General Question

hopscotchy's avatar

How do we deal with finances after marriage?

Asked by hopscotchy (552points) March 23rd, 2010

He’s incredibly frugal, and I’m just not. We have been married for less than a year and haven’t combined monies yet. Separate bank accounts, splitting bills and expenses down the middle, etc. We both know it’s time to sit down and figure this all out (as it has been the ONLY cause of arguments in our relationship.) But where do we begin? It’s important to note that neither of us are heavy spenders, we have very little debt and are happy with very little. But still, he will pick up a penny from the street to add it to his account, while I’ll (without remorse) spend my last 5$ on a bag of fancy pants organic exotic fruit.

Just wondering what has/ hasn’t worked for you seasoned couples out there? Where should this conversation start?

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32 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

Me + bf have one joint checking account. Personal expenses are taken care of separately; we maintain individual stock portfolios, checking accounts, and savings accounts. We each distribute our share of monthly living expenses (rent, utilities, etc.) into the joint account, I write the checks, and he delivers them. Keeping our assets separate makes it very clear who owns what. The joint account is purely a bill paying account that just makes it easier to pay bills and keep track of who contributes what.

Trillian's avatar

I saw the Q and had an answer, then I clicked and your paragraph shot down what I was going to say. I was going to say that this is an important issue to square away before marriage. Statistically, couples fight about money more than anything else.
Would the two of you be willing to sit down with an outside third party? That might be your best bet at this point.

dpworkin's avatar

My advice is that you maintain your financial freedom. Less fights, more empowerment, and you are ready to resume your life if (my it be forbidden) something goes wrong.

janbb's avatar

We have shared savings accounts and checking accounts, but I pretty much control my own (meager) salary and use it for daily living expenses (including some household.) We each spend money on minor discretionary items such as clothing, etc. without consulting the other, but major expenses are jointly decided on. In your case, you might want to draw up a rough budget and determine an amount that you can spend on what he considers “frivolities” without guilt. I know someone who has been married as long as me and they still have separate accounts and expenses that each is responsible for. It’s all about what will work for you as a couple and cause the least amount of stress.

pearls's avatar

I don’t think you wait until after you are married to discuss your finances. You should sit down before you tie the knot and both of you agree on how you will manage your finances together.

bob_'s avatar

Carefully. One quote I’ve always liked: “I never really understood the concept of negative numbers until I got married and opened a checking account.”

Silhouette's avatar

My husband and I do it old school. My money is his money and his money is my money. We commingle all our funds. We both spend money here and there on stupid stuff but we respect the balance.

thriftymaid's avatar

I don’t see any way to do it but combine your accounts and stop thinking that some money is yours and some is his. I can’t imagine fighting about it.

mrrich724's avatar

I have a question. Why don’t you just keep it separate? If you go halves on everything continue to do so, and realize that whatever each other person has, is theirs to do with as they please. . .

If he wants to be frugal, let him be frugal with his leftover cash. If you want to be spendful, as long as you have enough money for your half of stuff, who cares what you spend the extra on? Maybe just spend a little extra time on that rather than trying to join it all up, and in turn avoid the arguing about it.

phillis's avatar

It’s too late now to say that this should have been worked out prior to the nuptials, but please…..before you have children, DO decide how to handle discipline. That is the second most common argument amongst couples.

I am in full agreement with @Silhouette. My husband has his money, and I have mine (change counts, right?). I do not help myself to my husband’s money. I have a budget and I stick to it. If I want to go over that budget, I MUST speak with him about it first before tappping into his cash. He deserves that much from me. It’s a matter of respect for us.

You guys aren’t respecting each other’s boundaries. Just because you’re married does not give you free access to someone else’s stuff. Like I say to my 5 year old, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.”

(I don’t think you’re acting 5 years old. The illustration is merely a reference for a “getting back to basics” mentality).

You don’t own each other, but you are a team, now. You must respect his views as much as your own. Unless you guys are independently wealthy, he’s right. You have to adhere to a budget.

janbb's avatar

@phillis I think @Silhouette actually said the exact opposite.

phillis's avatar

Oops! You’re right! Well, she’s wrong. Bahahaha!! J/K :)

wundayatta's avatar

We shared our accounts early on. We both like to save and have a hard time spending. We discuss every expense over a certain amount of money. It’s probably around $100 now. Anything less, we don’t need to check.

I keep track of the finances, and tell her how we’re doing. She never believes it, so she spends even less. Recently she was all set to go into a long song and dance about how she needed new work clothes, and I cut her off and said that I trusted her, and it was fine with me if she went wild on the clothes. Of course, she would never do that. She came back having only purchased things that were at least 50% off.

Silhouette's avatar

@phillis I’m wwwugh wwwwrrruughh wwwrrugh wwrrrroogggg! The more I say it, the easier it is to say! hehehe

phillis's avatar

We’re with you, girl! You can do it! Of course, you’ll be doing it alone, but nevermind about that. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

thriftymaid's avatar

@hopscotchy Not anymore. I was for a long time. We never had a fight about money.

JLeslie's avatar

Honestly, I think this is big problem. I am inclined to say you will need to keep your monies separate. However, I think if you both sit down, think about the future, what you want in the future, you might be able to come up with a plan, or budget, that will satisfy both of you. Discussing your goals, like if you want to buy a house, or a car, how much you want to have when you retire, etc., it will help you (when I say you, I mean both of you) be on the same page about saving and spending, maybe move closer to the middle instead of being out at the extremes. You will become more realistic about the negatives in spending every penny, and he will see that it is ok to spend a little to have some fun (hopefully).

phillis's avatar

@JLeslie My husband and I don’t even buy homes or cars with both our names on them. If one falls, the other can pick up and carry the family through. We don’t even share bank accounts, for that very reason. Credit problems can devastate a family for YEARS, even if they aren’t your fault. Medical bills decimate, too. If one person gets sick, you’ve still got your spouse ready to move into position.

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis Most states require both spouses signature on the sale of the primary household, just so you know. Doesn’t matter if both names are on there or not. Not sure how it affects credit or asset evaluation though. Not sure what you mean by “falls.”

My girlfriend kept all of her money separate from her husband, but when they divorced, she lived in a 50/50 state it was all divided equally except for an inheritance he had received that he was able to keep 100% off. She was the breadwinner and he was a loser. Anyway, she had examples of him forging her name on some checks and cashing them, and the court basically said that the money is community property in the marriage, and doesn’t matter, because he cannot steal his own money, even though it was her earnings. That was in MI.

I would not be comfortable with his and her money with my husband, but I could see if I ever remarried how that would be the more likely scenario, because we would both be coming into the relationship with money. My husband and I were 25 when we got married and only had a few thousand when we got married between us.

phillis's avatar

@JLeslie Yikes!! Forgery?! That’s a pretty stupid move. As long as one person has great credit, that person can carry a family (in Georgia). You can’t include the other person’s income, but I had rental properties that started as my original homes, and gradually increased my real estate holdings that way.

Everybody is in love when they marry, and want to merge everything. I totally understand that. Had I been young when I married, I feel positive that’s exactly what I would have done. As I gained real estate, I no longer needed my spouse’s income, so we were free to have his and hers bank accounts.

It wasn’t until looking back in retrospect that I realized just what a fantastic way to manage money it turned out to be. It obliterated financial disagreements, and kept the family going when I stumbled 2–3 years ago, because my husband had nothing but a truck payment and monthly bills on his credit. He was able to buy our next house.

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis Yes, I guess the credit reports are separate so that makes sense.

I think married people forge all of the time. My husband will not do it and I think it is funny.

phillis's avatar

Small community banks will overlook that here in Georgia, but I am not in a small town. They are very militant about it in the Metro Atlanta area. I can’t even make a deposit unless I come in with either my driver’s license or bank card – and they know me. I actually hate that. I can’t make a deposit for my grandparent’s anymore, either. I’m not INQUIRING into their account, for crying out loud. They’re just old and need the help.

tedibear's avatar

Once we got married, we merged everything into one account. (Well joint accounts – checking & savings, but we’re both on it.) It was easier to keep track of bills and spending, for us. We have similar attitudes regarding saving and spending, so neither of us has to worry about a “You bought what?” moment.

That being said, since both of you have different ideas about saving and spending, I would recommend two things:

1. Do have that money talk. You may find that you’re closer on money attitudes than yu think. Then again, maybe you aren’t! Until you talk, you won’t know.

2. I think that you may be better off doing what you’re doing with the “his, mine & ours” way of handling things. (Just my opinion.) I would suggest a joint savings account as well as your checking. It’s a cushion for both of you. Agree that nothing comes out of it unless you are both okay with it. In fact, see if your bank will make it a “two signatures required” account so that neither of you can just take the money. As well, see if you can do a direct withdrawal from the joint checking into the joint savings on a regular basis.

@phillis – Couldn’t you just drop their deposit in the night drop and bypass the teller line?

phillis's avatar

@tedibear39 I will try to get my grandparents to agree to that, again. They are scared of everything, which makes them royal pains. Thanks for the reminder! I had forgotten about that. :)

tedibear's avatar

@phillisOne other thing, add a stamped envelope with your grandparents’ address on it and a note asking the bank to mail a receipt. That might alleviate some of their worries. Another thought would be to see if they would make you power of attorney on that specific account.

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis I don’t get it. They won’t let you deposit money? That seems ridiculous to me. Not that i don’t believe you. Is it a check made out to them? Or, one that you are writing to them.

About the signature, I don’t see why it matters what bank it is? Those tellers are not signature experts. I guess maybe if you are cashing a check, but then you have to sign in front of the teller, or should be, so you can’t forge if they stick to teh rules I would hope. But for a deposit I can’t imagine a teller catching a forgery.

phillis's avatar

@JLeslie It’s Bank of America. Does that answer your question? My grandparents bank there, and I’ve had my cheacking account there for the past 12 years. They are notorious for sticking it to their customers. Their ruthless practices toward thier customers have become the stuff of legend in the banking industry. I got an overdraft fee of $35.00 (the largest in the industry) 6 days ago, but had to wait on a customer to pay me before I could make a deposit. Though they make BILLIONS annually in overdraft fees, that is not enough for those greedy bastards. Those jerks created and assessed a brand new fee! They charged me an EXTRA $35.00 for not making a deposit “in time”. My relationship with them is coming to an abrupt end before this week is out.

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis I have never been fond of Bank of America and have never banked with them, I have heard stories. My sister-in-law worked for them for a while. I bank with Wachovia, which I guess now will become Well’s Fargo. My branch still ahs the set up where the manager is out at the front. I love my bank. There have been a couple of times they have made mistakes and had to fix them, but they recognize me when I come in, call me when they have CD’s I would be interested in, and like I said, if a fee happens mistakenly they have fixed it in the past. We also bank where my husband works, I never keep all of my money in one place.

I agree, switch banks. There are so many to choose from.

ZEPHYRA's avatar


phillis's avatar

@JLeslie Update! Bank of America has removed the $35.00 you-waited-too-long-to-make-a-deposit-fee. I went to the bank and enlightened them as to how much competition they had. Apparently, they were unaware. The relationship will still be severed, but at least I was honest. I didn’t tell them we could still be friends.

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