Poll

couples - how do you manage finances?

it's all one big pot - I manage bills and investments, partner doesn't want to know or isn't interested
72 (31%)
it's all one big pot - we manage our money together
98 (42.2%)
completely separate - we each pay 50% of costs
32 (13.8%)
completely separate - we each pay 50%, I don't even know what they have
6 (2.6%)
completely separate - split finances prorated based on income
24 (10.3%)

Total Members Voted: 232

Voting closed: March 01, 2018, 04:06:22 PM

Author Topic: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses  (Read 9451 times)

bluebelle

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couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« on: January 30, 2018, 04:06:22 PM »
Hi All,
Something I'm curious about.  And it's not something folks in real life generally discuss.....How do happily married couples manage their money?  I add the caveat of 'happily' married because if you're unhappy, more likely than not, money is one of the hot topics.

I've always been a big believer that marriage is a partnership, and all resources and debt should be shared.  I also recognize that in my world most things are equal, one partner doesn't come from extreme wealth or one partner doesn't have extreme debt.  (Being a little older and educated in Canada, $150K student debt is unheard of in my social circle).   Some might accuse me of not living in the real world.  So be it.  My parents had separate bank accounts, and I know of a few other couples that seem to have separate accounts.  Not judging, just curious.

When my DH and I moved in together nearly 20 years ago, I took over managing all money, both investment and bills.  He had a far too relaxed attitude about paying CC bills in full and on time and his retirement plan was to work until he was dead (I think he had $2K in his retirement plan then).  And I fully admit that I hadn't even begun to grasp the importance of saving for retirement at the time.   Contributing to RRSPs (Canadian version of 401K) was reduce your tax bill, not building up a big stash to retire early.  He was at least self aware enough to know that he didn't want to know how much we were accumulating in the early years, he said if he knew, he'd want to spend it.  I can see his point, $50K does not significantly make or break a long retirement, but it would buy a new car....so we didn't really talk about retirement accounts for the first 10+ years, not until we 'suddenly' had enough that retiring at 55 became very real.  And the internet was still pretty new in 1998, there wasn't alot of information out there, certainly nothing I saw that encouraged savings of 50% of your salary.  Heck, I think the snack oil salesmen were pitching Freedom 55 with a 10% savings.

Along the way, he became a member of a DB pension, so we made him turning 55 our target.  Took him more than a few years to believe it.....now that we're 28 months away, he's fully on board and planning....okay, maybe not fully on-board, he's still not willing to give up large quantities of red meat, but can see the benefit of delaying a car purchase for as long as possible, and that's a much bigger savings than the grocery bill.   OTH, we're pretty much at our target, but need the DB pension and group benefits to make it work, so we're coasting along for the next 2+ years.
 
I guess it was easy for me to say that we pool our incomes and I'd pay all the bills out of one big pot, at the time, I made nearly twice what he did, and I'm fairly certain that my expenses are much less than his, so a big win for him.

If you're still with me after this long, rambling intro, thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 03:12:45 PM by bluebelle »

Lady SA

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2018, 04:27:36 PM »
I voted for one big pot - we manage money together, but in reality I was split between the 2 one big pot options. I handle pretty much all the finances because I'm naturally more interested than DH (he really isn't SUPER interested in all the finances and trusts me to handle it), but we also make our major decisions together. I run investment choices by him, allocation options by him, tax implications by him, etc. I'm doing most of the upfront research work, but we reach decisions jointly and then I execute. That's why I chose the option I did, but I feel like we are kind of equally split between the two options in the poll.

We got married and had $150k of debt between us, $110k of which was DH's. We got married and considered all debts and all assets jointly, because that's just how we wanted it to be (and we are both pretty analytical and it was most optimal to pay off debts if we pooled resources). We didn't consider our finances joint until marriage, but a month or so after we got married we opened a joint checking account, began direct depositing both of our checks into it, and the rest just kind of naturally went from there.

bluebelle

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2018, 04:36:28 PM »
I voted for one big pot - we manage money together, but in reality I was split between the 2 one big pot options. I handle pretty much all the finances because I'm naturally more interested than DH (he really isn't SUPER interested in all the finances and trusts me to handle it), but we also make our major decisions together. I run investment choices by him, allocation options by him, tax implications by him, etc. I'm doing most of the upfront research work, but we reach decisions jointly and then I execute. That's why I chose the option I did, but I feel like we are kind of equally split between the two options in the poll.

We got married and had $150k of debt between us, $110k of which was DH's. We got married and considered all debts and all assets jointly, because that's just how we wanted it to be (and we are both pretty analytical and it was most optimal to pay off debts if we pooled resources). We didn't consider our finances joint until marriage, but a month or so after we got married we opened a joint checking account, began direct depositing both of our checks into it, and the rest just kind of naturally went from there.

now that we're a bigger pot, and close to retirement, I like to pretend that we're closer to option two, in that I talk about the money more and discuss the investment options, but I fear I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to him, wha wha....

Laura33

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 07:37:56 PM »
We have more of a hybrid approach.  In theory, itís all one big pot, and we create the budget and longer-term plans/goals together.  But part of that pot goes directly into separate accounts as our personal fun money (my solution for him wanting to spend more and me wanting to save more).  And we both manage our own retirement accounts and investments and make our own decisions on that.  And finally, when we get bonuses, we talk about any big decisions (like if I want to throw money toward the mortgage, or he wants a new toy), but it would take a lot for me to say no to his decision, and vice-versa - bonus money just sort of ďfeelsĒ like personal money, because itís not part of the budget, and it is due to personal effort.  So on the one hand, itís all ďoursĒ; on the other, we each have a lot of autonomy over how we manage our part of it.

Sailor Sam

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 07:45:18 PM »
My wife and I have separate households, so we have completely separate finances. Eventually we'll live together and we may end up with a yours/mine/ours system, but it wouldn't surprise me if we continued with everything separate.

All that being said, we hash out any big financial decisions before hand. It's more Roller Derby than the Wild West.

scottyah

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 08:16:06 PM »
I'm not married (yet?) but the system I heard from my uncle sounded great to me.

They had separate accounts, but both contributed an equal percentage to the shared pot that went to things like bills, mortgage, etc. Major purchases are talked out, and if they exceed the shared pot amount the contributions are on a case-by-case basis as one makes much more than the other.

Granted, they are plenty FI and still working because it's what they enjoy so I'm sure that makes it a lot easier.

Jaguar Paw

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 08:16:16 PM »
Wifey and I have one big pot. It may be made easier by the fact that we make the same amount but it would still be one big pot even if our incomes were significantly different.

ixtap

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 08:56:35 PM »
Hybrid. We each have separate accounts, but treat it as one big pot that we both stir. We do have joint credit cards, though.

He usually prepares the taxes, but with me sitting in the room. This year, I have been doing the data entry while he does his physical therapy.

Oh, and to respond to what others have noted, our incomes are significantly different.

omachi

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2018, 09:07:36 PM »
I chose one big pot, managed together. I do all the active management and keep DW in the loop on anything that remotely matters. DW is interested in the big picture but doesn't really want to do any of the day to day stuff.

We do also have a small account each that's completely separate, maybe 1% of what we earn, that we can spend however we want. So far that's mostly been letting it pile up in our respective accounts. Ha.

Off the Wheel

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2018, 09:15:43 PM »
We keep our finances separate, but contribute a set $ to a joint account to cover our shared bills - and our mortgage. We also talk candidly about money, so we each know each other's savings and investments, but it's up to each individual to decide what to save and how to invest. It works for us because we make comparable incomes and we have similar, relatively frugal approaches, shared financial goals and similar investment styles.

zeli2033

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2018, 09:34:50 PM »
One big pot, managed together.  At the start, he managed our finances but that has shifted to me managing them. We make all short and long term budget allocations and investing decisions together but I handle upfront research and planning because Iím more interested in learning more at this time. Plus Iím Type A and like to make sure weíre administratively buttoned up so I handle payments, contributions, taxes and just keep him as in the loop as he wants to be. Right now since we are in debt payoff mode, all bonuses we bring in go there but I imagine that once we are just in the accumulation phase, we might change that.

remizidae

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2018, 09:43:56 PM »
We split proportionately, which in the past few years has meant everything from me paying 100% to husband paying 70%. I find it a lot easier to manage the joint account when only a few joint necessities (rent, food, internet) are coming out of it. Then, each of us gets $X in our personal accounts, that we can save or spend as we see fit. We each get to spend on our personal priorities and (so far) have had no arguments about money.

SwordGuy

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 10:06:50 PM »
I do the grunt work on the finances, but I don't make major decisions without my lovely bride's input and approval.   She's not interested enough to get into the weeds with me on this stuff (and she trusts me to do a good job).

Zikoris

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 10:16:30 PM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Urchina

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2018, 10:33:51 PM »
One big pot, since before we were married. Joint everything. I handle our finances, both day-to-day and long-term. DH and I discuss goals at the start of the year and then I implement and execute.
We make radically different amounts of money.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2018, 11:19:39 PM »
We have more of a hybrid approach.  In theory, itís all one big pot, and we create the budget and longer-term plans/goals together.  But part of that pot goes directly into separate accounts as our personal fun money (my solution for him wanting to spend more and me wanting to save more).  And we both manage our own retirement accounts and investments and make our own decisions on that.  And finally, when we get bonuses, we talk about any big decisions (like if I want to throw money toward the mortgage, or he wants a new toy), but it would take a lot for me to say no to his decision, and vice-versa - bonus money just sort of ďfeelsĒ like personal money, because itís not part of the budget, and it is due to personal effort.  So on the one hand, itís all ďoursĒ; on the other, we each have a lot of autonomy over how we manage our part of it.

This is closest to what we do.

katekat

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2018, 11:31:41 PM »
I voted "it's all one big pot - I manage bills and investments, partner doesn't want to know or isn't interested", because that's how we see our money. I make a lot more than my husband, but he came into our marriage with a lot more cash. Also, the reason I make a lot more than him is because he moved here to be with me. I'm not interested in working out what's fair according to our individual contributions to marriage and I think it's impossible: so, everything is ours.

That said, we don't have any joint accounts. I see some people talking about 'separate accounts' like they are 'separate finances' in this thread but to me, accounts are only an implementation detail. My current account (checking account) is for 'my spending' and also for all our household expenses. He spends from his account, and when this imbalance leads to mine running low, I ask him for more money to be transferred. How much we each have in our account doesn't in any way relate to how much is 'ours', in our minds. I track spending from both current accounts, the bulk of our savings lives in a savings account of his, the bulk of our retirement savings is in a retirement account of mine, but the decision on all these things is under both of our jurisdiction -- with the choices de facto being mostly mine since he's not interested in running our finances.

TartanTallulah

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2018, 12:08:12 AM »
We have one pot and investing decisions are made through a filter of, "What's best for us as a unit?" Initially I let my DH manage the checking account, but he wasn't really managing it and tended to see the agreed overdraft as being legitimate funds rather than something to keep clear of, and I took over. From time to time I'll tell him to make an extra contribution to his pension, or to avoid spending anything till the next payday.

Our incomes are very different and DH was a SAHP for many years. Anything other than a fully shared arrangement would be impractical.

PMG

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2018, 04:03:53 AM »
I didnít vote but want to be able to follow this conversation to glean ideas from it.

We are still figuring things out.  My partner and I just got married.  We did ok sharing things as they came up when we were partnered. Our living situation and jobs are going to change several times in the next 12-18 months, so I donít really expect us to have a routine for a while.  Equality is important, we both are strongly independent and like to ďpay my own wayĒ but at the same time I donít want to undervalue the unpaid work that goes into our life together.  We may do some proportional sharing through our transitions.

I canít imagine us ever moving all of our money into shared accounts nor do I need to know what all he spends his money on, but the logistics are something to figure out. Some have mentioned a joint account that agreed upon shared expenses come out of and then the rest is separate.  That seems like an easy way to keep us from nitpicking. 


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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2018, 04:24:52 AM »
Money and expenses are one big pot.  I voted for the first option, but it's not quite accurate.  DH is interested, I give him updates when something changes, but I am the doer and the one with the most clear picture of it all.  So it isn't that he doesn't care; it's that I have the time to dedicate to it and the interest in reading and researching and playing with the spreadsheet. 

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2018, 04:41:20 AM »
Married 10 years. We have one big pot - I manage. DH is interested in the big picture (stuff like, ďIn 2 years, we will have a million dollars, for example), but totally not interested in how we get there. We have joint accounts. There have been years when I made more and years when he made more, but itís just our money.

That being said, we do have our own fun money - that comes from our respective side gigs, and we can spend that as we like.

albireo13

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2018, 05:25:06 AM »
we have joint accounts for the main stuff but, we each keep our own separate accounts for whatever we want to do money.
Works fine


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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2018, 05:36:14 AM »
we're kinda hybrid i voted 50/50 but we're not really that

rather than put it all in one pot then divy it back out we do the following

the mortgage is split basically based on salary differences
other required and agreed to expenses are cut in half and shared
1. joint gas card
2. joint grocery card
3. travel is paid for jointly for any extras that arent travel hacked - this is really minimal
4. utilities are split in half
5. kid costs are split in half
6. we both each max our tax advantaged space

I manage all our "joint/invstment" money b/c my wife really doesnt care and just likes to see it grow.  She contributes what she wants to our retirement/long term savings accounts that i just dump into our vanguard taxable account. 

everything leftover is ours to spend as we please i usually end up saving more but i make more - our discresionary spending is probably pretty equal.  this is the last thing we'll have to figure out before we FIRE - but i think it will be easily solved by dumping 400 bucks a month into an account she can do whatever she wants with or some number that we agree to around that.

kaypinkHH

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2018, 05:44:32 AM »
As our relationship has grown and changed our money strategy has changed as well.

When we first started dating, we split things fairly evenly (nothing really was tracked).

When we moved to a new city, I had my first grownup job and Mr.HH was doing his masters (cost of living allowance), we sat down and discussed finances.  Laid it all on the table. We used this list of questions (although we weren't getting married), and it allowed us to develop a plan. http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/articles/love_money/getting_married.html

During that period we paid things proportionally, tracked everything, and then re-balanced at the end of the month to ensure each person was saving a little bit each month. This also allowed us to see where every.single. penny. was going.

After Mr.HH got a job, we stopped tracking to that level, but checked in to see how our overall savings were doing. We were both working towards a goal of buying a house, so discretionatory spending was pretty low. After getting married (and buying a house) now in theory everything is one big pot. (We make pretty much exactly the same amount of money), and our goal as a couple is to max out TFSAs/RRSPs for both people. We still have two separate accounts, because we never bothered to make a joint account, but we count it as one big pot. We share a mint account so we can see everything at any given time. I pay the mortgage, Mr.HH pays credit card bill (our monthly spending). We split the payments of other bills so they are somewhat balanced.

Mr.HH LOVES the investing side of things so he manages that, and I'm more the day to day budget/spending manager. He is the CFO, I'm the COO. It works really really well...but it does mean we talk about money A LOT. It is probably our favorite topic of discussion :).

In the end it helps that we are aligned on the goal: To create a financial future where we may not need to be stuck at a desk working 8-5 until we are 55+.

Raenia

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2018, 06:50:23 AM »
No married yet, but engaged and in the process of combining finances.  I voted completely separate - 50%.  That's not quite accurate, but it's closer than income based.  We're somewhere between one pot and completely separate.

We each have our paychecks deposited in our own accounts, and have a periodic transfer to a joint account, from which we pay all our joint expenses.  We were doing strict 50/50, but once we got engaged, we started planning together to make the best use of all available savings.  For example, his HSA is better than mine, so we increased his contribution to meet the family limit, and I stopped contributing to mine, but contribute extra to the joint account to compensate.  His health insurance is also better, so once I go onto his plan, I will put more into the joint pot for that as well.

On the other hand, we are keeping our investment accounts separate, and continuing to contribute each to our own.  We have slightly different asset allocation plans, and we both enjoy tracking, so this gives us each a pot to play with.  We also each have a small 'fun money' pot in our own separate accounts.

Basically, we plan our finances as one pot, but we function as separate pots with a joint checking/credit card for joint expenses.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2018, 07:04:44 AM »
I do more day to day management, but he pays some of our bills, participates in budgeting, and we make big decisions together. My parents have had separate finances their whole lives and it's kind of been a disaster, so I didn't want to do that. To my mind, getting married is legally the same as forming a business partnership, so we should share (and communicate) about the money.


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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2018, 07:40:44 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized.

Pretty much this.  I earn more now, but also spend more on the horses.  If I earned less, I wouldn't expect to use a big chunk of pooled money and would cut back my hobby.  DH made a decision a few years ago not to pursue getting promoted, which is fine, and he can still afford the ski trips and other travel he likes to do. I appreciate that we can both make our own career decisions based on what's best for us as individuals, rather than feeling pressure to earn more for the household or whatever.  Since we're DINKS, the shared expenses are pretty much just mortgage, utilities, food and house upkeep.  I do pay a larger portion of the grocery bill, but it works out since I am much more picky about what we eat, and thus do most of the grocery shopping.

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2018, 08:28:43 AM »
I voted 'one pot manage together,' although I do the day to day bill paying and make all the investment decisions after discussing with him what I plan to do. He does follow along with tracking, and is on board for keeping spending low and hopes to retire earlyish. When we married, we each brought no debt and the same amount of investments (not much) to the table and had similar feelings on money, so there wasn't much of a reason to keep things separate IMO. I have been the higher earner for the whole marriage so far, but his income has increased at a faster rate than mine, and I expect him to surpass me in the future.

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2018, 08:54:30 AM »
We have everything in one big pot.  Shared checking, shared savings, we're authorized users on each other's credit cards.  We each have an equal "spontaneous money" fund, and a shared date night fund.  We do discuss all major purchases (>$50 or so), even if they're coming out of our fun money.

DH does spend more than I do - he has a budget for lunches out, alcohol, and tends to make more big purchases than I do - a new standing desk and ergo chair for his office, or new computer monitors (which we find money for somehow).  I like to eat leftovers, don't really drink, and don't have any large purchases that I want, so it is what it is.  DH makes more than I do, but I still contribute a significant chunk, maybe 40%.  I also fully fund our family HSA, dependent care FSA, and have our son on my health insurance, so my paycheck is proportionally less of my gross pay than his.

That being said, I do all the money management, just because I'm way more excited about it.  I keep track of our budget, manage our investments, and give him periodic updates on our retirement funds, how much fun money he has left in the month, when we'll get to FI, etc.  He cares, but not enough to do daily or weekly maintenance.  I find it entertaining :)

charis

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2018, 10:30:51 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2018, 10:48:04 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2018, 10:55:13 AM »
Almost everything is joint. We do each have personal accounts for fun expenses, but those accounts are funded from the joint account as a budget item.

I have friends that split all of the expenses. It seems rather tedious and petty to me. They argue about whose turn it is to pay for their meal out and how much the other spent last time, etc.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2018, 11:04:39 AM »
I voted for one big pot - we manage money together, but in reality I was split between the 2 one big pot options. I handle pretty much all the finances because I'm naturally more interested than DH (he really isn't SUPER interested in all the finances and trusts me to handle it), but we also make our major decisions together. I run investment choices by him, allocation options by him, tax implications by him, etc. I'm doing most of the upfront research work, but we reach decisions jointly and then I execute. That's why I chose the option I did, but I feel like we are kind of equally split between the two options in the poll.

100% the same with us. =) I'm more interested and have more time for the nitty gritty financial management, but any big choices or overarching 'procedure/goal' choices are made together.

And definitely happily married, haha.

omachi

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2018, 11:16:09 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

Typically people with joint finances make joint decisions. That may include electronics or jewelry, but if it's expensive it's discussed. If the decision is yes, buy it, it's because it will have a positive impact in joint consideration. This may be to one person's exclusive benefit from use, while being a net benefit to the couple. So subsidizing? Not really. It's up to the one who wants to spend to create the case that spending should happen, with veto power wielded by the other. It's easier to end up with higher savings since there's a barrier to frivolous spending. A small pot of not joint money allows a sort of pressure valve so there isn't always a no, but it keeps the stakes low.

Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

rockstache

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2018, 11:20:16 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

That assumes you have different lifestyle choices. I think I agree that if you do then it would be subsidizing. My husband and I don't, so it's really just us, subsidizing our life together.

TVRodriguez

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2018, 11:44:46 AM »
One big pot, many shared decisions, all investment decisions made by me.

We've each earned different amounts over the nearly 15 years we've been married, with one of us wildly outstripping the other on occasion.  Still one big pot.  Still all "our" money.

I don't fully understand the "subsidizing another's lifestyle" comments.  DH and I live together.  We share a lifestyle.

charis

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2018, 11:47:53 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

Typically people with joint finances make joint decisions. That may include electronics or jewelry, but if it's expensive it's discussed. If the decision is yes, buy it, it's because it will have a positive impact in joint consideration. This may be to one person's exclusive benefit from use, while being a net benefit to the couple. So subsidizing? Not really. It's up to the one who wants to spend to create the case that spending should happen, with veto power wielded by the other. It's easier to end up with higher savings since there's a barrier to frivolous spending. A small pot of not joint money allows a sort of pressure valve so there isn't always a no, but it keeps the stakes low.

Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

In reality, any couple living together is subsidizing each other by sharing the cost of housing choice, utilities, etc (possibly more so if you are married via insurance, taxes, etc).  But even if you are just looking at input/output, a financially responsible or frugal member of a couple won't be spending more than they bring in.  In my case, we jointly save more than 50% of our income.  The bulk of spending goes to joint expenses, like housing costs or kid costs.  In fact we rarely buy things that aren't shared or for the household benefit.  When we do, it's still much less than we respectively earn.

My spouse earns less, but typically works only when the kids are in school so we don't have to pay for daycare.  So one might argue that he is subsidizing my lifestyle choice to have children.  Basically, I'm just not sure that that is the most helpful way to approach the question of joint or separate finances.

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2018, 11:56:49 AM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

That assumes you have different lifestyle choices. I think I agree that if you do then it would be subsidizing. My husband and I don't, so it's really just us, subsidizing our life together.

You don't have any spending that's only related to one of you? Here are some of ours: Me: Ballet classes, camping trips. Him: Electronics, video games. We pay for those on our own.

Quote
Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

We haven't experienced that. The shared expenses don't change very often (we've been in the same apartment building for about seven years now, and our grocery and travel budgets have not changed in that time either, for example), but they've always been geared to the comfort level of the lower income earner. Now that our spending is down to a third of our income, nobody's really reducing costs or putting the brakes on spending anymore.

rockstache

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2018, 12:10:28 PM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

That assumes you have different lifestyle choices. I think I agree that if you do then it would be subsidizing. My husband and I don't, so it's really just us, subsidizing our life together.

You don't have any spending that's only related to one of you? Here are some of ours: Me: Ballet classes, camping trips. Him: Electronics, video games. We pay for those on our own.


You could account for it that way and of course that would be correct. We just give ourselves a certain (equal) amount per month for spending instead. But even within that we generally discuss our purchases and agree on them. For instance I don't see his gym fee as me subsidizing his lifestyle. I consider it an amount that I am willing to spend on having a healthy husband.

FWIW, I would approach this 100% differently if we weren't legally married.

horsepoor

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #39 on: January 31, 2018, 12:19:43 PM »
I don't fully understand the "subsidizing another's lifestyle" comments.  DH and I live together.  We share a lifestyle.

I thought I explained it in my post:  I own three horses that my husband has no interest in.  If I lost my job or took a 50% pay cut tomorrow, I would get rid of the horses or seriously cut back even if, based on household income "we could afford it."  Likewise, if my husband decided to change careers and take a big pay cut, I would still expect him to prioritize contributing to household expenses at the current level, and give up taking expensive ski trips (I don't ski).

I'm sure I'd feel a lot different if we had kids, and one partner earned substantially less as a career choice that allowed more time to take care of the home/children; kids change the equation substantially.

omachi

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #40 on: January 31, 2018, 12:21:27 PM »
Quote
Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

We haven't experienced that. The shared expenses don't change very often (we've been in the same apartment building for about seven years now, and our grocery and travel budgets have not changed in that time either, for example), but they've always been geared to the comfort level of the lower income earner. Now that our spending is down to a third of our income, nobody's really reducing costs or putting the brakes on spending anymore.

Not saying it's wrong either way. I'm just a stranger on the Internet sharing his opinion.

Personally, though, I'd have felt weird in the same situation. Towards the start of our relationship, I was making a lot more than DW, and we still pooled. She brings as much value to the relationship as I do, even if the market didn't value her labor as highly at that point. I couldn't reconcile team with me getting to save considerably more and her considerably less, even if she would have set all the spending decisions.

I guess I just don't view it as subsidizing any more than one views the accounts receivable department as subsidizing the accounts payable department in a company. Yes, one literally collects while the other pays, but they're part of a unit that doesn't function without both.

charis

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #41 on: January 31, 2018, 12:48:35 PM »
I don't fully understand the "subsidizing another's lifestyle" comments.  DH and I live together.  We share a lifestyle.

I thought I explained it in my post:  I own three horses that my husband has no interest in.  If I lost my job or took a 50% pay cut tomorrow, I would get rid of the horses or seriously cut back even if, based on household income "we could afford it." Likewise, if my husband decided to change careers and take a big pay cut, I would still expect him to prioritize contributing to household expenses at the current level, and give up taking expensive ski trips (I don't ski).

To me this is an even bigger reason to pool.  If both spouses are contributing everything they have to the pot, you can determine what activities the household can afford more easily.  And it's not like you just forget how much you earn. Plus, you'd still have to make the same decisions to cut back because it would hurt the household if you didn't. 

And as I said above, the "subsidizing" is still there whether you are shared or not.   You husband is still essentially subsidizing your expensive pursuit by sharing housing and costs with you that fit your personal financial needs, which accounts for your horse spending, or saving rate goals, or whatever applies to you.

caracarn

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2018, 01:06:51 PM »
We do option #2, joint account, work together.  Our reasoning may be more "old fashioned" and is certainly tied to our broader beliefs about marriage.  I would never use the terms subsidizing, mine or hers with regards to finances.  Being married means we are partners and we work together as a team.  It is all ours, so joint is the only option.  Like several others above, because I enjoy the work of finances more my wife has me handle it but we discuss from time to time as need or interest arises.  Having run divorce support groups we also have a lot of evidence from that setting, while not a broad sample, but one, nonetheless, that the thinking around why a couple wants to keep things separate filters into a lot of other things in the relationship and seemed to cause a lot of tension ultimately leading the the break up.  Marriage is hard enough.  Going into something that is meant to be together but then running it apart seems counter-intuitive and a lot of added stress to making things work.  We've just found as we have conversations with people with split finances that there is a lot more they are separated on in their relationship as well, and that is just not a comfortable place for us.

Not a lot of studies done on the topic but one that is specific to financial arrangements and relationship quality I have found is a study in 2010:  "Joint bank accounts were associated with higher levels of relationship quality on numerous dimensions, though more consistently for women than men. Individualistic arrangements appeared to undermine womenís relationship satisfaction and reduce feelings of intimacy, sexual compatibility, and satisfaction with conflict resolution."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404834/
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 01:10:02 PM by caracarn »

omachi

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #43 on: January 31, 2018, 01:54:10 PM »

Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

Unless thereís a divorce and the assets split evenly.
Yuck. Doesn't that seem even worse? If you make more, do you want to wonder if the other person will leave and take what you consider yours from the arrangement? If you make less, do you want to constantly weigh being better off financially against the benefits of the union?

I donít think you can paint any given system as regressive, i think itís really a personal decision for each couple to make for themselves in a way that makes sense for them.

If there is anyone in a situation where they are doing 50/50 and they donít feel itís fair and their partner is unwilling to flex on it, then they are in a shitty marriage and have bigger issues than exactly how the bills are split.

I think you can, though I think it's a decision for each couple as well. If two people are partners and like it such that one pays a larger portion of their income for the same living conditions, more power to them. I'm not saying it's wrong to have a regressive arrangement, though I personally don't see any benefit to it. They may put more value on saying they live wholly within their own efforts and being able to say they don't rely on anybody, even their partner. That may bring them more value than having a bigger pot of money in the bank. No skin off my back.

caracarn

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #44 on: January 31, 2018, 02:41:39 PM »

Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

Unless thereís a divorce and the assets split evenly.
Yuck. Doesn't that seem even worse? If you make more, do you want to wonder if the other person will leave and take what you consider yours from the arrangement? If you make less, do you want to constantly weigh being better off financially against the benefits of the union?
Yes, and if you are constantly "wondering" and "weighing" you will end up in the divorce.  This just perpetuates the separate thinking that I mentioned above and the study I cited seems to reinforce as a driver of a lower quality relationship.

Eric

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #45 on: January 31, 2018, 03:00:01 PM »
We both had separate accounts prior to being married, so we went the lazy way and just kept them.  Our finances are not completely separate, as we share a brokerage account, but otherwise she has her accounts and I have mine.  Expenses are divided, although no clue if they're 50/50 or not.  It's way more convenient to only be responsible for yourself and your balance.  I would not want to have to check my balance everytime I used an ATM because someone else could've spent that money.  Sounds like a lot of extra work!

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #46 on: January 31, 2018, 03:36:01 PM »
One big pot since the day we married almost 20 years ago , I manage the money because I enjoy everything personal finance related and my DH just wants to know if we can do XYZ. We talk about all purchases say over $50 and having combined finances without having to calculate "splits " just seems so much easier . We view our marriage as a unit and over the years we made very different amounts . In the earlier years he was earning double then I changed industries and started to earn triple.
Having one big pot of money that is "ours" definitely made it easier.

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #47 on: January 31, 2018, 04:23:25 PM »
Completely separate, we each pay for our own things and split joint things 50/50. Neither of us has ever felt the need or desire to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the other, or be subsidized. We've has a range of incomes over the years, and never strayed from it. He's an authorized user on my credit cards, so it's one bill, but when we pay it we only pay for our own things. We really value equality in our relationship.

I track both of our finances, do taxes, and manage both of our investment accounts for simplicity, because I do it properly and he doesn't.

Are you assuming that people are subsidizing each other because they have a joint pot with varying incomes?  I curious why you'd think that would be the case.

Well, wouldn't that be the case by definition? If I buy a bunch expensive electronics or jewelry, and it comes from a joint account, would my partner not be paying for a chunk of it by definition of it being a joint account? I'm not sure how that could NOT be subsidizing.

That assumes you have different lifestyle choices. I think I agree that if you do then it would be subsidizing. My husband and I don't, so it's really just us, subsidizing our life together.

You don't have any spending that's only related to one of you? Here are some of ours: Me: Ballet classes, camping trips. Him: Electronics, video games. We pay for those on our own.

Quote
Now, a 50/50 down the middle split sounds like subsidizing to me, and in a regressive sense. It leaves the person with the lower income in the unenviable position of always being the one reducing costs, being the brake on shared expenses, and despite being the one that acts in a less spendy manner, all else being equal, the one with the lower savings rate.

We haven't experienced that. The shared expenses don't change very often (we've been in the same apartment building for about seven years now, and our grocery and travel budgets have not changed in that time either, for example), but they've always been geared to the comfort level of the lower income earner. Now that our spending is down to a third of our income, nobody's really reducing costs or putting the brakes on spending anymore.

We do it this way as well. We are cheap, we have low bills, we have a household account that we each put Ä400/month it and we pay all our joint bills from it. Our joint life is adjusted to the income of the lowest earner - although we're almost equal these days. We never argue about money, we are very open, we know what the other has in their accounts and what they spend (not much, we're both cheap). It never even occured to us to join our money. From day 1, money has never been an issue ever so I don't see why I would change it.

Also, my mother ended up absolutely broke after a divorce. She earned a lot more, my father has a massive spending problem. She left him eventually and moved into a bedsit with only a backpack of clothes, and it took her years through the court system to get a lot less than her half (because he just spent it all during the proceedings). That's never going to happen to me.

We have this system written down in a contract, but through this forum I've learned prenups aren't always valid in some places. So please get legal advice before you decide. If you're going to be responsible for the other person's financial decisions in some way, you need to be able to keep track of them. If everything you own is owned 50/50, there's no point in separating the accounts with any kind of real money in it.

Caoineag

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #48 on: January 31, 2018, 06:01:24 PM »
One pot, I manage everything but he's been kept apprised of the numbers. Started as split expenses but that proved to be more work and more expensive for a number of reasons so I just manage it as one unit now.

One thing about split expenses I don't like is that if you don't have weekly or monthly sit downs where you review together all of your accounts, its easier to hide financial problems until they blow up at a level that requires intervention. I have actually seen this happen in quite a few households. Another strike against it is that its harder to take full advantage of tax advantaged accounts, especially if one partner is a lower earner, even for a short while (we swapped who was the lower earner a lot, a joint pot allowed us to maximize that space no matter who was highest earner at the moment.)

However, that said, I think communication, the financial acumen of both parties and their personalities have a larger impact on budgeting success than shared or split income and expenses which is just the means to an end.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
« Reply #49 on: January 31, 2018, 09:44:03 PM »
He makes the money, I spend it.
Seriously, that's how we do it. He knows I'll take care of bills, he sleeps at night confident they are taken care of.
Fun money? I guess we mention to each other what we want to do, but it's never been an issue.
When it comes to money, spending, etc, we've always been of like minds. We have never had even an argument about money