Should You Say I DO To Marriage But I DONT To Sharing Your Money?

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marriage joint bank accountsWhen we started telling people that we were FINALLY getting married after six year of dating, we got a lot of unsolicited advice. It spanned all the usual stuff – home buying, wedding costs, taxes and credit – but one topic came up the most for sure; to share or not to share our money. It’s a touchy subject for sure on both sides. Most of the women I knew and my father advised me to keep a separate (secret) account that my husband wouldn’t know about “just in case” because marriage is great but “money always complicates things”. Some of The Man’s friends and coworkers warned that sharing money with his new wife would possible mean that I’d spend it all, on “shopping for stuff”, and other stereotypical woman activities. We didn’t give it much thought either way. Planning a big wedding in 10 months was really all I could think about. And my husband has always admitted that I’m better with money than he is so he wasn’t too concerned with keeping his cash away from me.

We didn’t actually discuss how we’d handle money in our marriage until we were on our honeymoon sharing an over-sized margarita and a blissful moment on a beautiful peach sand beach in Maui. It was then that we decided that very little changes actually needed to be made. Prior to getting married, we each had our own personal checking accounts, savings, and credit cards – and our own individual piles of debt. We looked at what we each owed, what we brought in, and how we’d been splitting the bills all the years that we had lived together to date. We agreed on two things: It was important to make sure the money for our rent, utilities, and groceries went into one account we both control and that we start saving together for the little unexpected things to come (like car problems, last minute travel, or perhaps even the inevitable arrival of a little human one day) separately from any savings we already have. (Not much on either side, for the record.) It seemed like a simple enough decision to make. Especially given all the fuss we heard about it from any and everyone who heard we were getting hitched.

And so when we returned from our honeymoon we opened up joint checking and saving account, agreed on how much we each needed to deposit into it each payday and who would pay what bill. It was a similar formula to what we’d always done, but this time it was all about visibility. We also decided on an amount we’d each plan to stash into our savings every chance we could. Sounded great at the time but it hasn’t been working for us quite as well as we’d hoped. Although some months are better than ever, we’re still haven’t gotten the hang of openly sharing our money. When we dreamed up this “separate but equal” money plan we didn’t factor in two things; personal history and human nature.

Money Matters Month Man Wife and Dog BlogNow we alternate overspending and rarely save as much as we planned to, or pay the bills the way we said we would. What’s gone wrong, you ask? Well, it’s easy to spend a few dollars more than you should when you can see extra money in an account that you normally wouldn’t have seen before — never mind the fact that it already belongs to the gas or cable company. If it’s there and you need it is human nature sometimes to spend it, and then borrow on tomorrow hoping it will all just work out. We fight about it quite often too. Nothing we can’t recover from, of course, but it’s still no walk in the park sometimes. Part of the issue is that although we share accounts for daily use, neither of us likes to come totally clean about how much we’ve got stacked up on the side for a rainy day. The good news is that we’d both gladly go into that secret stash to help the other, but the bad news is I think this technically counts as keeping secrets, right?

In a marriage, is it okay to keep them when it’s money that’s up for discussion? Although I’m convinced this dilemma and it’s growing pains are supposed to be part of the whole newlywed adjustment phase, I think we both wish we could just get it right already! How do you handle the money in your marriage?

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11 Responses to Should You Say I DO To Marriage But I DONT To Sharing Your Money?

  1. This is an intensely personal decision. We keep separate accounts. We thought we'd join when we had a baby. But, it still works for us. It's just made for less resentment and upset in our lives. We do not save as much as we should. We spend more than we should, sometimes. But it's our personal responsibility, we always pay our bills, so it works for us. I just associate money with control, I guess. I like to have control over my affairs.
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  2. @mereditor says:

    I think whatever works is what you've gotta do! Personally, it works for us to have a joint bank account (even though we don't have a shared last name!). It was scary at first, but I've gotten used to it now. But there are definitely times where I'm like, "Hey, what the heck did you spend $120 on?" I like control, but I like transparency even more.

  3. mskaos says:

    Everyone is so different when it comes to money but for us it works to have a joint checking & savings accounts where 90% of each of our salaries go then the other 10% goes into our individual "play money" accounts. With this "play money" he can enter the NCAA pool or fantasy football league and I can buy that new pair of shoes I've been coveting
    without any explanation or discussion. It works great for us. We trust one another to do right by our joint finances-ie going on an impromptu
    shopping spree
    without discussion while having latitude to do some of the things we each did before marriage without anybody to consult with.

  4. Alovelydai says:

    We have a joint for ALL household bills & expenses & a joint savings. We also kept our personal accounts. We both are very money conscious people and we discuss all of the big things but we also are free to use our money as we see fit. If I want to do a complete undergarment makeover it's my money. He just bought a signed football helmet w/ his hard earned money. As long as the priorities (i.e. mortgage, cars, utilities) are paid then having a stash account shouldn't hurt anyone.

    I like what you said above "The good news is that we’d both gladly go into that secret stash to help the other". Focus on this & you can't lose.

  5. Lauren says:

    This subject kinda makes me cringe! I'm very money conscious and my partner has more of a fancy palate than I do. It could work in my favor that since he knows I'm a stickler there may be a second thought about over indulging in the finer things in life. But if it back fires I would be screwed! Bravo for breaking the barrier and finding middle ground. Now is not the time for me but maybe one day.

  6. Nessa says:

    My boyfriend and I live in different houses but we help each other if needed. usually it's him helping me really. When we are ready to live together I think we'll be fine because he is soooooooooo awesome with bill paying it almost borders on anal. i mean if you really want to mess his month up, make him pay a bill late lol. I am more the 'oops, i forgot" type, which is horrible I know, but I'm the the Mom of 4. There is never any extra money and i have to do what i have to do. Which usually means robbing Peter to pay Paul. You 2 will figure it out, the important thing is working on it all together and knowing that ultimately you can count on each other.
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  8. Jordy says:

    My husband is in the finance business so it's easier to just let him handle the main accounts. We share checking, savings, etc. but then we each have a personal checking account that money goes into each month. From here, we can spend whatever we want without the other person questioning. It's worked out well for us and there's no fight about how much of each person's money goes into the pot for mortgage, bills, eating out, and so on – it's all in one.
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  9. Tiffany In Houston says:

    We have joint checking and savings, and keep our personal accounts for gifts, and other misc type stuff. I normally buy books and lunch with mine..he gets beer, cigarettes and his Xbox games. I handle all the major bill pay stuff. He told me I would be doing that while while we were still dating. He is the CEO and I am the COO/CFO. LOL!!!

  10. fahmi says:

    My best friend keeps everything separate, and they decide who handles what bills. Then each person is responsible for those bills and their personal expenses.

    We have both a joint account, joint savings, and personal accounts. It works for us mainly because both our main incomes direct deposit into the joint account. On the first of every month (the day after payday), we have an automated transfer moving a certain agreed upon amount into savings. That way we are guaranteed at least SOMETHING going into savings before we even have a chance to spend it. And then half-way through the month, usually the 15th or so, we have another set of automated transfers that fund our individual accounts, again, based on an agreed upon amount. We have a huge discrepancy in our incomes, so we don't have the same amount transferred, but how much we feel we each need.

    This way, we ensure all household bills, like electric, gas, etc, get first dibs on our money. And it's up to us how we spend the money in our personal accounts without having to justify our purchases AND we avoid the temptation to splurge because of that extra fund since it's not in our account. We both committed to not carrying debit cards to the joint account so we are never tempted to hit the ATM for our joint account.

    We also do the fund transfer at half-way mark because most of our major bills go out in the first half of the month, so we know the money we are transfering will not mean our gas will get turned off, for example.

  11. ames says:

    De-lurking. I think most couples figure out the best strategy through trial and error.

    We planned to put all funds together prior to marriage. It was easy then because I wasn’t working. When I started working and then we had a lot more money it was hard to keep spending in check. I was buying a quart of milk for $6 because the jar was pretty.

    Now we put all funds into our ING. We have individual checking accounts linked to the joint ING account. I typically make transfers to my account and pay all the bills. He makes transfers to his to put gas in both cars, grocery shopping, dining out and most day to day expenses. We can make withdrawals for personal items but we always know how much money we are working with.

    ING made it simple.

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