I have seen lots of different advice on whether or not couples should combine their finances when they get married. Some say you should combine everything right away, and other say you should keep things separate, if only so you each have spending money. So after seeing all these, I wanted to share what we did when we got married in 2005.
We combined everything within a month of getting married.
Yep, everything. Checking, savings, put both of our names on any retirement/investing accounts we had, everything. See, my wife and I are not big spenders; there really has not been anything we have bought that would constitute a “you bought a what??” remark. Some personal finance books will tell you to be sure that you each have your own money to play with, but we decided we did not need that because we set up a system for big expenses. Anything under $100 does not need to be approved by the other person. This is not to say that we could go out and buy $100 items every day, but if my wife is out and sees something she wants, or I am doing some shopping online, as long as it is under $100 we can buy it. Anything over $100 requires a conversation of some kind, even if it is just to let the other person know that you are spending that kind of cash.
Each of our paychecks gets deposited in the same checking account, and from there money goes to investments, savings, bills, etc. We do not figure out how much of a percentage we should each put into these accounts; any money that goes into the checking account is “our” money…there is no division. I make a lot more than my wife does (which she is not happy about because she watches me get up for work, walk across the hall in my pj’s, and turn the computer on), but that does not matter. What is mine is hers and what is hers is mine.
It has been two years now and we have not fought over this system yet. It’s actually kind of nice to know that our money is really OUR money, not some secret account hidden somewhere that neither of us knows about. She has no interest in doing our finances…so I do all it. She knows the basics, such as where accounts are and what investments we are in, but for the most part she lets me handle it. And that is fine by me.
I guess the bottom line is do what feels comfortable for you. For us, this was combining everything so we both have access and use of it. There are no secrets in our house, everything is out in the open. Neither of us track the other’s expenses to find things to complain about; it just works. If you have an opinion on this, or have a system of your own, would love to hear about it in the comments!