At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

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JSDNJ
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At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by JSDNJ » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:32 pm

I have been living with my now wife (Got married in July) since 2013. She has her own checking/savings/cc and I have my own as well. We have a joint CC for all of our 'together' purchases but if she wants makeup or I want a new hockey stick we pay with our own CC and pay our bills out of our own checking. We split all the joint bills.

Now that we are married I am wondering if for simplicity's sake I should just combine everything into one. 1 checking account, 1 credit account and one savings account. She has her retirement and I have mine and I have my own investments as well, but as far as liquid cash, should we just throw it all in one pot? She has ~$40k in student loan debt as well.

Jeff P
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Jeff P » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:36 pm

Are you in a community property state?

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by jackholloway » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:37 pm

When we were just married, and had different incomes and non-joint needs, we kept separate finances. Even then, we had some commingled finances. For example, most of her salary went to a deferred comp plan, while we lived on mine, and thus we had a transfer payment to balance it out. We also live in a community property state, so our house that we both contributed to the downpayment and mortgage was clearly community.

About four years in, we were awaiting our first child, and had decided that she would stay home with the kid. At that point, separate finances made no sense. We did each keep our separate credit cards and checking accounts for personal expenses, but they are used for toys and for presents for each other.

A recent inheritance is still being kept separate, but that will be folded in eventually once we settle how we want to fund a trust for our kid if either passes.

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JSDNJ
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by JSDNJ » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:40 pm

I am in NJ FWIW.

SouthernCPA
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by SouthernCPA » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:43 pm

Right before the wedding.

kdub
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by kdub » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:45 pm

I think it was the day before our wedding, or maybe the day we got back from our honeymoon. I can't remember exactly… but it was immediately. :D

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Sheepdog » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:52 pm

We combined everything the day we were married. I had my $1400 and she had her $600. I had my car, but she couldn't drive. It would be over a year before she drove and she could share that ownership. sigh
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by skteam » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:00 pm

When we were confident that we would get married, although we weren't, yet. I realize that isn't for everyone.

It seems to me that keeping separate finances just puts off a lot of difficult conversations required to develop shared goals. If you are married, what does "separate" finances even mean? If one of you spends "your" money without much care, but the other saves scrupulously, what positive outcome can result?

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Crimsontide » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:07 pm

Day one, didn't have much to combine 31 years ago though...

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by JDCarpenter » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:11 pm

We were in grad school, had been dating for 4 years before marriage. We combined our "finances" even before we got married (I think?). In any event, it was 32 years ago at the wedding day +/-.

This is a recurring topic and you'll get answers from "A" to "Z" and everything in between. Many will say, like me, "I personally couldn't imagine doing it any other way," even though I am doing A and they are doing Z. :D

Big factors are going to be your age, your respective comfort levels, and your respective assets/incomes. Bottom line--discuss it with your spouse and reach a comfortable way of handling things--and don't hide financial stuff from each other (well, unless you go the route of giving each of you "fun money" or "allowance" each month). If what you have now works, why be in a hurry to change it?
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by BV3273 » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:13 pm

We did, but we didn't. We both have our own checking and saving accounts. We also opened a joint account where we put monetary gifts, tax returns, etc...It works well for us. I don't think there is a one size fits all approach to this. Whatever works.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Frezio » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:16 pm

Right after we got married. I had substantial savings and she had substantial med school debt. After I paid off her student loans, we combined everything - actually, we put all of our accounts in a revocable living trust in both of our names. We don't have a single account that isn't jointly held.

Might not work for everyone, but I couldn't picture it any other way. We are a team, and there is no "mine" or "hers" when it comes to financial assets.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:21 pm

Day after we got married (both times).
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by btenny » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:38 pm

Right when we got married we combined out total net worth, maybe $400 into one checking account. I owned my car and she had hers. We had separate charge cards but changed those to joint account cards but she uses her accounts and I use mine. We kept it that way for 1-2 years when we opened a second checking account for her. That stopped the mess of bad check book balances and hours of balancing our check book due to forgotten checks that got written but not put in the checkbook. Both accounts are joint accounts but she uses hers and a I use mine. We have kept two ever since. As time evolved we put all the cars and everything else in joint names including cars, charge cards, homes, investment accounts, savings accounts, etc..

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by livesoft » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:39 pm

We combined finances on day of marriage. In order to accommodate our different spending wants, we gave ourselves allowances after figuring out what we historically spent every month.

For instance, my spouse added up what she spent on clothes during the previous 3 months and gave herself a clothes budget of $300 a month. Then she added up what I spent on clothes during the previous 3 months and gave me a clothes budget of $0 a month.
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Toons » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:41 pm

We combined about 3 months before we got married,,,36 years ago :happy
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Wildebeest » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:48 pm

We combined our finances when we first started living together and that was 3 years before we got married.

We did get a prenuptial agreement before we got married, because if you are going to sign a legal commitment you want it to be yours and not some government imposed cookie cutter one. The lawyer thought that one of us must have a lot of money and thought we were rather silly when he found out, that neither of us had money and/or would get a big inheritance.

I thought the lawyer did not get the principle in the matter.
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by dad2000 » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:50 pm

She had no debt and no assets, so it wasn't complicated :D

We did it around the time we got engaged.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Gnirk » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:28 pm

We haven't and we won't. Second marriage, each have children from previous marriage. We have been married 20 years. Our primary residence and vacation home are in both of our names, JTWROS. Everything else is separate, though we have each other's name on our checking accounts as joint owner.....just in case. It's worked out well for us.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by basspond » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:37 pm

Within a month of getting married. Made life a whole lot simpler but we were both savers from day one.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by PaddyMac » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:59 pm

As soon as we got married, it all started blending. Of course, we didn't have much back then.

Now we each have our own credit card so we can make purchases (for makeup, shoes, haircuts, etc - although I spend more on art than clothes!). We budget $300 for each of our "fun funds" per month, plus $300 extra on our birthdays and Christmas, and then just keep track in the book keeping software whether our fun funds are under or over budget so we know where we are. At the end of the year, we roll over any money leftover to the next year's budget, or if we're over budget, we start off with a negative amount.

Everything else is "our" money, and if there's anything left we save it in our reserve fund for large purchases.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by JDDS » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:24 pm

There's at least a small theme here, that it seems easy to combine when each person has about the same, especially when it's small. It's likely easier to get into that mindset. As my friends get married, it's been amusing to see what each has to say on the topic. I'm not sure where I'll lean when that time comes.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by MathWizard » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:27 pm

Wedding day. 33 years ago.

I guess maybe having nothing was more of a blessing than it seemed.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by tomd37 » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:34 pm

"At what point did you and your spouse combine your finances?"

First day of our marriage forty-nine years ago November 11th and we never had any other thoughts of doing anything different. :D
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by goldendad » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:39 pm

Our combined assets totaled a net $200 - 700 in cash and 500 in debt. We did it right away.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by JonnyDVM » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:40 pm

Right after getting married. To be honest I think it's a little odd when married couples have totally separate accounts. Are you married or not ?
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Beth* » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:44 pm

The summer before we got married. We were living together and we were both students. Neither of us had enough money for the minimum balance on a checking account to not be charged fees, but together we did so we combined our funds into one checking account.

I think it would have been harder to combine funds if we were older and actually had some money. During the past 35 years, each of us has earned more at different times but our attitude has always been that everything we earn belongs to both of us. We have somewhat different spending priorities, but each of us considers the other's spending to be reasonable, so that is not an issue.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by trueblueky » Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:50 pm

kdub wrote:I think it was the day before our wedding, or maybe the day we got back from our honeymoon. I can't remember exactly… but it was immediately. :D
+1
I had a new job, so as soon as we returned from the honeymoon, we moved. Everything was joint at the new location. It's worked for us.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by carolc » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:52 am

We have a joint account (house and car related expenses) and individual accounts (though technically both names are on the accounts, just in case...). We both like the independence of having our own money to spend as we wish. This has worked well for 20 years now.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Ron » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:21 am

Crimsontide wrote:Day one, didn't have much to combine 31 years ago though...
Same here (although 46 years ago :wink: ).

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by The Wizard » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:29 am

Your finances are INHERENTLY combined going forward when you get married.
But as far as various accounts were concerned, we kept most of them separate, IRAs and employer retirement accounts for sure, but checking accounts and credit cards as well.
I think there was a joint savings account at the beginning for a while.

Separate accounts work just fine if both people have income. If one does not, then joint checking and CCs may be better...
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Grasshopper » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:38 am

I was 30 and my first marriage, so the now Ms G and I combined the $34 in her checking account and whatever I had in my pocket. Seems like there was a lot of this going around. I remember at one point while we were first dating that Ms G to be said she couldn't go out we me anymore because she couldn't afford sharing date tabs. :D

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by linakin » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:41 am

Before we were married, we each had checkings/savings account. After the wedding, we made each other joint owners on our accounts so we each had access to everything. Paychecks were still deposited into the same checking accounts, but we were able to see all the accounts listed when doing online banking. Once we changed banks, we consolidated down to a single joint checking/savings account.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Dulocracy » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:52 am

Right after the honeymoon (her social security and whatnot were not all changed over to her married name until just after the wedding). We live in an equitable division state where premarital assets are separate, yet I still depleted premarital assets to fund her Roth IRA. She did not have a job at the time, but had savings... got a job soon after the honeymoon. Through that process, and even now, I subsidize her savings rate into her 401k and backdoor Roth IRA. Having combined finances was just the right thing to do for us.
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by saladdin » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:08 am

Never have.
Going on over a decade.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:14 am

We didn't have much to combine. We opened a joint checking account 47 years ago, a few weeks after the wedding ceremony.
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Morik » Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:00 am

So we were living together for about 4 years prior to marriage. We had separate checking accounts that we didn't do much with (as far as I can recall), and a joint one that we put our paychecks/whatnot in and used for bills/etc. (I could be misremembering, its been a while...)

We were pretty combined by the time we got married, as far as I can recall.

We've been married 7 years now, and just recently combined the last aspect--credit cards. Until recently we had separate cards and just paid them out of our joint checking. (Did this when we looked around and swapped to a 2% cashback card.)

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by goingup » Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:25 am

JSDNJ wrote: Now that we are married I am wondering if for simplicity's sake I should just combine everything into one. 1 checking account, 1 credit account and one savings account. She has her retirement and I have mine and I have my own investments as well, but as far as liquid cash, should we just throw it all in one pot? She has ~$40k in student loan debt as well.
If you're both OK with the consolidation it does simplify things. Multiple checking accounts and credit cards can be unwieldy. If your checking accounts have fees or balance minimums, consolidation may eliminate that.

My hesitation in combining finances (some 25 years ago) was the thought that I would feel constrained or less independent. I didn't. Or if I did, that feeling is long forgotten. If you are taking the lead in this joint venture, set yourself up for success by being non-judgemental as the process unfolds. Be aware that there could be an adjustment period and some areas of friction that weren't as transparent as before. :)

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by takeshi » Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:34 am

JSDNJ wrote:At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)
We have and we have not. Some things are joint and other things are not. All our deposit accounts are joint and we each have full access and visibility to all those accounts but the accounts are allocated for individual use. Credit cards are individual though we're authorized users of each other on certain cards. Things like mortgage, auto and some investments (i.e. anything that wasn't prior to marriage or employer-specific) are joint.

We're both responsible but have very different and incompatible financial management styles when it comes down to the details. It's better for us to work out what we consider to be a fair split of the responsibilities and have each handle our respective loads. We also ensure that we're working toward short and long term goals together so we're compatible when it comes to the bigger picture.
skteam wrote:It seems to me that keeping separate finances just puts off a lot of difficult conversations required to develop shared goals.
Those things aren't mutually exclusive. In our case our finances aren't really separate even though we have some separate accounts. We're still a team even with the division of the load. Separation of accounts, communication and shared goals are all possible together. We have to communicate quite a bit to ensure that we're on the same page.

Each couple has to find what works for them so if combining accounts makes it easier and makes more sense then the couple should go with hat approach.
skteam wrote:If one of you spends "your" money without much care, but the other saves scrupulously, what positive outcome can result?
That's an entirely different matter and a potential issue whether accounts are separate or combined.
JDCarpenter wrote:This is a recurring topic and you'll get answers from "A" to "Z" and everything in between.
Yup. OP should not overlook prior discussions as a resource. I'm not advocating our approach. It's just what works for us. What works for the next couple may be very different.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Oct 23, 2015 2:59 pm

JSDNJ wrote:I have been living with my now wife (Got married in July) since 2013. She has her own checking/savings/cc and I have my own as well. We have a joint CC for all of our 'together' purchases but if she wants makeup or I want a new hockey stick we pay with our own CC and pay our bills out of our own checking. We split all the joint bills.

Now that we are married I am wondering if for simplicity's sake I should just combine everything into one. 1 checking account, 1 credit account and one savings account. She has her retirement and I have mine and I have my own investments as well, but as far as liquid cash, should we just throw it all in one pot? She has ~$40k in student loan debt as well.
IMO - Ridiculous that your wife needs to pay for her make-up out of her own account. You like your wife to look pretty right?, the money for make-up should come out of the general pot. Do you buy your own bath soap as well? The hockey stick should come out of your own money, I can see how the make-up adds to the benefit of the combined couple, the hockey stick, eh, not so much. (I am male. :) )

As for the 1 credit account, that is a big No-NO, especially for the woman who should always keep credit in their own name, maintain their own independent credit score. In the event of a dissolution, by choice or not by choice, not having your own credit score can complicate things when applying for it in your own name.

Here's a suggestion: you both work, put your paychecks into one account, give yourselves $100 or $200 each a month to do as you please, the rest is used to pay bills, student loans, allocate to savings/investments. Keep your existing investments in your name, the second you co-mingle the assets, guess what happens in the event of a divorce? - fair game. If it's in your name, you can prove the assets existed pre-marriage, you have a better chance of keeping it.
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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by TxAg » Fri Oct 23, 2015 3:23 pm

basspond wrote:Within a month of getting married. Made life a whole lot simpler but we were both savers from day one.

this pretty much sums it up for me

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by bene1 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 3:30 pm

About a year after getting married. We had open dialog and were transparent with finances before and after the wedding, just didn't get around to the nuts and bolts of actually making changes for a while. Too busy basking in the glow of the honeymoon period. :o

Took a while for wife to get everything sorted out with name change, SS card, employment docs, etc, too.

It sounds like some people were actually filling out bank account forms on the day of the wedding. Didn't you have anything better to do?? :P

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by jhfenton » Fri Oct 23, 2015 3:56 pm

As soon as we got married 23 years ago, my wife added me to her existing checking account at the local credit union in Ohio. I had just closed my college account in MA, and I added her to the checking account that I opened in Durham, NC, where I was starting law school. After I graduated and we moved back to Cincinnati, we continued to use the credit union. We're still using the same checking account she opened in high school.

It's an easy decision when high school sweethearts get married as soon as they graduate from college. We didn't really have any assets, just student loans, two old cars, and our small checking accounts.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by flyingbison » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:01 pm

JonnyDVM wrote:Right after getting married. To be honest I think it's a little odd when married couples have totally separate accounts. Are you married or not ?
I've heard of some married couples having separate toothbrushes, separate underwear, and separate hobbies, and even separate names! What a bunch of weirdos.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by reneeh63 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:12 pm

Did immediately for my first marriage....we split amicably and equally with no kids to complicate issues. That said, now that I'm a mature adult with my own property and 10 years from retirement, I see no need to get married or ever combine my finances with anyone, including my long-term guyfriend!

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by FuyuKei » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:52 pm

Not married yet but separate accounts.

He's a spender, I'm a saver. That's probably the biggest reason why. It gives him a "stopping point" when his checking account is at $0.

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Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by ne2ca28 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:44 pm

My wife and I share credit card accounts, but do not have a combined checking. Most of our spending except mortgage and some utilities is all from credit card for rewards and tracked in ynab (budgeting software) and paid in full each month. So, in theory, we 'see' everything we buy much like a shared checking and we budget in ynab with our own income. While living together before marriage, we each would make personal charges on the credit card for rewards and track our spending (via mint or ynab) and at statement closing she would write me a check for her portion of credit card bill. I would pay the bill in full and deposit her check into my account.

A little more background. We started living together well before we were married (HCOL area and I was far away from my home state/family, makes sense, right?), so we had about 8 years of separate checking before we got married. We prorated expenses and still do based on income (my income is higher) - I pay mutual rent/mortgage, dining out, fun stuff, vacations; she would pay for utilities, groceries.

It worked for us for so long and its never been an issue so we keep it going. We've been married 4 years now. She could now theoretically see my (read: our) checking / savings anytime she wants. I admit, she is no boglehead, but she is thrifty, so she would be a little intimidated with respect to combined account and budgeting.

I should probably write something up for her now that we had our first child a few months ago. Its not complicated (2 checking, 5 savings, 5 rewards cards, 4 retirement), I swear, honey!

If/when she becomes a stay at home mom, we'll likely change it up a little bit, but still stick to credit card budgeting, spending, and tracking. I'll just be paying the bill in full and we'll work together on budgeting ahead of time.

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dodecahedron
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Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by dodecahedron » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:27 pm

I have very fond memories of going to the bank as newlyweds shortly after our honeymoon 36 years ago and enjoying the process of picking out a check design for our new joint checking account. All our accounts, except retirement accounts and a sole proprietorship business account, were joint from that point on. We were a team. (Actually, even on the business account, I was an "authorized signer" on the account, so I could pay business bills if he was out of town.)

Even though he died two years ago and all the funds in the accounts have been put in my name alone, I still like looking at the old checks with both names. I will shred them some day.

As a sort of recursive macroeconomic joke, before we were married he once wrote a check on an old defunct individual account designating me as payee and with "M1" as the amount of payment in the numeric payment field and "the entire US money supply" in the spelled out payment field. (M1 is the entire US money supply.) Needless to say I didn't attempt to deposit it. We used it as a bookmark. The check is still somewhere in our home.

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SpringMan
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Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:32 am
Location: Michigan

Re: At what point did you and your spouse COMBINE your finances (or did you?)

Post by SpringMan » Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:37 am

We combined finances at day one of marriage. At age 23 neither of us had significant financial assets.
Best Wishes, SpringMan

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