Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Marital Money

Homeowner By 30This post is inspired by LBC Teacher at

I married Y when I was 24 and he was 26. I was a college student and waiting tables. He was a private in the army. He had just moved back from Korea and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He asked me to marry him when he came home on leave after Korea. Two months later, I flew to TN and we got married at the courthouse. My sister met me there and his Sargent from Korea stood up for him. I moved there a month later.

Amazingly, we had never talked about money in detail or what our game plan would be for money despite dating for four years. The only thing we had agreed upon was that I would keep my own separate account with enough money to escape if I needed. Sidenote: after growing up in a very abusive situation, my husband needed to know that I would always have the means to leave if he hit me. This wasn't just for show--I would have and still would leave in a heartbeat at the first sign of abuse. I have zero tolerance for abuse.

Since I moved cross country, I closed my regional bank account and Y put me on his account as soon as we got to TN. He never kept a register but would check his balance via ATM. I pretty much took over the record keeping.  I didn't have a job yet so we shared all of our money.

Throughout the nine years of our marriage, we've always shared one pot of money. We keep at least $500 in our checking account so we don't overdraft it. We talk about big purchases and share common goals with respect to paying off debt or savings. Neither one of us feel guilty for buying lunch out or going shopping. If we are spending too much money, we agree to make an effort to cut back.

By sharing one pot of money, we saved over $40,000 the year that Y was deployed to Iraq. We both wanted a house and we jointly saved for the down payment. It didn't matter that Y was making much more money than me.

Y made more money at first, then me, then Y, then it evened out and now I make more money. It is still our money, not his or mine. I really feel that if we had separate accounts, we would not be where we are today. I don't feel it would be fair if I had a ton of discretionary income and Y had not much. It wouldn't feel balanced. Even if we divided up the bills in proportion to what we make, I would still have way more money.

Obviously I'm a huge fan of having one shared pot of money. What do you think? What works for you?

14 comments:

  1. We have always had one big pot of money. We married right out of college ... at that point, we co-mingled all of our finances. We had no assets - just a lot of debt.

    It has worked well for us & money just isn't an issue we really ever disagree on ... but we started from ground zero together with pretty similar incomes and goals. It might have been different if we had met and married several years after college and had time to develop individual portfolios.

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    1. Neither of us had much money when we got married either. It would be a different story if we got married now and had adult money and assets.

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  2. Very interesting! We are approaching it the same way...even though I make more, we get the same amount of our "own" money. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I think its how you divide up the our money that makes it fair or not.

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  3. I am not married but mom and dad used to be the same way. They would bring their money home, sit down and work out the monthly budget. They would each get pocket money. They always discussed big ticket items. Money has always been tight but they co-managed it pretty well. After I started working, I contributed to the household budget as well.

    After I became an independent adult, I did not pay close attention to money for a while despite being a serious little budgeter when I was a kid. In my early thirties, I went back to paying attention and budgeting and I am glad I did.

    Sounds like your marriage is peaceful and respectful. May God give you many more healthy years together.

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    1. Thank you. I'm not trying to pretend like we never argue about money because we do. But overall we are able to reach a mutual agreement.

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  4. We currently have separate checking accounts, but I manage both. In the near future, I want to make my husband more responsible for his own checking account.

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    1. Lisa, if we had separate accounts, I would be managing both too.

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  5. We are the same. When we met, I was in school, and DH was working full time. When we moved in together, he was adamant that any money was "our" money, which I struggled with at first, because he actually made money, where I made very little at my various part time jobs. This was true for a long time, as I did my PhD, but then I started making half again more than him. For the last couple of years I've mostly been supporting us as he starts his own business. Business is now picking up, and he could well make more than me in another little while. While it hasn't always been smooth and easy, as we have very different upbringings with respect to money, and very different attitudes (though they have converged a lot in 16 years together), I still think it has worked out well for us to view it as "ours", though I understand why others don't take this approach. I would have left school in a debt if he hadn't supported me, and he would not have been able to leave his job that he hated had I not supported us so he could strike out on his own. I look at it as a team effort always.

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    1. Money shifts back and forth. Supporting each other is more important in the big picture than the money.

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  6. DH and I were both poor college students when we married. We combined accounts right away. About a year later he started his profession and our income went way up. Another year after that I quit my job to stay home with our oldest child. I haven't had a paycheck in 8 years, but it's still our money, because he knows good and well that our lifestyle just doesn't function without me. Honestly, it just sounds like a whole lot of work when dual income families keep finances separate. The only time I can see a reason for it is if one spouse is out of control with spending, but then I'd say you have even bigger problems in your marriage than just money.

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    1. If I were in the situation of being a stay at home nom, I would definitely insist on joint accounts. You might not get a paycheck bit you definitely earn your keep.

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  7. This is a really awesome post and it is on a topic I am usually back and forth on. I'll definitely follow suit and do a post with the system I currently use and my thoughts.

    I'm not married yet so we have a partly joint system.

    I am definitely impressed that you and your husband are so compatible, especially starting so young together and I also find that little bit of back story romantic :) I really hope to have a relationship that encompasses a lot of what you share about yours.

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    1. Thanks, Rafiki. I honestly don't know if I would have this viewpoint about joint finances if I wasn't married. If Y would have asked me to share money prior to marriage, I would have been adamantly against it. Maybe a little odd but that's me :)

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