The couples and finances issue

#1 Completely shares finances.  All accounts are joint.  This is not what I thought was going to happen, I thought that there would be his, her, and ours accounts.  But it turns out that my partner didn’t like to worry his pretty little head over money and I love to.   He has since read Your Money or Your Life and plays an active role in decision making.  He does the taxes because that stresses me out (and it keeps him in tune with the big picture even if I handle the month-to-month stuff).  He gives himself a weekly allowance and gets 10x his weekly amount at Christmas and his birthday.  I just spend money on whatever I want, which is not much.  I do not pass judgment on any couple who has completely separate finances or a mix of separate and combined taxes.

#2, OTOH, has completely separate finances.  We are currently living in different states (stupid job market), so that is one issue.  However, even when we lived together, we had separate everything, and we probably will once we live together again, too.  Some things will combine when we eventually get married.  I plan to eventually buy a house, and ideally he would contribute to the downpayment/mortgage and therefore the house would be in both our names.  I think I have one credit card that he is on.  I sort of like the idea of his/hers/ours accounts, which is what my dad does with his wife.  They each have their own accounts, plus they have a joint account.  Because they make different salaries, they each contribute the same proportion of their incomes to the joint account, which they use to pay for mortgage, groceries, clothes for the kids, etc.  They use their own accounts for gifts for each other, their own classes, hobbies, toys, etc.  The joint account pays for the cars.

I like this idea.  My partner and I have had some in-depth discussions about finances a while ago, and we’ll surely have more when we get engaged.  We have separate cars, which we paid for separately and do not co-own.  The thing is, we have really different attitudes towards money and different patterns of spending.  If our money were joint, it would drive me nuts and make me paranoid and prone to nagging– even though I now understand why he spends money the way he does.  If we need to pay for something together, one of us will write a check to the other one.

The truth is, both our ways of handling money are fine.  Both of us pay our bills on time, and we both have good credit.  We have been through various periods of one of us supporting the other financially, too.  We individually spend money on things that are important to us and we don’t bounce the rent checks.  We simply prioritize things differently.  Not having to look at his bank balances saves me from having to worry about them!  I trust him, so I can leave his money alone.  Again, marriage may change this some, but it’s a way that we can both stay sane about money and it’s worked for over a decade of our relationship.

How do you handle joint finances, or how do you think you’d handle them?   (Do you judge people who handle them differently than you do?)

6 Responses to “The couples and finances issue”

  1. frugalscholar Says:

    My husband doesn’t care a bit about finances–he’s happy that I take care of everything. We are both frugal (though in different ways). I can’t imagine how hard it would be to marry someone with different financial attitudes. So I am lucky–we’re fiscally compatible.

    Before we were married, we tried to keep things separate, but everything just kind of merged…I guess that should have told us something.

  2. Money Reasons Says:

    My wife (who is an accountant), handles the monthly bills, and somehow I got stuck doing the taxes? I’m not sure how this happened… Oh, now I remember I’m the one with all the stock transactions which are a pain to enter into the tax software we use…

  3. everydaytipsandthoughts Says:

    I do all the finances and the taxes. We share all our bank and investment accounts. My husband is pretty uninvolved in the financial part of life, he just trusts me to handle it all. He occasionally asks me how much money we have or whatever, but it is just my job I guess.

  4. budgetingfs Says:

    We have joint everything. I handle the budgeting and he handles the stocks. We both have full access and love talking money, so it works out great.

    I don’t judge other people’s separate accounts. I always ask the same question though, what happens if one person saved enough for retirement and one didn’t? Would there ever be resentment if one spouse needed some financial support for a while? Those are real questions with no assumptions or judgment attached.

  5. Link Round Up for Week Ending 8/21/2010 | Everyday Tips and Thoughts... Says:

    […] Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured discusses different ways couple handle finances. […]

  6. Paula @ Says:

    We also have joint finances … it happened slowly, almost by accident. It only causes problems when he wants to loan money to his family/friends, or when I want to buy something that he thinks is superfluous. In the big picture, though, we have similar views and goals about how to manage money.

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