Author Topic: How do married couples handle finances here?  (Read 3495 times)

AlotToLearn

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 113
How do married couples handle finances here?
« on: April 28, 2019, 11:08:51 AM »
As the title states I am curious as to how married couple's on this forum handle their finances?
 
My oldest sister and her husband have been married for nearly four years and just purchased their first home together. They split things down the middle regarding monthly household bills, however still run separate bank accounts, credit cards, etc. While I am not married (yet), my girlfriend and I have agreed that when we get married, we will combine all assets and liabilities (debt) as one.

I know some may enter marriage having accumulated more wealth than their spouse, however I am sure views here may differ from mine.

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1996
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2019, 11:17:39 AM »
I love this topic, but do be aware that it comes up seemingly once a week on the forums and that there are a couple of clearly defined positions. Try googling MMM Forum Married Finances. Lots of threads will come up.

Here are the patterns that I have noticed:

1. The majority of married forum-ites pool their finances and feel strongly about doing so. This is what my husband and I do and I absolutely would not have it any other way.

Some couples in this camp also keep separate spending money that is theirs to decide what to do with. This is supposed to be a way of circumventing some of the downsides of totally pooled money (these downsides all basically boil down to a loss of freedom--sometimes somebody just wants to get a pedicure/electronic gadget/fancy candle or what have you without the spouse saying anything about it).

2. A significant minority of married/cohabiting forum-ites do variations on splitting money and keeping separate accounts. This is usually done when couples:

a. Might have very different savings goals/spending habits, and are driving each other crazy with a pooled resources model
b. Have politically/socially progressive views of how money should be very egalitarian in marriage
c. Serious trust issues due to some kind of financial infidelity
d. Just established these habits when cohabitating and never took the time to change them when married

Most people in the two camps feel fairly passionate about their way of doing things. Whatever works for you, I suppose.


Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 11:40:52 AM »
I have absolutely no opinion about how couples should arrange their accounts, but I have tremendously strong opinions that they should discuss finances in deep and profound detail in the process of arranging those accounts and determining responsibilities.

I don't think keeping accounts "separate" can compensate for a lack of financial discourse, which some people seem to believe.

Our accounts are all completely separate, but that has absolutely no impact on how pooled our resources are.

Meaning, we came together as two fully formed professional and financial entities with preexisting accounts that we saw no need to alter. DH already owned the house, so he just continues to pay for everything for the house from his accounts. I own the car, I pay for the car from my accounts.
Simple.

However, all spending decisions are shared, all resources are shared, all debt is shared. Conceptually, we're combined, but accounting-wise, we're completely separate, although we both have full access to all of each other's accounts and move money around as necessary.

We also talk about finances daily, so there are never any conflicts or surprises. It's just part of the ongoing conversation of our day to day lives.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10982
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2019, 11:46:32 AM »
I have absolutely no opinion about how couples should arrange their accounts, but I have tremendously strong opinions that they should discuss finances in deep and profound detail in the process of arranging those accounts and determining responsibilities.


this is my feeling as well.  Just as no two marriages are the same, it seems silly to assume that one strategy will work for all couples.  I've seen successful marriages with completely segregated finances, and ones with everything completely blended and shared.

The only common thread I see among financially-related fights is that the couple typically a) have not communicated about money and/or b) aren't working towards the same financial goals.

Allie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1804
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 11:52:17 AM »
@englishteacheralex is right, everyone has an opinion but everyone’s relationship is different and you have to do what works for you.  My husband and I have always had completely commingled finances, single joint account, shared ccs (except for churning purposes) and I helped with all of his debts and student loans when we married.  I make all of the money decisions, pay the bills, and manage the accounts, mostly because I’m now a stay at home and household management, investment planning, learning tax stuff, etc. is something I have time for while DH is usually busy with work.  We used to discuss stuff, then I’d just let him know my plans in case he had thoughts, then I would tell him after the fact, now I just keep mint updated and he can check if he wants to.

It works for us, but I know that some here would have a little stroke at the idea of helping pay off 6 figures of debt for a new spouse or not knowing how much is being spent on x or is in what account.  But, I read some of the stories here about how other couples manage their funds and some of the things they do would drive me insane...having a spouse who had their own account and would just go out and buy lots of things, omg. 

To each their own!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 11:57:34 AM by Allie »

MrUpwardlyMobile

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
    • The Upwardly Mobile Life
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2019, 12:01:35 PM »
Our savings account is joint. The checking accounts are separate. The credit cards are separate.
We agree on savings goals and contribute automatically to the joint account. The expenses come from our checking accounts. We split them up in a way that I would describe as convenien. She pays her mortgage and our life insurance. I pay every other major expense. We pay random day to day stuff from our checking accounts and cards.

We have the benefits of finances being joint with none of the weird second guessing on random day to days purchases that you hear couples fight over.  No real benefits to being more merged than that.

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2019, 12:39:49 PM »
It works for us, but I know that some here would have a little stroke at the idea of helping pay off 6 figures of debt for a new spouse or not knowing how much is being spent on x or is in what account.  But, I read some of the stories here about how other couples manage their funds and some of the things they do would drive me insane...having a spouse who had their own account and would just go out and buy lots of things, omg. 

To each their own!

As the spouse with the mortgage sized student debt, I totally relate to this.

SotI

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2019, 01:55:32 PM »
I reckon our case is unusual, but there is a clear aggreement that we keep our finances separate. Still, I am in charge of all of them (his, mine and household). 

The reason being that all sorts of financial and administrative tasks (bills, dealing with health indurance etc)  are major stressors for DH and trigger anxiety and depression. For me, it's easy, low effort to keep on top if things.

He accepts it as part of my role as financial household manager that actually eases his stress and mental sanity. He basically never touches his account, I make sure his (few) bills are paid on time. He only uses a planned monthly cash allowance for day to day stuff.

ixtap

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1514
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2019, 02:08:35 PM »
Our savings account is joint. The checking accounts are separate. The credit cards are separate.


Our checking account is joint, our savings and brokerage accounts are separate. We have two shared CCs and one individual one each.

Net worth and savings goals are all calculated jointly. Day to day spending, neither of us will question the other having a meal out, but then I couldn't tell you the last time either of us spent money that wasn't for food or health.  Probably my last trip to the fabric store in March? I tried to spend $5 on the boat last week, but the product I wanted had been discontinued.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5771
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2019, 02:17:22 PM »
What I have seen is that the younger people marry the more they keep their money together. SEcond or third marriages often do not. Suze Orman suggests that people pay according to their income and not 50/50. This is fairer to the lower earning spouse.  We could not have retired if we didn't combine our money.

FireHiker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1128
  • Location: So Cal
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2019, 02:51:47 PM »
What I have seen is that the younger people marry the more they keep their money together. SEcond or third marriages often do not. Suze Orman suggests that people pay according to their income and not 50/50. This is fairer to the lower earning spouse.  We could not have retired if we didn't combine our money.

That's interesting. The one good friend of mine who married super young (as has been married for close to 20 years) keeps entirely separate finances from her (higher earning but spendier) husband. I am on my second marriage and we were 29 and 40 when we married, but we keep everything entirely joint. I do all of the tracking and we discuss major purchases, but we abandoned separate accounts a couple years into our marriage (will be 11 years in a few months). It's easier to see the big picture with everything combined, and we're on the same page with our goals so it just didn't make sense to over complicate things. I couldn't care less how someone else chooses to handle things in their marriage, so I think each couple should do what works for them.

seemsright

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2019, 03:04:24 PM »
Hubby and I have everything together hell our money was tangled in High School.

Here is a story of what can go wrong very wrong when you keep everything separate.

FIL had a massive heart attack/stroke back in Dec. Hubby and I have been brought in to help with everything from helping find contractors to finish their dream house to help deal with the bills...He is still in a rehab nursing home.
Him and his wife kept EVERYTHING separate. This is causing MAJOR issues now. Her name is on nothing and they never gave her power of attorney. Everything she does is taking 10x longer than it should and at times she cannot do what she needs to do. Now we have to help bring in a Lawyer because he cannot sign anything as he cannot physically sign anything. It is a complete mess.

I am sure there is a happy medium to how people do their money. Money is one thing and both names on things is another. After dealing with my Inlaws I think both partners must have their names on all bills...because it is a PITA to have to call the trash company and they wont do anything for you because it is not your service.

CindyBS

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 451
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2019, 04:11:48 PM »
Hubby and I have everything together hell our money was tangled in High School.

Here is a story of what can go wrong very wrong when you keep everything separate.

FIL had a massive heart attack/stroke back in Dec. Hubby and I have been brought in to help with everything from helping find contractors to finish their dream house to help deal with the bills...He is still in a rehab nursing home.
Him and his wife kept EVERYTHING separate. This is causing MAJOR issues now. Her name is on nothing and they never gave her power of attorney. Everything she does is taking 10x longer than it should and at times she cannot do what she needs to do. Now we have to help bring in a Lawyer because he cannot sign anything as he cannot physically sign anything. It is a complete mess.

I am sure there is a happy medium to how people do their money. Money is one thing and both names on things is another. After dealing with my Inlaws I think both partners must have their names on all bills...because it is a PITA to have to call the trash company and they wont do anything for you because it is not your service.

To me this issue is not nearly discussed enough.  Too many people do not realize how common it is to have a tragedy in your life.  I have a friend right now whose husband had a brain aneurysm fairly young and is now basically severely brain damaged but not quite in a persistent vegetative state.  He can hardly make intelligible speech, much less sign forms to sell the house, or call a bank.

Imagine at the worst time of your life not being able to access accounts because your spouse, who is totally incapacitated, never combined finances with you.  You also most likely would have to take some sort of leave from work, possibly unpaid, as well - at the exact time.   What a nightmare at best, and a recipe for financial disaster at worst. 

My DH and I are totally combined financially including power of attorney and living wills.

Good Luck seemsright

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10982
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2019, 04:27:57 PM »
What I have seen is that the younger people marry the more they keep their money together. SEcond or third marriages often do not. Suze Orman suggests that people pay according to their income and not 50/50. This is fairer to the lower earning spouse.  We could not have retired if we didn't combine our money.
Generally speaking, I don't recommend following Suze Orman's advice.  Paying "according to your income" may work for some, but doesn't make any sense for couples that completely merge their finances, or that use one spouse's income to pay all the non-discretionary expenses and the second for saving and 'everything else'.

remizidae

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 218
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2019, 04:42:37 PM »
I agree with @englishteacheralex--there are different ways to do it that work for different people. People can be really hateful about married couples with separate finances, but I've never understood why.

In making this decision, think about:  how much control are you comfortable letting your spouse have over your financial decision-making? Do you want to discuss every purchase either of you makes, or every large purchase, or do you want some freedom to act independently?

The only universal advice I would give is to be prepared for disaster. This includes the disaster of a sudden death or serious illness (you don't have to combine finances to be prepared for this--you can simply share info and prepare a power of attorney). It ALSO includes your partner turning out less reliable than you had thought. Every adult should have a savings account and credit card that is in her name alone, so that if she needs to leave a relationship suddenly, or gets left, she'll be able to pay the bills. Even if you combine 95% of your money, have a few thousand that only you can access.

AccidentialMustache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 242
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2019, 05:30:57 PM »
Its worth separating the discussion between logical and physical separated finances. DW and I ran physically separate, logically combined finances for 5-10 years, just because we never quite got around to setting up a joint account. If someone was low on money in an account and the other wasn't, we'd write each other a check (usually me to her). We did eventually rectify that and also have the taxable investments (largely) set to be a joint account.

+100 to the important thing being to talk about it before hand. That's not limited to the topic of financials in marriage though.

Buffalo Chip

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
  • Location: Tidewater Virginia
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2019, 05:47:35 PM »
DW and I are a mix. CCs with the exception of one are separate. The memory of my mom not being to be able to get credit as a divorcee as no accounts were in her name prior to the divorce prompted different action on my part; DW has her own credit just in case. Otherwise, one budget with small fun money allowances that the other doesnít get to ask about.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5771
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2019, 06:16:16 PM »
Neuro, itís a third marriage and their finances arenít merged at all except that they own the house together. Itís works great for them.

middo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 797
  • Location: Country Western Australia
  • Learning.
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2019, 06:20:07 PM »
My wife and I met before either of us had any significant assets, and since we met at University, before we had any significant debts too.  We mixed our finances and expenses from before we got married, but when we got married we made sure we had joint accounts for everything.  All out money goes into a joint account, and from there we decide what to do with it. 

We discuss any major purchases before they happen, and since I track our expenses, we discuss all minor ones after the event as well.  There is no judgement here though.  For example, if she buys a coffee out because she needs one today, then OK.  If it starts to become a habit, we will discuss whether she should take one from home in a keep-cup.  If I buy a packet of nails from the hardware, then again OK.  if I start regularly shopping there, then again, is it necessary?  We both have our failings with money, but are open about it. 

Keeping the conversation about money going seems to me to be as important as sharing any other part of our lives.

Brother Esau

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 495
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2019, 06:35:12 PM »
My wife and I met before either of us had any significant assets, and since we met at University, before we had any significant debts too.  We mixed our finances and expenses from before we got married, but when we got married we made sure we had joint accounts for everything.  All out money goes into a joint account, and from there we decide what to do with it. 

We discuss any major purchases before they happen, and since I track our expenses, we discuss all minor ones after the event as well.  There is no judgement here though.  For example, if she buys a coffee out because she needs one today, then OK.  If it starts to become a habit, we will discuss whether she should take one from home in a keep-cup.  If I buy a packet of nails from the hardware, then again OK.  if I start regularly shopping there, then again, is it necessary?  We both have our failings with money, but are open about it. 

Keeping the conversation about money going seems to me to be as important as sharing any other part of our lives.

same with us. we have both individual and joint accounts. always sharing what's going on with all of them with each other
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 05:40:45 AM by Brother Esau »

mavendrill

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 60
  • Location: Columbia SC
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2019, 06:58:21 PM »
Not sure this is much different but:
I'm a decent amount older, and was much more established when b we got married.  My net assets weren't much, but just out of school she was significantly in the negative.  She also had never really ran her own finances, and I obviously had.

We joined all our accounts immediately.  It's Worked.  Particularly because she moved 2000 miles when we got married, it took her a year to get really good work from local contacts.  Then we had our first kid and my work was able to go flex time / evening hours, so I did that with a big pay cut while she worked full time.  After kid 2, she wanted to stay home and do I took an 80hr/wk position.  So we have gone from me making 90% of our income to 50/50 to her making 75% to 50/50, to me making 90%, and then down to where now I make about 66% of our income.  Joint finances helps.  We talk about being a team, and setting our team goals, and making sure that both individually and together our money is making us happy.  We are very happy with this.  Also, we both do lots of contract work, so we like not having individualized contributions.  One danger we realized it's if my income growing increased my bill %, it gives me incentives to not sell out gigs as hard and free-ride (obviously same with her).  Being fully integrated makes it easier to take on extra tasks (not always easy - we both tend to want new toys to "help get gigs").

Logistically, I control our finances, our accounting, our bills, our taxes.  I generally try to balance our retirement accounts so they are somewhat similar balance wise.  She picks her investment choicesb(she says do what you do, but I make sure she chooses), I pick mine.  Mostly this is because she dislikes finances, and I get great joy out of doing it.

We always talk before buying anything besides groceries, gas, or emergencies (having a friend who is sad and wants to go out counts as this), and always frame it in encouragement/discouragement ( I want you to buy that new kit, it will help and is well priced; I don't think you should join the happy hour, they go 4x a week it's extensive and there's nothing to celebrate).  So we each get to feel like we make whatever choices we want, and we both mutually shame a bit, but we also feel quite autonomous and committed to the team.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5771
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2019, 08:11:39 PM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

One

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 222
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2019, 09:30:03 PM »
When we started out we both worked and everything was separate. After my wife had our son she stayed at home. My wife sends me a list of the bills and what we spent and then I transfer the money into her account. We try to spend everything on our joint credit cards.  The house is under both our names but the cars are under our names individually.  I think having her give me the total number we spent at the end of every month is a good way to force both of us to look at the numbers.  We also use a budgeting app. Weíve been married for 20 years and donít argue about money.

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1551
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2019, 09:46:33 PM »
Iím about to divorce so my advice might not be helpful, but we kept everything separate except a joint account to manage joint bills, which we split 50/59, even though I made more. As weíre divorcing, this has actually worked out perfectly for us and made it simpler to manage. It didnít really cause issues in the marriage except when it came to FIRE. I got enamoured by FIRE and set up my accounts to reflect, but couldnít get my SO to do the same. Now of course, the bigger issue was we werenít on the same page with it. So, my thinking is that you and your partner have to be aligned or comfortable not being aligned. I donít know how one partner FIREs while the other works, actually is sustainable? So communication and values are key. Otherwise Iíd definitely do yours, mine and ours in my next relationship.

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2038
  • Location: Europe
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2019, 10:16:36 PM »
Hubby and I have everything together hell our money was tangled in High School.

Here is a story of what can go wrong very wrong when you keep everything separate.

FIL had a massive heart attack/stroke back in Dec. Hubby and I have been brought in to help with everything from helping find contractors to finish their dream house to help deal with the bills...He is still in a rehab nursing home.
Him and his wife kept EVERYTHING separate. This is causing MAJOR issues now. Her name is on nothing and they never gave her power of attorney. Everything she does is taking 10x longer than it should and at times she cannot do what she needs to do. Now we have to help bring in a Lawyer because he cannot sign anything as he cannot physically sign anything. It is a complete mess.

I am sure there is a happy medium to how people do their money. Money is one thing and both names on things is another. After dealing with my Inlaws I think both partners must have their names on all bills...because it is a PITA to have to call the trash company and they wont do anything for you because it is not your service.

To me this issue is not nearly discussed enough.  Too many people do not realize how common it is to have a tragedy in your life.  I have a friend right now whose husband had a brain aneurysm fairly young and is now basically severely brain damaged but not quite in a persistent vegetative state.  He can hardly make intelligible speech, much less sign forms to sell the house, or call a bank.

Imagine at the worst time of your life not being able to access accounts because your spouse, who is totally incapacitated, never combined finances with you.  You also most likely would have to take some sort of leave from work, possibly unpaid, as well - at the exact time.   What a nightmare at best, and a recipe for financial disaster at worst. 

My DH and I are totally combined financially including power of attorney and living wills.

Good Luck seemsright

Having combined finances is a completely separate thing from not having your paperwork in order in case something happens. That's something you've got to do regardless. We have completely separate finances but whatever benefits us jointly, we pay and own jointly (like the house) and we've also arranged all the paperwork in case something happens to one of us.

Whatever you do, make sure that what you do is in line with the legal contract you put into place by getting married. Check what your state/country laws and/or pre-nup says with regards to joint property and live by that. You can still have your own bank accounts for logistical reasons but for example in my country, if you don't have a pre-nup, all accounts are joint property anyway. It's important to know those details.

In our case we've chosen for no automatic joint property, the only property that is that which we've paid for 50/50 (from our joint account that we both put money in). In our day-to-day life our life isn't that different from those who've combined finances - when he treats me to an ice cream I don't pay him back, the person who goes grocery shopping pays - but when it comes to important expenses like the mortgage and property tax we'll always pay that 50/50.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2019, 05:14:52 AM »
100% combined since we moved together after college. Added each other to the accounts we had before marriage.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10982
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2019, 05:15:47 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2019, 05:43:06 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

Yup.

We are 100% transparent about all spending, it's just part of our normal discourse. We don't have a budget and we don't police each other's spending, so there's no pressure involved, but we do mention all discretionary spending, even if it's just a coffee.

It's not like it's a regimented or controlling rule, it's just our natural pattern that we got into from talking daily about money.

I'm sure a lot of couples benefit from having independent "fun money", but I agree that you can't generalize that as a need for all couples.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10982
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2019, 06:54:24 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

Yup.

We are 100% transparent about all spending, it's just part of our normal discourse. We don't have a budget and we don't police each other's spending, so there's no pressure involved, but we do mention all discretionary spending, even if it's just a coffee.

It's not like it's a regimented or controlling rule, it's just our natural pattern that we got into from talking daily about money.

I'm sure a lot of couples benefit from having independent "fun money", but I agree that you can't generalize that as a need for all couples.

Sounds a lot like us.  We can see each other's spending online and we've talked through what are short, medium and long-term financial goals are.  We've never limited what the other can spend on but we share what we'e spent our money on periodically. Ironically we are both more controlling of our own spending and open to our partner spending more on 'personal' things.

FWIW we each have IRA and 401(k) accounts in our own name and a living will drafted with power of attorney. We also each have credit cards in our own name but these are paid from our joint checking account and we've both got access online. At various times we've each been the primary 'breadwinner' and we have gone through periods when we are both earning roughly the same amount.

Enigma

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 485
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Clarksville, TN
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2019, 07:51:57 AM »
First my parents have always stressed combining accounts.  It didnt work out well for me when I got my divorce 12 years ago.  Luckily I didnt have much and it was easy to walk away.  Two friends of mine are currently going through divorces.  Neither has a good feeling for where their finances will be in the near future.

One that lives nearby is in the middle of a heated, nasty divorce.  She is contesting the divorce and is demanding everything she can get.  Both are 6-figure income earners and there is a 10 year old daughter stuck in the middle.  It has become more bloody and time-consuming as any war with the lawyers making more and more money the couple dispute.

The other friend with two young sons is underwater with new car, used truck (terrible refinance scheme) owe like 45k and it is worth like 20k, new boat, new house, new tractor, and maxed out credit cards.  New stuff tends to be a solution when the marriage is going downhill.  Still pays the mother around 2k per month.  Both take care of the kids evenly.  Now is looking at bankruptcy as he is underwater with just about every debt he has.

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2019, 08:21:15 AM »
First my parents have always stressed combining accounts.  It didnt work out well for me when I got my divorce 12 years ago.  Luckily I didnt have much and it was easy to walk away.  Two friends of mine are currently going through divorces.  Neither has a good feeling for where their finances will be in the near future.

One that lives nearby is in the middle of a heated, nasty divorce.  She is contesting the divorce and is demanding everything she can get.  Both are 6-figure income earners and there is a 10 year old daughter stuck in the middle.  It has become more bloody and time-consuming as any war with the lawyers making more and more money the couple dispute.

The other friend with two young sons is underwater with new car, used truck (terrible refinance scheme) owe like 45k and it is worth like 20k, new boat, new house, new tractor, and maxed out credit cards.  New stuff tends to be a solution when the marriage is going downhill.  Still pays the mother around 2k per month.  Both take care of the kids evenly.  Now is looking at bankruptcy as he is underwater with just about every debt he has.

I don't know about the divorce laws where you are, but having separate accounts vs joint accounts does absolutely nothing here to affect the outcomes of how money is separated in a divorce unless those separate accounts are accompanied by a reasonable/enforceable prenup.

Just because the money is in your account during the marriage doesn't mean you are entitled to it in a divorce.

davisgang90

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1266
  • Location: Roanoke, VA
    • Photography by Rich Davis
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2019, 08:34:33 AM »
My spouse of 28 years and I have always pooled our assets.

We each get an "allowance" each month that we can spend however we want.  Otherwise, we discuss all purchases beyond groceries and toiletries.

This has worked well for us.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2019, 08:37:08 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

All our money is fun money. It's fun to have our mortgage paid!

All our money is joint. But we don't ask permission to make purchases for ourselves. We just consider the other person's perspective.  Would it annoy me if my husband went and bought a car without telling me- absolutely. But he also wouldn't do it.  I might buy fabric without "asking permission", but I'm not buying a new sewing machine without letting him know.

Enigma

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 485
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Clarksville, TN
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2019, 08:44:08 AM »
I don't know about the divorce laws where you are, but having separate accounts vs joint accounts does absolutely nothing here to affect the outcomes of how money is separated in a divorce unless those separate accounts are accompanied by a reasonable/enforceable prenup.
Just because the money is in your account during the marriage doesn't mean you are entitled to it in a divorce.
Separate accounts are easier during uncontested divorces and a judge to divide the assets/accounts.

Prenup & separate financial accounts is a good way for young married couples to handle their finances.  God forbid, I would hope it would never come to a divorce.  Both should still be on the same page with purchases and goals in life.

ixtap

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1514
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2019, 08:53:21 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

All our money is fun money. It's fun to have our mortgage paid!

All our money is joint. But we don't ask permission to make purchases for ourselves. We just consider the other person's perspective.  Would it annoy me if my husband went and bought a car without telling me- absolutely. But he also wouldn't do it.  I might buy fabric without "asking permission", but I'm not buying a new sewing machine without letting him know.

I bought a non returnable therapy ball for $150, for both of us to use and stressed for days over buying it without consulting. Turns out he loves it and has already saved more than the cost by not going to acupuncture since we got it. He gets instant relief instead of waiting for an appointment!

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2038
  • Location: Europe
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2019, 09:06:36 AM »
First my parents have always stressed combining accounts.  It didnt work out well for me when I got my divorce 12 years ago.  Luckily I didnt have much and it was easy to walk away.  Two friends of mine are currently going through divorces.  Neither has a good feeling for where their finances will be in the near future.

One that lives nearby is in the middle of a heated, nasty divorce.  She is contesting the divorce and is demanding everything she can get.  Both are 6-figure income earners and there is a 10 year old daughter stuck in the middle.  It has become more bloody and time-consuming as any war with the lawyers making more and more money the couple dispute.

The other friend with two young sons is underwater with new car, used truck (terrible refinance scheme) owe like 45k and it is worth like 20k, new boat, new house, new tractor, and maxed out credit cards.  New stuff tends to be a solution when the marriage is going downhill.  Still pays the mother around 2k per month.  Both take care of the kids evenly.  Now is looking at bankruptcy as he is underwater with just about every debt he has.

I don't know about the divorce laws where you are, but having separate accounts vs joint accounts does absolutely nothing here to affect the outcomes of how money is separated in a divorce unless those separate accounts are accompanied by a reasonable/enforceable prenup.

Just because the money is in your account during the marriage doesn't mean you are entitled to it in a divorce.

I'm not the person you're responding to, but when people say 'we have separate finances' doesn't that imply a prenuptial agreement?

I'm from continental Europe so I'm not super familiar with divorce/marriage in a common law system except that I know it's pretty different from what we have here. It happens quite often that people have a prenup but decide to ignore or mostly ignore the terms of the prenup during their marriage by combining or mostly combining finances during the marriage, which voids the agreement in case of divorce. ( I can't stress enough how important it is to act on your pre-nup: you put it in place for a reason, if you don't act upon it it's not going to protect you in case of divorce or bankruptcy). But having separate finances when you're married, other than a little bit of spending money, without having some sort of prenup I think is quite rare over here. Most people seem to switch over to joint accounts pretty quickly after moving in together.

I'm not exactly sure how common prenuptial agreements are over there though. I know for example that in some US states prenuptial agreements are sometimes ignored by the court, I can imagine that in that case people might think writing a prenup is pointless. We are not married, but we have another form of legal partnership and have not just separate finances, but also a prenuptial agreement. If we were to have a contested separation, the judge would have to interpret that document to make a decision about the issue at hand,  they wouldn't be able to throw the whole pre-nup out. 

I do agree with you that talking about money is most important, no matter how you organise your finances. We don't mention 100% of our discretionary spending, but probably 90% of it and even though we have separate accounts, we both know how much the other has saved/invested, what their own goals and our shared financial goals are, what the balance of our student loans is etc. Both sets of parents had combined accounts, both went through a nasty divorce where spending habits were an issue, I think we talk more about money in an average week than our parents did in a year.

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2019, 09:11:35 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

All our money is fun money. It's fun to have our mortgage paid!

All our money is joint. But we don't ask permission to make purchases for ourselves. We just consider the other person's perspective.  Would it annoy me if my husband went and bought a car without telling me- absolutely. But he also wouldn't do it.  I might buy fabric without "asking permission", but I'm not buying a new sewing machine without letting him know.

I think it's also important to distinguish between asking permission to spend and disclosing all spending.

I'm at the hospital and have to be here much longer than I expected, so I bought an overpriced soup. I would never imagine asking permission to spend money on lunch, but the first thing I did when I sat down was take a photo of my teeny tiny $6 soup and text it to DH.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2019, 09:27:29 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

All our money is fun money. It's fun to have our mortgage paid!

All our money is joint. But we don't ask permission to make purchases for ourselves. We just consider the other person's perspective.  Would it annoy me if my husband went and bought a car without telling me- absolutely. But he also wouldn't do it.  I might buy fabric without "asking permission", but I'm not buying a new sewing machine without letting him know.

I think it's also important to distinguish between asking permission to spend and disclosing all spending.

I'm at the hospital and have to be here much longer than I expected, so I bought an overpriced soup. I would never imagine asking permission to spend money on lunch, but the first thing I did when I sat down was take a photo of my teeny tiny $6 soup and text it to DH.

You're way more formal than me. I don't think I'd even "disclose" $6 on something like "had to eat" vs. "I saw this cool new shirt, so I bought it". Though if he was going over the credit cards for fraud (we do that every 2 weeks) he might say "did you spend $6 at the hospital?"  "Yep".

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2019, 09:33:00 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

All our money is fun money. It's fun to have our mortgage paid!

All our money is joint. But we don't ask permission to make purchases for ourselves. We just consider the other person's perspective.  Would it annoy me if my husband went and bought a car without telling me- absolutely. But he also wouldn't do it.  I might buy fabric without "asking permission", but I'm not buying a new sewing machine without letting him know.

I think it's also important to distinguish between asking permission to spend and disclosing all spending.

I'm at the hospital and have to be here much longer than I expected, so I bought an overpriced soup. I would never imagine asking permission to spend money on lunch, but the first thing I did when I sat down was take a photo of my teeny tiny $6 soup and text it to DH.

You're way more formal than me. I don't think I'd even "disclose" $6 on something like "had to eat" vs. "I saw this cool new shirt, so I bought it". Though if he was going over the credit cards for fraud (we do that every 2 weeks) he might say "did you spend $6 at the hospital?"  "Yep".

I texted it because it was ridiculous and funny.
My point was that talking about spending is just part of our normal discourse. It wasn't "look, I bought soup" it was "look at the ridiculous thimble of soup that just cost me $6!"

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #39 on: April 29, 2019, 09:42:42 AM »
Everyone needs some fun money to spend however they want without accounting to anyone. It doesnít have to be a lot.

No, everyone does not need "fun money" nor does everyone need some amount of money which is accountable to no one.
THis strategy works for a lot of people, but it's far from absolute.

All our money is fun money. It's fun to have our mortgage paid!

All our money is joint. But we don't ask permission to make purchases for ourselves. We just consider the other person's perspective.  Would it annoy me if my husband went and bought a car without telling me- absolutely. But he also wouldn't do it.  I might buy fabric without "asking permission", but I'm not buying a new sewing machine without letting him know.

I think it's also important to distinguish between asking permission to spend and disclosing all spending.

I'm at the hospital and have to be here much longer than I expected, so I bought an overpriced soup. I would never imagine asking permission to spend money on lunch, but the first thing I did when I sat down was take a photo of my teeny tiny $6 soup and text it to DH.

You're way more formal than me. I don't think I'd even "disclose" $6 on something like "had to eat" vs. "I saw this cool new shirt, so I bought it". Though if he was going over the credit cards for fraud (we do that every 2 weeks) he might say "did you spend $6 at the hospital?"  "Yep".

I texted it because it was ridiculous and funny.
My point was that talking about spending is just part of our normal discourse. It wasn't "look, I bought soup" it was "look at the ridiculous thimble of soup that just cost me $6!"

Ah, I get that. I might do that too :)

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5771
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2019, 09:55:34 AM »
Money issues cause many divorces hence my suggestion of fun money.  I never want to be so obsessive about it that I am reporting every little purchase.

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #41 on: April 29, 2019, 10:11:32 AM »
Money issues cause many divorces hence my suggestion of fun money.  I never want to be so obsessive about it that I am reporting every little purchase.

That's cool if that works for you, but I don't really know how to be any clearer that in my marriage, it's not obsessive, it's just a casual habit as part of our day to day conversation.

"How was your day?"
"Oh good, but I forgot my lunch so I went out for a sandwich with Paul, and picked up another bag of mini chocolate bars for the team. They friggin' love those things, I feel like Sheldon when he was training Penny with chocolates"
"Ugh, I hate it when I forget my lunch, at least you have the option of buying those decent paninis, there's nothing in my building other than shitty pizza"
"How was yours?"
"Another $13 parking fee at the hospital for the privilege of waiting an hour and a half for my appointment"
"You should get some kind of frequent flyer benefits for how often you go there, and your own parking spot"
"I know, right?"

It became a habit back when we were tracking every single thing we spent and the habit just stuck. Money isn't a source of tension for us specifically because we so openly talk about all spending.

aceyou

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1571
  • Age: 36
    • Life is Good - Aceyou's Journal
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2019, 11:41:39 AM »
Joint finances. 

I primarily handle the long term planning and investing stuff, but DW is always aware of the overall plan and how to access everything.
My wife handles the short term/bill pay related stuff, but I'm aware of what all of those bills are. 

We both spend frugally, so no issues on that front. 
We both earn about the same amount.
We save about 55% and spend about 45%.
We're planning to retire in 12 years at 48 so we can travel together and just live a simpler pace of life. 

This works well for us.  Money is never a point of stress or conflict, just something we plan and prepare for. 

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10982
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2019, 01:32:41 PM »

I'm not the person you're responding to, but when people say 'we have separate finances' doesn't that imply a prenuptial agreement?

I don't believe that it does.  A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract.  Many people keep separate finances (i.e. separate bank accounts and credit cards) but do not have a prenuptial contract in place.  Others have prenuptial contracts in place but co-mingle their finances. The two are independent from one another.

Laws are different depending on the state/country you live in, but in communal property states (e.g California, Texas, Washington) the debts and assets acquired during a marriage are shared across both individuals regardless of who's name they are in or which spouse was the higher earner provided there is not another contract in place.  For example, even if a home and the bulk of a couple's savings are in one person's name, the other spouse is equally entitled to those assets in a divorce.

x02947

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 58
  • Location: The South
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2019, 02:34:49 PM »
As others have pointed out countless times- it's all about you and your situation.  I'm the single earner... kinda hard to do separate finances here.  Everything is joint.

No "fun" money accounts or anything- we are both naturally frugal so it feels to us like it would be pointless.  We have the fun we want, and that might or might not involve spending money.  If it does, we do it in the most frugal way we can without being cheap.  If it's a big dollar fun item (hey hey Hawai'i in three days!) then we plan it and budget for it, sacrificing other "fun" things as necessary.   

As she does the shopping for, well, everything, she'll let me know if she's going to spend something more than, say, $25 on a single item (last time was about 2 months ago when she asked me to google reviews for a two kid stroller at a consignment sale) she'll let me know/ask my opinion.  As with most of the other posters, even that is more of just an informal part of the ongoing conversation necessary for a marriage to work, not necessarily an approval process.  Even though she physically purchases the item, we are generally on the same page about what's on the list to buy next.  I could come home today and she could have spent $40 on a pair of walking shoes without telling me and I would not be surprised because it's been discussed that she needs new shoes, even though it hasn't been explicitly stated "I am going to go buy new shoes".   

BDWW

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 512
  • Location: MT
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #45 on: April 29, 2019, 03:55:30 PM »
Just my perspective, but the discussing/observing of all transactions sounds exhausting. We just set baseline expenses (including investments/savings) and everything after that is free reign. I/my wife could show up with a new car* after work, and as long as it was cash-flowed from the surplus, no big deal. As long as we're exceeding our baseline (~50% savings ratio), we don't fret over anything.

It's of course important that we're not spendthrifts.

*A little hyperbolic, since this would likely be discussed, but the point is we each spend our surplus however we want. She buys clothes and furniture when it strikes her, and I buy tools/electronics when I need/want them.

« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 03:57:01 PM by BDWW »

Telecaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1939
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #46 on: April 29, 2019, 04:29:29 PM »
I am incredibly lucky.   My wife and I pooled our finances.   We have never had a single argument, ever, about money.    We both buy/spend whatever we want, but we don't buy or spend money on anything the other one would disapprove of because disappointing the other person would be something neither of us wants to do.    I don't really see how you can join your lives together without also joining your finances---although many people do it successfully, including my own sister.   

AlotToLearn

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 113
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #47 on: April 29, 2019, 05:05:36 PM »
It appears just from first glance those who have been married a while agree that pooling finances is the way to go.

Telecaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1939
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #48 on: April 29, 2019, 05:12:19 PM »
It appears just from first glance those who have been married a while agree that pooling finances is the way to go.

I wouldn't go that far.  My sister has been married far longer than I have, for example.  I would say it is the way to go...if you can make it work.   Otherwise you need to figure something else out. 

Malkynn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1688
Re: How do married couples handle finances here?
« Reply #49 on: April 29, 2019, 05:44:20 PM »
Just my perspective, but the discussing/observing of all transactions sounds exhausting.

Not exhausting for us because we're very very rarely apart when we spend, so it's a fairly unusual occurence. It's really not a big deal when you rarely spend.