Married Life // Money, Honey


I’m doing it. I’m talking about it. Stop squirming, it’s going to happen.

The other day my sister and brother-in-law suggested finances as the next topic for the Married Life column. And I actually thought it was kind of brilliant, because it’s something that no one really talks about, as it can be a touchy subject in public circles. But I definitely think there are things that we can discuss here without airing everyone’s dirty laundry! So let’s get down to it. If you’re married, how to you handle your finances?

Here’s the real deal, guys: Mr. Lovely and I don’t have a joint bank account. After we were married, absolutely nothing changed with regards to our finances. We still split our rent right down the middle. At the grocery store, we sort of take turns and it pretty much evens out. At lunch or dinner, sometimes he pays and sometimes I pay. And this works for us! I’m not really sure why — it might be because both of us were so used to managing our own finances for so long that it’s just comfortable this way.

The funny thing is that even though our finances aren’t linked, we always consult each other before making purchases anyway. Especially larger ones (although we are pretty frugal and very rarely spend a ton of money). It’s not that we are looking for permission. I just consider it our way of managing, our own little system of checks & balances. So even though our money isn’t joined, our decisions are. And while it might not stay this way forever, it works for now.

So what about you? Did your finances change once you got hitched? Do you have an unusual process for your finances? Or does it make you squirm to talk about it? I’d love to hear! xoxo

27 thoughts on “Married Life // Money, Honey”

  1. How funny! Michael and I have a joint account (that I don’t even know how to access online!) but I often wish I had something separate so I wouldn’t feel so guilty buying things! Like an allowance πŸ˜‰ Just a little disposable income that isn’t accounted for – think it’s left over from when we first got married and were SO POOR! ha!

  2. I think that the separate bank accounts could become way more difficult with kids in the mix- do you split clothing purchases for them? how about if you have unpaid maternity leave? i feel like little people really throw a wrench in it.

  3. My husband and I have been married for almost 20 years. We have a joint account to pay bills and our own separate accounts as well. This system has worked really well for us.

  4. Like Marie, my husband and I have a joint account as well as separate accounts. All the bills and groceries are paid for from the joint account, while everything else is separate. I’ve seen too many friends saying, “My husband is gonna kill me!” or hiding purchases in their cars to not have my own account. My husband actually encourages splurging when I really want something because I rarely spend money on myself otherwise, but I’d still feel weird about pulling that money from our joint account rather than my own, separate one.

  5. My husband and I are the same way. We do not have joint bank accounts, but split everything pretty much down the middle. Our one difference is I take care of all of the grocery shopping and he pays for the times we eat out (usually). This evens out pretty well also. Great post!

    Could Be Interesting Blog

  6. My two cents πŸ™‚
    Like it or not, the tough conversations are easier to have when everyone’s emotions are as relaxed as they can be, as opposed to being in a difficult state. Not to be a Debbie-downer, but in the long run it pays (no pun intended) to have grown-up conversations like this with your spouse and/or trusted family members should something happen. Yes, I know there’s a difference between everyday purchases and splurges, vs. long-term decisions and savings, but there’s no time like the present to talk even more seriously about what-ifs. For example, while you might have your own accounts and that’s fine, are you authorized to access your husband/wife’s account should something happen to them? Would you know how to? I saw this site awhile ago and it is a good place to start planning for those types of conversations/ decisions:

    Love your blog–just thought this would be helpful!

  7. We handle our finances really similarly (split bills, groceries, treat eachother to meals), except we do have a third joint account for our mortgage. I use and track all of our accounts and retirement funds and everything together so our savings goals/achievements are still both of ours. So far, it works pretty well!

  8. I’m not married, but my boyfriend and I do own a house together/live together so it’s pretty much like were married. We have separate accounts and we each are responsible for paying different things to make things even.

    All of our bills (mortgage, insurance, electric, cell phones, etc) I pay, and all of our food/gas/home purchases/etc. we put on a joint credit card and he pays it off in full each month.

    Luckliy the amounts that we each pay end up being close enough that we feel everything is even. πŸ™‚

    When we get married down the road, we’ll probably join our finances just to make it easier, but who knows!

    Whaetever works, works! πŸ™‚


  9. I love this topic; slightly uncomfortable but such an important part of any relationship. My husband and I have everything 100% shared/joint, kinda boring, but it works for us.

    Before we merged everything I remembered hearing about a concept I really liked that went something like this: 1 personal account for each person and 1 joint account. Together look at your total joint expenses and see how much you need every month; each person will contributed the same percentage (not the same amount) of their monthly income into the joint account to cover the joint expenses. The left over money is left in their personal accounts to spend as they see fit.

    I liked this concept because it had flexibility, merged expenses, and independence built in. Since each person is contributing a percentage of their income rather than a fixed amount the concept can easily evolve as income levels change and no person feels like they are contributing more than the other since they are both contributing the same percentage of their income to cover the shared expenses.

    1. That sounds like such a good system. My fiance is an engineer and I’m a grad student. Even when I’m out of school working full-time as a counselor, my income with be significantly smaller than his, so I love the idea of using percent instead of halving it to make things more fair.

  10. As a financial advisor, I’ve seen tons of different ways couples handle their finances. There’s no one right way, but after 10 years of watching people (and being the sole one who manages our merged household finances and planning), the best ones are the ones who have a definite system, rules (if you want to call them “rules”–maybe more like defined responsibilities), and a clear definition of what comes out of where. I agree with Rachel–when kids enter the picture, it becomes more difficult to keep it separate. Also the “bigger” you get, meaning larger incomes as you grow older, larger assets, which inevitably results in proportionately larger bills and taxes, the harder it is to keep separate. Oftentimes, at a basic level, I see one merged account to pay expenses that is first priority to fund, and then if the people really feel the need to have their “own” money, a separate account with “play” money for each that is agreed upon in advance.

    And as those bigger assets come into play–a house, property, cars, etc… who pays for upkeep of those? Have a plan. And retirement? Is each person responsible for saving and planning for their own retirement? And then when retirement comes, if one person doesn’t have enough, will the other one support them? Kids’ college? Unforseen medical expenses? The best financial planning I’ve seen is when people look very far into the future, and start as early as possible.

    And that is my financial-advisor-two-bit opinion. πŸ™‚

    1. The one draw back to the merged account that my wife (the financial planner above) and I share is that surprising her with any size gift is incredibly difficult.

  11. When I got married we joined our finances because it was just easier for us that way. We still talk to each other about big purchases too. I think that it is definitely a good thing to remain in conversation about. It is always important for both sides to know what is going on with the money. xx. McKenna Lou
    p.s. we have a giveaway going on right now, you could win A Perfect Shirt from Conversation Pieces. There are two winners! Be suere to enter!

  12. My husband and I have a joint bank account that we use for bills, rent, and food, but we also each have a separate bank account for our weekly allowances to use for anything else we want. I think this works pretty well for us, especially when we want to buy each other super secret presents πŸ™‚

  13. My husband and I have separate checking accounts and a shared savings account. We also consult each other before we make big purchases, but we don’t sweat the small things…We split our bills similarly. For example, I pay all of the mortgage and he pays all of the other bills (electric, water, phone, cable, etc.) It pretty much evens out in the end. My folks are old fashioned and scold me all the time for not having a joint checking account, but…if it works, it works!

  14. My hubs and I joined accounts when we got married, mostly because my bank was a local one and we are moving out of state, and he is former military and has GREAT service with USAA. I grew up being extremely frugal, so I don’t tend to go shopping on my own a ton or go on “spending” sprees. My husband actually has to tell me to go out and buy stuff for myself sometimes =P. I am so blessed because he completely trusts me to make every day purchases, and when there is something bigger, I ask him because I honestly want his opinion. I know that he wants the best for me, and trusts my judgment, so joint or not joint wouldn’t really make a difference for us. It helps to know exactly how much we have in checkings/savings without having to look in multiple different locations.

  15. After we married, my husband and I opened a joint checking account and got a joint credit card (ours is a Southwest Rapid Rewards card, which offers great benefits since we travel so much!). We actually employ a budgeted cash system for things like eating out, buying clothes, coffee shops, home decor shopping, etc, which comes out of our checking account. Our groceries and bills (mortgage, insurance, etc) is set to auto-pay on our Southwest card, which gets paid off every month. The cash system is great for us because then we have a set limit on expenses, and we each have our “fun money” to spend however we want every month. We spend a little time at the beginning of every month going over the budget, making sure we’re happy with the numbers; we also keep track of things on to track out averages and savings.

  16. My husband and I switched to a joint credit/savings account (with separate credit cards) when we got married and it totally revolutionized my life! I no longer leave my car on E so he fills it with gas πŸ™‚

  17. My husband and I both work for a non-profit org, although I am technically a volunteer and don’t get paid. For us, a joint account is really the best way to work with a “single income”. We always talk about big purchases with each other, but also try to give at least a small amount (our income varies from month-to-month) of “personal money.” So if I want to spend that money on a massage or a new top or save it for something really special, that’s totally up to me. And if he wants to spend it all on video games or the new internet flash drive, he’s welcome to it. With having to share so much of our income, it’s nice to know we don’t have to talk about every single purchase I make.

  18. I swear, you guys look so cute together. You know how some couples just look GREAT together? You’re totally one of those! πŸ™‚

  19. My boyfriend and I took the bold step of getting a joint bank account when we moved in together, after dating for only 6 months. In theory it sounds kind of crazy, but it has worked really well for us. It eliminated the back and forth, each feeling like we always had to offer to pay for everything we shared, which was the vast majority of our spending. It has really made things simpler, and our finances easier to talk about and deal with together, because there’s no my money or his money, it’s only our money.

  20. I’m currently dating someone and living with him, and we do things the same way you do! I really don’t mind not having a joint bank account, but I think it wouldn’t hurt to open one to set aside money. Whether it be for a house or a baby, though I would want to be married or at least engaged to try to do something like that!

  21. When I was married I had a joint account. In my next relationship I think I would keep things a bit more separate – or entirely separate. If two people are completely compatible with spending and saving a joint account can be fine, but I guess I learned the hard way that sometimes it is better to just keep things separate. I say whatever works for the couple!

  22. My fiance and I have separate checking accounts, and one joint savings account. Despite having separate checking accounts his $$ is very much mine, and my $$ is very much his. And, he has access to mine although he never remembers the info, and I have access to his should any emergency happen, I can transfer from his to mine online.

    We simply try to keep the flow equal, if we spent a lot out of his account one week, then we do mine the other. We consult with eachother for big purchases. However, when it comes to day-to-day spending I do so more “freely” because I feel I have a better understanding of the big picture of our life, whereas he consults me on nearly every purchase because he really doesn’t trust himself. (I don’t mind πŸ˜‰

  23. My husband and I have separate accounts and also take turns paying for things and split our rent and bills- we sound a lot like you and your husband’s setup πŸ™‚ I’ve been contemplating opening a joint savings account, but it has yet to happen. Thus far, our situation really works for us!

  24. My fiancΓ© never talked about money. We have separate accounts and we always had the mutual understanding that we were in it together. We never thought it was necessary to split things. We took care of the bills as they came and who had the money in the bank account. It ends up being even at the end of the day and together as a team we work towards our mutual goals.

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