Poll

How do you handle your finances in a marriage?

Separate
Joint
Joint but with monthly "fun" money (or whatever you call it)
Other
I'm single

Author Topic: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows  (Read 23458 times)

mh1361

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Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« on: March 20, 2014, 09:10:37 AM »
I googled this, but basic wedding vows are as follows: "I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part."

For everyone who is married but keeps their finances separate, how does it work as part of a committed relationship, that is supposed to last until someone dies? I just don't get it, but I'd like to understand the thinking better. How can you be so committed to each other to get married, professing vows (if you did), and seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated? To me (I'm getting married in a few months), if either myself or my fiancee wanted to keep finances separate, I would be thinking that one of us is thinking that the marriage might not work out. And if that's the case, I wouldn't be getting married. I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, but hopefully I can learn something from it.

Posthumane

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 09:31:46 AM »
I think that for many couples keeping finances separate actually helps the marriage work out. If you combine all of your finances then essentially every purchase is a joint purchase and therefore should be a joint decision, or at least open to veto by both parties. If, on the other hand, you both earn your money separately and have different ideas of what you would like to spend it on then you are free to do so as long as you are still upholding your end of paying for shared expenses.

That being said, I think it would be very difficult to keep all finances *completely* separate. After all, if you live together you obviously have some shared expenses such as housing. One way to deal with this is to have both parties contribute to a joint account or pool for those shared expenses, and keep the rest of their income for themselves.

One thing that's always seemed bizarre to me is couples who completely combine their finances and then buy gifts for each other. What's the point, when you're using their own money to buy them a gift?

KingCoin

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2014, 09:37:29 AM »
Broadly, I think keeping finances separate forces each person to be economically self-sufficient and keep tabs on their own income, spending, and saving. It can almost be seen as a form of budgeting. It reduces the chance of "tragedies of the commons" where perhaps each party feels like they can meaningful boost their spending because of their partner's salary. When each person is economically self-sufficient, the chance that resentment builds over money issues diminishes considerably. You won't get worked up over her $100 salon bill and she won't get worked up over your $300 gadget because each of you is in charge of your own financial sphere. This is probably an especially useful approach when your partner has different attitudes about money. It may be better to ring-fence this aspect of your relationship in order to minimize conflict.

It's obviously not for everyone, and probably works best in a dual income household, but I don't see it as inherently pessimistic. It also doesn't mean you can't set savings targets and work toward common economic goals.

garth

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2014, 09:41:14 AM »
We keep accounts separate but have a combined budget and treat all spending as shared. I'm guessing that's not what you mean by separate finances? Either way, we didn't use those vows, which are ridiculous in my opinion.

AJ

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2014, 09:42:32 AM »
One thing that's always seemed bizarre to me is couples who completely combine their finances and then buy gifts for each other. What's the point, when you're using their own money to buy them a gift?

Gifts are really more about the thought than about how much value was extracted from the exchange. I mean, if I buy my sister a $20 Christmas gift, and she buys me a $20 Christmas gift, by your logic what was the point?

smalllife

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2014, 09:46:37 AM »
One thing that's always seemed bizarre to me is couples who completely combine their finances and then buy gifts for each other. What's the point, when you're using their own money to buy them a gift?

Gifts are really more about the thought than about how much value was extracted from the exchange. I mean, if I buy my sister a $20 Christmas gift, and she buys me a $20 Christmas gift, by your logic what was the point?

That's actually exactly what I think, especially when it comes of gift exchange circles (office gift exchange, etc.).

Regarding the separate finances, it's much like anything else in a relationship.  As long as the arrangement has been discussed, mutually agreed upon, and both parties are on board for long term goals I don't think there's any "wrong" way for two people to join finances or not as the case may be.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 09:51:38 AM »
I think that for many couples keeping finances separate actually helps the marriage work out. If you combine all of your finances then essentially every purchase is a joint purchase and therefore should be a joint decision, or at least open to veto by both parties. If, on the other hand, you both earn your money separately and have different ideas of what you would like to spend it on then you are free to do so as long as you are still upholding your end of paying for shared expenses.

But if you're able to commit to something like marriage, then you should be emotionally connected enough to be able to discuss spending priorities without causing a fight, right? I guess it seems like avoiding a conflict vs. dealing with one. And avoiding always seems to end poorly.


One thing that's always seemed bizarre to me is couples who completely combine their finances and then buy gifts for each other. What's the point, when you're using their own money to buy them a gift?

Totally agree about this. Especially if I tell her exactly what to get. I'm trying to mold Birthdays/Christmas into something a little different for us. Like I cook dinner for her for a week, or she reads a book that I've wanted her to read. Or something like that. And probably something service orientated for Christmas.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 09:53:00 AM »
Broadly, I think keeping finances separate forces each person to be economically self-sufficient and keep tabs on their own income, spending, and saving. It can almost be seen as a form of budgeting. It reduces the chance of "tragedies of the commons" where perhaps each party feels like they can meaningful boost their spending because of their partner's salary. When each person is economically self-sufficient, the chance that resentment builds over money issues diminishes considerably. You won't get worked up over her $100 salon bill and she won't get worked up over your $300 gadget because each of you is in charge of your own financial sphere. This is probably an especially useful approach when your partner has different attitudes about money. It may be better to ring-fence this aspect of your relationship in order to minimize conflict.

It's obviously not for everyone, and probably works best in a dual income household, but I don't see it as inherently pessimistic. It also doesn't mean you can't set savings targets and work toward common economic goals.

I think I would respond the same as I did for the first half of Posthumane's post.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 09:54:23 AM »
We keep accounts separate but have a combined budget and treat all spending as shared. I'm guessing that's not what you mean by separate finances? Either way, we didn't use those vows, which are ridiculous in my opinion.

Why are they ridiculous? And in your mind, is part of the reason to keep accounts separate so that if you were to ever split, it would be easier?

sleepyguy

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2014, 09:55:07 AM »
No married but together for over 10yrs.

Finances combined since 2nd year together (moved in).  No issues at all.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2014, 09:57:31 AM »
No married but together for over 10yrs.

Finances combined since 2nd year together (moved in).  No issues at all.

What made you want to combine finances?

Quince

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2014, 10:07:29 AM »
Our ceremony went something like:  These two have been committed to each other- this ceremony doesn't change their relationship, just publicizes it. For the crowd: You two like each other, right?

Totally paraphrased, but pretty much it.

We have separate accounts, but are pretty lax about who pays for what.  Also, completely transparent, and we discuss expenditures over a certain threshold. No veto power, but we're pretty good at taking each other's opinions into account.

We're choosing to spend our (separate) lives together, not having one unified life.  Very important to me is the lack of an assumption that the other person will be around, no matter what. No taking each other for granted- every day, we choose to be together. We choose that each day through the tough times, and the good times, but it's never taken for granted.

Zikoris

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2014, 10:13:33 AM »
For myself, combined finances would cause me a lot of stress. Sure, we could probably find a way to make it work, but why compromise if you don't have to and invite extra stress into your life? We have a good system now that we're both happy with. We have joint credit cards and separate bank account/investment accounts. Once a month he e-transfers me his half of the rent, and twice a month we pay off our portions of the credit cards, which have all our expenses on them.

I don't see why a couple who has a functioning system should feel obligated to change it on account of getting married. If it works, and you're both happy, great!

I do think it's important to be fully aware of each other's financial situation, and have regular discussions to make sure you're on the same page. In our case, we share Mint data and discuss spending daily, and discuss investments and net worth increases about once a month when we do our month-end accounting/retirement journals. Definitely you don't want to have secrets here.

Eric

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2014, 10:36:28 AM »
How can you be so committed to each other to get married, professing vows (if you did), and seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated? To me (I'm getting married in a few months), if either myself or my fiancee wanted to keep finances separate, I would be thinking that one of us is thinking that the marriage might not work out.

Separate bank accounts means separate lives?  That's quite the leap.  I could just as easily turn it around.  Why do you feel the need to combine finances?  Don't you trust your spouse?  You need to constantly monitor his/her spending in order to have a successful relationship?  Sounds pretty controlling to me. 

Posthumane

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2014, 10:37:22 AM »
I don't see why a couple who has a functioning system should feel obligated to change it on account of getting married. If it works, and you're both happy, great!

I do think it's important to be fully aware of each other's financial situation, and have regular discussions to make sure you're on the same page. In our case, we share Mint data and discuss spending daily, and discuss investments and net worth increases about once a month when we do our month-end accounting/retirement journals. Definitely you don't want to have secrets here.
I completely agree with that. I too will be getting married in the not too distant future and it looks to me that our financial situation will remain largely unchanged. Right now they are mostly separate, though we do share housing expenses in proportion to our salaries (i.e. I make X times what she makes, so I pay X times as much as her for mortgage, etc.).

Just because we are getting married does not mean, to us, that we become one big person. We still have may different interests and different things that we value and choose to spend money on. I do not understand why the OP thinks this makes us less committed to the relationship than we would be if we combined everything - the reason I have my stuff and she has hers is not so we can separate it in case of divorce but because I have no interest in her stuff and she has no interest in mine. When there is something that we both want to buy, we buy it together. We also don't share clothing or hygiene products...

MayDay

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2014, 10:40:35 AM »
For us (no pre-nup) it doesn't make sense to have separate finances, since if we got divorced, it would all be split evenly, and when we reach retirement age, its all going to be used jointly.

I can understand the theory of having separate finances, but in practice it would make me batty, because when you are legally married, the law considers it all a joint pot of money (barring pre-nups, etc).  That said, we do have our own "fun money" each month for personal purchases.  Its not completely black and white.  I guess for me it comes down to:  if I didn't trust my spouse with money, they wouldn't be my spouse, and if i do trust them, why do we need separate money?

I think we did the traditional vows out of habit/convenience but we didn't exactly mean them literally. 

garth

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2014, 10:41:33 AM »
We keep accounts separate but have a combined budget and treat all spending as shared. I'm guessing that's not what you mean by separate finances? Either way, we didn't use those vows, which are ridiculous in my opinion.

Why are they ridiculous? And in your mind, is part of the reason to keep accounts separate so that if you were to ever split, it would be easier?

I think they are ridiculous because I believe they contain unreasonable promises. I took my vows very seriously and was not willing to say something that I knew was untrue (i.e., to promise to stay with someone no matter what, until either they die or I die). I'm not anticipating divorce and will work my ass off to keep my marriage strong (and expect my partner to do the same), but it could happen that one or both of us changes so significantly that divorce becomes a good option. We haven't combined our accounts because it doesn't seem necessary. What's the advantage?

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2014, 10:44:37 AM »
As far as we're concerned, when we got married we became one big person, so that's the way we behave. All income is joint. All expenses are shared. Furthermore, since we anticipate having children and me staying home, I'm not going to provide the same fiscal contribution, and my husband would be a jerk to expect that.

In practice, my husband hands me every cent we make and I pay all the bills, decide spending priorities, and handle our investments.

That's how we're looking at it.

smalllife

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2014, 10:46:40 AM »
I can understand the theory of having separate finances, but in practice it would make me batty, because when you are legally married, the law considers it all a joint pot of money (barring pre-nups, etc).  That said, we do have our own "fun money" each month for personal purchases.  Its not completely black and white.

I just wanted to bold the above because every time a forum has this discussion there are assumptions about what "separate" and "joint" mean.  I imagine that few people have a 100% joint (one account) or 100% separate (completely separate accounts and payments) approach.  Most use a "yours-mine-ours", whether that is a cash allowance from a joint account or a % into joint and the rest is "mine".   If you have a joint account but keep a separate account each for personal spending, is that "joint" or "separate"?  That line varies person to person and can muddy the waters because someone will write apples and another will read oranges.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2014, 10:49:34 AM »
How can you be so committed to each other to get married, professing vows (if you did), and seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated? To me (I'm getting married in a few months), if either myself or my fiancee wanted to keep finances separate, I would be thinking that one of us is thinking that the marriage might not work out.

Separate bank accounts means separate lives?  That's quite the leap.  I could just as easily turn it around.  Why do you feel the need to combine finances?  Don't you trust your spouse?  You need to constantly monitor his/her spending in order to have a successful relationship?  Sounds pretty controlling to me.

It was supposed to sound drastic for discussions sake. I think confessing those vows invalidates your points as far as monitoring and trust. If I truly felt the need to do that, why would I be marrying that person? As to why do I feel the need to, it's the sense of oneness as serpentstooth described. I would feel like I'm hiding something. And this is more practical and less ideological, but the idea of paying the other person every month for rent, grocers, utilities, and everything else seems like a chore.

Spork

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2014, 10:50:52 AM »
No one likes to view it this way... we tend to be hopeless romantics.... but in reality marriage is a business partnership.  And like a business partnership, there are a zillion ways to structure it.  Most of them are potentially workable. 

"Separate finances" is not for me.  But that's me.  I just don't see it as a big deal in and of itself.  Now: the reasons you want to keep it separate may potentially be hiding a big deal.  (He's going to spend all my money... or She is controlling me via our checkbook or any number of other things.)

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2014, 10:55:15 AM »
We keep accounts separate but have a combined budget and treat all spending as shared. I'm guessing that's not what you mean by separate finances? Either way, we didn't use those vows, which are ridiculous in my opinion.

Why are they ridiculous? And in your mind, is part of the reason to keep accounts separate so that if you were to ever split, it would be easier?

I think they are ridiculous because I believe they contain unreasonable promises. I took my vows very seriously and was not willing to say something that I knew was untrue (i.e., to promise to stay with someone no matter what, until either they die or I die). I'm not anticipating divorce and will work my ass off to keep my marriage strong (and expect my partner to do the same), but it could happen that one or both of us changes so significantly that divorce becomes a good option. We haven't combined our accounts because it doesn't seem necessary. What's the advantage?

It seems like you are extremely committed to your relationship, so I don't really understand why you think they are unreasonable. I'm not sure what a significant enough change looks like that would make divorce an option.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2014, 10:58:47 AM »
For myself, combined finances would cause me a lot of stress. Sure, we could probably find a way to make it work, but why compromise if you don't have to and invite extra stress into your life? We have a good system now that we're both happy with. We have joint credit cards and separate bank account/investment accounts. Once a month he e-transfers me his half of the rent, and twice a month we pay off our portions of the credit cards, which have all our expenses on them.

I don't see why a couple who has a functioning system should feel obligated to change it on account of getting married. If it works, and you're both happy, great!

I do think it's important to be fully aware of each other's financial situation, and have regular discussions to make sure you're on the same page. In our case, we share Mint data and discuss spending daily, and discuss investments and net worth increases about once a month when we do our month-end accounting/retirement journals. Definitely you don't want to have secrets here.

How do you handle groceries?

expatartist

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2014, 10:58:56 AM »
One reason we keep finances separate in our daily lives is it makes it much easier for my taxes: I'm a US citizen, he's not, and he believes his income is his own business, not that of the US gov't. That said, he and I sometimes have have different spending styles, rates, and priorities. Keeping most of our accounts separate really makes things more straightforward.

For retirement however we currently combine finances nearly 100%. If I start investing in US index funds however I'll have to keep those separate - again because of the US government.

Eric

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2014, 11:16:15 AM »
And this is more practical and less ideological, but the idea of paying the other person every month for rent, grocers, utilities, and everything else seems like a chore.

That would seem like a chore to me too.  We skip that part.  I have my bills, she has hers, and we alternate paying rent.  Is it 100% "fair"?  No.  Do we care?  No.  We don't keep score.

garth

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #25 on: March 20, 2014, 11:20:07 AM »
We keep accounts separate but have a combined budget and treat all spending as shared. I'm guessing that's not what you mean by separate finances? Either way, we didn't use those vows, which are ridiculous in my opinion.

Why are they ridiculous? And in your mind, is part of the reason to keep accounts separate so that if you were to ever split, it would be easier?

I think they are ridiculous because I believe they contain unreasonable promises. I took my vows very seriously and was not willing to say something that I knew was untrue (i.e., to promise to stay with someone no matter what, until either they die or I die). I'm not anticipating divorce and will work my ass off to keep my marriage strong (and expect my partner to do the same), but it could happen that one or both of us changes so significantly that divorce becomes a good option. We haven't combined our accounts because it doesn't seem necessary. What's the advantage?

I'm not sure what a significant enough change looks like that would make divorce an option.

Not being able to think of a reason for divorce does not suggest, to me, that a reason does not exist. Maybe you have better self-knowledge than I do. That said, I can think of a number of things that could motivate me to leave my partner (murder, rape, infidelity, abuse, etc). I would like to think that my spouse and I did a pretty good job vetting each other, but you never really know. Knowing that, and also knowing that I'm not willing to break my vows, my spouse and I worked together to create something mutually agreeable.

Even if you do believe in those particular vows, you might think about rewording them to something a little less trodden. Kind of like the "Love is patient" reading, those vows seem impersonal and border on the meaningless, in my opinion.

plantingourpennies

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #26 on: March 20, 2014, 11:20:57 AM »
Obviously stuff like Roths and 401ks goes into our separate accounts, but if there was a way to combine them into one "Mr. and Mrs. Serpentstooth" account with double the contribution limits, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Totally agree! Our 100% combined setup sounds virtually identical to the serpentstooth's. 

Zikoris

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #27 on: March 20, 2014, 11:28:49 AM »
Quote
How do you handle groceries?

They all go on the joint credit cards, which are tracked in Mint. Twice a month when we do payouts, Mint adds up the total grocery cost for that period and we each pay half of that.

matchewed

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #28 on: March 20, 2014, 11:31:55 AM »
So before joint accounts existed people didn't actually mean their vows...

Snark aside whatever works for the relationship regardless of vows is probably what's best. Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2014, 11:39:34 AM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

smalllife

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #30 on: March 20, 2014, 11:43:25 AM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

Why are you assuming that separating finances is the results of an attempted (and failed) open dialogue?  Do you agree that separate finances can be the result of an open (and continuing) dialogue?  I see combined finances where only one partner has interest/active participation other than spending in much the same way - avoiding conflict.  The difference is that I accept that can be a valid and agreed upon situation and I don't judge their relationship as any less meaningful or fulfilling. 

Eric

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #31 on: March 20, 2014, 11:44:52 AM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

Why are you assuming that arguments and disagreements are the reason for separate finances.  What if you agreed with happy rational discussion that separate finances work best for you?

dragoncar

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #32 on: March 20, 2014, 11:51:19 AM »
This thread is relevant to my interests.  We are planning for separate finances primarily because I can probably only take a few more years, at most, of the daily grind.  She is just starting her career and has very few assets.  So separate finances allows us to keep things fair at a high level (if "my" investments aren't performing well enough to cover "my" half of the expenses, then I'd have to go back to work.  Similarly, she can quit once "she" has saved enough for retirement).  At the same time, she may never want to quit (since she hasn't started her job yet, who knows how much she will like it?).

I also agree that you never know what might cause a divorce.  People often change, and not on purpose.  It has nothing to do with trust to recognize that sometimes things just don't work out.  Some day, when we are both retired, I don't see a problem with combining accounts for estate purposes (avoiding probate is good).

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #33 on: March 20, 2014, 11:57:00 AM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

Why are you assuming that arguments and disagreements are the reason for separate finances.  What if you agreed with happy rational discussion that separate finances work best for you?

This is relevant to Smalllifes question as well. I was saying IF arguments and disagreements were the reason for separate finances. I never said "the only reason people ever have separate finances is because they fight and bicker over money all the time."

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #34 on: March 20, 2014, 12:02:27 PM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

Why are you assuming that separating finances is the results of an attempted (and failed) open dialogue?  Do you agree that separate finances can be the result of an open (and continuing) dialogue?  I see combined finances where only one partner has interest/active participation other than spending in much the same way - avoiding conflict.  The difference is that I accept that can be a valid and agreed upon situation and I don't judge their relationship as any less meaningful or fulfilling.

Yes, I agree that separate finances can be the result of an open (and continuing) dialogue. Obviously there are plenty of examples where that is the case. And, I think I agree with the bolded sentence. An open dialogue about finances, joint or separate, is probably the healthiest for a relationship.

Cassie

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #35 on: March 20, 2014, 12:08:23 PM »
I think each couple should do what works for them. I have been married 3x's and have not done it the same in each marriage. It also depends on what stage of life you are at and how much $ each person has entering the relationship for some people.  Couples should do whatever works best for them-no right or wrong way to do it!

vespito

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #36 on: March 20, 2014, 12:10:36 PM »
Every person will have a different point of view.  Do what works for you.  That's all that counts.  We have a combination.  We are very happy.  It's important that we both take some financial responsibility.  If something ever happens to me, my spouse needs to be comfortable handling finances.  Also, we like having some of our own money.  We are not "one big person" nor do we want to be.  Not knocking those that do, it's just not how we roll.  It's not a trust issue - we are very open about everything (have each others' account info and all of that).  Money is just a tool for us and we use it as we see fit.  It does helps that we are both frugal and communicate a lot about our finances and goals.

There are small things my spouse would never buy for herself or with joint money.  She does, however, enjoy these things (i.e. flowers).  I enjoy bringing her flowers randomly - she really likes them.  She knows that I think before I buy anything, so if I am getting her a gift, it's because I want to get her something she can just enjoy - guilt free.  She does the same for me.

mbl

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #37 on: March 20, 2014, 12:14:23 PM »

For everyone who is married but keeps their finances separate, how does it work as part of a committed relationship, that is supposed to last until someone dies? I just don't get it, but I'd like to understand the thinking better. How can you be so committed to each other to get married, professing vows (if you did), and seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated? To me (I'm getting married in a few months), if either myself or my fiancee wanted to keep finances separate, I would be thinking that one of us is thinking that the marriage might not work out. And if that's the case, I wouldn't be getting married. I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, but hopefully I can learn something from it.
Been married for almost 30 years.   DH and I have always had a joint account to run our home and provide for our kids.  We also each maintain separate accounts for our discretionary spending.
It works for us. 

 Explain to me the logic behind this phrase:  "seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated".   How does the use of separate personal accounts yield two lives led separately or that the number of checking accounts one has determines how "committed" you are to your spouse?  When one "knows thyself" you take that and hopefully act in accordance with what has the best chance of creating a system that will work comfortably for both spouses.    I have to show your post to my husband.......it'll give him a chuckle.

You're in a for a very, very rough ride if you decide up front(and this goes for any matter not just finances) that this is how something has to be and not recognize that reality often has a way of changing certain decisions that you made early in the process.  I suspect that you might have other doubts regarding marriage and what it will mean for you.
The all or nothing approach when dealing with marriage for many aspect doesn't always work out. 


matchewed

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #38 on: March 20, 2014, 12:17:06 PM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

I think what troubles you is that you ignored my bolded part above. Whatever that may be, joint accounts, separate finances... whatever.

And isn't just as easy to say what you said but replace separating with combining? Why is combining finances a special flower that prevents conflict?

mbl

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2014, 12:19:10 PM »
I think that for many couples keeping finances separate actually helps the marriage work out. If you combine all of your finances then essentially every purchase is a joint purchase and therefore should be a joint decision, or at least open to veto by both parties. If, on the other hand, you both earn your money separately and have different ideas of what you would like to spend it on then you are free to do so as long as you are still upholding your end of paying for shared expenses.
And this is usually how problems start....should?  Based on what rule book?    You're not the arbitor of my marriage....I can assure you of that.  In addition,  DH and I are the experts on what should and should not happen for us in our organziation  which by the way I have over 29 years more experience in running that you do



garth

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2014, 12:20:10 PM »
I also agree that you never know what might cause a divorce.  People often change, and not on purpose.  It has nothing to do with trust to recognize that sometimes things just don't work out. 

I agree. This is also my perspective, if that was not clear in my other postings.

OP says s/he wouldn't be getting married if s/he thought the marriage might not work. If I interpret this literally (which I doubt the OP meant it to be), s/he is 100% certain that the marriage will last until one or other dies. To me, this position (again, not claiming OP meant it this way) is dishonest and likely counterproductive to a long-lasting marriage. Isn't it easier to be proactive about your relationship if you acknowledge that longevity isn't certain, that you are likely not perfectly matched across every aspect of life?

sleepyguy

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2014, 12:21:42 PM »
She's alway been the breadwinner so it was a no-brainer for me :)  At that start she made about 3x what i did... now it's about 1.5-2x :)

Haha, but really as corny as it's gonna sound, we both knew we were going to stay and grow old together.  We wanted to simplify our arrangements so we just combined everything (of course our employer RRSP "401k equiv in Canada" are separate as that is with our companies).

Currently we're just living off my income and putting hers away.



No married but together for over 10yrs.

Finances combined since 2nd year together (moved in).  No issues at all.

What made you want to combine finances?

Villanelle

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2014, 12:30:05 PM »
I can understand the theory of having separate finances, but in practice it would make me batty, because when you are legally married, the law considers it all a joint pot of money (barring pre-nups, etc).  That said, we do have our own "fun money" each month for personal purchases.  Its not completely black and white.

I just wanted to bold the above because every time a forum has this discussion there are assumptions about what "separate" and "joint" mean.  I imagine that few people have a 100% joint (one account) or 100% separate (completely separate accounts and payments) approach.  Most use a "yours-mine-ours", whether that is a cash allowance from a joint account or a % into joint and the rest is "mine".   If you have a joint account but keep a separate account each for personal spending, is that "joint" or "separate"?  That line varies person to person and can muddy the waters because someone will write apples and another will read oranges.

We have 100% joint.  The only thing separate is our credit cards, and that's because we both kept what we had prior to marriage.    Technically, we have more than one account, but that's to take advantage of various benefits we can get from different banks.  They are all joint, however.  It never occurred to me that we were odd or one of a rare "few" in that situation.  Is that really uncommon? 

Everything is joint and we spend whatever we please.  It is all "ours", without exception or sectioning or anything else.  If there will be a super large purchase not on a credit card (which happens almost never), DH tells me since I am the one who manages the accounts and makes transfers as necessary.  Again, it never occurred to me that our set up is rare.  Is it really? 

AJ

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2014, 12:36:49 PM »
Again, it never occurred to me that our set up is rare.  Is it really?

I don't think it is. This is the setup we have as well. If I had to guess, I would say that most people who say they have joint accounts really do have 100% joint accounts. Not all, of course, but in general.

smalllife

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2014, 12:43:09 PM »
Again, it never occurred to me that our set up is rare.  Is it really?

I don't think it is. This is the setup we have as well. If I had to guess, I would say that most people who say they have joint accounts really do have 100% joint accounts. Not all, of course, but in general.

This might be a generational thing - most of my exposure to married finances are mid 20s/early 30s.  Even my parents have separate credit cards in addition to the joint account.  So it's rare for my circle of friends but might not be in others (the only ones I know of got married right out of school and an armed forces couple).  Learned something new!

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #45 on: March 20, 2014, 01:03:46 PM »

For everyone who is married but keeps their finances separate, how does it work as part of a committed relationship, that is supposed to last until someone dies? I just don't get it, but I'd like to understand the thinking better. How can you be so committed to each other to get married, professing vows (if you did), and seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated? To me (I'm getting married in a few months), if either myself or my fiancee wanted to keep finances separate, I would be thinking that one of us is thinking that the marriage might not work out. And if that's the case, I wouldn't be getting married. I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, but hopefully I can learn something from it.

Explain to me the logic behind this phrase:  "seemingly lead separate lives by keeping your finances separated".   How does the use of separate personal accounts yield two lives led separately or that the number of checking accounts one has determines how "committed" you are to your spouse?  When one "knows thyself" you take that and hopefully act in accordance with what has the best chance of creating a system that will work comfortably for both spouses.    I have to show your post to my husband.......it'll give him a chuckle.

You're in a for a very, very rough ride if you decide up front(and this goes for any matter not just finances) that this is how something has to be and not recognize that reality often has a way of changing certain decisions that you made early in the process.  I suspect that you might have other doubts regarding marriage and what it will mean for you.
The all or nothing approach when dealing with marriage for many aspect doesn't always work out.

As I mentioned before, I said it that way to spark more discussion. Thanks for posting, clearly with your lengthy marriage you bring a lot of experience to the topic. To me, if you're married you'll have similar life goals, and so you're spending would probably reflect that. IF people have separate accounts because they want to fund their lifestyle and their spouse doesn't agree with it, then that doesn't make a ton of sense to me. If people have separate accounts just because it's more practical in some way, then great. mbl, do you see the money as yours, mine, and ours?

mh1361

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #46 on: March 20, 2014, 01:15:00 PM »
Keeping an open dialogue on finances and striking a balance that works for that particular relationship is the important part.

I guess what troubles me about that is if some people try for an open dialogue, end up arguing and separating finances, then they're just avoiding conflict. I imagine it would come up again and again.

I think what troubles you is that you ignored my bolded part above. Whatever that may be, joint accounts, separate finances... whatever.

And isn't just as easy to say what you said but replace separating with combining? Why is combining finances a special flower that prevents conflict?

Scroll up to see my response to a post by smalllife. You'll see that I don't think it's a special flower.

MrMoneyPinch

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #47 on: March 20, 2014, 01:54:56 PM »
I don't know about other jurisdictions, but in my part of Canada, separate accounts have absolutely no effect in case of divorce.  The legal process is simple: the Court takes everything that has been accumulated during the marriage and splits in two.
Of course, there are prenups to arrange for different ways, but they have to be negotiated and signed by both spouses.  And even then, some things cannot be signed away in prenups.

In my couple, I consider everything that my wife earns over what is needed for necessary expenses "mad money" since she has a DB pension plan and a guaranteed job. 

gobius

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #48 on: March 20, 2014, 02:38:24 PM »
This thread is relevant to my interests.  We are planning for separate finances primarily because I can probably only take a few more years, at most, of the daily grind.  She is just starting her career and has very few assets.  So separate finances allows us to keep things fair at a high level (if "my" investments aren't performing well enough to cover "my" half of the expenses, then I'd have to go back to work.  Similarly, she can quit once "she" has saved enough for retirement).  At the same time, she may never want to quit (since she hasn't started her job yet, who knows how much she will like it?).

I also agree that you never know what might cause a divorce.  People often change, and not on purpose.  It has nothing to do with trust to recognize that sometimes things just don't work out.  Some day, when we are both retired, I don't see a problem with combining accounts for estate purposes (avoiding probate is good).

I'm in a similar position (she's just starting her career and I want to get out of the grind ASAP), which is why we have separate finances and are investigating a pre-nup for our wedding.

DoubleDown

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Re: Separate Finances and Marriage Vows
« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2014, 03:08:24 PM »
First Marriage: Joint, except for named accounts like 401k's. That marriage did not end because of finances.

2nd Marriage: Joint for shared expenses, separate for everything else. With two established adults already with their own children, assets, and accounts, combining everything seems contrived/artificial. It would be more work to artificially combine everything than to just let things remain as they are. Also drew up a prenup for this 2nd marriage, to protect my own interests and my kids'.

Obviously I agree with all the others who have said that maintaining some separate finances/accounts or having a prenup is not "planning for failure," any more than having a smoke alarm is planning for a fire or having insurance is planning for an accident. It's a prudent hedge against catastrophe, no matter how likely or unlikely.

Also, if I substituted the word "activities" for "finances", I think it would seem ridiculous to say "we have to do all activities jointly, otherwise we're just maintaining separate lives and planning to divorce one day." Maintaining separate finances is really no different, for all the very good reasons others have pointed out.

@KingCoin, I think you laid it out very well