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Should Marriage Mean Combining Finances?

There are two questions I hear most when people find out I’m engaged: Am I going to take his last name, and how are we going to handle our finances? The second question is an important one for couples to consider when getting married, though don’t you think it’s funny that this is one of the only times other people don’t consider money talk to be taboo?

There’s no right answer in terms of whether or not a couple should combine their finances; the real answer is to do what’s right for you and your unique situation. Some people feel like there’s no need to combine any money and think it’s easier to leave things be, others struggle with letting go of the independence of controlling their individual money, and some have zero gripes about creating one big love and money pot. Then, of course, there’s everyone in between. To see my solution just

.

I think a good solution is to pool most of your money while maintaining small, separate checking accounts for personal expenses. That way, you can pay all joint expenses out of the joint account and use your personal account for things like girls’ nights and pedicures. The important thing is finding what works for your relationship and being open in discussing finances with your new husband. Also, it's okay if you need to let the whole “husband” thing sink in before diving right into the serious stuff.

Total Deposits at Washington Mutual are FDIC insured. Thank you to WaMu for sponsoring this post.

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pookietrue pookietrue 8 years
I really recommend the book "Smart Couples Finish Rich" It talks all about how to plan your finances and truly, your financial future together. You can't expect to spend your life together and have one half of the couple saving for retirement with their spare money and the other half spending it on indulgences. Whether it's joint accounts or separate accounts doesn't matter as long as you have a singular financial plan, IMHO.
wickidgrrl wickidgrrl 8 years
i believe, and what has worked for my husband and i, is to start a joint account, but also have seperate accounts . you never know what will happen down the line, so to have that cushion to fall back on justin case things go terribly wrong. i have witnessed from friends and familys' experiences, where the significant other has left and drained the accounts leaving them penniless. Do i love my husband and trust him? YES, but i am still going to protect myself.
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 8 years
i just got married two months ago and we are having this same conflict. he wants us to have a joint account, I want seperate with one main account to pool for our joint bills. in my previous marriage i happily handed over all the money control to my husband and he controlled it alright. i had no clue how much money we had or didn't have and he wouldn't even let me look at out account. so this time around i didn't want to loose that control or to fight about money.
julieulie julieulie 8 years
Personally, I'm all for just pooling all the money -- one joint savings account and one joint checking account, but my fiance wants to keep some account just for him -- his "running away with someone half his age" fund, as he calls it. Personally, I'd rather just have one big account so I can mange our finances. My fiance doesn't even balance his checkbook or write down checks that he gives out, and it drives me nuts. Meanwhile, I manage every cent in MS Money. So naturally, I think it should all just go into one big account and I'll do all the managing, thankyouverymuch.
sarasonne sarasonne 8 years
I agree that every couple is different. However these days, considering the divorce/separation rate, I think it might be wiser to keep some finances separate. My boyfriend & I have a 50-50 checking out that makes it so much easier to pay for rent, bills and going out to eat. But we also have individual accounts too.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 8 years
As idealistic as I would like to be about marriage lasting forever and ever, unfortunately divorce is becoming more and more commonplace. I've just seen way too many people get screwed because they only had a joint account between the both of them. I make more money than my S.O. right now, so I actually pay the largest expense (rent) and he pays the smaller expense (the rest of the bills collectively). There's no resentment about money spent because I have my separate account of money that I've earned and he has his. If heaven forbid, we should break up, then neither of us will be tempted to completely empty out the bank account out of spite nor will we have to fight about whose money is really whose.
melizzle melizzle 8 years
We've joined everything. Hubby & I were in similar financial situations pre-marriage and have the mindset when it comes to money and saving. Although it was kind of bumpy at first, figuring out who was spending what, it's ultimately become a heck of a lot easier to manage the bills with one account. The one downside is that now he knows when I splurge on cosmetics!! :)
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 8 years
P.S. I don't plan to change my name. At least not for now...maybe I'll hyphenate if kids come along. I used to dislike my last name until the prospect of changing it came up. Now I think I'd like to stick with it. It amuses me that people assume I have a Hispanic last name based on my looks, when my last name is actually Dutch. (I'm Hispanic, Dutch, and British.) It's not that I'm trying to be all feminist and new age, it's just that I don't see why I should change it. That, and I've published stories under my name, so even if I hyphenate, I'll still write under my maiden name.
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 8 years
I'm pondering this very thing right now. I originally thought we'd do seperate accounts and one joint account, but now I'm thinking we'll have one joint account and that we'll each keep our separate credit cards. I put everything on my credit card because I get airline miles, and then I pay the balance in full each month from my checking account. So I think having three checking accounts between the two of us isn't needed and will only complicate things. I don't like the idea of each of us nitpicking about what the other spends, and we're both financially responsible, so the credit card method gives us each the freedom to spend money on whatever we like. I plan to set up a budget, too, so we'll know how much is okay to charge for incidentals, entertainment, etc.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
my boyfriend and i talk about this all the time since we have lived together for quite some time now. my take is that we should have an account that we both contribute to in order to pay the joint bills but he says no. so i guess that means that our money even after we get married will be separate.
Deba22 Deba22 8 years
Are you going to change your name?? ;-) And, nice call on saving up for a well deserved girls night out!
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 8 years
No, I don't think that it's a good idea necessarily to have shared accounts automatically. People have different financial situations, such as children from a previous marriage who need to be looked after, elderly relatives who depend on them, etc. But personally I would not do that. I think that my future husband and I should divide the bills equally by our income and put a small amount in a shared household(rainy day) account, and the remainder as we wish-- whether in individual savings accounts or retirement plans, kids college fund, etc. I would like to think that I can trust my future partner to not spend the rest of his money on wasteful things, and would hope that he could trust me too. I do not agree with the idea that husband and wife must combine finances. It's absolutely a terrible idea for women, especially.
meumitsuki meumitsuki 8 years
Not everything works for everyone, but I would venture a cautionary tale. Having the 2 separate spending accounts is great when you are both working and make relatively the same amount. However, if one stays at home with the kids or the other gets a huge promotion, the money can get very one sided. The person with less can feel resentful because they can't buy whatever they want or because they need to ask the other person for money. Once you get into a my money/your money mentality, it can be very hard to get out of, so if this is your plan to start, make sure you have another plan ready for when children come.
emalove emalove 8 years
I think it's whatever works best for the two of you...my husband I have a joint savings account, but we kept our separate checking accounts. It was just easier for now. But my money is his and vice versa. There's no "right" way to do it.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
this is a great idea. I have a question for everyone though. My boyfriend (of 4 years, plan on getting married within 2) are talking about buying a condo this year or next. We could buy one for less than we're currently renting. Are they certain precautions we should take? Any advice??
mayara mayara 8 years
We have joint accounts for bills and major savings, and we each have an individual account for whatever we want. We're still working out the system, as we both had different understandings of how it was supposed to go, but we do agree that neither of us can say anything about the financial aspect of anything paid for from the other's individual account -- it's considered spent when it goes into the account, as far as our joint finances are concerned (though the way it is used could be to put it back into joint finances, as a bill-paying gift).
SillyGirl SillyGirl 8 years
(sometimes I wish there was a comment edit button after i notice my horrendous spelling mistakes)
SillyGirl SillyGirl 8 years
After 5 years of living together, and keeping tracks of who pays what and from whos account, the two of us were more than happy to combine our accounts into one once we got married. 75% of the time, things that we are paying for are for our joint benefit so it makes since. We have similar saving/spending habits which works well for us too. Also, we try to communicate about our spending and saving desires so we both know where we are at.
ALSW ALSW 8 years
We've found it easiest at this point to put the majority of money into one account (his) and what goes into my account goes into savings, typically. He pays the majority of the bills (although I occasionally have to remind him), but that way when things are tight financially all the money is together and there's less chance of an overdraft.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 8 years
This is a hard one. My fiance and I have to sit down soon and talk about this. I know that we both want our own accounts, but to also have a joint one for savings, future, bills. I think the individual ones would be for our personal spending like gifts for each other, lunch, etc.
alikat07 alikat07 8 years
For us, yes. My husband is very irresponsible about money and I started taking charge back when we got engaged. He did not have any savings before I came along and often paid out late charges for his utilities/bills (luckily he also had no debt). Now I have us on a budget with retirement accounts, and an internet savings account for a home down-payment. Our budget is not perfect quite yet, but much better than the situation before.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 8 years
We both think of the money we earn individually as belonging to us both, but we keep separate bank accounts still. He takes care of the bills and I take care of rent. We both pay for groceries. When we start saving up for major trips and/or moving expenses, that's when we both contribute equal shares to a separate joint bank account.
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 8 years
chancleta - I do the same with my fiance. It works beautifully. He's the saver, so I fork over cash if we're saving up for something special. But it works so well this way. We trust each other completely to pay our share.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
I dunno what I would do! Probably pool our money together into a joint account, but then I think it's also important to have a seperate account too. Perhaps putting a seperate percentage into our private accounts every paycheck would work...
chancleta chancleta 8 years
every relationship has it's own special formula my husband and i have seperate accounts but pay the bills together and if one of us needs cash the other hands it over it's a wonderful give and take that makes us happy
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