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Getting Married and Combining Money

October 23rd, 2008 at 12:00 pm

One of my and my husband's financial goals after marriage is living on one income and saving the other. The first step to that is starting to combine our finances, and it's a headache!

I've been reading this blog post and seeing if I could get some insight on the best way to do this:

Text is Should Married Couples Combine Finances? and Link is http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/should-married-couples-combine-finances.html
Should Married Couples Combine Finances?

I have friends who are married and still keep all their finances separate. Then again, combining everything is not a feasible option either bc I have so many different accounts and investments and property in my name.

I think for now the yours, mine and our approach would work best. We decided to start out with a joint household account to which we will both contribute. We will pay the mortgage, utilities and food out of it, and also contribute savings into the linked savings account.

We decided to go with ING Electric Orange and the linked Money Market for this. I was interested in this account since I've read about it a while back. I gladly trade the ability to write paper checks for earning even a small interest on my checking account balance.

I'm taking charge of the bill paying ofcourse, bc I'm a nerd like that. We do discuss what we're doing and what we're spending, and he is very thrifty like me, so that helps.

How do you manage money in your marriage, and does it work for you? Do you have any advice on for a young couple just starting out together?

14 Responses to “Getting Married and Combining Money”

  1. anonymouse Says:

    I wish I could find the link for this article written by a bank teller. She talks about the high number of times that one spouse will come in and wipe out all of the accounts because they found out the other was cheating on them. Or the spouse comes in and wipes out the account to run off with the new love interest. She also says it happens quite a bit to military men who marry women right before they ship out and when they come back their bank accounts are empty. She definitely is in support of the yours, mine and ours accounts.

  2. MileHighGirl Says:

    Argh, that is horrible! I guess noone ever thinks they will be that 50% that ends in divorce. Both my and his parents are still married and have always shared everything in one account. They are our biggest examples of good relationships, so we try to model after them. However, I can't help but think of what the worst case scenario could be and whether I'd be OK.

  3. Ima saver Says:

    I have been married for over 31 years and I have always handled the finances. Everything we have is joint with no problems!!

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    My DH and I have had combined finances from the get go. But I'm a stay at home, homeschooling mom so we only have one income. I'm in charge of it because he was so hopeless with money when we first started dating I took over his finances then and we've just gone from there. He knows where all the accounts are and all the spreadsheets, and he gets quarterly updates, but other than that it's all me. It works for us. It may not work for you.

  5. dmontngrey Says:

    My husband is about as clueless as it gets with finances! Um... he "knows" the bills get paid, that's about it. By "knows" I guess I mean he just assumes. He really has no clue! We finally gave ourselves allowances just over a year ago and that was the first time we had separate accounts. We've had joint accounts together for almost 10 years now.

    I think you're on the right track with his, hers, and ours. You will quickly find out if this arrangement works best for you, and it most likely will if you are both on the same page with everything.

  6. merch Says:

    My wife and I have had both approaches. Before we had children we had mine, hers, and ours. We each had our own retirement accounts, credit cards, property, etc.

    But after we had a child, we combined everything except for some outlaying retirement accounts.

    I have to say that combining everything has caused us to be more of a team, align are goals, and trust each other more. I would recommend all married couples combine accounts, agree on goals, and agree on a budget.

    Some people talk about protecting yourself from that cheating husband or the wife that has a shopping addiction, or the gambling husband or the alcoholic wife. And that means keep your finances separate.

    I would argue that by seeing all the accounts and reviewing them monthly, you would see these problems before they become an issue.

  7. Caoineag Says:

    Originally did separate accounts (technically joint in case of emergency) and just divied up the bills. Over time I have grown more comfortable with the one account idea and we are currently moving to condense everything. Once that is done, we will alternate control. It only took me 8 years to grow comfortable with the idea...

    Though in fairness, we had so much coming and going that it was easier to split up the work and each do half. Now our bills are simplified so it won't be as difficult.

  8. monkeymama Says:

    Well, I don't envy you. Big Grin A lot to figure out...

    When we first married we did not combine anything. My income was just enough to cover the bills. I guess we like simplicity. So I paid all the bills and dh's accounts were 100% savings. Just made it easy. His paycheck went to savings; mine to bills. (Community property state, so the money was just as his/hers, even if it was not separated by name).

    Anyway, regardless I do NOT recommend. If something happened to my husband it could have been really hard to get to the money (all of our savings), even if it was legally mine.

    When we had kids we got around to putting each other's names on all of the accounts. At that point we felt it was pretty important to get all our affairs in order.

    Eventually we closed our old accounts and opened all joint accounts. So today, everything is combined (as one) except our retirement accounts. But even those, I treat as "ours" and allocate the assets based on the combination of all of our accounts, etc.

    The question has come up a lot lately and I think I have figured it out (after pondering the whole thing much). I would not feel comfortable marrying someone I did not trust 1000%. I can not fathom either of us running off with all the money if our marriage was in trouble. We're just too mature for that. So yeah, if I had to feel like I needed a separate account "just in case" well I Would question if I should be married to this person. That's just me, but it's exactly how my parents were, and their parents.

    I think I see a trend - it took some time to migrate in that direction for a lot of people. Though we have always viewed our money as "one" we did have separate accounts for many years. Kids change things a lot.

  9. monkeymama Says:

    P.S. - I read the article. I have issue with the last point. If you have a living trust you avoid probate and freezing of assets if your spouse dies. So it seems like a silly reason to keep your assets separate. It makes much more sense to have a living trust drawn up.

    In my job I see WAY too many people without wills or trusts who do go through probate. Something to avoid, for sure.

    Even if you keep the assets separate, the trust would be very useful.

  10. MileHighGirl Says:

    Hmm, would we then have to transfer everything into the trust? All our retirement accounts, IRAs, Roths, Investment Accounts, Savings Accounts, etc? I've heard Suze Orman pushing these for a while, but it just seemed like such a hassle!

    I definitely see this being a process, but I'd like to eventually, one day, merge accounts. The retirement accounts will probably be separate, but the basic checking and savings/MM accounts should probably be joint.

    I guess we should think about drawing up wills too. It's morbid, but can't hurt, especially with the free software out there.

  11. Chalatenango Says:

    I have joint accounts with my wife.
    We have only been married a few months, but we are together because we trust each other.

    I manage the month to month expenses,which I pay out of a checking account that is currently only in my name.
    I plan on adding her for joint ownership purposes, but other than that, this account is specifically for expenses.
    I keep a monthly budget of bill that will need to be paid with an estimated amount (based on previous months).

    Since certain payment take a while, its imporatant that you keep the account balanced.

    Our savings are in both our names.
    There's not much movement there.

    Marriage is for the long run.
    Be careful, but don't be so negative either.

  12. creditcardfree Says:

    We combined everything in the beginning. This included our small assets and his credit card debt. I paid the bills and handled everything. I paid off those credit cards as quickly as possible. For him, it had been such a big burden. He was relieved to have it out from under him. He tells everyone how much he trusts me because of that. We've been married for 12.5 years and still going. We've even survived deployment with joint finances! Best wishes to you.

  13. Kayla Says:

    my bf and i will be opening joint accounts next month. we agreed that after 8 months of being together, and over five of those months living together, that we would open a joint account as a move closer to marriage. we both also agree that we will merge our finances after we are married.

  14. Aaron Says:

    DONT DO IT........It sounds great and it is while your married but if you get divorce its one of the worst things ever....

    Do whats called an equity based shared account... If person 1 makes 2000 a month and person 2 makes 4000.

    Then person 1 pays 30% of all bills and shared expenses and is automatically transfered in to that shared account. Vice versa person 2 pays 70%..

    Do not combine assets maintain seperate ownership of all assetts if possible...

    Life is not perfect and neither is love and neither is people.

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