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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: bluebelle on January 30, 2018, 04:06:22 PM

Title: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: bluebelle 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Lady SA 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: bluebelle 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....
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Laura33 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Sailor Sam 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: scottyah 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Jaguar Paw 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: ixtap 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: omachi 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Off the Wheel 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: zeli2033 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: remizidae 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: SwordGuy 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).
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Zikoris 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Urchina 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: MrThatsDifferent 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: katekat 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: TartanTallulah 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: PMG 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. 

Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Villanelle 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. 
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Freedomin5 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: albireo13 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

Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: boarder42 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: kaypinkHH 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+.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Raenia 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: SilveradoBojangles 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.

Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: horsepoor 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: rockstache 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: chaskavitch 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 :)
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Zikoris 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: NeonPegasus 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: omachi 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: rockstache 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: TVRodriguez 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Zikoris 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: rockstache 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: horsepoor 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: omachi 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: caracarn 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/
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: omachi 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: caracarn 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Eric 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!
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: life_travel 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Imma 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Caoineag 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.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: TheWifeHalf 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
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: mspym on February 01, 2018, 12:25:17 AM
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.

This is closest to our approach but we don't have a shared account, just bills in each of our names and occasionally we re-balance between us. We also don't split on the basis on income but expenses- he has children from a previous marriage so he covers more of the food/utilities. Maybe at some point we may end up with shared accounts but right now we both enjoy having our own investments and deciding how we want to invest.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Laura33 on February 01, 2018, 08:01:48 AM
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.

OK, this is an example of what bothers me:  I really, truly don't care how anyone manages their money -- but it bugs the shit out of me when people infer things about the health of a relationship based on how the money is managed.

People are different, relationships are different, what feels completely natural to one would be alien and forced to another.  My mom and stepdad had completely separate, 50/50 finances, and had the happiest marriage I've ever seen for almost 40 years until his death.  My SIL and BIL share everything and make even the most minute financial decision together after much discussion and analysis, and they have been happily married for almost 25 years.  Either one of those approaches would drive me and DH batshit.

But you know what's really funny?  They both think we're crazy!  My mom couldn't believe that we were pooling most of our money*; meanwhile, my SIL expressly told me that she was worried that our decision to keep $200/mo separate meant that we weren't really dedicated to each other and to the marriage. (!!!)

There is no objective "better" or "worse" that suits every relationship, because all relationships are different.  The only question is whether the system serves the needs of the people in that relationship.

*But at least she was smart enough to keep her mouth shut about it; I know only because I can read her like a book.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: rockstache on February 01, 2018, 08:22:31 AM
Laura33 with the best post of the thread per usual.

We do things jointly because it makes sense to us for our very specific situation and personalities. To each their own, absolutely.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: caracarn on February 01, 2018, 09:15:34 AM
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.

OK, this is an example of what bothers me:  I really, truly don't care how anyone manages their money -- but it bugs the shit out of me when people infer things about the health of a relationship based on how the money is managed.

People are different, relationships are different, what feels completely natural to one would be alien and forced to another.  My mom and stepdad had completely separate, 50/50 finances, and had the happiest marriage I've ever seen for almost 40 years until his death.  My SIL and BIL share everything and make even the most minute financial decision together after much discussion and analysis, and they have been happily married for almost 25 years.  Either one of those approaches would drive me and DH batshit.

But you know what's really funny?  They both think we're crazy!  My mom couldn't believe that we were pooling most of our money*; meanwhile, my SIL expressly told me that she was worried that our decision to keep $200/mo separate meant that we weren't really dedicated to each other and to the marriage. (!!!)

There is no objective "better" or "worse" that suits every relationship, because all relationships are different.  The only question is whether the system serves the needs of the people in that relationship.

*But at least she was smart enough to keep her mouth shut about it; I know only because I can read her like a book.
Laura, totally agree that what works best for one couple may not work for another and they need to figure that out.

While your SIL's comment does infer about the health, the personal examples I was talking about that my wife and I have had conversations with, are couples that did indicated to us to they were having issues in the relationship (some due to baggage from previous ones, others to worrying about things that 'could' happen etc.) and this was also driving their decision to keep finances separate as a hedge.  Certainly was never saying that split finances can infer anything, but when people share more about how they are split in other ways and the relationship is not in great shape, not inferring in those cases.   I was just sharing my wife's and my view in our relationship that marriage is joint effort across all facets, including finances.  I'd never assume anything about another relationship just from how they manage their money.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: rubybeth on February 01, 2018, 09:15:44 AM
It's all "our" money and I manage it, with big purchase decisions being a discussion (really anything over $100 is still "big" to us), and investment decisions we talk about prior but he usually agrees with me. We've been married nearly 10 years. We had separate accounts in the beginning of our marriage, but within about a year, we opened joint accounts.

I think a lot of it comes down to your values related to money, and how much you brought to the relationship in terms of debt, income, etc. Neither DH or I had high incomes when we got married. We both had debt. We mutually agreed that killing the student loan debt was a priority, and so tackled it with both of our incomes. I had more debt but then also got a much better job. I enjoy working with spreadsheets and he does not, so it's worked well for us to have me manage mostly everything.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: hops on February 01, 2018, 09:50:43 AM
Separate finances would've been a huge headache for us due to my wife's total lack of interest in money management and our massive disparities in income and debts. (She will out-earn me considerably for most of her career, but also brought significant student loan debt to the table.) Combining finances helped us both sleep easier.

It was a natural fit for us but we feel no moral superiority to anyone who does things differently. It's like separate bedrooms or stay-at-home spouses -- each couple has to do what's right for them.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Le North Dreamer on February 21, 2018, 04:03:50 PM
Hello folks, I do have a question relevant to this topic.

First, a bit of background. My dear girlfriend of 11 years now (getting married is quite optional in our beautiful Canadian province of Quebec) and I have been on the same expenses sharing system since we moved in together 10 years ago: all day to day and jointly beneficial expenses are shared 50/50 (food, gas, utilities, etc.). As we are co-owners of both a rental property and a piece of land (farm), all expenses related to these properties are also shared 50/50 (mortgage payment, repairs, etc.). We have a joint account in which we each deposit the same amount to cover all these. A joint credit card is also used, which I pay at the end of each month and for which my GF repays me her share of the common expenses and the total of her personal expenses. In summary, we split common expenses and each pay for our own personal expenses so that nobody is tied by the spending habits of the other. We are both professionals with similar paychecks. I get to put more money on the side for FIRE as I am a bit more frugal than she is, although she's quite frugal by extension as well, especially when compared to our colleagues. One of her main expense center is horseback riding: she owns a horse and will most likely own multiple at some point. The plan behind the piece of land (farm) mentioned earlier is that we will one day move there and enjoy a nice little early retirement, while having the horse(s) at home.
The farm already has a barn, but that's about it. In order to have horses there, we will need to invest a bit of money (and DIY time) in order to fix the barn, install some fences and other horseback riding equipment. Nothing big, but still enough to require certain capital investments.

Second, and sorry for the long background, here's my question to you guys: I don't know what to do with these expenses - it's not something I have an interest in and would normally fall into her personal expenses, but at the same time, if ever we would sell the farm, there would most likely be some added value tied to these "investments" (if I may use that term). Of course, my GF would want these expenses to be split 50/50, but I'm having a hard time agreeing as it would somewhat push back my FIRE date. OTOH, if I agree to share these expenses 50/50,  I don't want to be the one always trying to cut costs in things that solely pertain to her passion. And as we're talking about important expenses, I understand that she would want me to cut in... So I feel kind of stuck there, I don't know how to approach this situation.

What would you guys do with this?

Side info: we plan to spend our life together, no kids at the moment but it's in the plans.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Kyle Schuant on February 21, 2018, 04:58:51 PM
Technically all our money goes into one pot, but we have some separate pots. Basically, I take care of the small everyday stuff, and she the bigger stuff. All is recorded in a spreadsheet we both have access to.

Our incomes go straight to the offset account for our mortgage. My wife's basically stays there, except 10% which she takes out for day-to-day stuff. She'll pay the big bills from there, like council rates and car registration and so on.

Mine is split as follows,
Mortgage 40%
Utilities 10%
XP account - Personal development and business stuff 10%
Kids' savings 10%
Charity 5%
Everyday 25%

I pay the utilities ahead of time in installments, which is not financially any better than just paying them when due, but reduces stress for me - "shit, $452, that's big."

My XP account is for small purchases for my business, things like chalk or weight plates for the gym. It's also for courses I go on to further my learning.

Kids' savings is for their health and education. Technically these are free in Australia, but there are sometimes small charges like uniforms, and optical and dental aren't covered. As well they get some extra things like my son's swimming lessons. If when they finish high school there's some left, they can have it for uni or a gap year or something.

Everyday is for the groceries and fuel and if I want to buy a book or have a coffee out or whatever.

Small or ongoing expenses we tell each-other about, but don't consult on. Bigger things like when I renovated the garage gym by tearing the cupboards out, or when she went on an overseas trip, we consult each-other on and discuss a bit.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: The Fake Cheap on February 21, 2018, 06:47:13 PM
Married here.  We have separate bank accounts, but of course all money is shared.  I had most bills set up in my name before we moved in together, so most bills have just stayed coming out of my account.  I added up all our fixed expenses and we divided that about 60/40 at the time, with me paying 60%, since I made/make more money, and it's stayed this way for the last 15 years.  I should also add it helped that I enjoy reviewing the finances/bills, so in that way it made sense most bills come out of my account.  We have a joint account that makes transferring money very easy, and actually the way we do it is my wife transfers me $x out of each paycheque month, rather than 1/2 the mortgage, 1/2 utility bill etc, so just 1 transfer per paycheque, done. 

Just a note to add that each person in a relationship should review and ensure that the partner is indeed keeping everything up to date, bills/loan payments.  I'v heard more than one example of partner A saying that all the bills have been paid etc, only to take the money and blow it on who knows what, partner B never bothered to actually check the bills were being paid (and destroying their credit in the process).  Also beneficial to get a free credit statement each year to verify that your partner isn't hiding loans that could also come back to haunt you, I've seen this more than once too.   

Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: galliver on February 22, 2018, 01:05:03 AM


Of course, my GF would want these expenses to be split 50/50, but I'm having a hard time agreeing as it would somewhat push back my FIRE date. OTOH, if I agree to share these expenses 50/50,  I don't want to be the one always trying to cut costs in things that solely pertain to her passion. And as we're talking about important expenses, I understand that she would want me to cut in... So I feel kind of stuck there, I don't know how to approach this situation.

What would you guys do with this?

Side info: we plan to spend our life together, no kids at the moment but it's in the plans.

So...from a purely practical advice perspective, there's no rule that says all things must be split 50/50, 100/0, or income based. You could talk through your reasoning with her re: property value vs active enjoyment of the amenities, and discuss what sounds like a fair split to both of you. Or if you're more concerned about being a "party pooper," you could agree that any upgrades you don't both find worthwhile, she will cover the difference). You could do a mix of both, eg 60/40 split and she covers "extras".

However, from a philosophical perspective...2 things. First, a wise person once told me, life is better when you live from a position of generosity...try to contribute 60%, rather than 50%, where relationships are concerned (esp effort, but can apply to money, too). Treat the extra 10% as an expression of love*. Second, you say home planning to have kids...how will that work, financially? Because figuring out the split now if you'll just pool your money later doesn't make much sense, and kid expenses seem to be something that pushes couples to pool resources more. So, from those two perspectives, I think if you can make peace with it (vs holding resentment), I think 50/50 is the better option...

*The more boring explanation for the "aim for 60%" rule is that we people can be terrible at gauging our contributions relative to others' (overvalue our own, neglect or discount the importance of what others do), so if both aim for 60, they might actually and up doing their full 50, if that makes sense...
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Astatine on February 22, 2018, 01:34:44 AM
DH and I got married in our early 40s. I'd previously been in a LTR for 18 years and when I separated from my ex (de facto partner), family law made it abundantly clear that our relationship was very much financially based, even though we'd lived with 50/50 separate finances. I also reflected that in my 18 year de facto relationship, part of me did separate finances because I wasn't all in emotionally. (not saying this is the case for everyone who does split finances but it was very much the case for me)

So when DH and I decided to get married, I wanted to be all-in with our finances together. Individual debts were our debts. Individual assets were our assets. Bills were our bills. It was hard to start with but now it just feels natural and safe to be all-in on our finances.

That said, while his money is my money and my money is his and all financial decisions are joint decisions, we still have separate bank accounts. Because laziness and mutual dislike of paperwork. Joint accounts would require redirection and timing of a gazillion and one automatic payments (every payment and bill we have is automated, except for land rates on the house we own). We just shuffle money back and forth between accounts once a fortnight or once a month as needed (bank apps on our phones make this very quick and easy).

I'm the equivalent of a CFO in our relationship. I set the short term and long term strategies for us as a couple and set the tasks that need to happen to enact the strategies. DH pulls his weight in doing some of the financial tasks and I keep him in the loop on the long term planning. I find the short and long term planning easy and intuitive to do; he doesn't. The split of the financial work works for us.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Le North Dreamer on February 22, 2018, 06:17:20 AM


Of course, my GF would want these expenses to be split 50/50, but I'm having a hard time agreeing as it would somewhat push back my FIRE date. OTOH, if I agree to share these expenses 50/50,  I don't want to be the one always trying to cut costs in things that solely pertain to her passion. And as we're talking about important expenses, I understand that she would want me to cut in... So I feel kind of stuck there, I don't know how to approach this situation.

What would you guys do with this?

Side info: we plan to spend our life together, no kids at the moment but it's in the plans.

So...from a purely practical advice perspective, there's no rule that says all things must be split 50/50, 100/0, or income based. You could talk through your reasoning with her re: property value vs active enjoyment of the amenities, and discuss what sounds like a fair split to both of you. Or if you're more concerned about being a "party pooper," you could agree that any upgrades you don't both find worthwhile, she will cover the difference). You could do a mix of both, eg 60/40 split and she covers "extras".

However, from a philosophical perspective...2 things. First, a wise person once told me, life is better when you live from a position of generosity...try to contribute 60%, rather than 50%, where relationships are concerned (esp effort, but can apply to money, too). Treat the extra 10% as an expression of love*. Second, you say home planning to have kids...how will that work, financially? Because figuring out the split now if you'll just pool your money later doesn't make much sense, and kid expenses seem to be something that pushes couples to pool resources more. So, from those two perspectives, I think if you can make peace with it (vs holding resentment), I think 50/50 is the better option...

*The more boring explanation for the "aim for 60%" rule is that we people can be terrible at gauging our contributions relative to others' (overvalue our own, neglect or discount the importance of what others do), so if both aim for 60, they might actually and up doing their full 50, if that makes sense...

Thx for your point of view! You bring up quite a valid point with the upcoming kids. I think the easiest solution to this will be to keep our split as it makes sense based on salary (50/50 for now, might go to 100/0 when GF gives birth) and mutually agree on important expenses and upgrades.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: PoutineLover on February 22, 2018, 08:05:19 AM
This is going to be a concern for me soon, as my partner and I have decided to move in together. Up until now we've gone basically back and forth or split on expenses together, like wine or dinners out, or weekends away. He tends to pick up the bill more at restaurants but I tend to cook more for us and it ends up being pretty equal. I currently pay more for my rent (850 all in), he has a good deal in a building owned by family (500 all in), so when we live together I'll probably save and he'll pay the same if we can find a place in that range (~1000 ideally). We earn similar amounts, but he has a few thousand left of student loans that he is paying off quickly, and if all goes well it should be pretty much gone by the time we move in together. We've talked about how to split bills and whether we want to use a joint account. I don't really want to pay for his loans, but I'm fine with covering a bit more bills in the beginning so he can pay them faster and avoid interest, since I'll be saving compared to my current situation anyway. We are planning to make this a forever thing, and if all goes well we will probably buy a place together and start a family, so then everything will be shared. We'll probably both take parental leave, so at one point or another one of us will cover all our costs. I can't plan too much in advance, but I'm doing my best to make sure we're on the same page financially so there are no unexpected surprises down the road.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: caracarn on February 22, 2018, 12:28:54 PM
The differing perspectives are interesting, but of the most interest are the variations one "we had always done it that way, so we just left it".

I on the other hand always looked at it as merging of two corporations.  We opened new accounts and moved everything into them and close the other ones.  We did not run His Inc. and Her Inc.  Made the books simpler after a little work, versus avoiding a little work and keeping track of what goes where forever. 
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Sylly on February 22, 2018, 10:25:36 PM
I didn't vote, because I didn't feel any of the options applied.

DH and I have separate accounts, except for joint brokerage account. Though I guess technically our separate accounts are "ours" as they're listed as part of our trust. We both keep track of our own accounts and handle our own retirement investments.

We split the fixed expenses roughly equally. Not sure if it still is. We don't split individual expenses -- rather, he takes care of some bills, I take care of others. Because we have different cards, I buy the groceries and he pays gas and restaurants. When we first moved in together, it was close to 50/50 (our income is probably 45/55). We keep saying we should 'rebalance', but neither of us really cares all that much because ultimately, it's all "our" money.

He can buy whatever he wants whenever he wants, and same with me. Fortunately, neither of us is a big spender, or much of a shopper, really. We generally know when the other is buying something. And we always discuss 'larger' items, and by that, I mean $100 is 'large'.

I think the most important thing isn't the details of  how the finances are managed, but that both people in the relationship are on the same page.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: The Blunderbuss on February 23, 2018, 02:14:14 AM
We use the three pot system.  We each have our own accounts from which we have set up automatic payments to joint accounts to cover our mortgage payments and savings for specific joint goals.  Bills are all put on a joint credit card, which we each pay half of each month.

Everything left in our individual accounts is for us to spend/save as we wish. We each run our own savings accounts (in addition to the joint one for joint goals), which probably does complicate things a bit, but it suits us because while neither of us are particularly spendy we have very different risk tolerances and investment profiles, for example I'm currently investing into ETFs, while my husband is contributing to an investment in a forestry plantation and also tends to accumulate cash in his transaction account.

I track my own spending (including what my contributions to the joint expenses) and net worth, but he has zero interest in doing that. 

Ultimately it's not as "optimised" as if we had all of our money working MY way, but we both need to be comfortable with where we put our money, and our marriage is built on much more than just our investment philosophies :-)
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Nudelkopf on February 24, 2018, 02:37:25 PM
Just a thought for those with separate accounts that act as one big pot. My mum has been working towards making sure separate accounts have both partners/spouses names on them - even if they operate as just one person's account. All in case one of the spouses dies, that way the other spouse still has immediate legal access to it. (Of course, this all depends on the relationship.) But definitely something to keep in mind, to make that process easier if one spouse dies suddenly.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: MaybeBabyMustache on February 24, 2018, 04:33:13 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.

I'd say something like this. we both pay bills (e.g. his paycheck pays the mortgage, mine pays everything else). We both save separately for retirement & manage our own investments. There was no perfect voting option above, as we do track our finances together (on a spreadsheet) & know how much we have available as "family funds" at any given time. Also, aside from gift giving, we don't really keep fun money separate. When we bought a house, we both just dumped in all available funds. As we look at other financial goals, we will both contribute 100%. I make slightly more than my husband, but we are both high wage earners.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Imma on February 25, 2018, 02:52:19 AM
Just a thought for those with separate accounts that act as one big pot. My mum has been working towards making sure separate accounts have both partners/spouses names on them - even if they operate as just one person's account. All in case one of the spouses dies, that way the other spouse still has immediate legal access to it. (Of course, this all depends on the relationship.) But definitely something to keep in mind, to make that process easier if one spouse dies suddenly.

I've been talking to my s/o about this. I'd like him to have access to my accounts (and vice versa) in case of emergency, and I'd like that to be arranged formally. Not just in case of death, but also in case of sudden illness etc. We know each other's pincodes so we could take out some cash if necessary, but that's it. He says I shouldn't worry about things that are unlikely to happen, but I think that's a stupid argument. We have fire insurance on our house as well that we'll probably never use. I'm not sure how many more times I should bring it up: I have way more easy-to-access funds than he does. He's the one who would get in trouble if something happened to me, not the other way round. He hates thinking about these doom scenarios, I just like to be prepared.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: NorCal on February 25, 2018, 07:34:01 AM
We kept finances separate when we first got married, and it worked well for us.  We each had an individual checking account for our own spending, and transferred $X/ month into a joint account for common expenses (rent, groceries, etc).  Non-retirement investments were pooled though.

As they say, kids change everything.  This arrangement become silly once kids were in the picture, so we consolidated into one single checking account. 
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: kimmarg on February 25, 2018, 06:11:29 PM
When we first moved in together we opened a joint account and each contributed a set amount per month for fixed expenses (rent, utilities, food) and then retained our separate accounts for anything else. The system kept going for about a year after getting married. At that point we moved cross country for my job which left us needing a new bank and my spouse temporarily unemployed both of which pushed us to just merge to one account.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: aspiringnomad on February 25, 2018, 07:22:58 PM
Just a thought for those with separate accounts that act as one big pot. My mum has been working towards making sure separate accounts have both partners/spouses names on them - even if they operate as just one person's account. All in case one of the spouses dies, that way the other spouse still has immediate legal access to it. (Of course, this all depends on the relationship.) But definitely something to keep in mind, to make that process easier if one spouse dies suddenly.

I've been talking to my s/o about this. I'd like him to have access to my accounts (and vice versa) in case of emergency, and I'd like that to be arranged formally. Not just in case of death, but also in case of sudden illness etc. We know each other's pincodes so we could take out some cash if necessary, but that's it. He says I shouldn't worry about things that are unlikely to happen, but I think that's a stupid argument. We have fire insurance on our house as well that we'll probably never use. I'm not sure how many more times I should bring it up: I have way more easy-to-access funds than he does. He's the one who would get in trouble if something happened to me, not the other way round. He hates thinking about these doom scenarios, I just like to be prepared.

We keep all our finances separate except for one checking account, but we both have a durable power of attorney in place for each other. It's active, so that she can legally access all my accounts right now (even if I were to change the passwords) and vice versa, but you can set it up so that it's "springing" meaning it only becomes active in the case of your or your partner's incapacitation or death.

We set it up recently when we did our estate planning, but you don't need the full trust, will, etc. package just to do a durable power of attorney.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: Bracken_Joy on February 26, 2018, 07:24:58 AM
Just a thought for those with separate accounts that act as one big pot. My mum has been working towards making sure separate accounts have both partners/spouses names on them - even if they operate as just one person's account. All in case one of the spouses dies, that way the other spouse still has immediate legal access to it. (Of course, this all depends on the relationship.) But definitely something to keep in mind, to make that process easier if one spouse dies suddenly.

I've been talking to my s/o about this. I'd like him to have access to my accounts (and vice versa) in case of emergency, and I'd like that to be arranged formally. Not just in case of death, but also in case of sudden illness etc. We know each other's pincodes so we could take out some cash if necessary, but that's it. He says I shouldn't worry about things that are unlikely to happen, but I think that's a stupid argument. We have fire insurance on our house as well that we'll probably never use. I'm not sure how many more times I should bring it up: I have way more easy-to-access funds than he does. He's the one who would get in trouble if something happened to me, not the other way round. He hates thinking about these doom scenarios, I just like to be prepared.

We keep all our finances separate except for one checking account, but we both have a durable power of attorney in place for each other. It's active, so that she can legally access all my accounts right now (even if I were to change the passwords) and vice versa, but you can set it up so that it's "springing" meaning it only becomes active in the case of your or your partner's incapacitation or death.

We set it up recently when we did our estate planning, but you don't need the full trust, will, etc. package just to do a durable power of attorney.

It is likely different in Imma's country =) Although useful perspective for US users.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: TVRodriguez on February 26, 2018, 11:57:23 AM
Just a thought for those with separate accounts that act as one big pot. My mum has been working towards making sure separate accounts have both partners/spouses names on them - even if they operate as just one person's account. All in case one of the spouses dies, that way the other spouse still has immediate legal access to it. (Of course, this all depends on the relationship.) But definitely something to keep in mind, to make that process easier if one spouse dies suddenly.

I've been talking to my s/o about this. I'd like him to have access to my accounts (and vice versa) in case of emergency, and I'd like that to be arranged formally. Not just in case of death, but also in case of sudden illness etc. We know each other's pincodes so we could take out some cash if necessary, but that's it. He says I shouldn't worry about things that are unlikely to happen, but I think that's a stupid argument. We have fire insurance on our house as well that we'll probably never use. I'm not sure how many more times I should bring it up: I have way more easy-to-access funds than he does. He's the one who would get in trouble if something happened to me, not the other way round. He hates thinking about these doom scenarios, I just like to be prepared.

We keep all our finances separate except for one checking account, but we both have a durable power of attorney in place for each other. It's active, so that she can legally access all my accounts right now (even if I were to change the passwords) and vice versa, but you can set it up so that it's "springing" meaning it only becomes active in the case of your or your partner's incapacitation or death.

We set it up recently when we did our estate planning, but you don't need the full trust, will, etc. package just to do a durable power of attorney.

Please be aware that not all U.S. states allow springing powers anymore.  In my state, the law changed in 2011, and all durable powers of attorney are effective immediately upon signing.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: aspiringnomad on February 26, 2018, 03:46:29 PM
Thanks to the previous two posters for clarifying/pointing out both of those things - hadnít realized either.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: JuicyCrab on March 03, 2018, 06:47:01 PM
We kept finances separate when we first got married, and it worked well for us.  We each had an individual checking account for our own spending, and transferred $X/ month into a joint account for common expenses (rent, groceries, etc).  Non-retirement investments were pooled though.

As they say, kids change everything.  This arrangement become silly once kids were in the picture, so we consolidated into one single checking account.

Amen to kids changing everything....

Myself and DW recently had a child with separate accounts, but after her getting into cashflow problems we finally merged.

It hasn't been smooth; as I'm very mustacheistic and she is very consumeristic. What advice could you pass along to help us with this transition? The biggest challenge we are facing is the way money is saved/spent as we have different values for things we want out of life currently (I'm wanting to save for FI, she wants to spend on cosmetics and fitness related expenses).

Kids do change everything.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: galliver on March 03, 2018, 07:17:42 PM
We kept finances separate when we first got married, and it worked well for us.  We each had an individual checking account for our own spending, and transferred $X/ month into a joint account for common expenses (rent, groceries, etc).  Non-retirement investments were pooled though.

As they say, kids change everything.  This arrangement become silly once kids were in the picture, so we consolidated into one single checking account.

Amen to kids changing everything....

Myself and DW recently had a child with separate accounts, but after her getting into cashflow we finally merged.

It hasn't been smooth; as I'm very mustacheistic and she is very consumeristic. What advice could you pass along to help us with this transition? The biggest challenge we are facing is the way money is saved/spent as we have different values for things we want out of life currently (I'm wanting to save for FI, she wants to spend on cosmetics and fitness related expenses).

Kids do change everything.

First, recognize that both your feelings about wanting to reach financial independence and the security it entails, and her feelings about wanting to live up to a certain beauty standard are valid. We women are under a lot of pressure in the appearances department; admittedly some take it to heart more than others, but even I use more makeup than my bf (although I don't enjoy it or have fun with it; I just wear it for interviews, weddings, and the like). Appreciate the fact that she wants to stay beautiful and healthy for you, after having a baby (that's more re: fitness).

With that in mind, compromise and budget, possibly with his/hers/ours buckets or "allowances" (some people feel that word is juvenile but it's been applied to a lot more than just kids' pocket money...). You may have to back off your savings goals (you don't give a lot of info, but let's just guess 50% to 30% or something). She may have to keep her cosmetics/fitness expenses within certain bounds you both agree to. Maybe you get some of your own fun money; not that you *have* to spend it, but if it adds up to a sports car when you have a midlife crisis in 20 years, perhaps it will keep the peace to know it was exactly equal to her personal expenses over the years?

Talk. Discuss. Pitch your views as security for your family and freedom from the stress involved in being tied to a job; also recognize her feelings as valid and her needs/wants as deserving fulfillment, and whatever arrangement you come up with as maximizing the fulfillment of *both* your needs/wants/feelings.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: StiffUpperLip on March 04, 2018, 04:32:00 AM
We have joint finances overall and our own accounts into which our 'allowances' get paid. I manage all things money related, bar small individual purchases, because I have the interest and he's aware of his spendy-ness and feels it's best if we decide mutual goals upfront then I work out the roadmap to get us there.

I earn over double what DH brings in but this has never been a factor and we get the same allowance, I never manage to spend all of mine at any rate...

We've been together for over 14 years and have had this system since before we were married. We have two small children with childcare being a major joint cost at the moment.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: NorCal on March 04, 2018, 10:51:28 AM
We kept finances separate when we first got married, and it worked well for us.  We each had an individual checking account for our own spending, and transferred $X/ month into a joint account for common expenses (rent, groceries, etc).  Non-retirement investments were pooled though.

As they say, kids change everything.  This arrangement become silly once kids were in the picture, so we consolidated into one single checking account.

Amen to kids changing everything....

Myself and DW recently had a child with separate accounts, but after her getting into cashflow problems we finally merged.

It hasn't been smooth; as I'm very mustacheistic and she is very consumeristic. What advice could you pass along to help us with this transition? The biggest challenge we are facing is the way money is saved/spent as we have different values for things we want out of life currently (I'm wanting to save for FI, she wants to spend on cosmetics and fitness related expenses).

Kids do change everything.

We've had similar issues in the past, but are on a similar page now.  The key to working through it is coming to a shared understanding of what your long term priorities are.  FI is important, but HOW important?  Coming to a shared understanding on this is critical.

In my case, I would have been comfortable with FI at a paid-off house, and $35K in annual spend.  After considering my wife's priorities, we're closer to $55K.  In the end, she's still on-board with the end goal, but I have to be comfortable that the goal line is much further away.
Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: mbl on March 05, 2018, 01:00:14 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.

Gonna chime in here as a 33 year married couple....we split everything and shared expenses are 50/50 and go into a joint account.  All else is spent as each sees fit.
That also applies to how much we save/invest.

I'm also a horse owner and God help me I only have one  :).   
DH has not even a remote interest and I don't share his love for the many things he does.
That being said, horse ownership and riding are a lifestyle more than anything else.
And, just like taking care of children, have many care and health related costs....(horsepoor....I'm really not trying to make you cry here..:) )
And sometimes unexpected costs like injury, illness and good old colic...which usually occurs in the evening so everyone can be up all night...lots of fun can kick the costs up to the thousands for one incident.
I'm not even going to include equipment and other tack.

I wouldn't ever expect DH to contribute to this or any number of other things that are only interesting to me.
To say that our marriage is somehow questionable because we don't throw everything into one pot is silly.
We know what works for us based on our personalities and independent natures.
It worked when our kids were young and now it's been in place so long that there are even fewer debates on fiscal issues.

Title: Re: couples - shared expenses/income or split expenses
Post by: BTDretire on March 05, 2018, 02:17:19 PM
I choose, "it's all one big pot - I manage bills and investments, partner doesn't want to know or isn't interested"

 My wife pretty much set a frugul spending mentality when first married (37yrs), I adopted to it quickly and now I'm
more frugul than here. My wife has no interest in the investments although I try to let here know what's going on.
  I have kept her updated on our NW progress, but she showed no interest.
 At the end of 2017, I printed a note with our NW 3 months previous, the amount our NW increased in 3 months, and
our total NW. I did a reveal of each number and then last was our total NW, we went over $2M.
 I got a half hearted fist shake out of her.  :-)
She continues to work 70 hours a week, me, about 15. I only do that to give her a day off.