, which we're both thrilled with?

Why does your partner having a hobby he enjoys irritate you?  Why does you having a hobby you enjoy irritate him? 

Maybe the difference is that DH and I can both see the value in each other's hobbies and sometimes enjoy them together.  I enjoy gaming/nerdy stuff (though not as much as he does), and he grew up riding horses and often comes to the barn to hang out with me and watch me ride.  There really isn't any conflict over these specific issues, though of course there is over other things!

Hobbies are great, and we both enjoy our own and support each other's. At the same time, it would really bug me if the large $ amounts were coming out of an account with my name on it. As it is now, with separate accounts, I couldn't care less! Neither could he! This fabulous system allows us both to do whatever we want, while not harming our long term goals or causing conflict.

Since you're essentially common law married and therefore all assets are pooled regardless, is it just the peace of mind you get from not seeing the transaction when you look at your bank statement? If so, then more power to you, if that's what works. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 30, 2015, 03:59:49 PM
Since you're essentially common law married and therefore all assets are pooled regardless, is it just the peace of mind you get from not seeing the transaction when you look at your bank statement? If so, then more power to you, if that's what works.

I still see it since we have joint Mint records, but essentially, yes - I see it post and feel a sense of relief that I'm not paying for it.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: seattlecyclone on January 30, 2015, 04:32:46 PM
My wife and I combine. I earn significantly more than she does. I think it would be rather selfish of me to say "I'm financially independent so I'm going to quit working now...maybe once you're FI in 10 years we can take some nice trips together." No. I'll work a little bit longer so we can both be FI at the same time, much earlier than if we had to each earn it ourselves.

Combining actually helps us accelerate our savings. She has an after-tax 401(k) available; she has total pre-tax/after-tax contributions of over 70% of her salary going in there to come close to maxing out the account. She also maxes out her HSA and ESPP. After those deductions and taxes, there's literally nothing left in her paycheck. We also max out a backdoor Roth in her name each year above and beyond that. We would not be able to achieve this level of tax-advantaged saving if I demanded she have a large enough net paycheck to pay half of our current expenses.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on January 30, 2015, 09:40:46 PM
Quote
Why does your partner having a hobby he enjoys irritate you?  Why does you having a hobby you enjoy irritate him?

I think you misunderstand.

My girlfriend doing dance lessons does not irritate me. My girlfriend spending hundreds of dollars on dance lessons with my money would irritate me.

Myself buying video games does not upset my girlfriend. Buying video games with her money would upset her.

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: jms493 on January 30, 2015, 09:58:01 PM
Quote
Why does your partner having a hobby he enjoys irritate you?  Why does you having a hobby you enjoy irritate him?

I think you misunderstand.

My girlfriend doing dance lessons does not irritate me. My girlfriend spending hundreds of dollars on dance lessons with my money would irritate me.

Myself buying video games does not upset my girlfriend. Buying video games with her money would upset her.


this is where I see things differently...it is not MY money...its OUR money.  There is no more I...it is now WE!
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: KMMK on January 30, 2015, 10:44:26 PM
"When you get married two become one. By definition. By law."

This is not how I define marriage. Show me the law that shows I gave up my personhood by getting married. I am not half of anything. I am a whole person who wants to be the partner of another person.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Spondulix on January 31, 2015, 01:20:48 AM
Another advantage I see is simplicity.  Easier to have everything dumped into one bucket and have it dispersed from there.

I also find that communication is much better between wife and I.  Our finances are an open book and everything is discussed every month.  There is no question about any purchases.

Also I wonder how a couple does it if 1 person is making 150K and the other is making 40K.  How do you NOT combine those.  One might be scraping by and the other is not.
In your scenario, it completely depends on how the two people want to live. It's only scraping by if you're living beyond your means (like if the high earner wants to go out for expensive meals, buy nice cars, buy a house you can only afford on both salaries, etc). Being semi-separate works out great for DH and I (I earn $140k and he earns $40k). We live like we make $80-90k combined, not $180k. He's not really interested in FIRE, and I'm on a fast track.  It actually encourages me to save more and live like I have less.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on January 31, 2015, 01:45:25 AM
Quote
this is where I see things differently...it is not MY money...its OUR money.  There is no more I...it is now WE!

Maybe I can quit my job and expect my SO to pay all the bills. If she is upset by the idea, I can say "what's the problem? It's not your money that is being spent, it's our money".

Our relationship makes us more effective and efficient financially (and in other areas, but I just want to talk about finance specifically). We are stronger together than we are alone.

But, that doesn't mean that we are not individuals that have independent accomplishments and finances.



Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: aj_yooper on January 31, 2015, 02:22:26 AM
We've been married a long time and do the one pot thing.  Sometimes I made more, sometimes she did.  One pot.  Worked for us.  Our friends  did not do the one pot thing and they have been married about as long as us.  Common goals, respect, and love carry the day.  Money and budget differences did occur, but we solved them.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: morning owl on January 31, 2015, 07:45:10 AM
Another advantage I see is simplicity.  Easier to have everything dumped into one bucket and have it dispersed from there.

I also find that communication is much better between wife and I.  Our finances are an open book and everything is discussed every month.  There is no question about any purchases.

Also I wonder how a couple does it if 1 person is making 150K and the other is making 40K.  How do you NOT combine those.  One might be scraping by and the other is not.

My husband and I are in this situation. I make far less than he does. Our incomes are even more exaggerated than this -- I make about 30k and he makes significantly into six figures. The important thing is that we agree on our spending levels. Neither of us spends frivolously. We are semi-mustachian, and I am learning to be more so... So of course, it's very easy for me to live on far less than 30k, and save the rest.

We also do not have income splitting in Canada, therefore my DH can't give me money to invest, without being taxed at his income tax rate. He pays the big expenses (housing, travel) and I pay for the smaller ones (groceries, my own stuff.)  We agree on this split, and it feels balanced to us. And it leaves me with money to invest. I'd rather invest my own money for many reasons, but since we are on the early retirement path, I find that keeping separate finances helps more than hinders, as long as we both have the same goals and philosophies towards spending and consumption habits.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 31, 2015, 07:57:17 AM
Quote
Why does your partner having a hobby he enjoys irritate you?  Why does you having a hobby you enjoy irritate him?

I think you misunderstand.

My girlfriend doing dance lessons does not irritate me. My girlfriend spending hundreds of dollars on dance lessons with my money would irritate me.

Myself buying video games does not upset my girlfriend. Buying video games with her money would upset her.


this is where I see things differently...it is not MY money...its OUR money.  There is no more I...it is now WE!

DH and I are two separate individuals with our own goals/personalities/whatever, but we still view it as OUR money.  We literally had a conversation about this earlier this morning (because my MIL is annoying me with comments about how husbands have to be the breadwinners).   

Also, spending money required to participate in the hobby is kind of indistinguishable from the hobby itself in my book.  If you're annoyed at the spending, it means you're not fully supportive of the hobby.  If you were, the cost wouldn't bother you because it'd be a previously agreed upon mutual decision.

What happens in this split money scenario when someone gets laid off?  Or an emergency happens?  Do you each maintain a separate emergency fund of x*(your half of monthly expenses) and then once that runs out, what happens?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: PEIslander on January 31, 2015, 08:19:08 AM
My wife has a spendy friend who is very unhappy in her marriage of 25+ years. She and her husband have always had separate finances, splitting household costs 50/50. He has always earned more than her. She has no idea how much money her husband has. All she knows is she has no money, has credit card debt, and feels trapped & miserable. She seems to think (wrongly of course) that, by virtue of their separate finances, if she leaves she has no claim on his assets. My wife suggested she talk to a lawyer but she says she can't afford one. The suggestion was made that she should inquire about what legal aid services might be available to her. The response "Oh I can't do that -- legal aid is for poor people" - so her other problem is pride.

In their marriage his having money while she has none results in an unequal balance of power that he lords over her. She does shift work as a nurse with some months earning more than others. In a poor month if she can't pay 50% of the household costs, he pays more but then she owes him the amount she was short. Trapped is a good word for her situation.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: morning owl on January 31, 2015, 09:07:25 AM
A common thread I'm seeing here is that it doesn't really matter whether the money goes into one pot or not. What matters is whether the couple is on the same page regarding spending, and whether or not they have respect for one another. With respect, trust, and common financial goals, the account details should be relatively moot. Unless there are bigger issues in the relationship, separate accounts in and of themselves don't cause these sorts of problems.

For DH and I, we still feel like we share everything 50/50 even though we have separate finances. At the end of the day, it's whatever method works for you, as long as you're both open and honest and in sync with one another.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: madgeylou on January 31, 2015, 09:19:14 AM
My wife has a spendy friend who is very unhappy in her marriage of 25+ years. She and her husband have always had separate finances, splitting household costs 50/50. He has always earned more than her. She has no idea how much money her husband has. All she knows is she has no money, has credit card debt, and feels trapped & miserable. She seems to think (wrongly of course) that, by virtue of their separate finances, if she leaves she has no claim on his assets. My wife suggested she talk to a lawyer but she says she can't afford one. The suggestion was made that she should inquire about what legal aid services might be available to her. The response "Oh I can't do that -- legal aid is for poor people" - so her other problem is pride.

In their marriage his having money while she has none results in an unequal balance of power that he lords over her. She does shift work as a nurse with some months earning more than others. In a poor month if she can't pay 50% of the household costs, he pays more but then she owes him the amount she was short. Trapped is a good word for her situation.

Dang, sounds like she's in debt to the company store in a major way.

In my marriage we have a hybrid approach.

He transfers almost all of his paycheck into the household account and I transfer mine as needed -- to savings and also to pay for extras like travel and gifts. (Previously it went for debt payments but that's done now!)

The goal for 2015 is to be more disciplined about not purchasing extras out of my check, and instead budget for those out of the household kitty (by being more intentional in everyday categories) so that almost all of my pay can be diverted straight into savings.

We each have a side hustle, too, which pay into our personal accounts, but it's not so much that we need to do anything particular with it for now. It mostly just covers our costs.

Basically, almost all of our money is shared and we talk a lot about our shared goals. This, and a couple hundred a month of personal leeway money each of us, both seem to key in making it work.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on January 31, 2015, 11:05:53 AM
Quote
DH and I are two separate individuals with our own goals/personalities/whatever, but we still view it as OUR money.  We literally had a conversation about this earlier this morning (because my MIL is annoying me with comments about how husbands have to be the breadwinners).   

But your accomplishments are not independent. Say my girlfriend volunteers to do a bunch of overtime to earn a lot more money. She would be less willing to do that if half of that money went to me, for doing nothing.

Suppose I have the chance to take on extra responsibilities at my job, with extra pay. I would be less willing to make that sacrifice, if I only get half of that extra money.

Pooling money would only make us weaker (financially).

Quote
Also, spending money required to participate in the hobby is kind of indistinguishable from the hobby itself in my book.  If you're annoyed at the spending, it means you're not fully supportive of the hobby.  If you were, the cost wouldn't bother you because it'd be a previously agreed upon mutual decision.

Your argument makes no sense. Whatever hobbies my girlfriend wants to do is fine. It's paying for something that has nothing to do with you that bothers us.

Suppose we had the same hobby, we both take dance lessons. Neither of us would be "annoyed", obviously. But I want to take $100 of lessons a month, she wants $250.

My paying for her (or vice versa) is what we don't like.

Quote
What happens in this split money scenario when someone gets laid off?  Or an emergency happens?  Do you each maintain a separate emergency fund of x*(your half of monthly expenses) and then once that runs out, what happens?

Not a problem, we're both on the ER track and mustachian so we save over 50% of take-home and could live with zero income (even at current spending levels) for several years.

If one of us somehow ran out of money, which would be almost impossible, then the other would temporarily pay for required expenses only (rent, groceries, etc.). But it would be expected for the other person to get a job ASAP.

It's just a question of outlook. Neither of us feel that being in a relationship is equivalent to paying for each other's expenses, which is what many people seem to think. And that attitude makes us a stronger economic unit.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Timmmy on January 31, 2015, 12:33:36 PM
Quote
DH and I are two separate individuals with our own goals/personalities/whatever, but we still view it as OUR money.  We literally had a conversation about this earlier this morning (because my MIL is annoying me with comments about how husbands have to be the breadwinners).   

But your accomplishments are not independent. Say my girlfriend volunteers to do a bunch of overtime to earn a lot more money. She would be less willing to do that if half of that money went to me, for doing nothing.

Suppose I have the chance to take on extra responsibilities at my job, with extra pay. I would be less willing to make that sacrifice, if I only get half of that extra money.

Pooling money would only make us weaker (financially).

Quote
Also, spending money required to participate in the hobby is kind of indistinguishable from the hobby itself in my book.  If you're annoyed at the spending, it means you're not fully supportive of the hobby.  If you were, the cost wouldn't bother you because it'd be a previously agreed upon mutual decision.

Your argument makes no sense. Whatever hobbies my girlfriend wants to do is fine. It's paying for something that has nothing to do with you that bothers us.

Suppose we had the same hobby, we both take dance lessons. Neither of us would be "annoyed", obviously. But I want to take $100 of lessons a month, she wants $250.

My paying for her (or vice versa) is what we don't like.

Quote
What happens in this split money scenario when someone gets laid off?  Or an emergency happens?  Do you each maintain a separate emergency fund of x*(your half of monthly expenses) and then once that runs out, what happens?

Not a problem, we're both on the ER track and mustachian so we save over 50% of take-home and could live with zero income (even at current spending levels) for several years.

If one of us somehow ran out of money, which would be almost impossible, then the other would temporarily pay for required expenses only (rent, groceries, etc.). But it would be expected for the other person to get a job ASAP.

It's just a question of outlook. Neither of us feel that being in a relationship is equivalent to paying for each other's expenses, which is what many people seem to think. And that attitude makes us a stronger economic unit.

Only because you keep separate finances do you feel like you would be less motivated.  I don't only get half of the extra money.  That's flawed logic for joint finances.  We get all of the extra money for our financial goals. It doesn't matter the source of the money.  The money that we earn goes towards our financial goals

Same thing with the hobbies.  I don't pay for my wife's hobbies.  We pay for our hobbies.  That includes things only she does and things only I do but they are still our hobbies.

I'm not knocking your way of doing it.  I'd never consider blending finances with a non-spouse.  And if you decide to get married and keep separate finances and that works for you that's fine by me.  I'm just saying your looking at the joint finances thing through the lens of separate finances.  It's all in if you have joint finances.  Your pronouns have to change for everything.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: CommonCents on January 31, 2015, 04:12:31 PM
Quote
DH and I are two separate individuals with our own goals/personalities/whatever, but we still view it as OUR money.  We literally had a conversation about this earlier this morning (because my MIL is annoying me with comments about how husbands have to be the breadwinners).   

But your accomplishments are not independent. Say my girlfriend volunteers to do a bunch of overtime to earn a lot more money. She would be less willing to do that if half of that money went to me, for doing nothing.

Suppose I have the chance to take on extra responsibilities at my job, with extra pay. I would be less willing to make that sacrifice, if I only get half of that extra money.

Pooling money would only make us weaker (financially).

Quote
Also, spending money required to participate in the hobby is kind of indistinguishable from the hobby itself in my book.  If you're annoyed at the spending, it means you're not fully supportive of the hobby.  If you were, the cost wouldn't bother you because it'd be a previously agreed upon mutual decision.

Your argument makes no sense. Whatever hobbies my girlfriend wants to do is fine. It's paying for something that has nothing to do with you that bothers us.

Suppose we had the same hobby, we both take dance lessons. Neither of us would be "annoyed", obviously. But I want to take $100 of lessons a month, she wants $250.

My paying for her (or vice versa) is what we don't like.

Quote
What happens in this split money scenario when someone gets laid off?  Or an emergency happens?  Do you each maintain a separate emergency fund of x*(your half of monthly expenses) and then once that runs out, what happens?

Not a problem, we're both on the ER track and mustachian so we save over 50% of take-home and could live with zero income (even at current spending levels) for several years.

If one of us somehow ran out of money, which would be almost impossible, then the other would temporarily pay for required expenses only (rent, groceries, etc.). But it would be expected for the other person to get a job ASAP.

It's just a question of outlook. Neither of us feel that being in a relationship is equivalent to paying for each other's expenses, which is what many people seem to think. And that attitude makes us a stronger economic unit.

Only because you keep separate finances do you feel like you would be less motivated.  I don't only get half of the extra money.  That's flawed logic for joint finances.  We get all of the extra money for our financial goals. It doesn't matter the source of the money.  The money that we earn goes towards our financial goals

Same thing with the hobbies.  I don't pay for my wife's hobbies.  We pay for our hobbies.  That includes things only she does and things only I do but they are still our hobbies.

I'm not knocking your way of doing it.  I'd never consider blending finances with a non-spouse.  And if you decide to get married and keep separate finances and that works for you that's fine by me.  I'm just saying your looking at the joint finances thing through the lens of separate finances.  It's all in if you have joint finances.  Your pronouns have to change for everything.

Yes, plus lets think through this overtime.

My husband has to work late at work one night.  We drive one car to the train station, so I have to leave home and pick him up when he works late (we try to stay on the same schedule) - that's some of my time gone.  I'm also going to cook dinner, because he's working late, rather than doing it together, and maybe, depending on time and what else I have going on, do some chores (laundry, cleanup kitchen, maybe some household admin) while he's out working late.  If we had kids, I'd be picking them up from daycare, feeding them, etc.

When you're married - or even, I submit, living together, but that's a separate conversation - what one does affects the other.  His choice or my choice to work "overtime" (we're both salaried, so overtime pay doesn't really exist but his job requires extra hours more than mine does - and he's compensated for it), most definitely affects the other.  We're not doing "nothing" when one is working more paid hours.  We're picking up the slack around the house.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 31, 2015, 04:31:05 PM
When you're married - or even, I submit, living together, but that's a separate conversation - what one does affects the other.  His choice or my choice to work "overtime" (we're both salaried, so overtime pay doesn't really exist but his job requires extra hours more than mine does - and he's compensated for it), most definitely affects the other.  We're not doing "nothing" when one is working more paid hours.  We're picking up the slack around the house.

Not for us. If I work late overtime, he has leftovers for dinner (we keep about a two day supply of ready-to-eat, portioned out meals) and I eat at work (free). If he works late, I delay making dinner until he gets home (it takes no additional effort for me to change the time I start dinner). We do the minimum amount of housework we can get away with to not live in a pig sty, so there's very little to do on a day to day basis. It's pretty rare for one of us to step in and do the other's jobs - I can think of only a handful of times, and they involved surgeries, injuries, and hospital stays.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: MicroRN on January 31, 2015, 04:48:45 PM
We go all in - the only truly "separate" accounts we have are our retirement accounts, but we fund those equally.  We each have a couple accounts that the other person isn't on, but those are ones that are barely used for anything, and just have a couple hundred sitting in them.  I can access my husband's accounts, and he could access mine if he bothered remembering my login.  We both have our paychecks direct deposited to our main account.  All bills are paid from the common pool.  I handle the finances, but we discuss them enough to be sure we're on the same page.  If we had big spending issues, we'd probably go to a system where each person gets a monthly allowance to spend.  My husband makes quite a bit more than I do, but a lot of that is because of a joint decision for me to only work part-time while the kids are little.  It makes everyone's life better, especially since I'm able to devote time to decreasing expenses, cooking, and other useful home activities.  I ended up with over $100K in inheritance this year, and that went into the pot as well.  I don't consider that "my" money any more than he considers his paycheck "his" money.   
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 31, 2015, 04:49:34 PM
When you're married - or even, I submit, living together, but that's a separate conversation - what one does affects the other.  His choice or my choice to work "overtime" (we're both salaried, so overtime pay doesn't really exist but his job requires extra hours more than mine does - and he's compensated for it), most definitely affects the other.  We're not doing "nothing" when one is working more paid hours.  We're picking up the slack around the house.

Not for us. If I work late overtime, he has leftovers for dinner (we keep about a two day supply of ready-to-eat, portioned out meals) and I eat at work (free). If he works late, I delay making dinner until he gets home (it takes no additional effort for me to change the time I start dinner). We do the minimum amount of housework we can get away with to not live in a pig sty, so there's very little to do on a day to day basis. It's pretty rare for one of us to step in and do the other's jobs - I can think of only a handful of times, and they involved surgeries, injuries, and hospital stays.

And what if you had children?  You'd make them wait for dinner since he was working late?  That's not going to happen.  Plus then you'd be watching the kids solo for extra hours while he got to keep all the extra money he made. 

I don't have kids but this line of thinking would work even with pets.  If DH works late and I have to feed the dogs at night (normally I do AM and he does PM) does he have to pay me the going pet sitting rate out of his overtime?

This is just way too complicated and impractical.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on January 31, 2015, 05:09:03 PM
When you're married - or even, I submit, living together, but that's a separate conversation - what one does affects the other.  His choice or my choice to work "overtime" (we're both salaried, so overtime pay doesn't really exist but his job requires extra hours more than mine does - and he's compensated for it), most definitely affects the other.  We're not doing "nothing" when one is working more paid hours.  We're picking up the slack around the house.

Not for us. If I work late overtime, he has leftovers for dinner (we keep about a two day supply of ready-to-eat, portioned out meals) and I eat at work (free). If he works late, I delay making dinner until he gets home (it takes no additional effort for me to change the time I start dinner). We do the minimum amount of housework we can get away with to not live in a pig sty, so there's very little to do on a day to day basis. It's pretty rare for one of us to step in and do the other's jobs - I can think of only a handful of times, and they involved surgeries, injuries, and hospital stays.

And what if you had children?  You'd make them wait for dinner since he was working late?  That's not going to happen.  Plus then you'd be watching the kids solo for extra hours while he got to keep all the extra money he made. 

I don't have kids but this line of thinking would work even with pets.  If DH works late and I have to feed the dogs at night (normally I do AM and he does PM) does he have to pay me the going pet sitting rate out of his overtime?

This is just way too complicated and impractical.

But we don't have kids, so it's not applicable. Presumably if we did we would come to some sort of logical arrangement to account for that, like we do in every other aspect of our lives.

I feed our cat when he works late, but given that it takes me all of five seconds, I'm wouldn't consider that any sort of hardship.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: NoraLenderbee on January 31, 2015, 05:30:47 PM
My spouse and I pool everything. However, separate finances obviously work for some people, so why is it necessary to keep arguing that they're wrong?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on January 31, 2015, 05:48:00 PM
My spouse and I pool everything. However, separate finances obviously work for some people, so why is it necessary to keep arguing that they're wrong?

For me it actually started out as curiosity, because I literally can't fathom how keeping things separate works.  Maybe that's because my husband is about as financially uninvolved as he possibly could be.  I told someone earlier in the thread that if it works better for their peace of mind, more power to them.  But I think they were BF/GF and I hadn't thought about the question of kids...then I did think about the kids/pets thing and wanted to know how they would handle it? 

I should be better about qualifying my more judgmental statements with a personal pronoun..."this is way to complicated and impractical for me."
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: h2ogal on January 31, 2015, 06:18:41 PM
People feel really strongly about this topic for sure!

The thing is that often the agreement EVOLVES.....DH and I have been together forever.  At the start we had very different thoughts on finances...I thought he was cheap and he thought I was spendy. We kept everything separate.

As the relationship evolved we started sharing more and more:
 
Start - We have totally separate bills and accounts...Rent in my name, electricity and cable in your name, etc.  Trust is pretty low.  We have frequent $ conflicts.

Middle - Yours, Mine and Ours - Children. House in both names, Joint Bill Pay account for Basics Household Income, but all hobbies and discretionary accounts paid from individual accounts.  Conflicts are less.  We realize however that we are not "optimizing" due to the separateness.   We go through some ups and downs...I support the family while he starts a new business.  He supports us when I lose a job.  He watches the kids while I get my MBA.  Later, I take over doing all the yard-work for a few years while he focuses on growing his business and works every weekend. We start to feel like a team.  I start to earn more and save more.  With our higher income be becomes more spendy.

NOW - We agree it is all 'shared'.  From a decision making stand-point we each 'own' our own investments and decisions and trust each other.  I don't get involved in every little decision he makes on his businesses, but he may consult me on the really big ones.  He doesn't tell me which index funds to pick in my accounts, but I sometimes consult him before making big changes.

Money Styles: Over time we rubbed off on each other...I started earning more, but also kept spending more.  I started saving more and he started spending more.

Now, decades later, we have almost switched places.  He spends much more on cars, lawnmowers, etc. than I think he should.  I turned into a big earner and also a big saver.


We definitely would consult each other before taking on any debt, or making a major change in strategy.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on January 31, 2015, 08:32:04 PM
Quote
My wife has a spendy friend who is very unhappy in her marriage of 25+ years. She and her husband have always had separate finances, splitting household costs 50/50. He has always earned more than her. She has no idea how much money her husband has.

Why have they not discussed their finances?

Quote
All she knows is she has no money, has credit card debt, and feels trapped & miserable. She seems to think (wrongly of course) that, by virtue of their separate finances, if she leaves she has no claim on his assets. My wife suggested she talk to a lawyer but she says she can't afford one. The suggestion was made that she should inquire about what legal aid services might be available to her. The response "Oh I can't do that -- legal aid is for poor people" - so her other problem is pride.

So she spends all the money she makes (and then some). That is due to her own decisions, and that is not his fault. She should not expect him to subsidize his lifestyle for no reason.

It is irritating how you portray this woman as lacking in agency.

I mean really "All she knows is she has no money, has credit card debt, and feels trapped & miserable".

As though she has no idea how that happened.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: KMMK on January 31, 2015, 08:37:59 PM
For the people with joint finances I don't understand how it works if:
- 1 person wants to retire
- 1 person wants to work part time or not work at all
- 1 person wants to start a business
- 1 person wants to go back to school

What do you do then? Do you try to compromise or stop them or have a complex negotiation?
This is mainly why I have separate finances and feel it's super easy. As long as the other person is paying their share, they can do whatever they want. I don't have to worry about laziness or a failed business affecting my life. Of course I chose a man who I trust completely to be responsible, but I like that I feel that I never have to try to control him at all,and vice versa.
And what about different investing strategies? We each have strong preferences on that front. The compromise is to make our own decisions.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on January 31, 2015, 10:41:36 PM
Quote
For the people with joint finances I don't understand how it works if:
- 1 person wants to retire
- 1 person wants to work part time or not work at all
- 1 person wants to start a business
- 1 person wants to go back to school

Then there is massive resentment, stress, and ill-will. No matter what the outcome is, at least one person (if not both) is unhappy.

I've seen so many threads posted on various forums about one party being unhappy that the other has (unilaterally) made a decision that benefits them, at the cost of the other. Where one person wants to stop working, and expects the other to support them. Where one person wants to take a low-paying, but more enjoyable job and expects the other to continue working just as hard and support them both. Where one person wants to take on student loan debt (that only benefits themselves) and expects the other person to support them.

And there is nothing they can do about it since "it's our money".

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 01, 2015, 09:33:11 AM
Quote
For the people with joint finances I don't understand how it works if:
- 1 person wants to retire
- 1 person wants to work part time or not work at all
- 1 person wants to start a business
- 1 person wants to go back to school

Then there is massive resentment, stress, and ill-will. No matter what the outcome is, at least one person (if not both) is unhappy.

I've seen so many threads posted on various forums about one party being unhappy that the other has (unilaterally) made a decision that benefits them, at the cost of the other. Where one person wants to stop working, and expects the other to support them. Where one person wants to take a low-paying, but more enjoyable job and expects the other to continue working just as hard and support them both. Where one person wants to take on student loan debt (that only benefits themselves) and expects the other person to support them.

And there is nothing they can do about it since "it's our money".

Here is how it works, when it works well.

"Hon, I think I'd like to go to grad school."
"Okay, let's talk about it."
(talks about it, enrolls.)

"I'm thinking about starting a business."
"How would it impact our finances? How would you pay your startup costs?"
"I've done some research... Here is what I think we can expect.... "
(Makes a plan, starts business)

"How would you feel if I dropped my hours by a third next year? It would reduce our income a bit."
"I think you should. I'd do the same if my job were flexible!"
(Drops hours)

These are all actual conversations I've had with my spouse. And I *have* gone back to school, started a business, and gone part time. We support each other's goals. It's never unilateral, there is always discussion and planning and calculations. But in the end, we want each other to be happy, so we look for ways to say yes to the things that matter deeply to the other person.

I still think that "whatever works for the couple" is the best strategy. But I think you are mistaken when you say sharing creates resentment and ill-will. Splitting or sharing is just math. What matters is how you treat one another.

SIS

+1

This past summer, two months after we got married, DH's disability got so bad that his doctors told him not to drive, and he was basically forced to resign his job.  We had a 3-month emergency fund in the bank and not much else; we'd bought a house six months previously, had just rescued 2 dogs, and I'm still in college, so I have a fairly limited earning potential. 

There's no ill will or resentment, and our relationship is a lot stronger now that we've gone through sThat situation sounds terrifying and a lot of people would probably think I was crazy for sticking around.  We figured it out.  I went to work for a friend, making $150/wk for 3ish days of fairly hard labor.  We burned through the entire emergency fund and started living off credit cards.  There were months I chose between paying the electric bill and paying the mortgage.  Eventually the VA disability came through and we're okay again.  He still doesn't work, and I work around 10 hrs/wk in between classes.  He might never work again, and I'm okay with that.  He does stuff around the house that I did when he was the only one working -- cleaning, cooking (sometimes--he is a fairly terrible cook), etc. 

There's no ill will or resentment, and our relationship is a lot stronger having gone through something this challenging.  Now, we're both absolutely positive that we're in this for the long haul and committed to getting through life as a team, and we have actual trial-by-fire proof that we can do that.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on February 01, 2015, 11:58:16 AM
Quote
"Hon, I think I'd like to go to grad school."
"Okay, let's talk about it."
(talks about it, enrolls.)

That is a nice thought, but quite idealistic.

What happens when the working person is uncomfortable with the idea of paying for everything - including tuition - simply so the other person can do something that only benefits themselves?

Then you have a problem that cannot be solved when finances are shared. One person will be unhappy no matter what the outcome is.

If finances are separate, then there is no problem.

Quote
I still think that "whatever works for the couple" is the best strategy. But I think you are mistaken when you say sharing creates resentment and ill-will. Splitting or sharing is just math. What matters is how you treat one another.

Sharing finances does not create resentment, that is not what I am saying.

Sharing finances when the two parties disagree on what they want causes resentment (one party wants the other to pay for everything, but that person opposes it), and that is simply a fact.

In contrast, with separate finances, there is no catalyst to cause resentment, since each person is simply spending their own money on what is important to them.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 01, 2015, 12:29:18 PM
Quote
"Hon, I think I'd like to go to grad school."
"Okay, let's talk about it."
(talks about it, enrolls.)

That is a nice thought, but quite idealistic.

What happens when the working person is uncomfortable with the idea of paying for everything - including tuition - simply so the other person can do something that only benefits themselves?

Then you have a problem that cannot be solved when finances are shared. One person will be unhappy no matter what the outcome is.

If finances are separate, then there is no problem.

Quote
I still think that "whatever works for the couple" is the best strategy. But I think you are mistaken when you say sharing creates resentment and ill-will. Splitting or sharing is just math. What matters is how you treat one another.

Sharing finances does not create resentment, that is not what I am saying.

Sharing finances when the two parties disagree on what they want causes resentment (one party wants the other to pay for everything, but that person opposes it), and that is simply a fact.

In contrast, with separate finances, there is no catalyst to cause resentment, since each person is simply spending their own money on what is important to them.

Why does going to grad school only benefit the person who attends school?  Presumably there would be a higher income after getting the degree, which would benefit both parties.  Not to mention the fact that one half of the couple would also presumably be more satisfied/fulfilled with their job/career, which would bring intangible benefits to both parties. 

A responsible couple would pay for grad school out of savings, not on a month to month cash flow basis.  If both members of the couple were working before one went to grad school, the savings would be a mutual asset that they both contributed to. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on February 01, 2015, 03:44:50 PM
Quote
Why does going to grad school only benefit the person who attends school?  Presumably there would be a higher income after getting the degree, which would benefit both parties.  Not to mention the fact that one half of the couple would also presumably be more satisfied/fulfilled with their job/career, which would bring intangible benefits to both parties.

Because one person getting education only benefits that person. Only one person is learning new skills or getting a new certification/degree.

I think I see the problem. You, and the people advocating shared finances, automatically equate one person in a marriage with the other. Therefore, anything that benefits one person and one person alone, translates to benefiting both.

Quote
A responsible couple would pay for grad school out of savings, not on a month to month cash flow basis.  If both members of the couple were working before one went to grad school, the savings would be a mutual asset that they both contributed to.

Given the high percentages of people saving 0-10% of their income, that is an unlikely assumption. In which case, the one party would be paying for all expenses.

Even if we did assume there was sufficient savings - we then further have to assume that the person going back to school contributed at least 50% to the savings, which makes it more unlikely.

And even if we did make all those assumptions, that still doesn't address the main point.

Which is, suppose the other party is not on board with spending their money on the other's person choices. For instance, you assume that the person going back to school will result in a higher income. That may not be the case, it could simply be that they wish to switch fields (but have a lower or equivalent income).

If finances were separate and each party was paying for their own choices, there would be no cause for the other partner to be upset. If finances are shared and the other party is opposed to the idea, then there is cause for resentment and ill will.

That is the main drawback of shared finances, which you have not addressed. If one party is opposed to the actions that the second party wants to do (because it directly affects the first party), there is no way to resolve it to the satisfaction of all parties.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 01, 2015, 03:58:27 PM
So if you and your partner have a fundamental disagreement on something non-financial, do you throw in the towel?  Or do you compromise and figure out a solution that both parties are amenable to?  Why are financial matters the only thing you can't reach mutually agreeable compromises on?

If DH wants to move, and I do not, we would sit down and talk about the various pros and cons.  About why he wants to move, why I do not, what each of us would get out of the move, etc etc.   Eventually we would reach a solution agreeable to both of us. 

We actually did this recently concerning a future move to Wisconsin.  He wants to move to his hometown; I was less excited about leaving civilization.  Then I realized we could afford a farm where I could keep horses at home, and therefore afford nicer/more horses (board costs around 1k/month here for one horse), ride more frequently, etc.  But then he realized having a farm might prevent us from having cable (he is very concerned about internet speeds....).  And so we agreed that we would move to a small farm on the edge of town, not a giant one way out in the country, where I could have a couple horses and he could have faster internet, and no one would be maintaining 50 acres of land.  In addition to the horses, I get to be close to 2 sets of grandparents who would love to spend time with future grandkids (babysitting!), and will actually have better job prospects while removing myself from the East Coast rat race. 

You're painting a picture of a relationship between two uncompromising, hard-line people who only co-exist as long as each doesn't interfere with the wants/goals of the other.  Sorry, but that's not how my marriage works.  We haven't come across anything that either one of us has been so fundamentally opposed to that we couldn't eventually find common ground on it.  Given what we've already been through, I don't see us ever coming across something like that.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Celda on February 01, 2015, 05:32:59 PM
Quote
So if you and your partner have a fundamental disagreement on something non-financial, do you throw in the towel?  Or do you compromise and figure out a solution that both parties are amenable to?  Why are financial matters the only thing you can't reach mutually agreeable compromises on?

Some disagreements can be solved and some can't. If one person wants kids and the other does not, then no compromise is possible. In many cases there can be a solution though.

Financial matters can often have a solution that both parties find acceptable - though they might not, depending on the issue. I am not saying that financial issues can never result in a mutually agreeable solution.

What I am saying is that having shared finances can cause financial issues that would otherwise not exist. Which is why I believe that having separate finances are superior. Sure, it may be possible to come to a compromise and find an acceptable outcome for the problem.

But it would be much better to simply not have the problem even arise, which it would not have if finances were independent.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Dimitri on February 01, 2015, 09:16:47 PM
We have a real simple strategy.  I make my money and my wife makes hers.  I pay our joint expenses (HOA, property taxes, food, utilities, etc.).  Beyond that we each pay our own IRA and whatever else.  My wife likes Fendi.  Their bags aren't cheap.  I couldn't care less.  I use a rubber band for a wallet.  Put your money together (if need be) for what you spend together.  Other than that pay your own way. 

Do we deviate from that?  Sure.  2013 my wife wanted to buy a car.  I put down $5,000 (max dealership would allow on a credit card as I wanted cash back - I made a whopping $50) and she wrote a cheque for the balance.  She had the money, but in the grand scheme of things what is $5,000 between spouses.  What is mine is hers and what is hers is mine (legally as well as philosophically).  Neither of us came into this with any real assets (or a prenup).  So why sweat it?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 01, 2015, 09:25:02 PM
Quote
So if you and your partner have a fundamental disagreement on something non-financial, do you throw in the towel?  Or do you compromise and figure out a solution that both parties are amenable to?  Why are financial matters the only thing you can't reach mutually agreeable compromises on?

Some disagreements can be solved and some can't. If one person wants kids and the other does not, then no compromise is possible. In many cases there can be a solution though.

Financial matters can often have a solution that both parties find acceptable - though they might not, depending on the issue. I am not saying that financial issues can never result in a mutually agreeable solution.

What I am saying is that having shared finances can cause financial issues that would otherwise not exist. Which is why I believe that having separate finances are superior. Sure, it may be possible to come to a compromise and find an acceptable outcome for the problem.

But it would be much better to simply not have the problem even arise, which it would not have if finances were independent.

The basic difference we're having, I think, is opposite views on the role of conflict within a relationship.  I don't argue with my husband about financial things, we discuss them.  We try not to argue about anything, and we mostly succeed in that.  It's taken a good bit of work, and we haven't been married very long, but I think we've done one of the smartest things a serious couple can do by enlisting help from an outside source to deal with the heavy issues we've been handed.  Through that (couple's therapy), we've really learned how to understand each other better, see each other's motivations and where each other is coming from when we don't see eye to eye on something.  And if we do ever have significant differences of opinion on a subject, we learn a lot about each other by working through them; however, I can honestly tell you that I don't expect any 'problems' like the ones you seem to see as inevitable in all relationships.  I did a pretty good job of picking a person that was aligned with my major values/goals/ideals before we got married (actually before we even started dating tbh).  If I wanted to go back to grad school in 20 years, he would want me to do it successfully, even if the only benefit would be my happiness, because he likes to see me happy.  If he wants to be a SAHD and never work again, I would love that, if it would satisfy him and mean that his daily life was fulfilling and happy.  Even if that means I have to work longer before we jointly reach FI.

I think you and I fundamentally differ on our view of the role of conflict in relationships.  You see conflict/disagreement in a relationship as inherently bad and important to avoid.  I see it as a learning/growing opportunity, for each individual and for the couple.  Both views are perfectly valid and surely based in our life experiences, so I don't think that there's a way to categorically claim either separate or joint finances is "superior" for all couples.  As I said before, if separate finances is working for you, then go for it.  But please don't try to tell me that I will inevitably end up resenting my husband because we have joint finances and will someday be unable to reach an agreeable compromise on a big problem. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Knapptyme on February 01, 2015, 10:09:25 PM
If you're both in it for the agreed upon terms of marriage or lasting relationship--"till death do us part"--then lump it all together and learn to work together. Lots of other posters have said similarly. My DW and I have shared all expenses since the beginning regardless of individual income. I tend to be more thrifty, but we basically agree to stay on track to RE or have the option to keep working if we'd like to but don't have to.

Prior to marrying said DW, I thought spending money on coffee was going to be a huge waste that I didn't want to subsidize for her when we got married. We had a healthy debate about finances that set the tone for future communication. I wasn't allowed to be a frugal a-hole, and she needed to recognize waste for what is was. She still currently drinks coffee on our dime, but she knows it's a luxury we choose to afford and not a guarantee.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: MicroRN on February 02, 2015, 12:11:11 AM
For the people with joint finances I don't understand how it works if:
- 1 person wants to retire
- 1 person wants to work part time or not work at all
- 1 person wants to start a business
- 1 person wants to go back to school

What do you do then? Do you try to compromise or stop them or have a complex negotiation?
This is mainly why I have separate finances and feel it's super easy. As long as the other person is paying their share, they can do whatever they want. I don't have to worry about laziness or a failed business affecting my life. Of course I chose a man who I trust completely to be responsible, but I like that I feel that I never have to try to control him at all,and vice versa.
And what about different investing strategies? We each have strong preferences on that front. The compromise is to make our own decisions.

We discuss it and come up with a way to make it work.  The key to me is that we each place a huge value on the other person being happy and fulfilled.  I went back to school while DH worked, which improved our financial position once I got out.  I work PT, so I can be around more for the kids while they are tiny, and overall it benefits the whole family more than the extra money would right now.  If I'd wanted to be a SAHM, he'd have supported that.  If he decides he wants to be a SAHD, I'm cool with working FT and being the breadwinner.

Sure, if he came home one day and said "I quit my job and I'm going to hang out playing computer games all day" I'd have a problem with it, but I don't see that happening.  That would be indicative of bigger problems in our relationship.  If he wants to start a business or go to grad school, we'll do our best to make it work.  We support each other's hobbies as long as our expenses are met.  As little as my husband cares about horses, he encourages me to ride and to own them because of how happy it makes me.     

If that kind of balance doesn't work for you, I don't think there's anything wrong with separate finances, but I prefer feeling like we're in this together.  I could also see some odd issues with separate finances arising if kids are involved.   
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: pom on February 02, 2015, 04:57:29 AM
Like some here, we do it in proportion to our income (we use net income).

We have some non-pooled expenses: clothes, personal items (cell phones, makeup ...), work lunches and such.

Basically we calculated that rent+utilities+food+vacation+other commun purchases comes up to a third of our net income so each month we wire to a joint account the corresponding amount. We keep around 5k in the joint account at all time and we adjust the percentage if we go below that amount.

It has worked very well for us.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on February 02, 2015, 05:26:24 AM
Because one person getting education only benefits that person. Only one person is learning new skills or getting a new certification/degree.

I don't think you "get" marriage.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: gecko10x on February 02, 2015, 06:02:53 AM
Because one person getting education only benefits that person. Only one person is learning new skills or getting a new certification/degree.

I don't think you "get" marriage.

Ha! That's much more succinct than what I was going to say.

+1
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Gin1984 on February 02, 2015, 06:47:53 AM
If you're both in it for the agreed upon terms of marriage or lasting relationship--"till death do us part"--then lump it all together and learn to work together. Lots of other posters have said similarly. My DW and I have shared all expenses since the beginning regardless of individual income. I tend to be more thrifty, but we basically agree to stay on track to RE or have the option to keep working if we'd like to but don't have to.

Prior to marrying said DW, I thought spending money on coffee was going to be a huge waste that I didn't want to subsidize for her when we got married. We had a healthy debate about finances that set the tone for future communication. I wasn't allowed to be a frugal a-hole, and she needed to recognize waste for what is was. She still currently drinks coffee on our dime, but she knows it's a luxury we choose to afford and not a guarantee.
Of all the things my husband could try to say we should cut, it would never be my caffeine.  I am such a bitch without caffeine or a ton and half of sleep.  Maybe once I retire I could stop caffeine but before that you would have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. 
Funny what one couple sees as a luxury and another sees as a need.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: KMMK on February 02, 2015, 07:44:00 AM
I think that it's much easier to switch from separate to joint, situationally, than it is to do the opposite. So if we want to buy something together we do so, but if one person makes a financial decision alone, it's easy for them to spend just their own money.
I think this comes up a lot on this forum when a couple has joint finances and one person wants to be more frugal or retire early, and they have to worry about convincing the other party.

When people ask questions about how us separate people would manage whatever hypothetical situation, the easy answer is that we can pay all of the other person's expenses, or give them money, or whatever we want at any time. The system is so flexible. If we had kids and DH only worked that doesn't mean we'd have to have all joint money. I'd still be entitled to half and be able to invest my portion as I see fit.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: cynthia1848 on February 02, 2015, 07:44:54 AM
Because one person getting education only benefits that person. Only one person is learning new skills or getting a new certification/degree.

I don't think you "get" marriage.

+10000000000000.  Best response so far!
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Gin1984 on February 02, 2015, 08:00:52 AM
I think that it's much easier to switch from separate to joint, situationally, than it is to do the opposite. So if we want to buy something together we do so, but if one person makes a financial decision alone, it's easy for them to spend just their own money.
I think this comes up a lot on this forum when a couple has joint finances and one person wants to be more frugal or retire early, and they have to worry about convincing the other party.

When people ask questions about how us separate people would manage whatever hypothetical situation, the easy answer is that we can pay all of the other person's expenses, or give them money, or whatever we want at any time. The system is so flexible. If we had kids and DH only worked that doesn't mean we'd have to have all joint money. I'd still be entitled to half and be able to invest my portion as I see fit.
That is where I see the disconnect.  There is no half to the joint finance people.  I just lost my job' my husband's salary pays for our basics and a few other things like $5/week fun money each, his hockey and a decent amount for groceries.  Granted I am finishing up Master's which is taking up the "extra" money that could go to retirement but that was decision we made together.  If I can find a job as soon as I finish my Master's (a month or so), then we have decided to cut my daughter's daycare down (so I can still look and keep her place in daycare), if it continues to another season of hockey that will get cut and it is even possible that $5 money might get cut or even our groceries because I am home.  But none of those happen in a vacuum.  If you work together why do you need half, would not all be better?  Yes joint means taking account my husband's happiness (which is the hockey) but that is what marriage is about, caring about your spouse's happiness.  My husband knows I want to be FI and that makes me happy.  So when we were both working very little increase in spending, everything went to retirement.  Joint to those who have it, just seems more flexible and keeping to the values you need for a long term marriage (aka compromise and the want to make both people happy).
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Apples on February 02, 2015, 09:31:19 AM
My husband just quit his job in December with nothing else lined up.  We're in our mid-twenties with his student loans to pay off and have a major goal of mine to save up for over the next few years, and joint finances.  The job had dangerous work lined up, and didn't have my husband's best interests at heart, nor admin support (moving refund took 6 months!  W-4 change takes 3-6 weeks!).  So he really wanted to quit, we talked about it one night, and he put in his two weeks.  I was actually encouraging him to not go back.  My income covers our basic expenses and 10% for retirement rate; but no extra savings.  We discussed how long we would wait for him to find an ideal job before he went looking for any job just to have work.  I was concerned a bit about income, but really about him not being around the house all the time!  It was starting to drive us both a bit bonkers.

So, he got a beginning position at his new job.  It's in his new chosen career field.  It's part-time and a 50% pay cut, but half the commute.  And he gets along with these coworkers really well, and gets to participate in company decisions.  He's downright joyful nowadays in comparison to how he felt before.  Totally worth it for us.  For me, it's worth every (lost) penny to see him happier and driven.

And with the lower income, and even before:  if we did separate finances, well I would be living large and he would scrape by.  That's just how our separate career fields pan out income-wise.  He also brought student loans and small other debts into our marriage; splitting household costs 50% would have eaten 75% of his income, plus his student loan payments.  So I could save 40% or 50% towards retirement, while he couldn't even manage an EF.  And we can forget vacations that he would go on.  So yes, in some views I "subsidize" his life. Or we, together, have a balanced life based on what we both bring to the table, b/c marriage is a partnership.  So we jointly agree on a budget and amounts of personal "blow" money.

Also, I plan to own a farm one day.  That has major ups and downs of income.  We are going for that ride together, most definitely.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on February 02, 2015, 11:06:18 AM
Its almost like you're just living seperate lives. I mean when does it stop? When u have kids someone stops bringing an income...

It is almost like they are just really friendly roommates and not a partnership.

Almost all of the people who replied that they keep things separate cite 'lack of confrontation' or some flavor thereof as a key reason why they have separate piles of money.  IMHO, all that does is delay the inevitable -- either you share the same values and can compromise on common goals or you can't, and you should find that out as soon as possible.  I would rather find that out that we could not compromise on long-term goals before getting married than hope we can compromise once she is pregnant, wants to stay home with the baby, and the mine/yours/ours approach of household cash flow management is blown out of the water.

<rant> It's amazing how many people here view their relationship as some sort of corporate joint venture.  You'll invest what you need to in hopes of short-term harmony and success, as long as it doesn't screw up your own balance sheet in the long run.  I can understand that for the first couple of months of dating, but once you are thinking engagement, it's time to align your lives.  Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than the "Your side of the boat is sinking!" arguments. </rant>

What I find interesting is how aggressive the "joint finances only" side seems to be in this discussion. You guys are convinced that any other system is wrong, the relationships are doomed, and keeping separate accounts is almost at the moral level of killing kittens.

If you read the pro-separate posts, you'll see that many couples very happily have separate accounts, always have, and do not have massive relationship problems as a result.

In my case, we have the same goals, have similar spending levels, and will be retirement-ready at the same time. But we spend on different things. Is our relationship doomed because my eye would twitch a bit seeing $400 disappear out of a joint account for a video game console, or my boyfriend would cringe when the transaction for my dance lessons for a similar amount posted? I see no reason why that would be the case. Delaying inevitable conflict is one thing, but avoiding pointless, inconsequential conflict makes for a happier relationship.

As I said in an earlier post, do whatever works for you.  I am not saying that separate accounts mean a relationship is doomed.  If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Separate accounts are fine, just don't be fooled into thinking you are making separate financial decisions.  Everything that each of you do affects the other in every aspect of life, and I can't wrap my head around the fact that some people believe that if they keep separate checking accounts, the ramifications of their individual spending decisions are isolated to that bank statement.  If you are married or in a long-term relationship and aren't taking your partner's goals and happiness into account when "you" are spending "your" money, that is selfish, in my book.  I think that is why a lot of the "joint finance" folks here are so vigorously defending that viewpoint.  It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on February 02, 2015, 11:29:49 AM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on February 02, 2015, 11:35:25 AM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

I think you two are saying the same thing.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on February 02, 2015, 11:53:29 AM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

I think you two are saying the same thing.

Nope, I don't think that different ways of handling money "fly in the face of what makes a successful marriage".
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 02, 2015, 12:01:04 PM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

I think you two are saying the same thing.

Nope, I don't think that different ways of handling money "fly in the face of what makes a successful marriage".

There was someone else on this thread who said that separate finances were superior to joint finances because they help avoid conflict. I think that post is what started the most recent round of joint-finances people jumping in, because they felt they had to defend their decision to combine finances.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on February 02, 2015, 12:12:59 PM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

I think you two are saying the same thing.

Nope, I don't think that different ways of handling money "fly in the face of what makes a successful marriage".

There was someone else on this thread who said that separate finances were superior to joint finances because they help avoid conflict. I think that post is what started the most recent round of joint-finances people jumping in, because they felt they had to defend their decision to combine finances.

My comment about the aggressiveness of the joint finances side was before that, however.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on February 02, 2015, 12:22:25 PM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

They are not contradictory.  You cherry-picked two sentences to make them seem that way.  My point is that "separate accounts" does not equal "separate finances".  There is no such thing as separate finances when you're in a long-term relationship / marriage.  It's fine if your accounting system has mine / yours / ours piles, as long as you can agree on how the entirety of it is being allocated.

If I make $100K and my wife makes $50K, and our common expenses were $40K, I would feel like a complete douchebag telling her that she only has $30K to do with what she pleases while I have $80K.  Maybe that sort of arrangement works for some people, and if it does, good for them.  I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who thinks that way, just as you probably wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a "joint" person if you thought you were going to be taken advantage of.  As with everything in life, the real answer is "it depends", and I think we both agree on that.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on February 02, 2015, 12:28:15 PM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

They are not contradictory.  You cherry-picked two sentences to make them seem that way.  My point is that "separate accounts" does not equal "separate finances".  There is no such thing as separate finances when you're in a long-term relationship / marriage.  It's fine if your accounting system has mine / yours / ours piles, as long as you can agree on how the entirety of it is being allocated.

If I make $100K and my wife makes $50K, and our common expenses were $40K, I would feel like a complete douchebag telling her that she only has $30K to do with what she pleases while I have $80K.  Maybe that sort of arrangement works for some people, and if it does, good for them.  I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who thinks that way, just as you probably wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a "joint" person if you thought you were going to be taken advantage of.  As with everything in life, the real answer is "it depends", and I think we both agree on that.

There absolutely is such thing as separate finances, and I have that.

From a separate finances perspective, the obvious solution to the problem presented there would be to reduce common expenses to whatever level the lower earning person was comfortable with.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 02, 2015, 12:30:49 PM
Quote
If you have similar goals and can communicate and compromise effectively, it doesn't matter how many piles of money you have as a couple. 

Quote
It just flies in the face of what we understand makes a successful partnership / marriage.

These two statements contradict each other.

In any case, doesn't the large number of couples posting about their successful marriages/relationships and separate finances make you question the second statement? It doesn't make you stop and think "Hey, maybe joint finances aren't for everyone?"

Personally, I think it totally depends on the couple's individual situation and preferences, like every other part of a relationship.

They are not contradictory.  You cherry-picked two sentences to make them seem that way.  My point is that "separate accounts" does not equal "separate finances".  There is no such thing as separate finances when you're in a long-term relationship / marriage.  It's fine if your accounting system has mine / yours / ours piles, as long as you can agree on how the entirety of it is being allocated.

If I make $100K and my wife makes $50K, and our common expenses were $40K, I would feel like a complete douchebag telling her that she only has $30K to do with what she pleases while I have $80K.  Maybe that sort of arrangement works for some people, and if it does, good for them.  I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who thinks that way, just as you probably wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a "joint" person if you thought you were going to be taken advantage of.  As with everything in life, the real answer is "it depends", and I think we both agree on that.

There absolutely is such thing as separate finances, and I have that.

From a separate finances perspective, the obvious solution to the problem presented there would be to reduce common expenses to whatever level the lower earning person was comfortable with.

And what if the higher earner isn't comfortable living in a place the lower earner is comfortable affording?  That's a case of separate finances introducing conflict, which is what you are trying to avoid (since Celda is your partner, I'm assuming your philosophies on separate finances are similar). 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: SantaFeSteve on February 02, 2015, 12:36:21 PM
My wife and I pool our money into our checking account. Mint.com tracks our expenses, and it doesn't matter where money came from once it's there. Every now and then I keep a little cash in my pocket from side gigs, but only after mentioning it to her and getting the go-ahead.

We each have a $200/month category in Mint that we get to spend as we feel it is needed (or not spend and zero it out at the end of the month. Just checked, my wife used $10 and then zeroed out this month.) This money is not just "spending play money" but can be used to buy TV service (DirecTV comes out of mine), cell phones (I pay my cell out of this), hobbies (brewing, tennis, others), food (if I want a grocery we can't agree on,) anything. Every other category is mutually agreed upon.

It has worked perfectly.

My wife and I have been married for 8 months and this is very much our system.  We went from separate accounts with shared expenses split proportional to income with the balance being our own to do as we please to each having a "personal allowance" and all of the remaining money is combined.  We agree on our budgets, savings and retirement contributions and a plan for any shortages/overages.  It has been a very good transition for us and we are happily marching towards FI with this plan.  The difference with us is that our monthly "allowance" is not zeroed out at the end of the month and this allows for larger expenditures that are not deemed as a shared expense, such as my annual mini-vacation with my buddies. 

Currently our "allowance" is higher than I would like it to be, but we have agreed to review it periodically and adjust if it is agreed upon. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Zikoris on February 02, 2015, 12:38:34 PM
And what if the higher earner isn't comfortable living in a place the lower earner is comfortable affording?  That's a case of separate finances introducing conflict, which is what you are trying to avoid (since Celda is your partner, I'm assuming your philosophies on separate finances are similar).

Then logically the higher earning person should pay a higher percentage of the costs, since they're the one who wants it. Separate finances doesn't have to mean 50/50 on everything. Though it would also be worth considering if your desired lifestyles are even compatible to begin with - a person who likes living in luxury is unlikely to be a good match for someone who likes living simply, regardless of how they divide up money.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: caliq on February 02, 2015, 12:50:44 PM
And what if the higher earner isn't comfortable living in a place the lower earner is comfortable affording?  That's a case of separate finances introducing conflict, which is what you are trying to avoid (since Celda is your partner, I'm assuming your philosophies on separate finances are similar).

Then logically the higher earning person should pay a higher percentage of the costs, since they're the one who wants it. Separate finances doesn't have to mean 50/50 on everything. Though it would also be worth considering if your desired lifestyles are even compatible to begin with - a person who likes living in luxury is unlikely to be a good match for someone who likes living simply, regardless of how they divide up money.

See, that kind of thing about reconsidering compatibility based on one disagreement in desired lifestyle is what I think a lot of joint finances people can't really understand. 

When I got married, I got married with the intention of it being for life.  We are young and our marriage will hopefully last 60+ years.  I'm sure that we will have many differing opinions on lifestyle choices and other things during that long time period.  I would never question if we were even compatible to begin with, because I know that since we chose to commit to each other as people, we will always be able to find a solution that works for both of us. 

Maybe this sounds naive to you, but DH and I started off as very close friends before we ever dated and knew a huge amount about each other before we took that leap.  Since we got together, we have been through some incredibly trying times; hard times where either one of us had an excuse to jump ship.  Neither one of us did, because we believe that marriage is ultimately a choice you make to love someone, put effort into your relationship, and reach compromises on tough stuff, so that you can get through life as a team.

I just can't see how separate finances would fit into that world view or view of a relationship.  If that's not how you see your relationship, then fine; but the OP did ask about married couples and since that's how I define/view marriage, that's the basis on which I answered the question about how married couples should treat their finances.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: SantaFeSteve on February 02, 2015, 12:58:47 PM
Because one person getting education only benefits that person. Only one person is learning new skills or getting a new certification/degree.

I don't think you "get" marriage.

+1  Sorry, but your views on a partnership are pretty far out of alignment with mine, and my DW.  We are a team, and that comes first. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on February 02, 2015, 01:07:49 PM
Though it would also be worth considering if your desired lifestyles are even compatible to begin with - a person who likes living in luxury is unlikely to be a good match for someone who likes living simply, regardless of how they divide up money.

I agree with you 100% on that point.  However, it seems like some folks are saying that keeping finances separate is the solution to that problem, and I disagree with that notion.  If I am super thrifty with "my" money and don't care what my partner is doing with their paycheck, but my spouse is spendy with "our" money and assumes that I will consistently subsidize her spending, there is a disconnect in values there that can't be smoothed over by saying we are going to have separate checking accounts.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: neo von retorch on February 02, 2015, 02:22:31 PM
This whole discussion has been very interesting to me. My girlfriend and I talked about this the other day and I think we both learned something new.

See, we have both had experiences in the past where we were in long-term relationships and we combined finances. Those relationships did not work out, and we both lost a lot of money, which left a bad taste in our mouths. Early in the relationship, we agreed that there was absolutely no rush now or maybe ever to combine our money. But as we've become more serious and committed, we've started to discuss our future and where things will go from here.

We know that we plan on getting married, buying a house and having children. We also know that she will be taking some time off from work and/or possibly working part-time for a while. (Her job / boss seems friendly to accommodating those scenarios.) So when we got to planning out that part of our lives, it only made sense to us that we should share (some) of our finances, that is to say, that income would go into a shared account, expenses would be paid from it, and we would also make sure we each still have money of our own that we control completely.

We haven't ironed out all the details, but I suspect that at least early in the relationship, individual retirement and savings/investment accounts will remain our own, but when we get married, we will be putting all income together, and then splitting it into expenses, individual allowances and savings/investment going forward. When her income slows or stops, it will decrease how much we have for saving and maybe allowance, but otherwise nothing will change.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: nobody123 on February 02, 2015, 04:20:36 PM
When people ask questions about how us separate people would manage whatever hypothetical situation, the easy answer is that we can pay all of the other person's expenses, or give them money, or whatever we want at any time. The system is so flexible.

Any system is as flexible as the people involved.  If people are able to negotiate, compromise, and are willing to put their partner's (and family's, if children are involved) happiness ahead of their own more often than not, any accounting system can work.  Obviously, your system works for you today.  It may not work for you when one of the hypothetical situations becomes a reality in your world.  The key is being able to adapt as life happens.

If we had kids and DH only worked that doesn't mean we'd have to have all joint money. I'd still be entitled to half and be able to invest my portion as I see fit.

"Entitled" to your half?  I sure hope the infant gets a job soon or your husband is willing to sacrifice some of his half so the kid can have food, shelter, and clothing.  Thank goodness humans still have their nesting instinct...

BTW, this also sounds like you just made a joint financial decision, telling your working spouse what to do with their money!  Better hope they don't decide that they are actually "entitled" to 100% of what they make and you need to get yourself a job because they aren't paying your half of the common expenses! 

Joking aside, I think in reality, you and your husband would decide how to best proceed as a family.  Your individual financial goals will take a back seat for the common good of the family.  Most likely, the values that you share will have made your individual goals reasonably compatible with the new family goals, and there won't be much conflict as far as how to proceed.  Maybe you will work for two extra years so you can pay for college, maybe one of you will quit working to care for the baby, maybe your husband will turn down a promotion because he doesn't want to uproot the family.  When viewed in a financial vacuum, none of those things are in your individual financial best interest, but sacrifices will be made because your priorities will change.

I think the "joint" point of view acknowledges that at some point, you will be making joint financial decisions, because you are partners.  Might as well do it now, when the stakes are low, than find out you aren't on the same page when some traumatic life event occurs.



Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Picklemeister on February 02, 2015, 05:00:24 PM
My husband and I have had a yours-mine-ours setup since we moved in together. This method worked great for us and we never fought about money - when we were both able to contribute somewhat equally to our joint expenses. Now he can't and having separate finances has resulted in a power imbalance that I'm starting to realize has been really damaging to our relationship.

It's resulted in the following feelings:

- I feel like there is undue pressure on me to somehow make our financial situation work. If I suggest something to reduce costs that reduces our quality of life, I feel like the "bad guy" while he just gets to be nonchalant about it all.
- I feel resentment because my personal financial situation is worse than if I hadn't married him and I've had to curb some of my personal financial goals.
- He feels he has no control to make even the smallest of financial decisions (Can I buy this pan out of our joint account? What will she think if I buy the expensive loaf of bread?)
- He feels reduced to what financial contribution he can provide.
- I feel angry when he gets any money (example, a large financial gift from his parents) and I don't get to weigh in on where the money goes or know exactly where it goes.

I know feelings aren't facts, and I objectively would say the majority of the above feelings aren't factual (for example, I won't freak out if he buys the expensive bread or think that all he's good for is giving me money; he actually doesn't expect me to make our financial situation work single handedly).

I'm not saying that there isn't conflict when there are joint finances. I'm not saying that separate finances don't work in some situations. I just wanted to provide some of my story since I think it's really obvious what conflicts can arise from joint finances, but it's not as obvious what conflicts can arise from separate finances. I don't know if we'll even end up moving to joint finances even with all of the negatives I outlined above.

Any system is as flexible as the people involved.  If people are able to negotiate, compromise, and are willing to put their partner's (and family's, if children are involved) happiness ahead of their own more often than not, any accounting system can work.  Obviously, your system works for you today.  It may not work for you when one of the hypothetical situations becomes a reality in your world.  The key is being able to adapt as life happens.

This! I've learned that separate finances don't give you a pass on communication, negotiation, and compromise on financial issues, even if it seems like the simpler way on the surface.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: h2ogal on February 23, 2015, 07:55:22 PM
Can I ask you all a question....this is a serious question and is NOT AT ALL intended to be contentious, but just thought provoking.

In situations where the financial contribution is unequal, do you think that when the female earns a lot more, due to working more aggressively not due to luck, and the male partner is staying at home with kids or working part-time, that there is more conflict about the financial situation than when the roles are more old-fashioned/traditional?

My experiences are that this is true.  Even if the couple themselves is OK with the non-traditional situation I think sometimes parents, older bosses, etc. are judgmental and can influence the way the couple feels about it themselves.

Example - I had a co-worker, an easy-going engineer (Mac), who became engaged to a brilliant female lawyer.  When she got a fantastic job offer out of state, Mac quit his job so he could move down with her.  When our boss asked him about whether he had a new job lined up in the new place yet, Mac said, "no, but its no hurry, she can afford to support us for a while..."  My boss later made a disparaging remark about Mac's "lack of ambition".   This was a little irritating to me because this same boss had a stay at home wife who never held a job in her entire life and followed him as he was transferred from office to office! 

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: bdoubleu on February 23, 2015, 11:10:48 PM
Can I ask you all a question....this is a serious question and is NOT AT ALL intended to be contentious, but just thought provoking.

In situations where the financial contribution is unequal, do you think that when the female earns a lot more, due to working more aggressively not due to luck, and the male partner is staying at home with kids or working part-time, that there is more conflict about the financial situation than when the roles are more old-fashioned/traditional?

My experiences are that this is true.  Even if the couple themselves is OK with the non-traditional situation I think sometimes parents, older bosses, etc. are judgmental and can influence the way the couple feels about it themselves.

Example - I had a co-worker, an easy-going engineer (Mac), who became engaged to a brilliant female lawyer.  When she got a fantastic job offer out of state, Mac quit his job so he could move down with her.  When our boss asked him about whether he had a new job lined up in the new place yet, Mac said, "no, but its no hurry, she can afford to support us for a while..."  My boss later made a disparaging remark about Mac's "lack of ambition".   This was a little irritating to me because this same boss had a stay at home wife who never held a job in her entire life and followed him as he was transferred from office to office!

DH and I are in the exact situation you describe.  He actually quit working 2 years before we decided to have kids (first one on the way this July!).  We've actually found it easier to handle our money now - since he's literally not contributing a dime, there's not much room for a yours-mine-ours argument.  We agree on a set "allowance" from each paycheck, which is used for hobbies/bars/ other "wants" expenses.  Everything else is in our joint account, which is then directed to all other expenses/investments/etc.

When we were both working, he made ~$30,000/year, and I made $104,000/year (I now make ~$140,000/year).  We had a lot more arguments about how to divide/share our money then.  Not sure if the current agreement is a result of us both "growing up" some, or due to having just one income now.  I would also argue that the flexibility of having him home to take care of the home and run errands and such, has allowed me more opportunity for growth (therefore income growth) at my company.

We were fine with him quitting once we figured out it would fit "us" better, financially AND emotionally.  Everyone else (parents, siblings, friends, his now-former bosses, etc) were all VERY hesitant about our situation, and quick to offer their opinions that we had no idea what we were doing.  A lot of awkward family moments ensued.  If anything, the negative reactions made it much more exciting once we showed them how well it works for us.  My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: pancakes on February 24, 2015, 05:09:50 AM
DH and I have completely separate finances but we track everything cumulatively on a spreadsheet. At the end of the day the fact that money it is going into/coming out of an account is what matters, the name on the account is insignificant.

We've been together over 10 years now and never argued about money, not even when we were both studying full time and had very low incomes. If I didn't have enough money in my account to pay a bill I'd ask him to, easy! We have similar values which helps a lot and also are completely aware of the other's spending.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Killerbrandt on February 24, 2015, 06:20:43 AM
Hi there everyone! New to posting, but have been following for awhile now and love the site!! I just could not believe how many people keep their finances separate on here. I thought marriage was a journey through life together and not each having separate end goals.

My DW and I keep everything in a joint account and have different levels of income, but that does not matter one bit, everything is considered to be one. However, we did have issues wanting to spend money on little side toys. Therefore, I created accounts on Google Wallet and send a little spending money each week ($20 bucks) to each account and that allows each person to spend on what they want without questions. We also pull about $40 dollars (cash) each weekend for us to share together for diners, coffee, and other fun activities.

I hope my trick helps and I will be posting a lot more now that I have registered. :)
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: TinyLightsBelow on February 24, 2015, 07:33:00 AM
Hi there everyone! New to posting, but have been following for awhile now and love the site!! I just could not believe how many people keep their finances separate on here. I thought marriage was a journey through life together and not each having separate end goals.
I just want to point out that a couple can not completely merge their finances and still be working towards mutual goals. When my husband and I first got married, my desire was that we combine our finances, because that's what couples who love each other do! My husband encouraged me to reconsider and I'm SO glad I did.

I have a tendency to observe where my money is going and adjust behaviors as a result, whereas my husband has a tendency to decide if something is a worthwhile expense and go for it if it is, without returning to revisit it -- these different "money styles" definitely caused us friction when I didn't feel like he was spending money on something justified -- and honestly, trying to control him when he was ON TEAM US was not productive. I think we're both happier just accepting that we have the same ideals but different ways of pursuing them.

So our strategy is this: instead of putting everything into the same pot, we just deliberate on who pays for what. Everything else is put into paying off our student loans, or a little bit of fun money. I think it's an ideal situation for us, because some arbitrary 50/50 split (or joint bank accounts) doesn't really customize for the needs of the moment.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Timmmy on February 24, 2015, 07:37:38 AM
Can I ask you all a question....this is a serious question and is NOT AT ALL intended to be contentious, but just thought provoking.

In situations where the financial contribution is unequal, do you think that when the female earns a lot more, due to working more aggressively not due to luck, and the male partner is staying at home with kids or working part-time, that there is more conflict about the financial situation than when the roles are more old-fashioned/traditional?

My experiences are that this is true.  Even if the couple themselves is OK with the non-traditional situation I think sometimes parents, older bosses, etc. are judgmental and can influence the way the couple feels about it themselves.

Example - I had a co-worker, an easy-going engineer (Mac), who became engaged to a brilliant female lawyer.  When she got a fantastic job offer out of state, Mac quit his job so he could move down with her.  When our boss asked him about whether he had a new job lined up in the new place yet, Mac said, "no, but its no hurry, she can afford to support us for a while..."  My boss later made a disparaging remark about Mac's "lack of ambition".   This was a little irritating to me because this same boss had a stay at home wife who never held a job in her entire life and followed him as he was transferred from office to office!

DW earns ~60% more than me and will continue to outpace my earnings growth so the gap will only get wider.  Her job also has the health benefits that we use.  It doesn't bother us at all.  And we don't really care what other people think about OUR life. 

Hi there everyone! New to posting, but have been following for awhile now and love the site!! I just could not believe how many people keep their finances separate on here. I thought marriage was a journey through life together and not each having separate end goals.
I just want to point out that a couple can not completely merge their finances and still be working towards mutual goals. When my husband and I first got married, my desire was that we combine our finances, because that's what couples who love each other do! My husband encouraged me to reconsider and I'm SO glad I did.

I have a tendency to observe where my money is going and adjust behaviors as a result, whereas my husband has a tendency to decide if something is a worthwhile expense and go for it if it is, without returning to revisit it -- these different "money styles" definitely caused us friction when I didn't feel like he was spending money on something justified -- and honestly, trying to control him when he was ON TEAM US was not productive. I think we're both happier just accepting that we have the same ideals but different ways of pursuing them.

So our strategy is this: instead of putting everything into the same pot, we just deliberate on who pays for what. Everything else is put into paying off our student loans, or a little bit of fun money. I think it's an ideal situation for us, because some arbitrary 50/50 split (or joint bank accounts) doesn't really customize for the needs of the moment.

I wonder why there was friction... 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: TinyLightsBelow on February 24, 2015, 07:46:32 AM
I wonder why there was friction...
I mean, that's the exact realization I came to, and not fully combining our finances ended up helping with the situation. I guess I don't see what you're getting at, aside from trying to point out what I explicitly admitted to?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on February 24, 2015, 07:49:59 AM
I would never completely combine finances, that's just me. If SO has a problem with that, so be it.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Timmmy on February 24, 2015, 09:27:11 AM
I wonder why there was friction...
I mean, that's the exact realization I came to, and not fully combining our finances ended up helping with the situation. I guess I don't see what you're getting at, aside from trying to point out what I explicitly admitted to?

You don't see anything wrong with trying to control him?  I can't even think in terms of trying to control my spouse.  We are married and together we make decisions about finances in such a way that both spouses goals are met.  Sometimes that means a goal that one spouse could achieve faster on their own may take longer.  If your spouse doesn't have the same goals as you that's fine, but they should care enough about you to want you to achieve those goals.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: I'm a red panda on February 24, 2015, 10:11:38 AM
If SO has a problem with that, so be it.

Are you married?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on February 24, 2015, 10:17:15 AM
If SO has a problem with that, so be it.

Are you married?
Nope
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: neo von retorch on February 24, 2015, 10:40:30 AM
You don't see anything wrong with trying to control him?  I can't even think in terms of trying to control my spouse.  We are married and together we make decisions about finances in such a way that both spouses goals are met.  Sometimes that means a goal that one spouse could achieve faster on their own may take longer.  If your spouse doesn't have the same goals as you that's fine, but they should care enough about you to want you to achieve those goals.

Uh she admitted it and agreed with you already. Why are you still harping on this?
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: TinyLightsBelow on February 24, 2015, 11:05:27 AM
I wonder why there was friction...
I mean, that's the exact realization I came to, and not fully combining our finances ended up helping with the situation. I guess I don't see what you're getting at, aside from trying to point out what I explicitly admitted to?

You don't see anything wrong with trying to control him?  I can't even think in terms of trying to control my spouse.  We are married and together we make decisions about finances in such a way that both spouses
goals are met.  Sometimes that means a goal that one spouse could achieve faster on their own may take longer.  If your spouse doesn't have the same goals as you that's fine, but they should care enough about you to want you to achieve those goals.
I do see something wrong with it which is why I realized what I was doing, changed my perspective and changed the situation so that it doesn't happen again. It sucked that I was doing it. I like to think I stopped. I am genuinely glad that you have never felt like you had to control your spouse! That is how it's supposed to be! But my overall point was, combining my finances with my husband actually reinforced what I found to be an unproductive and unhealthy behavior and for us, we have had absolutely NO additional money problems since we just agreed to keep our bank accounts separate and collaborate when needed.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Timmmy on February 24, 2015, 01:06:42 PM
I wonder why there was friction...
I mean, that's the exact realization I came to, and not fully combining our finances ended up helping with the situation. I guess I don't see what you're getting at, aside from trying to point out what I explicitly admitted to?

You don't see anything wrong with trying to control him?  I can't even think in terms of trying to control my spouse.  We are married and together we make decisions about finances in such a way that both spouses
goals are met.  Sometimes that means a goal that one spouse could achieve faster on their own may take longer.  If your spouse doesn't have the same goals as you that's fine, but they should care enough about you to want you to achieve those goals.
I do see something wrong with it which is why I realized what I was doing, changed my perspective and changed the situation so that it doesn't happen again. It sucked that I was doing it. I like to think I stopped. I am genuinely glad that you have never felt like you had to control your spouse! That is how it's supposed to be! But my overall point was, combining my finances with my husband actually reinforced what I found to be an unproductive and unhealthy behavior and for us, we have had absolutely NO additional money problems since we just agreed to keep our bank accounts separate and collaborate when needed.

My apologies.  I never meant to sound like I was coming down on you or anyone.  I was more trying to point out that the goal should be to not need to control.  Find common goals and work towards them.  DW and I both spend money on things that the other thinks is stupid.  Sometimes it's frustrating but we set our priorities as a couple and we make sure one persons goals get met even when they aren't a priority to both. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: TinyLightsBelow on February 24, 2015, 01:28:49 PM
I wonder why there was friction...
I mean, that's the exact realization I came to, and not fully combining our finances ended up helping with the situation. I guess I don't see what you're getting at, aside from trying to point out what I explicitly admitted to?

You don't see anything wrong with trying to control him?  I can't even think in terms of trying to control my spouse.  We are married and together we make decisions about finances in such a way that both spouses
goals are met.  Sometimes that means a goal that one spouse could achieve faster on their own may take longer.  If your spouse doesn't have the same goals as you that's fine, but they should care enough about you to want you to achieve those goals.
I do see something wrong with it which is why I realized what I was doing, changed my perspective and changed the situation so that it doesn't happen again. It sucked that I was doing it. I like to think I stopped. I am genuinely glad that you have never felt like you had to control your spouse! That is how it's supposed to be! But my overall point was, combining my finances with my husband actually reinforced what I found to be an unproductive and unhealthy behavior and for us, we have had absolutely NO additional money problems since we just agreed to keep our bank accounts separate and collaborate when needed.

My apologies.  I never meant to sound like I was coming down on you or anyone.  I was more trying to point out that the goal should be to not need to control.  Find common goals and work towards them.  DW and I both spend money on things that the other thinks is stupid.  Sometimes it's frustrating but we set our priorities as a couple and we make sure one persons goals get met even when they aren't a priority to both.
Thank you for that, sincerely. You're right, of course, that the goal shouldn't be control -- which is why I said all that stuff about how important it was for me to remember that he was on team 'us' and why something had to change. :) I think the restructuring of finances worked (at least symbolically) for me to say, yes, we are a couple, but we are also two different people, and by having our finances separate they come together when they need to be, in a goal-oriented fashion. Sometimes I can't understand when he buys things -- and vice versa -- but yeah, we had to make a progression to the same dynamic that it seems that you and your wife have, where as long as we meet our mutual goals, we don't sweat the individual stuff.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Retire-Canada on February 24, 2015, 01:52:59 PM
Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?


My GF and I keep separate accounts. She'll be working fulltime for 10yrs+ after I start winding down towards FIRE.

When we met I made 25% more than her for 3 years. Now she makes 10% more than me if I don't take any side work. When I go part-time she'll make double what I do.

We split bills 50/50.

When I was making 25% more I paid for some extra optional stuff like surfboards/mountain bike parts/etc..

Now that we are close to the same I don't pay for anything extra.

When she's making double I'm not expecting her to pay for anything extra, but I won't be surprised if she picks up some extra dinners or buys me a nice b-day present.

We are not married and I am doing all my FIRE planning as if I was single. If we combine our $$ we'll be flush, but I know very few people that are together for 20yrs+ so I'm not counting on it.

-- Vik

Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on February 24, 2015, 02:19:47 PM
Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?


My GF and I keep separate accounts. She'll be working fulltime for 10yrs+ after I start winding down towards FIRE.

When we met I made 25% more than her for 3 years. Now she makes 10% more than me if I don't take any side work. When I go part-time she'll make double what I do.

We split bills 50/50.

When I was making 25% more I paid for some extra optional stuff like surfboards/mountain bike parts/etc..

Now that we are close to the same I don't pay for anything extra.

When she's making double I'm not expecting her to pay for anything extra, but I won't be surprised if she picks up some extra dinners or buys me a nice b-day present.

We are not married and I am doing all my FIRE planning as if I was single. If we combine our $$ we'll be flush, but I know very few people that are together for 20yrs+ so I'm not counting on it.

-- Vik



I am in a very similar boat, split joint housing expenses 50/50, I choose to pick up extra stuff like a bar tab, dinner, movie etc. I am hardcore into my FIRE plans, she is not on the same page. She makes half of what I do, but also doesn't follow a budget albeit being naturally frugal.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: willow on February 24, 2015, 03:03:16 PM
My gf and I got into a lively debate last night about how we think finances should be shared between a married couple with unequal incomes, which we both believe is in our future. Now seems like a good time to hash it out since we make exactly the same yearly salary.

I am aiming to FIRE, she is not. While she isn't super extravagant, she does enjoy buying lots of clothing and shoes on sale and at thrift stores, and generally does more optional spending than I do.

My thought was: split all expenses 50/50 regardless of incomes, then each of us keeps our own money in separate accounts after that. She feels that expenses should be split proportional to income, e.g. if someone brings home 2/3 of the money, they pay 2/3 of the expenses. And though it wasn't clear, it sounded as if she wanted just small personal accounts, and that a lot of the money gets pooled together.

We won't be sharing incomes for a few years at least, but what's a fair strategy? Getting her 100% on board with my spending habits is incredibly unlikely, but she isn't outrageous or super high maintenance either, so I don't see her impeding my goals or vice versa if we can come to an agreement.

Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?

I'm trying to find a compromise. Perhaps pooling a certain percentage into a joint account that requires agreement for any purchases, and the rest into personal accounts that are for whatever the individual wants?

Note: this will only be an issue if I end up being the higher earner. If it's her, I will happily pay my 50% of expenses and never ask her for a dime of her money to use on my hobbies and optional spending.

We share everything. Our incomes go into one cell on the spreadsheet and our expenses come out altogether. There's no 50% split here or whatever. At the end of it all we allot a "don't ask" category where we each can spend x amount of dollars each month where we don't have to ask the other person for permission to spend it.(we do keep the statements open and accountable). That means we both get the same amount of "spending" money every month.  Sometimes I spend it all and most times I just save the extra, spouse does the same. And if they want to spend it all on something I consider silly I don't ask them about it. It's their money and I agreed ahead of time I'm "ok" with that money not going to FIRE or whatever other goals we have.

I think it can get ugly when you're paying x percent of the house and whatever on the bills. Not to mention all the jealousy and unevenness that could come from one person making a lot more money, and therefore spending a lot more on things like shoes and food, and entertainment and the other person not having as much.

I mean let's be honest. If you have 1000 left over every month and she has 500, you really think you're never gonna end up buying her gifts or paying for the bill when you go out to eat?

It makes much more sense for everyone to go in together. Ideally you'd save the 1k and split the 500 evenly.(depending on how mustachian you are, of course).
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: wordnerd on February 24, 2015, 06:16:28 PM
Egads. It's a little heated in here.

I think many models can be successful, but the important thing is to communicate honestly with each other about your preferences, fears, etc, which can be frightening, so you can find the model that's right for you. If you're looking for a structured way to have that conversation, there are many books that can help. Before my husband and I got engaged, we worked through a book called the 10 Conversations to Have Before You Get Married, one of which was about money (others were about sex, kids, etc). That was a good starting point, but it took awhile for me to get comfortable really discussing finances with him. Part of that had to do with my upbringing, and part of it had to do with his being more frugal than me (especially then).

We thought about several models, but eventually decided to combine everything and agreed to discuss all purchases over $300. This model has worked very well for us (we're only three years in, but still...), and I think it has helped us talk more about our life goals.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on March 04, 2015, 05:40:31 AM
Couples: what's your expense split? Do you keep personal accounts?


My GF and I keep separate accounts. She'll be working fulltime for 10yrs+ after I start winding down towards FIRE.

When we met I made 25% more than her for 3 years. Now she makes 10% more than me if I don't take any side work. When I go part-time she'll make double what I do.

We split bills 50/50.

When I was making 25% more I paid for some extra optional stuff like surfboards/mountain bike parts/etc..

Now that we are close to the same I don't pay for anything extra.

When she's making double I'm not expecting her to pay for anything extra, but I won't be surprised if she picks up some extra dinners or buys me a nice b-day present.

We are not married and I am doing all my FIRE planning as if I was single. If we combine our $$ we'll be flush, but I know very few people that are together for 20yrs+ so I'm not counting on it.

-- Vik

Split 50/50 all bills but i make more so i fund our retirement accounts more. 
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: boarder42 on March 04, 2015, 05:43:30 AM
Egads. It's a little heated in here.

I think many models can be successful, but the important thing is to communicate honestly with each other about your preferences, fears, etc, which can be frightening, so you can find the model that's right for you. If you're looking for a structured way to have that conversation, there are many books that can help. Before my husband and I got engaged, we worked through a book called the 10 Conversations to Have Before You Get Married, one of which was about money (others were about sex, kids, etc). That was a good starting point, but it took awhile for me to get comfortable really discussing finances with him. Part of that had to do with my upbringing, and part of it had to do with his being more frugal than me (especially then).

We thought about several models, but eventually decided to combine everything and agreed to discuss all purchases over $300. This model has worked very well for us (we're only three years in, but still...), and I think it has helped us talk more about our life goals.

Just talking about purchases over 300 would be a problem for some here.  List of things that cost under 300

1. clothes - could buy clothes daily
2. coffee - could buy coffee daily
3. eat out daily
4. expensive not needed groceries
5. TV
6. Cell Phone
7. Tablet
8. a dog per month


Glad it works for you but as far as FIRE goes.  Your spouse (if not onboard) could be spending piles of money monthly with this system and wouldnt have to ask you a thing.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Mesmoiselle on March 04, 2015, 11:59:52 AM
We go by percentage of overall income earned, divide up the bills to roughly the right number, made adjustments until both of us didn't feel resentful or broke all the time and voila.

Example of not real numbers:

$2000 of "Bills" a month. I make 50k, he makes 25k. 33% of $2000 is $666. All utilities plus some other bill =$666.

That's his share of the bills. The rest are mine. And if job/incomes change, we do the math again.

Whatever remains is our personal spending money. Our personal debts we brought into the marriage are our own responsibility, and school loan payments are made out of it.

4 years together, married 18 months, this has worked for us quite well the entire time. And we definitely accomplish our goals. We both contribute to our retirement accounts, obviously at different rates depending on what we can afford individually. We both want to be financially independent so we can go after low paying passions.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: dunhamjr on March 04, 2015, 01:11:57 PM
In our 39 year marriage there were times when he made a lot more than me, there were years when I made a lot more than him...  but it never mattered.  All of our money is our money.  Neither of us made large purchases without running it past the other one. Our accounts are all joint accounts.  It works for us.  I know another couple married almost as long, but they have always kept their finances separate because one of them likes to spend too much.  That works for them.  You just have to figure out what works for you.

this.

there is not a one size fits all option here.
wife and i married for 5, together for 10.

we keep separate accounts for the most part, but we have access into each others accounts as needed.

i make significantly more, and also spend significantly less.

we split most of the household bills about 50/50.  i end up, at my own discretion, choosing to pay into some of her spending/debts (student loans/car payment) since the overall financial view is shared, regardless of how the accounts are actually held.  so something to better her accounts, betters mine... and vice versa.
Title: Re: Couple Money Sharing Strategy?
Post by: Knapptyme on April 05, 2015, 11:56:46 PM
Ironically, since posting earlier in this thread, my DW and I signed up for new separate bank accounts. The reason...to reap sign up rewards in double. An easy $450 just for moving our money around for six months.

Everything's still shared equally, but it's nice to know that we can make more as individuals sometimes. (Same goes for CC rewards, too.)