Last month, I let you all know that after a handful of years cohabiting and over two years of marriage (or as my husband just informed me “two looooooong years.” Sigh.), my husband and I finally took a plunge of a different kind: We decided to combine our incomes into one checking account.
It’s been about a month now and so far the transition from two bank accounts into one has been relatively uneventful. (Although, it’s always a pleasant surprise when I log into our checking account and have forgotten that it’s my husband’s payday.)
Every couple is different, hence every couple goes through a different set of questions and justifications when it comes to keeping their finances together or separate. For me, the transition to a joined account was prompted by my recent job change and the bump in salary that I experienced. We had talked about combining our accounts ever since we were married, but I’ll be honest – I was irresponsible with my money. I talk a really good game, but for most of my working life, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. Although my husband knew that about me, I guess I really didn’t want him to know how bad I was with money.
With my new job and salary, we finally have the chance to make some really significant changes in our lives. They are not big changes – we’re not talking about new cars or making some insane lifestyle adjustments. We took out the trees in our backyard, rented a Dumpster to get rid of an old shed on our property, discussed and then declined to build a new shed to take its place … all of the various joys of home ownership. The flooring that I’ve been waiting to install for the past four years will likely become a reality sometime this fall. The fence that blew down last summer may be replaced soon. And we have the cash to pay for all of these things and the luck to be able to pick and choose what projects we want to do and what projects can wait until later.
For the majority of our courtship, home ownership and marriage, my husband’s salary and savings have paid the lion’s share of our bills and projects. I was lucky to have a partner and a spouse who took on paying our mortgage and house related expenses while I funneled my salaries (this is when I worked two jobs) towards paying off my credit card debt and my college debt.
Part of the decision to combine our accounts, for me, had to do with the fact that I can now (meaningfully) contribute towards home improvement projects and towards our savings. Is this the right reasoning to combine accounts? Like I said – every couple’s journey is a singular and individual. This is just my reasoning …
At the end of this post, I’ll share a couple other blogs and articles with you that talk about the pros and cons of combining accounts, but I offer this parting thought: You and your significant other can have a massive combined income or you can be living on the smallest salaries, but all of your planning and dreams are for naught if you lack communication. There are times where I marvel at the road trips where my husband and I have spent HOURS talking about budgets, financial goals and where our money is going towards, but I also realize that this is essential for us to make our relationship work. We talked finances when we were at separate banks and we talked finances 15 minutes ago. We acknowledge that we are not perfect, our budgeting and our savings are a work-in-progress, but our chatting helps us keep our eyes on the prize. That prize is living a debt-free future and putting our money towards a comfortable retirement while enjoying life responsibly. (We like beer. And takeout pizza. He likes games. I like books. We spend, but we try to be mindful about it.)
So now I’m off my soapbox and I’ll leave the rest of the information to the other experts.
In 2007, Trent at The Simple Dollar wrote “Love, Marriage, and Money: Should a Couple Combine Their Finances?” It was relevant in 2007 when the husband and I were eying our first home together, it’s still relevant today.
This Kiplinger’s article talks about the “Six Money Mistakes Newlyweds Make.”
And here is J.D. Roth’s article from his blog Get Rich Slowly about why he and his wife keep separate finances.
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