Combining Finances

This is a special post from my friend Jenna from the now defunct Adaptu, a finance automation tool that brings everything you need to know to one place. You can read my review of Adaptu here.

Some say that 10% of marriage proposals happen one day a year: Valentine’s Day. Combine that 10% with the holiday engagements and you’ve got a lot to celebrate. But beyond sharing kisses and champagne, it’s time to talk about sharing finances.

Naturally, every couple is different so how you and your partner combine finances will most likely differ from your friends. But below are a few suggestions to help you decide what works best for your situation:

Go all in. There’s definitely the biggest risk in this one but there are still couples that combine all of their finances− checking, savings, investments, credit cards, etc. This is most common among couples that have been hitched for quite a while and passed the test of time.

*Helpful hint: Always have a running conversation about money. Use a tool like Adaptu to track where all of your money is going, especially if you and your partner handle money differently. Don’t wait for a quarterly statement to initiate the dialogue.

A little for yourself. You split everything- except for a separate account just for you that you don’t need to talk about.I’ve heard lots of names for these accounts- the secret stash, fun fund, and my personal favorite− the F-U account. Basically, you and your partner agree to share everything, but every month you get to put $x into your own account. You can do whatever you please with this money. It’s yours, no questions asked.

*Helpful hint: The “no questions asked” only works if you both are putting agreed upon amounts into this account. No sneaking in extra cash.

1 for me. 1 for us. You share every type of account, but also have one in your own name. This will only work if you talk to one another about how much you are putting into the shared account and your own. This is a great way to split household spending, mortgage, savings accounts for kids, all while still maintaining savings and credit in your own name.

*Helpful hint: Make sure to talk about what constitutes a joint expense. Is your gym membership personal or shared? What about gas for the car only you drive?

Just the basics. Shelter and food. Normally I’d say clothing as well, but that one can be quite contentious. So shelter and food. You keep all accounts separately except for a checking account you use to pay the rent/mortgage and food. Anything else that ends up being a shared expense you just divvy between the two of you.

*Helpful hint: Most couples either contribute the same amount every month or split the amount based on each person’s income (you make more, you pay more).

No matter how you choose to combine finances, it will not work unless you TALK to one another about money. Before you do anything, discuss your joint goals. Agree on a plan of action. Maybe you’ll just start with one joint account and if things go well open up more. Try out one technique and discuss how you both think it went.  While it may not sound as romantic as chocolates and roses (or chocolate roses), talking about money now will only strengthen your relationship in the long run.

Image by LadyDragonflyCC – MSU Orchid Series Set

10 thoughts on “Combining Finances”

    1. That is important. You wouldn’t want your husband to go buy a motorcycle and see the surprise on your credit card statement!

  1. Anthony Thompson

    There seems to be a big debate about how to have shared accounts, or whether married couples should have them or not. I like the idea of simultaneously having shared and separate accounts. The key importance is to make sure that you sit down with your spouse, and agree on how you will go about managing both types of accounts.  Very nice!

  2. I like the all in approach. Seems like it should match the concept of marriage, being all in. But hey, there are clearly people who are successful and happy doing things different ways! No matter what, communication and ability to compromise is key.

  3. I was incensed when my DH said he was going to open a separate bank account with his allowance money.  I was concerned that  he was planning to leave (though nothing actually pointed in that direction – I had just been brainwashed to think that we had to share everything).  But then, I thought “wait a minute…if *he* can open a separate account, so can *I*.”  And so I did.

    That was a few years ago, but let me admonish those of you who think this is impractical…hubby was very pleasantly surprised when I brought home my one-year-old Camry, purchased out of my “allowance” which I had carefully hoarded…no credit card surprises and no loans for that one!  The moral of that story is:  do not discount the power of allowance money…don’t think it’s only for Starbucks splurges!

    1. How do you both decide what your “allowance” is? Do you both get the same amount, or is it different based on your incomes?

  4. Having separate allowance accounts sound great.  Spend it on what you want, without argument.  As long as the bills are paid before the couple is.  I do know several people that are happy with separate accounts, taxes, everything and it works well for them, but that’s more a trust issue than anything else.  

    1. Good point. I don’t know how I would feel not knowing where some of the family money is going. It does take a lot of trust to do that.

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