Money and Marriage: On Combining Finances

One of the last things that most couples think about before getting married is money. Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons why couples go through a divorce is also money. If your marriage is on a rough patch because of money, this article could potentially save your marriage.

I have to admit that when I got married, money wasn’t the first thing on my mind — it was love. Although we each have our own financial quirks, I have to say that we are lucky to be about 99% financially compatible.

Love and Money

Photo by att21 via Flickr

Combined Finances Is Best

For the most part our money is combined; except for our IRAs and my 401k, all of our accounts are joint. However, I don’t meddle much in our Citibank account, which was originally hers, and she still considers it hers (that’s where she deposits her paychecks). And for the most part she doesn’t meddle in our brokerage account, which was originally mine (that’s where I deposit my paychecks).

We operate semi-independently — i.e., we each pay our own bills, more or less. But the nice thing is that I can always ask her for money if I am short, or vise versa. In general, I tend to be the one who’s short on cash because I pay most of our household expenses — i.e., mortgage, property taxes, utilities, etc. (that how it was before we got married). Basically, we each have our own little financial domain, but in truth we give to each other without hesitation and without keeping track. Well it probably doesn’t matter for her, since she told me more than once that what’s hers is hers, and what’s mine is hers.

Separate Finances Is Best

As much as I want to say that the way my wife and I handle our finances is the best, I couldn’t. My parents have been married for over 30 years and they kept their finances separate. They each have their own accounts and don’t meddle in each other financial affairs. Actually, my mom doesn’t let my dad mess with her money, because she thinks he’s irresponsible. For me, his only quirk is his kindness and generosity.

So, there’s evidence to suggest that this method works too.

Which Is The Right Answer?

The answer is, I don’t know. But here are a few things that seem to help — whether you combine or separate your finances:

  • Share financial information openly.
  • Create and work toward common financial goals.
  • Agree on basic ground rules — i.e., what each spouse can spend without consulting with each other.
  • Be supportive (both financially and emotionally) when your spouse is in need.
  • Don’t keep a tally, especially for little things. In fact, don’t fret the small stuff.

In the end, I don’t think there’s a single right answer, and each couple has to make it works for them. Although I do believe that the worst thing any couple can do is not talking to each other about money

About the Author

By , on Jun 11, 2008
Pinyo
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo have enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (12 Comments)

  1. Jules says:

    Finances and determining a good system during marriage can be tricky, but every couple (and financial situation) is different so finding the right balance or method for you is what is key.

  2. jennie says:

    Most of married couples don’t realize the essence of money management and end up in regular financial fights. I too had faced similar difficulty with my hubby.

    But soon we learn, how important is money management. It plays a significant role in our life. Now we have everything plan and as a result we don’t face any financial difficulties.

    Another informative post I recently read at http://www.manageme7.com/blog/.....he-big-day

  3. We keep our finances completely together and have since the beginning. It just seemed to work naturally for us, and all of our bills and accounts are completely shared. Weekly money meetings keep us on the same page as to where our money is going. I think the important thing is to have a system that works for both individuals, whether it is shared, separate or hybrid. Problems in how to deal with money often lead to problems WITH money! Great article; hope you have an awesome week.

  4. Pinyo says:

    @Everyone — Thank you for sharing your perspectives. Looks like shared finances is the right option for most of us. I couldn’t imagine doing it the other way either.

    @Jamy — I think your husband is a great guy!

  5. jamy says:

    One of my Christian friends told me long time ago that the biggest challenge that she faced when she left work and stayed at home was not having her own $ and had to ask from husband. And when I decided to quit my job and went back to school, I felt that too. I told my hubby so he gave me all his bank account and the family trust fund to handle.

    I was touched because I felt that he trust me so much to let me handle all the family account. With trust come responsibility. I felt more responsible handling other people money than my own.

    It is a big job not only our household expense but I also manage our investment account.

    It has been 8 years since we married, so far, the Lord has blessed us with all that we have ever asked for.

    I think both ways will work as long as there is trust.

  6. Luke says:

    Good question. I think the situation that works best for the couple where they don’t fight about money is best. In my situation, shared finances work great. We allow an allowance of $100 that we can spend on anything so it gives us a little room to do what we want.

  7. Talking with your intended is an absolute must. You need to work out what will work for your individual case.

    In my case, there is a fair amount of age difference, so we decided to put off marriage until we jointly clean up our acts. That way we can go forward with clean slates, and in an emergency not saddle whoever is the survivor with the consequences of the other’s bad decisions from the past.

  8. mymoneyadventure says:

    My Fiancee and I joined our finances last December. I don’t see how couples have separate accounts. We are a team now, and I want our money to reflect that.

  9. Curt says:

    The key to sharing your financies is that ‘two people working together can out smart one’. One of the major financial advantages of marriage is that you can work together to manage your money and plan for your future. If you share your money and dreams together, you become your own financial advisors for each other, and this allows you to out smart others that are separating their money and managing it on their own.

  10. Joseph says:

    I agree with Pete. I think that shared finances are key to a completely open, honest, healthy relationship. Of course all anyone can ever say is just an opinion, because there’s not likely to ever be a way to definitively prove one way versus another.

    My wife and I share our finances. We do have our own little mad money accounts however, which really helps to accomplish two things: one, we don’t go overboard buying little things we don’t need; two, we each still maintain a level of “independence” financially speaking.

  11. B Smith says:

    I am all for combined finances. You need to be partners and that is hard to do if you keep your money separate. If one partner can’t be trusted it is something you need to work on.

  12. Pete says:

    I think shared finances tend to work best. Separate finances can definitely work, like for your parents, but too often it leads to people keeping secrets and having a “this is mine” mindset where the couple aren’t working together towards common goals. Its a mine and yours mindset when marriage should be US.

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