They say that all is fair in love and war, but what about love and money? Is everything fair there? Probably not, considering that finances and monetary issues are a leading cause in fights and divorces.But if all isn’t fair, than what is? How do you decide how to break things down? Who pays for what? Who covers what?
Fully combined accounts, joint with separate checking, completely separate accounts – there are so many ways to think about merging accounts post marriage. And not just assets, but debts too. Does the what’s your’s is mine and what’s mine is your’s philosophy extend to debt?
All good relationship counselors, advice givers, and random passerby on the streets will recommend bringing up the “awkward” subject of finances and debt after engagement. A few say that covering the talk of how the wedding will be paid for is a great time to broach the subject.
B and I brought it up way earlier. And for that I am incredibly grateful. Way back at the beginning of our relationship, about 2.5 months in actually, B first brought up my moving in with him. We had already each made out of the way trips to see each other in our long distance relationship, and the first rule of an LDR is to have an end goal for it. Ours was cohabitation. It was very, very important to B that we live in the same city before we got engaged. So when he brought up moving in he brought up finances. Namely, he needed to know what my monthly expenses were so he could work to make sure he could cover them once I moved in with him. Cause, he knew that my leaving my jobs, breaking my lease, and moving across the country was going to leave me lacking in funds. From that point on when both knew what the other made, had in savings, and owed in debt.
From that point on I knew he was fully committed to me. Even without a ring. Because, you see, he told me that the first thing we were going to do once I moved in with him was pay off my credit card debt because he hates the things. I managed to take out two grand of it on my own, while still aggressively saving for my move and taking three trips to see him, but there was still a hefty chunk of change to pay off.
We originally started with one joint account and two separate checking accounts. B was paid into his private account and he transferred money to me to pay for things I needed like gas, groceries, etc. Everything else he just paid for out of his account. My checking account (still) has just the 25 bucks needed to open it. I’ve never really touched it. This continued for probably the first 6-9 months of our marriage. At which point I asked him what would happen if I needed access to the savings account for any reason and he was unavailable. That began the switch to attaching my name to the savings account too. With that, I explained how the current checking situation made me feel like a sub-par member of our relationship. I had to ask him to transfer me money, I had to ask him if it was okay to purchase things with our joint account.
*Sidebar: This wouldn’t have bothered me if we’d done as originally planned and paid for everything joint out of the joint account and each received an allowance to our separate accounts.
Now neither of us use our private accounts. Everything goes into and comes out of our joint account. Neither one of us is reckless with money, so it works well. We do take an “ours” philosophy to money and debt. B does not get more leeway to spend money just because he earns the bigger paycheck. I do not feel guilty about spending money just because I had more debt at the beginning.
This is one part of our relationship that I am most grateful for. It is hard at times being the spouse who has the lesser paying job. But, as a military wife, I will never have the healthy, robust career that my husband enjoys. So I am beyond thankful that we have taken an open, team approach to our finances.
Do you and your SO share finances?