Money is the number one issue couples fight about so happy finances does help lead to a happy marriage. For us, that means we each have our own bank accounts, and we like it that way.
There is no right or wrong way to manage your money (okay there is a wrong way, but not in this particular context). Some couples have joint accounts and share everything while others have their own individual accounts. Then there are couples who have both, for example a joint account for the bills and separate accounts for their spending. Some couple let one person manage all the money, while others split things up so one pays mortgage and the other pays utilities.
In my parents generation all couples had joint accounts. In fact, when you would hear about a spouse having their own you would automatically think suspicious things like they are secretly hoarding money or maybe having an affair. These days, so many couple live together before they get married it is much more common to see each person having their own separate bank accounts.
We have always been a non-traditional couple so I suppose it makes sense that we have our own accounts. When we started living together we were also living with my brother and I was already in the habit of collecting the bill money from him so we just continued doing that. It just made sense. We were living more like roommates in a way; we both worked full-time, shopped for our own groceries etc.
Once we got pregnant with my son we talked about creating a joint account. Seemed like a good idea. Never did it!
So here we are engaged with three kids and we still have our own accounts, and you know what? We rarely fight about money. That’s right. I think some of the few times we have every argued were when I was on maternity leave (which meant I was only earning about 35% of my income) so then the system didn’t quite work anymore.
How Do We Do It?
While we share financial priorities like saving for a new car and new house, and the financial responsibility of the children, we each have our own accounts and are responsible for managing our money how we want to manage it.
When it comes to bills we pretty much split them 50/50 except for personal expenses like cell phones and transportation which we pay for ourselves. We don’t share credit cards either. We each have our own that we are responsible for.
I am responsible for doing the majority of the kid’s shopping so I collect the government rebates and use them for the kids spending. If I need extra to help out, then he will chip in. We split large purchases for the house or kids in half, and smaller things we just take on ourselves.
The children have their own bank account that their RESPs pull from where I put in the funds for their education from the baby bonus and any gifts they receive for that purpose.
Why It Works For Us
This system works for us for a few reasons:
- We both work full-time which means we have income sources. If one of us did not work (and I know there are a lot of SAHMs out there) then this system wouldn’t make any sense.
- We are both generally responsible when it comes to money. I don’t have to worry that he will take his money and gamble it away or something meaning we can’t pay the bills. Mind you, if he was irresponsible with money that could also be a good reason to keep it separate (although in that case I think the more responsible spouse should probably take care of the banking).
- We don’t nickel and dime each other. We will often round off bills, and make on the fly trade offs like I bought the dog food you buy the cat food type of thing. At Christmas he does most of the shopping for his family, I buy most of the gifts for mine and we split the difference.
- We rarely do grocery shopping together. Since we work different shifts and have different diets (I am a vegetarian) I can’t shop for him no more than he could shop for me. So while we will each pick up things for each other when requested we just get what we need for ourselves.
I think we both feel happy and empowered that we get to manage our own money. I can make a budget and adjust accordingly without having to worry that he might put something through and there is not enough money in the account.
When it comes to shopping, I never have to feel guilty if I make a purchase because it is coming from my account, and the same goes for him. Plus, I think its good that we are not scrutinizing each other’s purchases because I don’t always agree with everything he buys, and I am sure he feels the same about me. Ignorance is bliss right?
I also like the fact that we can still “treat” each other. For instance, I can buy him a coffee or he can pay for dinner. You can’t do that if all your money is shared because you’d be treating each other with their own money.
When we got engaged we revisited the subject since once you are married you are supposed to share everything. While neither of us seemed against the idea, neither of us cared enough to do anything about it. Maybe that will change once we buy our first house and we will have to worry about mortgage payments. I am sure though that no matter what we will always have our own bank accounts and credit cards, even if we create joint ones.
So what’s your financial recipe? How do you keep your finances from ruining your relationship?
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