Must we combine our finances?
September 19, 2016 9:19 AM   Subscribe

We just got married. Is there a compelling reason to combine our finances?

We got married last week. We have lived together for two years, and have had a really nice system for how money works: he works in a more lucrative field than I do, and owned the apartment we live in for years before we met, thus pays the mortgage and the maintenance for where we live. I pay for many, but not all, living expenses. This has worked really well for us, and we never argue about money.

We have separate bank accounts--separate checking, and separate savings. Separate investments. No secrets, just...separate, because we are in our mid-and-late 30s and were already fully formed people when we met, and these things were already in place.

I don't want to close my bank accounts, and he doesn't want to close his (simply because I like my bank; he prefers his). We also don't see a compelling reason to open a brand new joint account--is there?

I guess I would find it very strange if I learned that say, my parents, had separate finances, but my mother didn't work most of the time, so if they had separate finances it would just mean my dad would have controlled all the money.

Must we combine? It sounds like I'm looking for permission to not combine, but I honestly do want to know if there is a good reason to do so. The main reason we don't want to is because it works very well this way, and keeping things the way they are is less of a headache. We have no issues worrying about each other's financial responsibility or anything. But tell me! I also welcome stories of how this has worked for you, if you've stayed separate.
posted by millipede to Work & Money (53 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have a look at this question.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2016


(PS. I'm not talking about taxes here. I know that is a more complicated question).
posted by millipede at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2016


You're a happily married couple who don't have arguments about your finances. You have my personal permission to keep on keepin' on. Why change something that's working for you?

The only thing I would maybe add (don't close anything, just add) is a joint savings account where you can both stash money for big fun things like vacations (Barclay's online has something called a "dream account" with one of the best APYs out there right now) and a joint checking account or joint credit card so you can both buy food/household items easily. But you don't really need it.
posted by phunniemee at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2016 [36 favorites]


We were in a similar situation when we married (mid 30s, I make much more, already owned the home we lived in), and we've never merged accounts, either. We just divide expenses.

I pay the house note, the taxes, insurance, and "capital improvements." She pays the utilities, the car note, and a fair share of entertainment. Until relatively recently, she also paid for groceries and household stuff, but when I stopped traveling for work so much we made a conscious choice to consolidate all that on my Amex for points purposes.

We will celebrate our 11th anniversary in October, so I'm comfortable saying no, you don't have to combine.
posted by uberchet at 9:26 AM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have friends who did this for quite a long time, mostly on inertia, and it worked fine for them, although they eventually pooled everything jointly. I think they got sick of doing things like splitting restaurant checks just to balance things out right.

One thing I'd mention is that marriage still makes many assets community property (depending on your state), so just because he's paying the apartment costs doesn't mean you might not have a claim if you divorce. If that type of thing is a concern and motivation to keep things separate, then a prenup would have been the way to go. Of course you guys are happily married, and congrats to that, but it might be worth a bit of discussion to be sure you're on the same page with the what-ifs.
posted by handful of rain at 9:26 AM on September 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you've got a system that works for you, there's no need to change it. You might find it useful to have a joint account to handle shared expenses so that (for example), if one of you is offline for an extended period of time, the other can pay the bills.

My wife and I also met when we were fully formed adults. We keep separate accounts, but we also have shared checking and savings to cover the mutual expenses.
posted by adamrice at 9:27 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here are a couple of reasons why you might consider combining, at least to some degree:

1) One of you does the bills. You won't be getting separate bills, assuming you live together, share some expenses like cars. You can continue to pay bills like you're roommates ("Here's half the power bill." , but eventually, one of you may do the scutwork of paying the bills. Maybe a single (new) joint account from which bills could be paid could be a way to deal with this, whether or not it leads to combining accounts.

2) One or both of you have some bad habits, financially, that're going to affect the other without realizing it at first. The sooner you have, at least, some financial transparency from one to the other, the sooner you can recognize and address this. Not so much the case for combining, as much as the case for disclosure; however, combining accounts will make it so each spouse can find out for themselves. Try to look at these discoveries of bad habits, stupid expenses, etc. as an opportunity to improve yourselves, each other, and the marriage, if at all possible. It's really easy to try to lay down the law and say "we don't need to spend any money on ____, nor more than half of this on _____," but you're both contributing money, and so you can safely address these things without declaring absolutes.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:29 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nope. No need to. My partner of nearly-17 years and I finally opened a joint checking around year 14 to satisfy an arcane requirement of making him a registered domestic partner. Other than that we've shared our lives, own a house together, and otherwise have entirely separate finances. It works for us. If you have something that works for you, I'd let it be until/unless it stops working.
posted by Stacey at 9:30 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Married 26 years, with separate accounts. We divvy expenses along similar lines to uberchet and it has worked out well for us.
posted by sarajane at 9:30 AM on September 19, 2016


I've been living with my now-husband for 21 years, married for nearly six. We didn't bother combining. We did have a joint account at one point for saving but had to close it when we changed countries and don't miss it.

Our money is generally freely shared and so are the expenses, but that changes depending on our circumstances at any time. And our bank accounts are very separate, we don't even use the same banks, and my money is mine. Works for me, do what works for you.

If you have a mortgage or large saving goal then a joint account might make sense, but do it when you have a reason rather than out of obligation.
posted by shelleycat at 9:31 AM on September 19, 2016


Tiny update just to clarify! We don't currently split restaurant or utility bills, and even though we have separate accounts we see it as "our" money. This is less about philosophy of "yours/mine" vs "ours" than about the wisdom of the actual structure of non-combined accounts/investments.
posted by millipede at 9:31 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say there's an immediately compelling reason to do this, and two adults who are able to be self-supporting really get to do whatever they want, but there are some future scenarios you might consider:

1) How are you going to manage big-ticket future shared expenses? (vacations, major repairs or renovations to the apartment, etc.)

2) If you're going to have kids, how will you share those expenses? Saving for college?

3) In the hopefully very unlikely event that you divorce, depending on your state's laws, he will have a compelling case that the apartment remains his alone since it's a premarital asset maintained solely with his income, whereas you might not get "credit" for your contributions to the household expenses. (In some states you would probably be entitled to some of the appreciation if any, but in some you would not). It's OK if you're OK with this, but you should be aware of the implications.

4) Do you have mutual transparency about your retirement goals/savings? Again, it's perfectly reasonable to have separate funds, but it's good to have mutual understanding of the big picture

Like I said, there are many different ways to do this successfully and if your current system is working for you just fine at the moment there's no need to change immediately just because you're married. You may find that as you get older and your lives get more intertwined and/or complex, you want to change things and that's fine too.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 9:33 AM on September 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


I don't think you need to do anything differently day to day but I would recommend making each other joint holders on your accounts for safety.
posted by bleep at 9:36 AM on September 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think as long as you guys aren't so invested (ha) in this system that you're not willing to do something else later if it turns out the something else works better at that point, it doesn't matter. With money being so electronic now, the boundaries aren't as distinct as they used to be. Your fortunes may very well rise/fall in the future in ways you can't even imagine now, and which require a different tack.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:37 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


We don't currently split restaurant or utility bills, and even though we have separate accounts we see it as "our" money.

It sounds like you deal with your moneys pretty much the same as we deal with ours. If my 21 years of happiness is anything to go by you're good.
posted by shelleycat at 9:37 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


It couldn't hurt to look into what happens with one spouse's assets if, heaven forbid, one of you should die. Not that the survivor wouldn't get the money, but would it be more complicated?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:37 AM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


You should have wills for that stuff anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 9:38 AM on September 19, 2016


Absolutely don't need to; I'm very glad my wife and I did it, but the reason isn't about financial planning or anything. I just like not having any cause to think about anything as "my" money or "her" money.
posted by Polycarp at 9:40 AM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Check how much time you spend paying all those other bills. Multiply by 30 years.
posted by amtho at 9:54 AM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Overall I agree with "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The one thing I'll say is that in my experience, the complexity of managing finances increases non-linearly with the number of accounts you have to deal with. If you each have your own accounts, that means you both are going to have to deal with finances every couple of weeks (to pay bills, etc.). It seems like you're basically doubling your overhead to me.

My wife and I have mostly combined accounts, which means one person can deal with it all. We do trade-off, but it means each of us has to do it roughly half as often. Since neither of us particularly enjoys paying bills, it's nice to have that reduction in overhead. I also find that having us both touch all of the major accounts on a regular basis helps add a "failsafe" mechanism, so if one of us makes a mistake, the other will catch it pretty quickly. Obviously YMMV on this stuff, but it makes household management a bit less of a chore for us.
posted by primethyme at 9:54 AM on September 19, 2016


we keep ours separate, but we did end up opening one brand new account, because if anyone ever writes you a cheque with both your names on it, it's really hard to cash without a joint account!

Also, it's pretty good for ease of transferring money. I used to send an e-transfer every couple of weeks for mortgage/bills, but that $1.50 each time adds up over a marriage. We don't split restaurant bills or anything either, we both just sort of pay for things and if one person feels like they've been paying more lately then the other person should pay for things for the next little bit. I THINK if we had kids we might have more combined expenses, but as it stands now we both like the freedom of not having the other person monitor the things you spend money on.

I went to the bank and made my husband the beneficiary on all my accounts, though! I mean, legally it probably would have ended up there anyways, but it's nice to just take away the vagueness.

you have MY permission!
posted by euphoria066 at 9:55 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


We are nearly 10 years into married life without joint bank accounts and we own a home and have a child together.

We don't split bills - I pay some, he pays others. I think I pay for a lot more of the day to day type expenses, and we make up for it by having him pay a bit more of the bigger-ticket items like plane tickets and such.

I think it would be more difficult if our incomes were more disparate (they're fairly close), we had different ideas about money (we're pretty similar), or if we were more strapped for cash - but in any of those cases, things would be harder regardless of bank account status.
posted by vunder at 9:55 AM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like everyone else, if you have a system that works, I think that's fine.

I'm in a similar situation, but we both make about the same amount of money and live in a major city where one person can't just pick up the tab for the whole rent. We are strongly considering some kind of joint account because paying our rent (or any other large expense, which is a lot of them because we are broke freelancers) is a tedious chore involving multiple banks, waiting X business days for transfers to go through, etc. And, because we are broke freelancers, any mistake or mistiming in these tedious chores can cost us money due to overdraft fees. We often opt to each go to our separate bank to withdraw cash, just because it's relatively foolproof. It occurs to me that this annoying song and dance would be a lot more convenient if we had a joint account.

But yeah, if you have enough ready cash that these things don't really happen, sure, keep doing like you're doing I guess.

The divorce scenario mentioned by The Elusive Architeuthis is pretty chilling to me, though.
posted by Sara C. at 10:00 AM on September 19, 2016


We have a joint account that we each transfer money into from our personal accounts. It is convenient for paying bills, mortgage, that sort of thing, as both of us have access to it. Easier for both of us to keep track of everything.

We also have a joint savings account that we use for vacations and major purchases.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:14 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Together 20 years without combining and happy.

It started out because I had a shit ton of educational debt and our interpretation of the terms made it seem like if I were disabled somehow, the educational debt might have a greater chance of disappearing if there wasn't a combined account that was still drawing income to go after. Also, at the time of our marriage we had a huge income disparity where I basically paid all the bills and her money was spending/savings.

Now, her income just surpassed my own and the chief benefit I would say is that we don't argue about our differences in spending. It's a lot easier to say "we'll split the mortgage, you make the car payments, I'll do the utilities" and then everything else is discretionary. I don't complain when she buys her 50th pair of $400 shoes and she doesn't complain when I buy a fifth electric guitar because all the important stuff is already taken care of and my frivolous spending doesn't interfere with hers.

We still file taxes jointly.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:21 AM on September 19, 2016


When my husband and I started out, we had no money and were very young. We pooled right away because it made more sense. Over the years, we have had various imbalances with income and it has been helpful to just have one account. I manage the books and having a single account sort of makes that easier.

I would encourage you to have a joint budget and discuss joint savings goals and make a plan for how to fill up the accounts toward those goals. I think the simplest thing is if one of you is making 40k and the other 60k that you contribute proportionally to shared goals/household budget requirements. So, if you are socking away $1000 jointly every month toward, say, a new home purchase, then one of you contributes $600 and the other $400. If you have a common budget tracker you can easily see how your income fluctuates and contribute proportionally.

There's no "one way" and there's also likely going to be different ways to approach budgets and goals throughout your married life and it's optimal to step back periodically and re-assess.
posted by amanda at 10:26 AM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


You should have a joint emergency savings account, because one of the potential emergencies is that one of you is sick or injured in a way that prevents you from accessing your bank accounts. Consider what would happen if your spouse was hit by a car and in a coma for three months. How would the mortgage get paid? Presumably you both already have such accounts, individually; you should just combine them.
posted by praemunire at 10:31 AM on September 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying anything that others haven't already said, but I'll give you another data point at least. My wife and I didn't intentionally set out not to combine; it's just worked out that way. I did add her to my credit union savings account after we married so we can save for big items together, but our checking accounts and credit cards are separate. Our setup is pretty similar to yours. I pay rent and electric; she pays the other utilities and insurance. We seat-of-the-pants small stuff like going out to dinner or groceries. I usually pay, but only because she was until recently in grad school and didn't have much of an income. She still offers to help, and I usually just decline. It has never caused us any trouble. (Well, it has never caused me any trouble; I guess I can't speak for her, but she has never expressed any discomfort with the arrangement, at least.) She knows that whatever's in my account is hers if she needs it for something; it's just that her name isn't on the account.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:34 AM on September 19, 2016


Absolutely not! Most couples argue &/ split over money as the #1 cause. That is a very strong argument for keeping your current peaceful system.

One thing you should do though, in addition to a few suggestions above, is to add his name to your bill-paying &/ retirement accounts as your spouse (and vice versa). Not for joint use, but in case of unconsciousness or death -- so that either of you has access to bills/accounts that are on autopay or need paid from that account; and for retirement, so that it goes straight to him as spouse.
posted by Dashy at 10:56 AM on September 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you already think of all the money as "ours", it's way more convenient to have fewer accounts IMO, YMMV.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:00 AM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


30 years married here. We have two accounts, at different banks, one account we consider "mine" (I/we pay the bills etc with this one. My income goes into this one) and the other we consider "hers" (she/we buy groceries and consumables with this one. Her income goes into it). We both have joint access to both accounts. I rarely use hers and she rarely uses mine, but we do find it agreeable and convenient to have access and awareness of each account.
posted by annekenstein at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2016


Eh, when we got married all we did was put each other's names on the other's accounts. We still used them as our own accounts.

Then, when we had to change banks, we just got one account.

Our decisions were all made according to whatever was the easiest at that time. If you're the sort of couple who doesn't really argue about money, I don't really think the way you structure your joint personal finances will make much difference.
posted by gaspode at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2016


There's a lot of good anecdata in this thread about joint accounts and how couples handle finances in an amazing variety of ways.
posted by Liesl at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2016


I don't think you need to do anything differently day to day but I would recommend making each other joint holders on your accounts for safety.

That was my only practical concern too. If your setup works for you, there's no need to mess around with it, but you both should probably make sure that each of you is an account holder on all the accounts so that you have immediate access to them in the awful event that the other is killed or incapacitated. A financial-or-legal type person would know for sure given your state and the state of your finances and so on, but it might also be useful to look into getting you onto the paperwork for the apartment if you're not already, and in general being on each other's accounts even if you don't plan to use that capability outside of an emergency.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on September 19, 2016


We kept everything separate for years just out of laziness - you mean I have to go to the bank? I don't wanna! Plus we figured it didn't really matter (really similar situation to yours).

We recently combined because it got to be a pain to move money around and fewer accounts means fewer things to keep track of.
posted by tealcake at 11:53 AM on September 19, 2016


I have been married for almost 10 years and we have never combined finances, ever. We have seperate bank accounts but one, linked, savings account that we both put money in. It works for us. There is no arguing or fighting over money, almost EVER.

So many couples I know bicker about things like, "why do you have to go to starbucks everyday?" or "what did you buy at target that was $20?" and I have never had this conversation. All we care about is that our bills are paid and we're putting a little money away when we get paid.

He is responsible for some bills and I am responsible for others. We make around the same amount, so we just split everything based on the usual monthly amount being almost the same.

I've thought about combining in the past, but knowing that the number 1 reason people divorce is issues related to money makes me so nervous.

I know you didn't want to hear my life story but I wanted you to see that in a long marriage - this has worked really, really well.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:18 PM on September 19, 2016


Sudden death, unexpected divorce, cyber crime.

Don't even think it.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:19 PM on September 19, 2016


The only thing I would suggest is making certain that you each have access to each other's resources in case of emergency. Keep an an agreement to stay out of each others' affairs, but still provide flexibility when you need it. Medical emergencies or worse, is what I'd be concerned with. Could you pay the mortgage if he were in hospital for a few months? Could he cover your responsibilities in the reverse? In extremis, if one of you gets hit by a bus, even if you have a will, that might mean their assets are frozen for a year or more in probate.

You don't need to change anything, but being prepared never hurts.
posted by bonehead at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2016


My bank gives vastly better terms based on the amount of money in our accounts. It's saved us hundreds of dollars each year. You can probably accomplish the same thing by linking the accounts, but if you're paying for things such as wire transfers, checks, monthly maintenance, etc., that may be worth looking into.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:43 PM on September 19, 2016


It sounds like you are doing great so far! We had separate bank accounts for everything for the first 5 or so years of our marriage, except for one shared checking and one shared savings account strictly for "family" expenses. So, our mortgage and utility expenses came from the checking and we put money into the shared savings account for our wedding expenses. It worked really well for us - at the time, my spouse made 52% of the income, so he'd put in 52% of the shared bills into the shared checking account. Similarly, at the time I made 48% of the income, so I'd put in enough to pay for 48% of the shared bills into the shared checking account. If someone had a job change or a raise, we'd alter our percentages accordingly. This worked especially nice as it created a good foundation of financial trust in each other.

Then we had a large medical bill to pay for my spouse. I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't one of the hardest things to do to put "my" money towards "his" medical bill. It was hard. It was humbling and frustrating and infuriating and hard. And necessary. So the separate accounts worked really well until that happened. And then we had a kid, too. Another shared expense, but with much different and unexpected costs. And I was the pregnant one, so were they "my" medical bills? And then unpaid maternity leave...

Luckily, around the time of the first large medical bill, we switched up the mindset. We had a shared financial goal - save for a new house! So we put all of our money into the shared checking, some into the shared savings, and then gave each other allowances every month. We talk about raising or lowering the allowance as needed. (And they aren't necessarily equal allowances, either.) But we still have our own separate bank accounts that the allowance is direct deposited into. This is important because then I don't have to care if he spends all his money on golf clubs and he doesn't have to care if I spend all my money on comics. Our shared bills and family expenses are taken care of.

So, I guess I'm saying, good work! Be open to change in the future! And it doesn't hurt if you start building up shared financial trust by having a shared account to pay bills from.
posted by jillithd at 1:11 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you're in a community property state, your individual earnings post-marriage are now considered joint/community property, even if they're in separate bank accounts. That's no reason for you to change the way you're doing things, but be aware that the mine-is-mine thing may not be legally true anymore. But, legally true and logistically expedient are two entirely separate things.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2016


We have always done this, except, as noted by others, we've made both accounts joint accounts, just in case. Mine has my name listed first, hers has her name listed first. And they are connected accounts at the bank, as are our savings accounts, so it's easy to transfer money from one to the other if one of us pays for something that is the other's responsibility.
posted by beagle at 1:33 PM on September 19, 2016


My husband and I combined finances a year or so after we married because he does all the bills and budgeting and he found it much easier to do so from a joint account and credit card.

(I have ADHD, which means that I forget to pay bills until they're past due, so gratefully ceded that to him. My credit score is so much better now!)
posted by telophase at 2:02 PM on September 19, 2016


You not paying into the home could somehow fuck you if you get divorced. So talk to a lawyer about that. Otherwise, I don't really see an issue.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:21 PM on September 19, 2016


Our finances (together 10 years, now own a home together) are separate. We have an arrangement much like the one you describe based on who earns more.

One tip: the two of you do need to (1) put together a consolidated list of all accounts, account numbers, login information etc. and have it on file in a lockbox, safe deposit box, etc., and (2), depending on how your respective financial institutions work, list one another as spouses or trusted contacts who can access those accounts in case of emergency.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:40 PM on September 19, 2016


From a power dynamic point of view, I think that your partner having originally bought your home and now paying the mortgage may skew you both to view the home as 'his', and you paying for the groceries does play into gender roles a bit. But if your are in sync about finances and money, then it probably doesn't matter.

If, however, you aren't in sync, but don't know it because you aren't making joint decisions, then discussing the options of how you could combine finances, what you both consider fair, and what to do in the case of large one sided expenses or children, may help the two of you get on the same team wrt finances.
posted by kjs4 at 5:20 PM on September 19, 2016


There's no super-compelling reason if things are working for you now. It'd be worthwhile to talk to a financial planner or an estate attorney in your state to make sure stuff is how you want it; there's also such a thing as a POD (Payable On Death) account where you can turn your regular accounts at any bank into a POD that'll automatically transfer to your partner when you die, without having to deal with a joint account.

You may want to affirmatively transfer some assets into joint ownership (housing is the big one) but if you haven't thought of one yet, you're probably fine. An estate attorney or a financial planner can help you think through whether there are any that would advantage you w/r/t your state's laws, taxes, or inheritance rules.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:22 PM on September 19, 2016


Check the laws in your state. My husband and I have not added one another to our accounts even after 10 years of marriage because you have to go to the branch and paperwork and ugh. But we need to get it done, because if I die tomorrow, my husband cannot access the funds in my account, even with a will in hand, even with a marriage certificate in hand.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:06 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seconding Euphoria: it's nice to have a joint account for those odd moments when someone writes a check to both of you (state tax returns and elderly relatives are likely culprits, here) & for ease of transferring money, but there's no need to merge all your finances.
posted by yarntheory at 6:09 PM on September 19, 2016


I've been married 20 years, and we have almost no joint finances. At first it was my pessimism over any marriage lasting and all those stories in the 70s of newly-divorced women without a credit rating; now it's more that we can't agree on a bank, and I can be more disciplined at saving money. We each pay different bills including our own credit cards.

We file our taxes jointly. A checklist of the paperwork submitted last year and a big priority mailing envelope to hold the paperwork as it comes in keeps the chaos and uncertainty to a minimum.

The problem of checks written to both of us (tax return only) can be gotten around by my signing the back and him depositing into the ATM. The teller won't accept it, but no one ever checks the machine deposited checks.

We are probably more blissfully ignorant of how we spend money and the state of our savings than if we had joint accounts. Assembling the tax paperwork is a great chance to review joint savings and spending.
posted by JawnBigboote at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2016


We both kept our own accounts but opened a joint current account into which we both put half our monthly income and use it for all the things that are for us both - household bills, food, mortgage, going out (as a couple). Anything left at the end of the month goes into savings. We keep our own accounts for our every day stuff - work lunch, own vehicles/transport, going out (not as a couple), hobbies, personal insurance etc.

Before that we split things such that he paid some things and I paid for others - the food shopping fell to me and I always ended up buying anything that was needed for the house - kitchen stuff, DIY. I guess it was equitable but I never really knew for sure and it really bothered me. If it was a big food shop for a week or we needed something for the household, a new saucepan or a garden tool - then hey, suddenly I'm paying extra this month. I was fufilling part of the role of housewife - sourcing the things the household needed without having the housewife benefits - a household account. It was a weird mix of modern and old fashioned and it felt like a raw deal and I didn't like it at all.

I've been so much happier since we got the joint account, no more remembering who got the last meal out or last cinema tickets - when we're out together, we're paying for things out of the joint account and I'm no longer mentally keeping track of who has paid for what and I don't resent hubby when we buy a new kettle because I know I'm not buying it - we're buying it.
posted by Ness at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Your situation is very similar to mine and my wife's. We lived together before marriage, and had a system to pay costs that worked for us. We did not combine finances when we married. There is no compelling reason to. There was a compelling reason *not to* combine finances for us, and I bet its similar for you. We were both used to taking care of our own finances individually, masters of our own fate, and a joint checking or savings account requires lots of cooperation. We were afraid of bounced checks.

When we decided to buy a new place that required both our incomes and assets to purchase, we found it made sense to open a joint checking account. There were actually financial and legal benefits to doing so. However, we both kept our own separate finances, and mostly just use that joint checking account to pay the mortgage every month. We have found it is helpful for occasional incidentals, and very useful for giving each other money when needed. It is an addition to, not a replacement for, our individual finances.
posted by Cranialtorque at 12:46 PM on September 20, 2016


There can be good reasons for coordinating finances, for instance maximizing &/or rationalizing retirement savings, especially if one person's older. In general the answers I would give to someone would depend very much on their individual circumstances, involving property, health, kids, business set ups, etc. A fee-only financial planner would be about to give you a more customized answer. But in general, if both of you are very nearly even on everything, I don't see a reason to combine finances.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:22 PM on September 20, 2016


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