money management relationships

Confession: I’m Scared to Combine Our Finances

Picture_10_131173154 I’m fairly good with my money.  G is very good with his money.  Combining finances with my future spouse should be super easy.  Right?

Wrong.

I’m still nervous about it.  I’ve spent the past 27 years of my life on my own.  I make decent money.  I save more than I spend.  I’m preparing for the future.  I’m debt-free.  My fiance’s financial status will definitely increase after he slaps his last name on me.

On the other hand, his financial situation is practically the same.  I might have a touch more money than him, but he also makes a touch more money than I do.

So, why should I be nervous?

Because I won’t be in full control of my finances anymore.  I won’t be the only one to say whether I can spend $167 on a spontaneous trip to New Orleans.  And, of course, it might make me a bit uncomfortable if G spends such an amount so thoughtlessly.

It’s going to be difficult.  We’re going to argue.  I’m worried that we’re both so into money that, in the beginning, we’ll question each other’s every expense.

I know we need to set boundaries.  Debt Ninja talked a lot about this when he first got married.  Although G and I talk about money a lot, we haven’t broken down the detailed logistics of our combined finances.  But maybe that just comes after we actually go through the combining process?

One things for sure:  I am NOT worried about G getting us into debt or spending TOO much.  He is very diligent with his money. It’s just going to be difficult to transition from CFO to co-CFO.

Since this is going to be a huge upcoming issue in my life, I plan to blog about it quite a bit.  Something tells me that my readers are quite interested in couples and money since the How Couples Divide Their Money post from the Mint blog was by far the most popular link in my roundup last week.

Do you combine money with your honey? 

(photo source)

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B&B

We cover all sorts of topics here at B&B: health, career, happiness, improvement & goals, order & productivity, and of course personal finance. Thanks for reading!

25 Comments

  • It can be scary to give up that control. We do joint savings/checking and then each have our own savings checkings. This might work for you. Do your budget to determine how much each of you need to contribute to joint savings and joint checking to cover bills, savings etc and then whatever is left over goes or stays in your own account for you to do whatever you feel you need to do with it. Works for us. Independence and teamwork financially.

  • I’m super interested in hearing more about this topic. My fiance and I have been living together for 4 years, but we currently live more like roommates, writing a cheque every month to even out groceries, mortgage, utilities etc.

    It’s definitely a toss up between maintaining some financial independence, and having a gazillion bank accounts and credit/debit cards!

    Right now we’re thinking:
    – 1 big chequing account where both salaries go, and where all bills are paid from.
    – 1 main credit card (mine) with a supplementary card for him which will be paid from the chequing account
    – individual secondary credit cards that can be used for gifts etc.
    – retirement savings and pension will probably stay separate for now

  • My husband and I combined finances as soon as we married. I wrote a whole >post explaining why a few months before we did it. In practice, it’s actually been awesome. We’re both very hands-on with our money, and we trust each other. We tried to pick a amount that we’d have to check with the other before spending it but we just couldn’t decide — we knew that we’d individually make a decision that we could easily justify to the other person.

    When we were living together before we were married, we kept separate checking and savings accounts, and shared a checking account and credit card for all of our joint expenses. It worked very well but it was a lot of accounts to keep up with. Now we share everything, but we still each have a credit card of our own in case we want to buy presents and not tell each other the amount right away (it would eventually come up when we reconcile our accounts, but that’s fine). He also has a checking account for his business that I am not involved with.

    The transition has not been as difficult as I thought it might be — in fact, it’s made it easier and deepened our relationship.

  • I will never combine finances. Its not that I don’t trust him because I do, its because I really want to control my own money. But why don’t you do what some couples do, have both a separate and joint checking accounts? The best of both worlds.

  • I have a simliar set up to frugalista (although must confess that I’m not married). It seems to work well so far, although in the event that I do get married, I (think) i’d prefer joint finances. Seems like its a lot of hassle not combining them (although giving gifts would be difficult without the other person knowing).

    • I agree that gift giving would be difficult … maybe you could take out cash first, but then I guess they would still know you took out a certain amount of cash. But they wouldn’t know where you spent it at! 🙂

  • I can totally relate and it seems like a decision SSBF and I will making sooner then later! (eeee!). We already have a joint savings but like frugalista we are thinking about doing a joint checking for all of outr shared bills (mortgage, groceries, utilities, etc) and then having individual checking accounts for our clothes, gifts, etc. I was actually going to do a post about it soon!

    Also, any wedding tips you have I will take. ha! I don’t even know where to start.

  • The Wife and I figured out our monthly nut and then split it down the middle each contributing the same amount to common expenses we incur as a couple. Then we both have separate checking accounts. Those separate checking accounts feed joint savings. Anything leftover in the separate checking account is each spouse’s to spend WITHIN reason.

    Anytime that a checking account becomes too large each of us will make an extra ‘payment’ to our savings.

  • Mike and I combined our finances after we got married. It can be scary, but I felt more “married” after doing it, if it makes any sense. Even before we did it, we would talk to each other before buying something big and discuss if it is value for money. And yes sometimes it feels like one person is spendier than the other. Some people set limits like – “I don’t have to check with my wife/husband if it costs less than $50”. But what if one person spends multiple of $50 on various things while the other does not? And other couple I know dole out “fun” money to themselves that they can spend on anything. Again, does going out for coffee with coworkers count as “fun”?

    I feel that while it is possible to set all sorts of rules while combining finances, it is something that must feel natural. If you don’t feel that way now, I would say wait to do it. As long you both are meeting your individual Saving goals, combining finances can wait. And someday you both will wonder why you have 2 Checking accounts when you need just one. When (and if) that day comes you will be able to merge finances without worry.

    • The lines are so fuzzy on certain things, aren’t they?! That’s why I think it’ll just take time to find our combined finances balance.

  • I think if it’s working for you as is and your partner is smart and onto it financially….why mess with a good thing?

    Combining works for us cause I’m a control freak, and BF doesn’t care about money.

  • I don’t combine and don’t plan to. We are miles apart and know that and we’ve been together since high school. By far one of my most popular posts is called “Is Your Spouse on the Same Team” about this topic. Couples struggle with it, but there is no one right thing. You do what works for the two of you.

  • In theory, I’m for total combining, but we’ve been married > 6 months and haven’t actually done it yet. We’re mostly just too lazy about the paper work, and I haven’t quite grasped how to budget with T’s irregular income (grad student, sometimes paid quarterly, sometimes monthly – so confusing!)

    In our minds, we are combined, and I don’t think anything would change if we got rid of a few accounts. And we will! Soon! But I’d still feel comfortable making a decision about a personal purchase (of any amount) and would be ok with T doing the same, since we are both quite reasonable. If we were on a tighter budget, this probably would be harder!

    • Ugh… I hear ya. It is gonna be a CHORE! And after all that wedding planning, I will need a break! Hopefully 2 weeks of honeymooning will give me the energy to tackle this task! Ha

  • We combined finances after we got married, but I think our situation isn’t as common — my husband was thrilled to let go of the financial reins. Our salaries are pooled together to pay the bills, and a set amount each month gets pushed over into savings. I pay all of the bills and give him “spending money” each week. We use our debit cards for gas and groceries. Neither of us spend much, and we discuss larger purchases before making them. He trusts me implicitly, and I keep him fully informed about the state of our finances. After nearly 2 years, we haven’t had any problems/issues.

    The important thing is to know if you’re both on the same page. If one of you spends more than the other, it will become a problem. If you both need to be in control of the finances, it will become a problem. But since I’m the control freak and he doesn’t want to be in charge of our finances, it works out beautifully for us.

  • We have a joint budget for the home, groceries, household and in general.

    Then we each have our own spending/savings accounts for whatever we want to spend on. We don’t combine everything and it won’t change when we have kids.

    When we have kids, we’ll just pay 50/50 for their expenses and that’s it.

    I like having the independence and freedom of NOT having to tell him what I spend, why and whatever else (not that I lie either or hide it). And he likes the same with his own money.

    • Do you think you and BF will get married first? I didn’t know if that would change your financial situation. I agree – you can’t put a price on independence.

  • My recommendation is to talk about your financial goals together. Talk about what your individual goals are, and then decide about your goals together. That way you are both working towards one common goal and you both clearly know what that goal is. I did not know what my wife’s goals and dreams were, and she didn’t know mine. If you don’t have common goals that you will handle your money differently, but if you create common goals, both parties will work to achieve those goals. Just something I have learned in a 1 1/2 years of marriage.

  • Me and BF are both huge fans of the “yours, mine and ours” way of financing. Each contributing some to a joint account for bills, etc. Each contributing to shared savings. And then each keeping their own spending account to do with as they please. That way each can be CFO of their own money and jointly share the responsibilities of the combined costs and assets.

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