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Married... with separate finances


A friend of mine has been married for over 10 years. They have 3 children together and a very average lifestyle.

What they don't have is shared finances. They both work and contribute to the family expenses - he pays the bills and mortgage, she pays for groceries, school supplies, kids clothes, and other family costs. I'm lately hearing of more friends who are married or in long-term partnerships and have similar arrangements.

My friend says it allows them a greater degree of freedom with personal spending. However, she admits that it irritates her to see her husband spend big bucks on his hobbies (he loves vintage fixer-upper cars) without consulting her first. Their kids recently had a bout of strep throat and they argued over who was supposed to pay for the prescriptions. Normally this would fall under her responsibility, but due to her hours being cut back in the last month or so, she has almost nothing left over after paying for groceries, etc.

Now, is it just me, or is this really strange?? For my husband and I, it was always assumed that we'd combine our (paltry) bank accounts when we married. However, I can understand my friend's perspective to a degree - except that they want it both ways.

What do you think?
Feb 10, 2010 @ 08:51 am

4 Replies



I personally like the the logic of equally sharing our expenses but
having the freedom to manage your own bank account. For my fiance and
I, he makes payment for the mortgage, car payments and other major
house necessities, where as I pay for the Insurances, groceries, my
mother (who babysits for us), our daughter's clothing, medications, and
other small personal necessities that we both need. While I don't enjoy
not being able to fully control his splurges but, we still
automatically know to ask consent from one another when making any
major purchases. In any case where he or I have not made enough
hours to pay our share, we would both gladly carry over each other
debts. I love having the luxury to make my own purchases with my own
money or even buying him a gift without worrying if I'm actually using
his money rather than my own. I don't feel it makes a difference in our
relationship, but I do feel more independent, which is always
important. In the end, I find it has more to do with both the couples
together and as individuals. It has to reason on both ends and so I
conclude that both ways can work splendid with careful planning.
Feb 10, 2010 @ 11:31 am

ha-I know this one

Well, due to my previous spendaholic tendencies my husband had to put his foot down about our finances. Right now we do have a joint account however, we also have separate accounts. We both contribute a portion of our paychecks to our joint account (the majority actually) to cover bills. At first I truly resented my husband (who happens to have one of the sweetest gigs for a job on the planet) for making me fork over my paycheck, but I get where he is going with that-well I got it after a lecture or two from him-ugh. Things come up-like our dog getting sick and needing surgery....and the only reason the money was there was because we had it in our account.

Thank goodness my husband had the good sense to sit down and talk with me about this sooner than later because I appreciate the separate but together accounts now more than ever!

I guess these days everyone lives that 'nickel and dime' mentality right? I feel like there's a gradual shift towards the 'nothing lasts forever' school of thought. I could put a divorce statistic in here.....because I honestly wonder if people are thinking about that in the back of their minds? hmmmm, do I smell another thread coming?
Feb 10, 2010 @ 03:29 pm
Ali de Bold

Fairly common

I know a number of couples who have this arrangement and it seems to work for them. However, if your financial values are aligned, I think you are better off having joint accounts.

Merging your finances means you will likely have more savings, be able to pay off debt faster and have more shared goals for things like RRSPs. If you are a saver and your husband isn't, that 10% of your income you put aside every month isn't going to make up for the 0% of his income being saved. If it's a flat 10% off your combined household income, you can build your nest egg faster.

If you both have completely different views on money and one of you is massively in the hole with no plans to get out, I can see the appeal of the saver wanting to keep a separate account.

However, I think it's horrible to have to convince your spouse to chip in and help you pay for your child's medication. Horrible.
Feb 10, 2010 @ 03:36 pm

we are both responsible

I manage our day-to-day expenses while my husband manages our investments. This arrangement works for us because I'm better with the details whereas my husband do forget to pay bills on time. My husband is great with investments while that finance stuff bores me stiff and puts me to sleep.

We didn't want to get into splitting our finances by items. I've seen too many arguments between couples like: "I spend more on mortgage than you do on food" or "Cigarettes doesn't count as groceries", etc. I don't want to get into those kind of fights and start counting each cent my husband spends.

We don't question each other's spending. We trust each other and we know that we will never make any major purchases without consulting the other person. We speak openly about our finances and our goals. I believe this open line of communication is what makes us such a good team.

My friend has a really good system with her husband. They have a joint account in which they contribute a certain percentage of their paycheck to it on a monthly basis. This is fair because if you make more money, you contribute more. Also, they decide together when their monthly contribution is not enough to cover the family expenses and they increase the amount. The rest of their paychecks go into their own personal account and they spend it on whatever they want. If the person wants to save it or blow it all, that's their choice and their choice will not affect their family finance.

Feb 10, 2010 @ 07:37 pm

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