Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

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bluejello
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Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am

I'm asking this question because from the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I have differed on our view of how marital finances should work. I grew up in a "one-pot" household where my parents had all joint accounts and thought of all money as "their" money. I think the fact that my parents both earned roughly equal incomes also helped contribute to this "we're all equals" mentality.

My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family. He would prefer a structure where we both contribute to expenses pro-rata and then build savings individually. Because he is a very high-earning entrepreneur, he would have about 5-10x in assets what I would under this structure.

Today, we have a structure that's somewhere in between (most assets in joint accounts but still some separate) and it's still a point of friction for us.

I'm really trying to understand better his point of view and see how separate finances could potentially work. But this model just doesn't make sense to me. So my question is, how do couples with separate accounts build a team mentality?

Some examples of situations that puzzle me:

Decisions that's good for one person's career but bad for the other's: Last year I quit my high-earning job to move our family to a new city for the sake of his business. My career prospects are severely limited here compared to where we lived before. His business, meanwhile, is thriving. Net-net we are making more money as a couple, which is great for us under the condition that we have joint finances. But if we had separate finances like he wanted, I never would've agreed to this move.

In general, there are times in life when one spouse has an opportunity to do something that's good for their career (move to a new city, take the risk of starting a business, go to grad school, etc.) but that requires sacrifice on the part of the other spouse. If you're a married couple with separate finances, why would you make those sacrifices?

Decisions to stay home with kids: You can't possibly have separate finances if you decide for one parent to stay home with the kids, right? Or what do you do — the working spouse pays the at-home spouse a salary for taking care of the kids?

Unfortunate circumstances: If one spouse loses their job or they get sick, what do you do? Does the other person just pay for them, or give them a loan?

Different amounts of savings: Let's say one spouse earns more and/or is more frugal than the other, and so builds up a large nest egg faster. At age 50, that spouse has the funds to retire early while the other spouse still needs to keep working. What do you do? Does the spouse with more money go off to enjoy his or her retirement while leaving the other spouse behind? Does the spouse with more money pay for the other person to retire early as well (in which case you don't really have separate finances anymore)?

It seems to me that separate finances as a married couple only work if you have no kids, no opportunities come up that would help one person's career at the cost of the other's, and you're earning and saving roughly at the same amount. For everyone else, how does it work?

P.S. I also want to add that I can totally see the value of separate accounts if the $ in the separate pots is small relative to the joint accounts. For example, if 10% of each paycheck goes into separate accounts and the rest into joint. What I'm talking about is setups where the majority of money goes into separate accounts.

Editing original post to add some more information based on answering other poster's questions:
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:37 am
Elbowman wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.
My understanding is that there's two main reasons why he wants separate finances:

1) Philosophical ideas of fairness and ownership. He feels that after taking care of family expenses, the person who earns the money should get to keep it and control how it's spent / saved / invested. He has said that the idea of one spouse claiming ownership of the other's earnings just because they are married is a form of "entitlement". He has also stressed that if I were the higher earner, he would feel no entitlement to "my" money.

2) The way his parents fought over money. His father was also an entrepreneur (very successfully, but of course the road to success was not always smooth) and growing up he saw many fights between his parents when his father wanted to invest in growing the business and his mother thought it was too risky. I believe this created a mentality in him of not wanting to be "controlled". In our relationship, there has also been friction about this. Before his current successful venture there were many failed ventures that lost money, and I'm naturally more risk-averse than he is, so we fought about what I perceive as his "irresponsible risk appetite" and what he perceived as "me holding him back".
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:49 am
FlyAF wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:44 am
Out of curiosity, since you relocated for his business which is now doing well, do you just sit at home w/ no money? Does he give you an allowance?
No, I didn't mean to paint a picture of a monster. He's very good about taking care of the family. Currently most assets outside of the business are in joint accounts, and he pays himself a salary which goes into a joint checking account and which pays for our living expenses. But almost all asset accumulation is happening in the business.
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:52 am
runner540 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:47 am
So when his other businesses failed/lost money, how did he eat and keep a roof over his head? Did you contribute at all?
This is also a point of contention. When he was working on these ventures, my paycheck was being deposited into our joint checking account and expenses were being paid out of that account. I consider this as "me paying the bills and supporting him while he was working on his business(es)."

He hotly contests that I ever supported him, because we already had a large pile of savings (in joint accounts) which mostly came from his previous earnings. His point of view is that without me, he still could've tapped into his savings and been more than fine while he took entrepreneurial risks, so I didn't support him during this time.
Last edited by bluejello on Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:01 pm, edited 4 times in total.

daheld
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by daheld » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:55 am

I fall into the "one pot" camp. It just seems silly and tedious and reasonably impossible to accurately track each other's individual earnings, savings and expenses. I absolutely believe it can work, but for me (and my wife) it just doesn't make sense to have separate finances. I agree it undercuts the "team" aspect of a marriage.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:02 am

We got married 30 years ago. I was warned from my brother NOT do anything but one pot. Of course we had almost identical asset and earning ability. Nobody in family has divorced yet. Long term marriage for all siblings who have decided to marry.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Sage16 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:04 am

daheld wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:55 am
I fall into the "one pot" camp. It just seems silly and tedious and reasonably impossible to accurately track each other's individual earnings, savings and expenses. I absolutely believe it can work, but for me (and my wife) it just doesn't make sense to have separate finances. I agree it undercuts the "team" aspect of a marriage.
+1, we are one pot couple too, I never understood couples that run separate finances
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:06 am

Tough questions, no easy answers.

I would keep working toward combined finances. We are a "fully combined" finance family. One checking account.

My wife made more than me most of our careers. Her 401k and Roth IRA have slightly more. But joint doesn't have to mean completely equal.

You can see where the dangers come in down the road. His 401k has $900k. Yours has $300k. He wants to "retire" at 55. You have to keep working. I do not think one spouse can retire while the other is working. It is semantics, but that spouse is a "stay at home" spouse. Kids or no kids.

I would make sure both Roth IRAs are fully funded. If doing well, make sure Taxable is well funded.

Finances are tricky. It is like being in a boat and you aren't paddling together. End up going in circles.

I know many here stay completely separate. I never understood how that works, but people do it. Have a lot of open/honest discussions. Make sure both are making decisions together. Maybe that means any purchase over $100 or $250 goes through dual approval.

Maybe that means you are maxing your pre-tax 401k and Roth IRA and that takes up a good chunk of your salary.

Keep working at it.
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by RickBoglehead » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:08 am

This question seems to come up every few weeks. You'll see a split in answers, with no one willing to concede the other perspective.

We follow the everything is joint philosophy, including inheritances. Nothing is secret, every single expenditure is tracked in Quicken. I can't account for less than $20 per year. That's how I know exactly how much we spend, where we spend it, and how realistic my forecasts are for retirement.

Prior to getting married nearly 40 years ago, we used the pro-rated method to maintain finances. Since I made much more than my future wife, we determined the total expenses as a percent of total income, and each contributed that percentage to the joint account. 80% of my pay was a much bigger number than 80% of her pay, but this way we were both contributing equally.

I even go further, contributing my wife's ROTH completely every year even though her earnings are 100% put into her 403b, i.e. she has zero net in her paycheck. My goal is to maximize OUR retirement.
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by MattE » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:09 am

My wife and I have separate personal checking accounts that our paychecks go into, but a joint savings account linked to those, joint credit cards, and tied-together accounts for everything else (e.g., our Vanguard accounts are set for either person to be permitted to make transactions on them, even for things like IRAs that are required to be in one person or the other's name). The amount that remains in the personal checking accounts is really a matter of trust between the two of us -- I rely on her being honest with me about what her balance is and vice versa, and we take a team approach to paying bills and taking savings out of those accounts. For example, we typically pay the mortgage out of her checking account and most of the other bills out of mine, but that's not a hard "you're responsible for this" but more a function of just trying to keep at least $1K in each person's checking account at all times and hence divvying up bills across the two as is necessary to do so. Savings goals are also handled jointly -- once a month or so I'll ask her what her balance is, have her transfer everything but $1Kish from her checking to our joint savings, then I'll do the same and make purchases in our IRAs and brokerage account of that, with the IRAs being done in even splits until we both max out and the brokerage account being a joint account. Day-to-day purchases are all made on our joint CCs with the understanding that based on our household budget we both have latitude to purchase whatever we want up to a certain amount without running it by the other. Really the primary purpose the divided checking accounts end up serving in practice is masking Christmas\birthday\etc present purchases from each other.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Walkure » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:10 am

Well, I imagine for most couples this isn't as extreme a division as you're describing it. Retirement plans are always individual, so even couples with "joint" finances aren't totally joint. One working spouse may contribute on behalf of the other, but it's still fundamentally one person's money. In the average household living paycheck to paycheck, paying into shared expenses is all it takes to have joint assets, because there's nothing leftover. So it's only in cases where there are significant accumulations of investable assets outside of retirement vehicles that this is even a live question.
Second, as you mention in one of your examples, significant non-retirement, non-primary home assets usually means there is some sort of entrepreneurial business enterprise / capital-intensive side hustle involved, in which case it's not so much about keeping his and hers as it is distinguishing business funds from personal funds.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:11 am

One pot. The reason you have friction is because you have two pots (or three). Get rid of the friction by going to one pot. We've had periods in our marriage where she earned more, periods where he earned more, periods where one person didn't earn at all, and periods where both are very well paid. One pot works just fine in all of those scenarios. Beats me how people deal with two pots. There must be a million different ways to do that, no wonder there is friction as you debate between all those different ways. There's only one way to do a one pot.
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:12 am

Sage16 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:04 am
daheld wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:55 am
I fall into the "one pot" camp. It just seems silly and tedious and reasonably impossible to accurately track each other's individual earnings, savings and expenses. I absolutely believe it can work, but for me (and my wife) it just doesn't make sense to have separate finances. I agree it undercuts the "team" aspect of a marriage.
+1, we are one pot couple too, I never understood couples that run separate finances
We are a one-pot couple, but our views on finances overall are different. My wife is literally addicted to shopping (but she doesn't have champagne tastes), I'm frugal almost to the point of miserdom. My wife has a few minor side hustles, earning ~$4k/yr; that income is put in a totally separate account which I have zero access to...based upon a package being on my doorstep almost every single day and our massive walk-in closet (that is 95% hers), I know exactly where those resources go though.

I came into the marriage with WAY more and still earn more, but she's about the hardest worker I've ever met, so as long as we are meeting our saving's goals (we've exceeded them every year so far), it all works out.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:14 am

White Coat Investor wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:11 am
One pot. The reason you have friction is because you have two pots (or three). Get rid of the friction by going to one pot. We've had periods in our marriage where she earned more, periods where he earned more, periods where one person didn't earn at all, and periods where both are very well paid. One pot works just fine in all of those scenarios. Beats me how people deal with two pots. There must be a million different ways to do that, no wonder there is friction as you debate between all those different ways. There's only one way to do a one pot.
I mean, this is what I've been pulling for since the beginning of our marriage. But my husband philosophically disagrees. We've been married for 6 years and this is still a point of argument. What do you do when one spouse wants to combine finances and the other doesn't?

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:15 am

MattE wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:09 am
Savings goals are also handled jointly -- once a month or so I'll ask her what her balance is, have her transfer everything but $1Kish from her checking to our joint savings, then I'll do the same and make purchases in our IRAs and brokerage account of that, with the IRAs being done in even splits until we both max out and the brokerage account being a joint account. Day-to-day purchases are all made on our joint CCs with the understanding that based on our household budget we both have latitude to purchase whatever we want up to a certain amount without running it by the other. Really the primary purpose the divided checking accounts end up serving in practice is masking Christmas\birthday\etc present purchases from each other.
What you're describing sounds like you really have joint finances with a $1k individual "allowance" for each of you per month. That sounds good, but that's not the situation I'm asking about.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by mad9q » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:16 am

My thoughts come from the perspective of a SAH parent who sacrificed career ambition to care for children and homeschool.

I could see keeping separate funds if this is a second marriage where one or both spouses have lingering financial responsibilities, but assuming this is a first marriage for both (which seems to be the case), I would be suspicious. Marriage/family is about serving the whole as a unit, not the interests of individuals who happen to live together.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by skjoldur » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:18 am

You took a risk to your own income to enhance the value of his business. If he wants separate finances, he should simply compensate you with substantial equity in the business. You have made an investment and taken risk for the sake of increasing the value of his business. Risk and investment = equity.

I agree one-pot seems a lot simpler to me. But I know people who have good reasons to want to keep separate finances.

If he insists on separate finances, I think you really need to find the right business model to capture the tricky situations you have described.

e.g. for the stay at home mom situation, a salary is the wrong model. This is a sacrifice of one persons current income, and a decrease of their entire future lifetime career value for a shared benefit. Once again, I think this is more like an equity arrangement than a salary arrangement. If you raise the kids and undermine your career, I think you should earn partial ownership of his career. Ownership is very different than wages. It means you benefit from the ups and downs, but your upside is not capped at some arbitrary salary.

This could be stressful to negotiate, but I think the process would reveal the truth about how you each value each others contributions. In particular, it would reveal any contradictions or inconsistencies in how you value things. e.g. I suspect he might completely undervalue your contribution to his business success.

Good luck

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:19 am

We have been married over 25 years and combine everything. I think it adds to a sense of security, but that’s just me. I think the key is that you are both on the same page and agree with the plan. I hope letting your husband know that you have concerns makes him think it through a little more. Good luck.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by RickBoglehead » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:19 am

Walkure wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:10 am
Retirement plans are always individual, so even couples with "joint" finances aren't totally joint. One working spouse may contribute on behalf of the other, but it's still fundamentally one person's money.
Fundamentally disagree.

Of our retirement assets (we have twice that in taxable assets), 70% are in my name, 30% in my wife's. Of that 30%, I contributed probably 70% of it. While legally in each of our names, and treated that way if one of us passes and for designating beneficiaries, this is OUR money. WE are going to retire in 2 years, WE are going to spend OUR money on OUR retirement.

When a relative of mine gave us a gift, she intentionally split it into two checks, one to each of us. We smiled, and put the funds in our joint account. When I inherited money, it went in our joint account. When my wife inherited money, it went in our joint account. The property she inherited was deeded to both of us. Our, joint, US.

My wife stayed home with our kids from when our oldest was born until our youngest was in elementary school. WE gave up hundreds of thousands in income. WE made that choice.

To the OP, I'd suggest counseling to resolve this situation.
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:22 am

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:12 am
We are a one-pot couple, but our views on finances overall are different. My wife is literally addicted to shopping (but she doesn't have champagne tastes), I'm frugal almost to the point of miserdom. My wife has a few minor side hustles, earning ~$4k/yr; that income is put in a totally separate account which I have zero access to...based upon a package being on my doorstep almost every single day and our massive walk-in closet (that is 95% hers), I know exactly where those resources go though.

I came into the marriage with WAY more and still earn more, but she's about the hardest worker I've ever met, so as long as we are meeting our saving's goals (we've exceeded them every year so far), it all works out.
Your last sentence sounds similar to us. I work hard and I earned a good income (until I quit my job last year to support his move), but he came into the marriage with about 10x as much in assets and has a business that earns a lot. To be fair, he does work hard so I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the idea that it's "fair" for him to keep what he earns... but at the same time it feels problematic for our marriage and power dynamic if he does that.

May I ask how you think about the question of fairness? What makes you feel that it's fair for your wife to have 1/2 of all the earnings when you brought in and continue to bring in more? This seems to be the point that my husband struggles with.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:25 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:19 am
Of our retirement assets (we have twice that in taxable assets), 70% are in my name, 30% in my wife's. Of that 30%, I contributed probably 70% of it. While legally in each of our names, and treated that way if one of us passes and for designating beneficiaries, this is OUR money. WE are going to retire in 2 years, WE are going to spend OUR money on OUR retirement.

When a relative of mine gave us a gift, she intentionally split it into two checks, one to each of us. We smiled, and put the funds in our joint account. When I inherited money, it went in our joint account. When my wife inherited money, it went in our joint account. The property she inherited was deeded to both of us. Our, joint, US.

My wife stayed home with our kids from when our oldest was born until our youngest was in elementary school. WE gave up hundreds of thousands in income. WE made that choice.

To the OP, I'd suggest counseling to resolve this situation.
This is exactly the type of thinking that my parents modeled for me, and it's the kind of marriage I wish I had.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Elbowman » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.

// Also a one pot family. With very different incomes, it wouldn't be remotely fair to have separate finances (IMO).

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by runner540 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:22 am
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:12 am
We are a one-pot couple, but our views on finances overall are different. My wife is literally addicted to shopping (but she doesn't have champagne tastes), I'm frugal almost to the point of miserdom. My wife has a few minor side hustles, earning ~$4k/yr; that income is put in a totally separate account which I have zero access to...based upon a package being on my doorstep almost every single day and our massive walk-in closet (that is 95% hers), I know exactly where those resources go though.

I came into the marriage with WAY more and still earn more, but she's about the hardest worker I've ever met, so as long as we are meeting our saving's goals (we've exceeded them every year so far), it all works out.
Your last sentence sounds similar to us. I work hard and I earned a good income (until I quit my job last year to support his move), but he came into the marriage with about 10x as much in assets and has a business that earns a lot. To be fair, he does work hard so I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the idea that it's "fair" for him to keep what he earns... but at the same time it feels problematic for our marriage and power dynamic if he does that.

May I ask how you think about the question of fairness? What makes you feel that it's fair for your wife to have 1/2 of all the earnings when you brought in and continue to bring in more? This seems to be the point that my husband struggles with.
Bluejello, your question is really a relationship amd values question. Whatever the posters think, doesn't matter much. If you were my friend/sister, I would tell you to do a few things:
-seek counseling to work through your divergent views.
-educate yourself on where the assets are, taxes being paid, and how the business operates (revenue, major costs, profitability, etc)
- make sure your husband has lots of life and disability insurance

I'm in the one pot camp, esp with kids and one person staying home. It's not 50/50, we both have 100%, because we are a team. Good luck!
Last edited by runner540 on Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by FlyAF » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:29 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:22 am
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:12 am
We are a one-pot couple, but our views on finances overall are different. My wife is literally addicted to shopping (but she doesn't have champagne tastes), I'm frugal almost to the point of miserdom. My wife has a few minor side hustles, earning ~$4k/yr; that income is put in a totally separate account which I have zero access to...based upon a package being on my doorstep almost every single day and our massive walk-in closet (that is 95% hers), I know exactly where those resources go though.

I came into the marriage with WAY more and still earn more, but she's about the hardest worker I've ever met, so as long as we are meeting our saving's goals (we've exceeded them every year so far), it all works out.
Your last sentence sounds similar to us. I work hard and I earned a good income (until I quit my job last year to support his move), but he came into the marriage with about 10x as much in assets and has a business that earns a lot. To be fair, he does work hard so I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the idea that it's "fair" for him to keep what he earns... but at the same time it feels problematic for our marriage and power dynamic if he does that.

May I ask how you think about the question of fairness? What makes you feel that it's fair for your wife to have 1/2 of all the earnings when you brought in and continue to bring in more? This seems to be the point that my husband struggles with.
In the last few years, my spouse's career has really taken off, to the point where they're making 15-20 times what I do (and I do ok dangit). I've had to make tremendous sacrifices (multiple relocations, partner always on travel, etc...)to help facilitate their growth. We're a one pot house and if my partner wanted to keep separate finances after all I've done to help get them there, I'd probably divorce TBH.

I just don't see how separate works, marriage and life is just too fluid. You can relocate for one's career, one can lose their job, business fails, health problems prevent from working, special needs kids, etc.......I couldn't and wouldn't try to navigate all that while trying to figure out who owes what percentage of the water bill. Just seem juvenile to me and not something I could deal with.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by delamer » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:34 am

There are two different issues:

1. The mechanics of how joint household bills are paid, how many accounts there are, and the accounts are titled.

2. The decision-making process of funding common goals (retirement, college, etc.), level of contributions to household expenses, where to live, individual spending allowances, asset allocation, etc.

You have to come to agreement on #2. Otherwise, you are acting as independent parties rather than as as a team. What’s the point of being married if you aren’t balancing your individual needs with those of the family?

There are many ways to handle #1. Everything joint, joint checking but separate credit cards, one joint checking and two separate checking, etc.

The mechanics matter a lot less than the agreement on joint spending/purposes.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by nisiprius » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:35 am

There's not any point of principle with us. Over the years we've just ended up with some "ours," some "his," and some "hers" accounts. It's never bothered us.

Our day-to-day stuff is a joint checking account. Our salary checks were direct-deposited into that single account, our Social Security payments go into it, when I was out of work my unemployment benefits went into it.

401(k)'s and subsequent rollover IRAs forced us into separate accounts.

We opened a fair number of "single" bank accounts because it was too much work for both people to get to the bank at the same time.

My wife is an authorized user of "my" credit card, but she also has her own credit card (just her name on the account, I can't use it). She tends to use her credit card when she makes online purchases, I tend to use mine, then we pay our credit card bills out of the joint checking account.

I personally believe, though, that it is healthy for each person in a relationship to have a decent chunk of change belonging strictly to themselves, that could be used as "escape money." I don't think it's healthy for a person to feel trapped by logistics--there oughta be a way to buy a plane ticket. "Take the money and run Venezuela." Well, maybe Venezuela wouldn't be the best idea nowadays.

I'd be concerned about a partner who was too insistent on keeping all of their money out of my grasp (totally separated finances), and concerned about a partner who was too insistent on keeping all my money within their grasp (100% joint finances).
Last edited by nisiprius on Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:41 am, edited 3 times in total.
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bluejello
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:37 am

Elbowman wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.
My understanding is that there's two main reasons why he wants separate finances:

1) Philosophical ideas of fairness and ownership. He feels that after taking care of family expenses, the person who earns the money should get to keep it and control how it's spent / saved / invested. He has said that the idea of one spouse claiming ownership of the other's earnings just because they are married is a form of "entitlement". He has also stressed that if I were the higher earner, he would feel no entitlement to "my" money.

2) The way his parents fought over money. His father was also an entrepreneur (very successfully, but of course the road to success was not always smooth) and growing up he saw many fights between his parents when his father wanted to invest in growing the business and his mother thought it was too risky. I believe this created a mentality in him of not wanting to be "controlled". In our relationship, there has also been friction about this. Before his current successful venture there were many failed ventures that lost money, and I'm naturally more risk-averse than he is, so we fought about what I perceive as his "irresponsible risk appetite" and what he perceived as "me holding him back".

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:40 am

delamer wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:34 am
The mechanics matter a lot less than the agreement on joint spending/purposes.
Yes, this is a very good point.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Rus In Urbe » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:42 am

Marriage #1 Separate pots. Made divorce super easy. And probably kept us from long-term joint planning (though that was not the reason the marriage did not last, but might have contributed).

Marriage #2 One pot from the get-go. Lots of long-term planning. Both frugal. And insanely, madly, romantically, crazily happy 22 years later.

But every experience is different, I hasten to add.
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by TheTimeLord » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:43 am

We have 3 pots (Yours, Mine and Ours). We both get an equal monthly stipend (allowance sounds silly) to spend as we choose and everything else goes into the "OURS" pot.
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by SoonerD » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:43 am

If my spousal situation were similar to yours and I earned less & sacrificed earning potential I would question the commitment to the marriage of my spouse.

I would have difficulty trusting the person and wonder what he gains by keeping his money out of reach of her? And what he fears by combining money?

I suggest you start with those questions and listen to your husband's concerns.

I would tell him that I will save 100% of my earnings into 401k, IRA and taxable accounts. I will not contribute to family expenses since I am so far behind building wealth compared to him (wealth in general and retirement assets in particular). I want to retire at the same time so the only way is to either combine assets or to have the lower earner save 100%. If the 100% savings isn't enough to equalize wealth then I would require the spouse to give money each month to make savings (contributions and total saved) equal.

In my marriage we don't worry about equal balances because we have joint money management. We have one portfolio (made up of course of some individually owned accounts).

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by FlyAF » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:44 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:37 am
Elbowman wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.
My understanding is that there's two main reasons why he wants separate finances:

1) Philosophical ideas of fairness and ownership. He feels that after taking care of family expenses, the person who earns the money should get to keep it and control how it's spent / saved / invested. He has said that the idea of one spouse claiming ownership of the other's earnings just because they are married is a form of "entitlement". He has also stressed that if I were the higher earner, he would feel no entitlement to "my" money.

2) The way his parents fought over money. His father was also an entrepreneur (very successfully, but of course the road to success was not always smooth) and growing up he saw many fights between his parents when his father wanted to invest in growing the business and his mother thought it was too risky. I believe this created a mentality in him of not wanting to be "controlled". In our relationship, there has also been friction about this. Before his current successful venture there were many failed ventures that lost money, and I'm naturally more risk-averse than he is, so we fought about what I perceive as his "irresponsible risk appetite" and what he perceived as "me holding him back".
Run, don't walk, to couples counseling IMO.

Out of curiosity, since you relocated for his business which is now doing well, do you just sit at home w/ no money? Does he give you an allowance?

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by DonIce » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:44 am

One pot, contributing to each other's retirement accounts, etc, seems quite risky given that 40-50% of US marriages end in divorce.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by runner540 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:47 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:37 am
Elbowman wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.
My understanding is that there's two main reasons why he wants separate finances:

1) Philosophical ideas of fairness and ownership. He feels that after taking care of family expenses, the person who earns the money should get to keep it and control how it's spent / saved / invested. He has said that the idea of one spouse claiming ownership of the other's earnings just because they are married is a form of "entitlement". He has also stressed that if I were the higher earner, he would feel no entitlement to "my" money.

2) The way his parents fought over money. His father was also an entrepreneur (very successfully, but of course the road to success was not always smooth) and growing up he saw many fights between his parents when his father wanted to invest in growing the business and his mother thought it was too risky. I believe this created a mentality in him of not wanting to be "controlled". In our relationship, there has also been friction about this. Before his current successful venture there were many failed ventures that lost money, and I'm naturally more risk-averse than he is, so we fought about what I perceive as his "irresponsible risk appetite" and what he perceived as "me holding him back".
So when his other businesses failed/lost money, how did he eat and keep a roof over his head? Did you contribute at all?

Also, when he got married and had kids, he lost the ability to 100% control his life...
Last edited by runner540 on Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:48 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:22 am
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:12 am
We are a one-pot couple, but our views on finances overall are different. My wife is literally addicted to shopping (but she doesn't have champagne tastes), I'm frugal almost to the point of miserdom. My wife has a few minor side hustles, earning ~$4k/yr; that income is put in a totally separate account which I have zero access to...based upon a package being on my doorstep almost every single day and our massive walk-in closet (that is 95% hers), I know exactly where those resources go though.

I came into the marriage with WAY more and still earn more, but she's about the hardest worker I've ever met, so as long as we are meeting our saving's goals (we've exceeded them every year so far), it all works out.
Your last sentence sounds similar to us. I work hard and I earned a good income (until I quit my job last year to support his move), but he came into the marriage with about 10x as much in assets and has a business that earns a lot. To be fair, he does work hard so I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the idea that it's "fair" for him to keep what he earns... but at the same time it feels problematic for our marriage and power dynamic if he does that.

May I ask how you think about the question of fairness? What makes you feel that it's fair for your wife to have 1/2 of all the earnings when you brought in and continue to bring in more? This seems to be the point that my husband struggles with.
You have to let the word "fair" go. The fact that I brought in (and continue to bring in) more resources to the partnership, yet essentially all the non-necessity spending is her was something that took a long time to be OK with, but the reality is that I am better (financially and otherwise) with her. You just have to look at the big picture. In other areas of our marriage, she brings in a lot more than I do.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:49 am

FlyAF wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:44 am
Out of curiosity, since you relocated for his business which is now doing well, do you just sit at home w/ no money? Does he give you an allowance?
No, I didn't mean to paint a picture of a monster. He's very good about taking care of the family. Currently most assets outside of the business are in joint accounts, and he pays himself a salary which goes into a joint checking account and which pays for our living expenses. But almost all asset accumulation is happening in the business. As I said, we currently have a setup that's much closer to what I wanted (joint finances) than what we wanted (separate finances) but it was a huge battle to get him here and he's still somewhat unhappy about it.
Last edited by bluejello on Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:51 am

There are obviously people who make it work and are OK with it. I think it requires some extra hoop jumping and planning to make it work out as a team effort for shared goals. I'm not sure how they do it but it has to be something reasonable people can deal with even if it requires counseling or a mediator etc.

We are in the joint pot probably because we never thought of doing anything else and never really had any choice early on as it took every penny to scrape by. My wife spent 25 years raising / homeschooling kids. Does she get nothing because she had no income? As it happens now for convenience, my wife's salary is automatically split into thirds which take it out of general circulation. We live on my salary. It does not matter whose $ is whose $ in the joint pot. Savings and investments are balanced considering all accounts no matter whose name is on them since they are intended for joint goals. My wife has few retirement credits of her own so we try to maximize mine and structure them for her primary benefit since she is likely to outlive me. Our differences, and there are plenty of them, are not based on financial concerns.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by SoonerD » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:51 am

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:37 am
Elbowman wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.
My understanding is that there's two main reasons why he wants separate finances:

1) Philosophical ideas of fairness and ownership. He feels that after taking care of family expenses, the person who earns the money should get to keep it and control how it's spent / saved / invested. He has said that the idea of one spouse claiming ownership of the other's earnings just because they are married is a form of "entitlement". He has also stressed that if I were the higher earner, he would feel no entitlement to "my" money.

2) The way his parents fought over money. His father was also an entrepreneur (very successfully, but of course the road to success was not always smooth) and growing up he saw many fights between his parents when his father wanted to invest in growing the business and his mother thought it was too risky. I believe this created a mentality in him of not wanting to be "controlled". In our relationship, there has also been friction about this. Before his current successful venture there were many failed ventures that lost money, and I'm naturally more risk-averse than he is, so we fought about what I perceive as his "irresponsible risk appetite" and what he perceived as "me holding him back".
Entitlement and holding him back! Those are huge warning signs to me. I would offer to set him free, collect 50% (or whatver is the division in your state) and let him get rich and selfish without you. I would give him 1-week to consider his options - joint everything and him maxing out your retirement accounts (including an equalizer brokerage account) or you take your 50% share and wish him luck and happiness in the hell reserved for selfish, grown children.

A grown man with a successful business who uses his parents as an excuse for his selfishness is a small person.

He sees you as an anchor not an equal partner. He possibly thinks you're lucky to have him but he can easily do better than you. Otherwise he would never think you're holding him back.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:52 am

runner540 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:47 am
So when his other businesses failed/lost money, how did he eat and keep a roof over his head? Did you contribute at all?
This is also a point of contention. When he was working on these ventures, my paycheck was being deposited into our joint checking account and expenses were being paid out of that account. I consider this as "me paying the bills and supporting him while he was working on his business(es)."

He hotly contests that I ever supported him, because we already had a large pile of savings (in joint accounts) which mostly came from his previous earnings. His point of view is that without me, he still could've tapped into his savings and been more than fine while he took entrepreneurial risks, so I didn't support him during this time.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by dsronfire » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:58 am

Like many here, we're of the one-pot mindset (34 yrs. married, early retirees). So I can't offer any practical advice how to form a team when you're not a "financial" team. I do understand money can be a very large, divisive force in a marriage. So it seems logical to work through counseling so that you are both able to reach an understanding and respect that works for both of you. I wish you the best.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:58 am

We have been married for 8 years and do separate accounts. We each put 60% of our paycheck into joint account, the rest goes into our personal account. This is enough to pay for all joint bills and a little more. Personal spending comes from your own personal account, joint bills come out of joint account. Now this isn't perfect as I am putting 18% of my pay into my 401K and DW is putting in 6%, but I also make more so I have more left over. Also bought a new car for DW but payments come out of joint account, because we both use the car, and I tend to spend more on her during birthday and holidays and I put the grocery shopping on my account, even though it is a joint bill, this is also like noted above, I make more money so I have more left over. If we need to make a big purchase we both take from our personal accounts or we have a HELOC is we need it.

The reason this system works, is that all bills are paid first then personal spending after, and if all one pot hoseholds like my sister, she bought a new car when they had a kid because she wanted to go from 2 door to 4 door, next week her husband went out and bought a BMW since she made a purchase he felt entitled to one, and it was a horrible mistake but that is the mentality that can happen with one pot both see the other spending and think they deserve to spent from the pot too and then it is a race to spend....

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:01 pm

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:52 am
runner540 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:47 am
So when his other businesses failed/lost money, how did he eat and keep a roof over his head? Did you contribute at all?
This is also a point of contention. When he was working on these ventures, my paycheck was being deposited into our joint checking account and expenses were being paid out of that account. I consider this as "me paying the bills and supporting him while he was working on his business(es)."

He hotly contests that I ever supported him, because we already had a large pile of savings (in joint accounts) which mostly came from his previous earnings. His point of view is that without me, he still could've tapped into his savings and been more than fine while he took entrepreneurial risks, so I didn't support him during this time.
I don't want to be mean, but who effing cares about who supported who and when, you are married, it is all together each supporting each other all the time. IF you didn't support him by cooking, and doing his laundry then he wouldn't have food or clothes to have a business to run, (Assuming you do these things) or what about the cost on your body having his children, is there a price to that, or do you charge him for sex??? I think there is a mentality issue here not an issue with the system in place

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bottlecap » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:03 pm

Keeping assets owned pre-marriage separate is not unusual.

Keeping post-marriage income is unusual.

I think separate accounts is silly, but if you are incompatible financially (spender vs. a saver), having separate spending accounts might make sense.

But you aren't describing separate spending accounts. You are describing is, "Pay pro-rata share of the expenses and then keep ownership of the excess income."

Anyone can agree to whatever they want, I guess, but that's not marriage. And if you get a divorce, most states would not honor that arrangement.

What you're describing is roommates that happen to have kids. I think this is a problem for you. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you are describing, my I think great fathers (or mothers) wouldn't think this arrangement with the other parent was okay.

Good luck,

JT

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:06 pm

Thegame14 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:58 am
We have been married for 8 years and do separate accounts. We each put 60% of our paycheck into joint account, the rest goes into our personal account. This is enough to pay for all joint bills and a little more. Personal spending comes from your own personal account, joint bills come out of joint account. Now this isn't perfect as I am putting 18% of my pay into my 401K and DW is putting in 6%, but I also make more so I have more left over. Also bought a new car for DW but payments come out of joint account, because we both use the car, and I tend to spend more on her during birthday and holidays and I put the grocery shopping on my account, even though it is a joint bill, this is also like noted above, I make more money so I have more left over. If we need to make a big purchase we both take from our personal accounts or we have a HELOC is we need it.
Thanks for sharing, this is interesting. Can I ask if you've ever faced an opportunity where one person's career could benefit at the expense of the other's? For example, if your DW got a job opportunity that would allow her to earn a lot more and save more (in her individual accounts), but it would require you to move to a new city and sacrifice your current job, what would you do?

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by researcher » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:07 pm

MattE wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:09 am
The amount that remains in the personal checking accounts is really a matter of trust between the two of us -- I rely on her being honest with me about what her balance is and vice versa...
we typically pay the mortgage out of her checking account and most of the other bills out of mine...
once a month or so I'll ask her what her balance is, have her transfer everything but $1Kish from her checking to our joint savings, then I'll do the same and make purchases in our IRAs and brokerage account of that...

Really the primary purpose the divided checking accounts end up serving in practice is masking Christmas\birthday\etc present purchases from each other.
Maintaining multiple accounts...paying bills y&z from one and bills w&x from another...asking about balances each month...transfering funds each month.

That seems like a ridiculous amount of time & hassle just to mask a birthday gift.
Why not eliminate all of this and just put everything in one account?

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluejello » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:08 pm

bottlecap wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:03 pm
But you aren't describing separate spending accounts. You are describing is, "Pay pro-rata share of the expenses and then keep ownership of the excess income."

Anyone can agree to whatever they want, I guess, but that's not marriage. And if you get a divorce, most states would not honor that arrangement.
Yes, that's exactly the arrangement he originally proposed (and still believes in).

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Raybo » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:10 pm

I've had it both ways (two wives!)

First wife was bad at math and secretive about money. We both ran our own businesses. She preferred to keep things private. Eventually, I found out that while I was putting money in a saving account, she was rolling over her credit card debt month to month. I started giving her money to cover the shortage but she got huffy about me knowing about her CC usage. The marriage ended for other reasons, though this one didn't help.

Second (and current) wife also had her own business. She wasn't as detailed oriented as I was and when our joint debit card got overdrawn, I decided that type of communal account wouldn't work. Instead, we simply bought what was needed for the house with our own money figuring it would all come out in the end and that has never been a problem. When she retired, all her money was in retirement accounts. I still had after-tax money. It made much more sense for me to use my after-tax money to fund our lives than for her to take money out of her IRAs for her piece and for the both of us to pay more in taxes. So, now, we treat our money as a single pile. But, since all her money is in IRAs, which can only be in one person's name, her money is still in her name, as are my IRAs.

Depending on the laws of your state, where you put money earned during the marriage may have no impact on who gets what should there be a divorce. If that isn't the case, that is, if money your husband puts in his name is protected should there be a divorce, then I would ask him to sign an agreement as to what would happen to all "his" money should there be a divorce. That would only be fair.

Lastly, if this has been an issue for 6 years and it is still unresolved, then it is high time to address it with professional help.
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by MJD » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:10 pm

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:52 am
runner540 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:47 am
So when his other businesses failed/lost money, how did he eat and keep a roof over his head? Did you contribute at all?
This is also a point of contention. When he was working on these ventures, my paycheck was being deposited into our joint checking account and expenses were being paid out of that account. I consider this as "me paying the bills and supporting him while he was working on his business(es)."

He hotly contests that I ever supported him, because we already had a large pile of savings (in joint accounts) which mostly came from his previous earnings. His point of view is that without me, he still could've tapped into his savings and been more than fine while he took entrepreneurial risks, so I didn't support him during this time.
I don't presume to know your marriage, but I can only observe the relationship from your comments. This is the third red flag post from you in this very thread about how your spouse views you, your partnership, and contributions.

Marriage is a team effort. Your posts have indicated that your spouse persists in believing that he could have accomplished the same goals, with or without you. That type of thinking persistently undercuts the idea that you are "in it together" and are mutually supporting each other. Such a belief is destructive to a union.

This is not to suggest that your spouse is a bad person, but rather, that you have fundamentally different views of each other and your union. I would advise counseling very strongly, and as soon as possible, before the situation deteriorates further.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Elbowman » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:11 pm

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:37 am
Elbowman wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:27 am
bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:52 am
My husband wanted to do separate accounts and keep the majority of assets separate, with a joint account for day-to-day expenses. He argues that you don't have to have joint finances to be a family.
It is hard to respond without knowing WHY he wants this. If you can, I'd prefer you explain rather than me make ungenerous assumptions.
My understanding is that there's two main reasons why he wants separate finances:

1) Philosophical ideas of fairness and ownership. He feels that after taking care of family expenses, the person who earns the money should get to keep it and control how it's spent / saved / invested. He has said that the idea of one spouse claiming ownership of the other's earnings just because they are married is a form of "entitlement". He has also stressed that if I were the higher earner, he would feel no entitlement to "my" money.

2) The way his parents fought over money. His father was also an entrepreneur (very successfully, but of course the road to success was not always smooth) and growing up he saw many fights between his parents when his father wanted to invest in growing the business and his mother thought it was too risky. I believe this created a mentality in him of not wanting to be "controlled". In our relationship, there has also been friction about this. Before his current successful venture there were many failed ventures that lost money, and I'm naturally more risk-averse than he is, so we fought about what I perceive as his "irresponsible risk appetite" and what he perceived as "me holding him back".
:( As others have said, this seems to call for couples counseling rather than personal finance mechanics.

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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by mptfan » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:11 pm

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:14 am
I mean, this is what I've been pulling for since the beginning of our marriage. But my husband philosophically disagrees. We've been married for 6 years and this is still a point of argument. What do you do when one spouse wants to combine finances and the other doesn't?
I think you have three options regarding money earned or accumulated during the marriage (premarital assets are different in my opinion):

1) You accept your husband's view, and I mean really and truly accept it without lingering resentment and hard feelings (based on what you wrote I think that will be hard for you), and you keep the finances separate and move forward,

2) Your husband accepts your view, and I mean really and truly accepts it without lingering resentment and hard feelings (without knowing your husband and based only on what you wrote this does not seem likely), and you combine your finances into one pot and move forward, or

3) You divorce and find someone who wants to combine finances.

Only you and your husband can decide which of those three options is best for you. Speaking for myself, I could not be married to someone if we did not combine marital earnings and assets into one pot. I think premarital assets may be kept separately.
Last edited by mptfan on Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Thegame14
Posts: 843
Joined: Mon May 07, 2018 11:53 am

Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:16 pm

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:06 pm
Thegame14 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:58 am
We have been married for 8 years and do separate accounts. We each put 60% of our paycheck into joint account, the rest goes into our personal account. This is enough to pay for all joint bills and a little more. Personal spending comes from your own personal account, joint bills come out of joint account. Now this isn't perfect as I am putting 18% of my pay into my 401K and DW is putting in 6%, but I also make more so I have more left over. Also bought a new car for DW but payments come out of joint account, because we both use the car, and I tend to spend more on her during birthday and holidays and I put the grocery shopping on my account, even though it is a joint bill, this is also like noted above, I make more money so I have more left over. If we need to make a big purchase we both take from our personal accounts or we have a HELOC is we need it.
Thanks for sharing, this is interesting. Can I ask if you've ever faced an opportunity where one person's career could benefit at the expense of the other's? For example, if your DW got a job opportunity that would allow her to earn a lot more and save more (in her individual accounts), but it would require you to move to a new city and sacrifice your current job, what would you do?
There was a point where we thought of me instead of going to graduate school at night for my MBA and it taking 6 plus years, that we might instead have me go to grad school fulltime, finish in 2 years, and we would re-located to our parents vacation house in Cape Cod and I would go to school in Boston, she would have had to give up her job, and find a new job. She had as much say in the move as I did, and ultimately we didn't go because she didn't want to be that far from her somewhat elderly father and not be able to check in on him....

I also have a riskier field, accounting, than my wife, she works at a small office where she basically has a job for life, but she makes about half of what I make and it has no room to move up where I am underpaid and could make a lot more in the future. Also I could almost double my salary if I was willing to work longer hours and work in NYC, but we don't want that because the income isn't worth me not seeing my kids during the week and the parenting burden falling to her completely. Again without being mean, it sounds like he is using his business and income to keep you down and seem inferior. but that is an outsider view, maybe he is great and it is an issue he needs counseling on because of his parents.... I think there needs to be a serious sit down and for him to listen and you explain how this makes you feel. If my wife said our system isn't working because I make double what she makes and her bucket doesn't have much left over and she wanted to go joint, I would say I am sorry this makes you feel this way, we will immediately move to a joint system.

bluebolt
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by bluebolt » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:17 pm

bluejello wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:40 am
delamer wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:34 am
The mechanics matter a lot less than the agreement on joint spending/purposes.
Yes, this is a very good point.
Totally agree.

My spouse & I share the same financial goals, set aggressive saving/investment goals, and make any significant financial decisions together.

While we may have accounts individually titled, we both "own" everything together, and both have access to all the accounts.

The mechanics of how this works is automated & frictionless for us and I don't see how one pot would make things any easier or better.

onourway
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Re: Married couples: can you have a team mentality with separate finances?

Post by onourway » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:22 pm

I feel like a bit of clarification is needed. You say that most assets outside of the business are in joint accounts, including the salary that he pays himself which is deposited into a joint account, yet 'most asset accumulation is happening in the business.'

If that's the case, it doesn't sound quite so clear-cut as you are making it out to be. There should be a separation between personal and business finances. Perhaps that delineation is not currently clear enough. If he is paying himself a salary from the business and only contributing a comparatively small portion of that to the family while accumulating non-business assets on his own (and worse, spending extravagantly on himself), then I'd see that as a problem.

If, instead, he is depositing his entire salary into joint accounts and it's only the money that the business is building up (and that he doesn't spend for his own benefit), that's a whole lot less of a problem to me.

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