#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?)