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Gabriela
Dedicated November 2020

How do married couples manage joint finances?

Gabriela, on June 17, 2019 at 8:56 PM Posted in Married Life 3 60
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My Fiancé and I will be living together after we get married. We both currently are living with our parents. I had an apartment before but transferred to a university closer to home so it made more sense for me to live at home. We were planning to live together before we got engaged but once we were engaged we decided to wait until after the wedding to save money.

y fiancé used to visit me for long periods of time at my apartment so we have a small taste of living together, but I was curious to see how other couples divide up finances once they are married. Most of the married couples in my family are traditional and the man works and the women stay home, so there’s not really any shared finance responsibilities. Both fiancé and I will be working and equally providing but I want to know how other share finances with each other.

o you both equally spilt all bills and responsibilities or do you each have set of bills you decide to pay?

Fiancé and I have discussed this before and we usually just say we’d split it across the board.

I’m sorry if this is a dumb or silly question. I’m going to be new to married life and it was just running through my head on how other married couples work it around. I know managing your own finances is way different once they are conjoined to your partner.

60 Comments

Latest activity by Nicole, on June 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM
  • Mrs. S
    Master November 2019
    Mrs. S ·
    • Flag
    I’ve lived with my fiancé for two years, and I’ve lived with two other boyfriends in the past. Spending a week together isn’t like living together so be patient and remind yourself you love them even though. We keep our own accounts and he pays all the bills. I write him a check for my portion every month and buy the groceries. It works well for us but everyones situation is different.
    • Reply
  • Emilee
    Dedicated September 2021
    Emilee ·
    • Flag
    If one of you is making considerably more money than the other, I don’t think it’s equal to split the bills 50/50. At the beginning I discussed what I could pay toward our bills and have enough money to save and spend, and we talked about what he would cover. Definitely communicate about everything and if you can’t make what bills you’re supposed to speak up and don’t let yourself drown. FH has had to cover my side of the phone bill a couple of times but once I’m settled again I’ll either pay it in full or take him out to a nice date night. I’d just say don’t let yourself drown. And paycheck schedules!! You could link them up that way that’s how my sister and her hubby do it! Good Luck!!!!
    • Reply
  • Kelly
    Champion October 2018
    Kelly ·
    • Flag
    We merged our bank account so there really isn’t anything to split as it’s now our money vs individual money. But I have friends that didn’t combine finances and they decided who pays what based on how much they each make.
    • Reply
  • Lizzy
    Super October 2019
    Lizzy ·
    • Flag
    We combined finances and each take a portion every check for spending money
    • Reply
  • 2d Bride
    Champion October 2009
    2d Bride ·
    • Flag

    Couples are all over the map, so there is not a "right" answer. Some have only joint accounts. Some have completely separate accounts, and each pay different expenses. Some have separate accounts, one pays all the expenses, and the other pays the first one something to compensate. Some have a combination of joint accounts for every day living expenses, and separate accounts for presents to each other, luxuries, and/or long-term savings. I've even heard of situations in which the one who makes the money simply provides an "allowance" to the other one, although that one gives me the creeps.

    In my first marriage, we contributed in proportion to income for current living expenses and joint savings goals (e.g., the children's college). We had separate accounts for all other money (including separate savings and retirement accounts).

    In my current marriage, I pay all the current living expenses, because my income is much higher. Money I earn that is not needed for current expenses goes into my separate savings. NotFroofy's contribution is to pay half of her income into a 401(k) plan. Because she is so much younger than me, it's important to me that she have enough retirement savings that she can manage when I'm no longer around.

    I could never have everything in joint accounts. I saw the down side of that in my parents' marriage, when he felt like he could buy big-ticket items without consulting with her, while she felt she had to ask his permission to buy so much as a fishing rod. On the other hand, my parents didn't want separate accounts, because my father's experience was of his parents playing games like trying to see how low they could let the gas tank get so that the other one would have to be the one to buy gas.

    So really, it's a question of figuring out what works for the two of you.

    • Reply
  • A
    Expert August 2019
    Ami ·
    • Flag
    FH loved with me before we were engaged. During that time we split bills based off our income (I make more than him). I hated this method, I dont like keeling track of how much each person has paid towards our relationship. We merged finances once we got engaged and it's been SO much better. Both of our paychecks go into our check account, bills are paid from there and then the leftover goes into our savings account. No more keeping track of who should pay for this date vs that date or household items, etc...
    We had some growing pains with this just because everyone spends money differently. You'll have to realize that FH wont necessary have the same spending prior habits as you do. It took some compromise and ground rules (example: consult each other before large purchases, but don't nit pick each purchase the other makes) but I will never go back to separate accounts. I want our money to be our money.
    • Reply
  • Yoice
    VIP March 2019
    Yoice ·
    • Flag
    When husband and I first moved in together years ago we were just dating. I had a part time job so I didn’t make much money and he took care of the big bills while I took care of some of the small ones. After getting engaged and mid thru the wedding planning we decided to join our finances. By then we were both making about the same and having just one account where we pay for all bills and expenses made more sense. We are chill when it comes to our finances. We still have our own hobbies and expenses and we respect each other. Of course we talk about it specially if there’s a big purchase but we have being having join accounts for over a year now and never had an issue even thru our biggest expense which was the wedding. We both have our own credit cards we manage to not spoil gifts and surprises.
    • Reply
  • J
    Savvy August 2019
    Jessica ·
    • Flag
    I suggest making based on income if you make the same then split it. If one makes more than the other maybe that person pays slightly more. I make a lot more than my FH I pay more but when he gets paid overtime that month he contributes more. We lived like this for years. We have been together almost 6 yrs it works for us. You make it work.... he cooks most of the week so it’s our way to make it work.
    • Reply
  • Woman On The Go
    Savvy December 2015
    Woman On The Go ·
    • Flag
    My husband and I lived together for three years before getting married. We basically divided up shared bills (there weren't many besides rent: gas, electric, trash, combined cable/internet). We obviously paid our own cell phone bills, paid for our own subscriptions, insurance, whatever we'd paid for on our own before living together. Neither of us quibbled over groceries and the like. I'd buy them or he would. He typically paid when we went out and for travel. He makes more than I do, and he was okay with doing that. After we got married, we kept our finances separate until pretty recently. I liked my bank, he liked his, and we'd gotten used to our system. But once we chose a bank and moved everything over it's A LOT easier. It's less of a headache to budget when everything comes out of one place we can both access. Most bills are now on auto pay. As long as you're both semi-responsible with your spending as individuals and have a budget, you'll be fine!
    • Reply
  • kahlcara
    Master August 2013
    kahlcara ·
    • Flag

    We have a joint checking account to which we each contribute 85% of our income pre-tax. (Except our health insurance and FSA funds come out of my pre-tax money, so the remainder of my 85% goes into the checking account.). This account pays our living expenses, car bills, groceries, rent, student loans, etc. The other 15% goes into our separate accounts as "fun money"-- personal budgets for clothes, hobbies and so on.

    • Reply
  • Nikita
    VIP April 2019
    Nikita ·
    • Flag

    My husband and I lived together for about 4-5 years prior to the marriage, and had to pay all joint bills after that. We used a sliding scale until I could afford 50/50 (when I was in grad school he covered more groceries and utility costs).

    Our plan is to keep a 'percentage-based' system. I'll pay extra in bills, but he'll just put that extra money into joint savings instead. We'll be getting a joint account just for those bills - and keep all other funds individualized.

    • Reply
  • Jessica
    Master September 2020
    Jessica ·
    • Flag
    We’ve been living together a few years now and in the beginning we just split up the bills and each paid certain things out of our own accounts and kept everything separate. When we started talking about getting married and bought a house together we set up a joint account and now everything gets paid out of that one account. If one of us needs something it comes out of that account. If one of us wants something it comes out if that account, and if it’s over a certain threshold we discuss it with the other before spending the money. I think that threshold is something you have to decide between the two of you, but for us if it kind of varies depending on what it is. Ultimately, we are partners in life and working towards the same major goals, even if we don’t always agree on the little things. I know people who keep their finances separate even after getting married and it works for them, that just isn’t how we wanted to do things.
    • Reply
  • R
    Devoted November 2019
    Rachel ·
    • Flag
    We have a joint account and all of our bills go to the account and our paychecks hit the same account so it’s not really a problem for us. We have a joint car insurance and now we’re having a baby so it made sense. We also have a savings account as well
    • Reply
  • K
    Expert September 2021
    Ka-Rina ·
    • Flag
    Nobody said this...and I understand the whole saving money before the wedding thing...but I highly recommend living together before you tie the knot
    Now that I have given advice nobody asked for I can answer the question... Lol
    Husband and I make about the same. We have a few joint accounts and personal accounts. Set amounts go from each paycheck to:
    1. House account (mortgage, house repairs expenses, bills and groceries are paid from it)
    2. Rainy day savings (also set amounts from each paycheck)
    3. Vacation and future new house account (that's a separate savings for big future purchases)

    Then whatever is left goes into our personal accounts and we r free to do with it whatever we want to...no discussing big purchases or explaining spending on a lunch out at work..... That works for us. I personally think that there should be some spending money for just you. Losing your identity once u get married comes in many different ways and I think this is one of the. Just my opinion.
    Upside is I don't have to go out of my way Christmas shopping haha lol
    • Reply
  • H
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
    • Flag
    There is no one way to do this. I would suggest you two have a long conversation about debts each person owes, spending habits, etc. because money is the biggest cause of marital discord. Regardless of how you decide to split financial responsibilities, the important thing is to have a very in depth conversation about what your financial situations are as of now and what your financial goals are for the short-term and long-term future (do you want to buy a house, how much do you contribute to retirement funds, etc.).

    We moved in together about 5 years ago and got engaged a little over a year ago. When we first moved in together we got a joint bank account where we would deposit a portion of our checks into (we made about the same amount at that time. I made a teensy bit more once I got a raise). We have our separate accounts as our primary, but rent, utilities, groceries, etc would come out of that joint account. If we needed extra cash in there, we would both transfer more in. Now, I am actually going back to school full time in a 5 year grad program, so what I make covers the share of tuition I am responsible for, so he pays for everything. We haven't closed our individual accounts yet. We get married next month and will close out the individual accounts after my name is changed (didn't want to deal with the bank twice). We both have similar financial habits and are good with money, and I think all these years of living together and seeing each others' financial habits in action was really important because it's a learning curve (like how I found out he would like to pick up McDonald's almost everyday after work when we had tons of healthy food at home). Usually (based on friends and family I've spoken to) there is 1 partner who takes over the brunt of the budgeting/bill paying. For us, that's me. I also lived on my own for years before we moved in together, while he went straight from his parents to living together. I was just used to paying electric bills, etc. so I just naturally fell into that role of making sure the payments are sent.

    Maybe do trial runs of things when you move in together. As another poster said, spending a few nights in a row together is not the same as living with someone and you both considering that place your home. Test out different financial strategies throughout year 1 and see what works best for you guys as a couple. Be open and honest. Set guidelines together if you merge money like "any purchase over $100 needs to be discussed" or something like that.
    • Reply
  • Stacey
    Devoted July 2020
    Stacey ·
    • Flag
    I’m actually older and was previously married. In prior marriage we had a shared bank account so all money went there and we paid bills that way. It’s also good to see where all money is going. Now, to my current situation. I live with my FH and he makes more money then I do but two of my kids live with us. We have a bank account where we have agreed how much we need to cover joint bills and we put in equally to cover the cost. Now, we have discussed about just putting all money in one account and make it easy. FH is game for it but I’m hesitant. I have some bills that I owe and may consider having what money I need to pay those go into my personal account. Once those bills are paid off then I will have all my paycheck go into our current account. I think if you join finances you both need to be on the same page about how much you spend and is it ok to spend X amount of money without permission. I do believe the old saying when you are married...what belongs to you also belongs to me!
    • Reply
  • Sherrie
    Expert August 2019
    Sherrie ·
    • Flag
    We'll be living with each other once we get married. We've already merged bank accounts - which I would not recommend doing pre-marriage unless you are absolutely 110% certain 1. You will get married, 2. There is nothing questionable about either of your spending habits and 3. You have a budget in place.

    FH and I look at it this way: our jobs both autopay into one account. From that account then comes everything - what we need to pay for bills, what we contribute to savings, giving, etc. We're not going to look at who contributes more or "who pays for what." We both pay for everything. We're one unit so we have one account. It doesn't really matter who makes more. We have a budget in place based on our mutual combined incomes and that's what we stick to. Literally everything we could possibly spend is allocated in the budget so we both know where our money is going at all times. Anything not accounted for in the budget gets discussed. Want a special something that we hadn't budgeted for? We save up. Extra medical expense? We figure out where it comes from. One of us wants to surprise the other? That's in the budget - date night/ fun money for each of us to spend on the other. Even fun money for us to use at our discretion is in the budget. Makes for a very easy and stress free methid for dealing with finances. Talk about literally everything finance related before you get married that way you'll be on the same page before it "really" counts. Hope that makes sense!
    • Reply
  • Futuremrsk
    VIP August 2019
    Futuremrsk ·
    • Flag
    We have a joint account. My pay gets direct deposited and he gets paid through PayPal a lot since he works for himself and contracts out business. He transfers money to the checking every 2 weeks, when I get paid. We pay our bills first, then gas/groceries. Then we put money into savings, and keep a little as our "fun" fund, enough for dinner out usually. We have a spreadsheet that lists all our expenses, what we owe, and when they are due. We make sure all of that is paid before doing anything else. It's worked for the past 3 years for us, and we are slowly paying off debt. Moved states and new job for me so it was tight this year but good now! Essentially it's really not his or mine, but our money. We are a team. We communicate about all the finances. It works for us. The hardest part is buying gifts 😂😂😂😂.
    • Reply
  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    We do his, hers, ours for regular expenses, and ours for saving for big items or ling term. When we first started living together, I had been out of grad school and working a semester, working 60 hr weeks. He was in school but had just paid off last of school expenses , and was working overnights and weekend part time long shifts, ambulance service. We decided that with a likelihood of a big pay difference at different times, and plans that I would cut back during multiple (hoped for) pregnancies, fairest til we married, and early marriage, was to work out our pay by hours. So to start with, each of us put 15 hours pay in to joint everyday household things, including rent. And 5 each into join savings. And 5 hours to wedding fund. And kept the rest of our pay to our personal accounts. This evened out some of our pay disparity, and difference in hours worked. Anytime we were short for household bills, we would both kick in more hours. And when wedding expenses came up due, major items, we kicked in an additional 20 hours a week dedicated to that. By then FI was out and working, making less oer hour, but had gone from 30hrs to sixty. Sometimes with major expenses where we agreed to put in more, very little would go in our personal accounts. But though our actual number of dollars contributions varied, we thought, what it took me 20 hours to earn was equal contribution to what it took him 20 hours to earn, in our labor. Once married we each started out keeping only 10 hours a week pay personal, rest joint. But to up savings for a house, we would put everything not going to daily bills in our long term savings for several months at a time. Mostly we have each kept 19 hours pay and put the remaining hours into joint expenses. We own our home outright, pay off large parcels of agricultural land so we have always increased in every couple of years. Farming, not mostly tractor crops, but berries, nuts, maple syrup and beech sap, and apples, apples apples, plus a market garden, are mostly mine. And my PT practice varies , as I take more jobs when farmwork is low, increase in farm work means I cut PT hours. Where he is less variable in income, all an engineer's salary, plus periodically selling fine wood furniture and cabinetry. And we renovated part if the house we bought, and then built to double it's size, doing everything but pour foundations. He and I both do some things expertly, and help with others. Since we both have variable hours in our jobs and part time things, it has worked well for us to not go by dollars, but by each having worked the same amount, for what we keep as personal, and the rest joint. And to periodically shift proportions of what goes where. Having 5 kids now, something like copayments for surgery, or any major expenses, means temporary shifts. But we but our cars cash down, and clear credit cards to zero every quarter. And never ever have fought about money. Or felt we did not contribute equally. So it works for us. People with set incomes very close, might do it differently. Whatever works, leaving you both feeling secure, and equal, is fine. And enough flexibility to change as circumstances do . Twins?
    • Reply
  • Gabriela
    Dedicated November 2020
    Gabriela ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    This makes a lot of sense! From what you said and everyone I see that it’s more beneficial to have a one account. I love how you worded it as one unit one account. I’m definitely going to talk to my fiancé about this as it makes more sense to me for us to have one account.
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