Everyone has their own way with money and attitude toward money and they bring these feelings into their relationship. In a marriage, it’s important that both husband and wife are comfortable with the way money is handled. I know couples that have all of their money completely combined (like my parents did) and others that have no money combined and split everything. I don’t think there’s one right way to handle money in a marriage. As long as both parties are comfortable with the way financial decisions are made and are on the same page, that’s all that matters.
Since I’m always fascinated by the ways people manage their money, I thought I’d share what we do.
After our wedding, I was excited for us to combine our money. We’ve had a joint checking account since moving in together. We used it for bills only and would transfer the exact amount for our monthly bills each month. This worked great for bills but often left us wondering who was going to pay for what/whose turn it was to pay for things like meals out or gas for our car. I was excited for us to move to a more combined model and start working towards some bigger savings goals. I was also excited to have a clearer snapshot of my available “fun” money at all times 🙂
Here’s how we combined our money:
Joint checking account–the majority of our direct deposits go here. From this account we pay our monthly bills: rent, my student loans, cable, car insurance, groceries, etc. We also have a set amount of joint “fun” money each month for dates, meals out, etc.
Joint savings account–Ideally we’d have two joint savings accounts, one for short-term savings (emergencies, travel, big life events) and one high-yield account for long-term savings (house). But for now we just have one. We have a set amount deposited here each month.
Individual checking accounts–We each have a set amount direct deposited here each pay period. We use this for social things: happy hours, trivia night. And other individual things: lunches out, clothes, haircuts, hobbies, etc.
Individual savings accounts–I’ll use mine to save for a big surprise for mike (planned for a few years down the line), larger social events (friends’ bridal parties, bachelorette parties, girls weekends, etc), and some bigger fun purchases (a coach bag, a mac desktop, etc). Not sure what Mike will use his for.
Individual American Express cards–We each had these coming into our marriage and we’ve kept them separate. We use these for bigger individual purchases.
Joint credit card–for bigger joint purchases or emergencies.
When we combined our money, I thought it was important for us to still maintain individual accounts for spending money, or fun money. Part of me–the romantic–wanted to have separate accounts so that we can surprise each other with gifts and last-minute weekend getaways (I’m such a dreamer). And another part of me–the realist–wanted us to have our own accounts so that we can maintain some independence. Mike didn’t feel as strongly about the independence aspect of this but he agreed that surprises are nice.
This system is working out nicely for both of us. I think we both enjoy having the freedom of separate spending accounts, and having an account purely for “fun” money. We’re still finessing our monthly budget, working to find the right balance of saving and spending.
Now tell me:
What do you and your spouse do? If you don’t have a spouse, what did your parents do or what do you think you’d like to do?