Love, relationships and financial harmony

You'll have to forgive the overt theme of today's post. I've been wanting to write about this topic for a while, but it's such personal issue that I've shied away from it.

But when I realized that this week's post would fall on Valentine's Day, I took it as a serendipitous opportunity to break out of my comfort zone and talk about something that scares me a little: my love life. Specifically, this is the story of my love life meeting my financial life. Oh, boy.

A couple of years ago, I met someone who changed my whole perspective. I started to not just think in terms of “me” but also “we.” As these things go, we decided to share a life together. Sharing a life meant sharing an apartment. And sharing an apartment meant sharing finances.

We've had many discussions about money, but only one real full-blown fight. But I thought I'd share what I've learned about living in financial harmony and ask what you've learned, too. But first, a little background.

We're balanced — usually

I'm an extreme worrier. This is with everything, but especially money. Brian is more easygoing. We're both hard workers, but when there's an obstacle, we react differently. When faced with a problem, Brian might let out an expletive or two, but for the most part, he doesn't let it get to him. I, on the other hand, completely freak out.

Sometimes he should let it get to him more. And sometimes I shouldn't freak out so much. Most of the time, we come to a reasonable middle ground, and that's great. For example, last year, when I underestimated my tax payments and lost all my savings, I went into full-blown panic mode. His rational attitude was helpful — he explained that we would just have to tighten up the budget. He explained that, contrary to what I was feeling, this wasn't the end of the world. “You don't have debts to pay off,” he reassured me. “You have a job, and you can still pay your bills. You just have to rebuild.” He was reasonable, and it helped.

But there are times that I find his attitude to be too casual, and there are times that he finds my neurosis to be unreasonable. That's our dynamic. I never really expected to make my GRS journey with someone else, but here we are, and here's what we're learning.

We have different financial motivators

In discussing finances with Brian, I've realized that my main impulse for financial independence is fear. Last month, I wrote about how I desperately need a new computer, but the poor kid in me won't spend the money to buy a new one, even though I can afford it. Brian was the one who inspired me to think about the pitfalls of this behavior when he asked, “Why else do you save money if not to have a sense of security and be comfortable?”

When he asked that, I realized that he seeks financial independence because he wants to live a nice, comfortable life. Meanwhile, I seek financial independence because I'm terrified of being poor. That was a weird thing to learn about myself, and I'm trying to transform that fear into something healthy. But in terms of our relationship, realizing our differences helped us learn how to talk about money.

How to talk about money

It's great that Brian has a different motivation for financial independence, but sometimes, that can backfire, too. When you're trying to save, for example, the desire to live a comfortable lifestyle right now can get in the way.

Last year, Brian was frustrated over some bills that were much higher than he anticipated. At first, I tried to help by telling him I would “manage” his finances and budget. “I know what works,” I would tell him (this coming from the person who didn't pay her quarterly estimated taxes). “So this is what you should do.”

I'll admit, “Do what works for you” has been the GRS tenet I struggle with most. For one, I feel like some things just work for everyone — they're just universally good ideas. And second, I can be unsympathetic. I forget that people have different ways of motivating themselves. And this is what caused the one full-blown fight Brian and I had about finances, in which I stormed upstairs and sulked because he wouldn't listen to me.

“Your advice makes sense,” he said. “But I need to figure this out on my own.”

J.D. once asked how we talk to our loved ones about money. He brought up the point that “if they're not ready to listen, you run the risk of doing more harm than good when you offer advice.”

Realizing there was only so much I could do, I decided to do two things: 1. Lead by example, and 2. Have faith in the man I chose to live with.

Lead by example

It's easier to budget if you're living with someone on a budget. Out of the blue one day, I caught Brian using Mint.com — a suggestion I once made that I thought had been shrugged off. Turns out, he saw me make it a part of my regular finance routine and realized this would be the easiest way to keep track of his finances, too. Sometimes, leading by example works better than lecturing, and I think that's especially helpful in a relationship, because lecturing kind of kills romance.

Have faith

I think most of us have the capacity to come to terms with what's best for us. But I've never really been the type of person who leaves it up to someone else to figure things out. I'm more of a “here just let me do it” kind of gal. But that's not how relationships work, so I've learned that you have to have faith in the other person. Or, as my mom has told me, you have to have faith that you picked the right person.

Brian is both open-minded and perceptive. I had faith in those qualities when we got into that money fight. It was really all I could do for our relationship — I hate to admit it, but I had to learn to be less controlling.

Preparing for the future

I'm not sure how I feel about the phrase “When you know, you know.” Some couples hit it off immediately, get married fast, and then live together in perfect harmony. I did feel something different when I met Brian, but it was more that, as I got to know him, I grew more confident of that feeling. I see us working out whatever hurdles may arise in the future. I see us figuring out a way to combine our finances, should we decide to do that. Because we've gotten to know each other's money habits and behaviors, we'll have a better idea of what to expect from the other person in our financial future. Money is an unavoidable issue when you're sharing a life together, but having these financial experiences and discussions makes me feel better about tackling money issues down the road.

Overall, a lot of the stuff that seems to solve money issues in relationships is the same stuff that solves relationship issues in general. We've learned to communicate better about money. We've learned to be open about our finances. We've learned to compromise on our budgets. We still don't have the same spending and savings habits, but we've found a way to live in financial harmony.

But I'm curious what you've learned. This is new to me — I've never really shared a budget or financial information with a significant other before. So, I'd like to ask:

How did you learn to live in financial harmony with your partner? What were some obstacles you faced?

What's your advice for preparing for a financial life together?

More about...Budgeting

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M
M
7 years ago

Kristin, Seems that your relationship challenges are just that; relational. They actually sound quite normal and par for the course at your age. Yes, women can be controlling and more cautious about money (read: FEAR) but that can be a good thing. More women live in poverty and the world isn’t fair. Somewhere in your head you know this and and want to feel in control of your life. Brian, being a guy, approaches this differently because he doesn’t fear becoming a bag-lady. And young men often haven’t developed strong impulse-control. They want stuff NOW. You see this dynamic; now… Read more »

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

For us, a big part of financial harmony was getting both of us active in managing the finances on a day-to-day basis. When we first got married Mr. PoP was really eager to hand everything over to me (we combined accounts) and trust that I was watching the budgets and keeping us on track. But that turned out to be way more responsibility than I wanted on my own in our relationship. When we overspent, Mr. PoP wasn’t getting why it was a big deal or how it was happening. So I finally said, “I can’t keep doing this by… Read more »

chubblywubbly
chubblywubbly
7 years ago

I completely agree that both partners should be involved.

In the first year of marriage, my husband handed over the reins completely to me and I struggled with so much responsibility. It is very daunting to know that not only was I responsible for paying all the bills but saving for retirement as well.

It is much better now with both of us managing it jointly. We do not discuss spending too much because we trust each other but we have a monthly discussion where we take a detailed look over all our accounts.

Jay
Jay
7 years ago

It still sounds like you are both on different pages with how you operate your finances. It’s sounds more like roommates trying to unite on finances than soul mates. For a budget to really work it needs to involve both people wholeheartedly; not two separate budgets under the same roof. This will probably be hard and painful but you need to run your budget this way or you will never have true intimacy in your relationship. I don’t think you said you were married, so I would first get married and then combine budgets. It if you are very hesitant… Read more »

Kathy M
Kathy M
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

I disagree. I know couples that keep finances separate with each having responsibility for various things in the household and sharing long term goals. The folks that I am thinking of have very, long and happy relationships. Different things work for different people. I admire Kristin and Brian for working on learning what works for them.

Kirk
Kirk
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

I find this reply to be a little judgmental. My wife and I have separate accounts. Not only do we not have a combined budget, but we don’t even have a budget at all! (GASP!!!) Collectively, we live well below our means. I track all expenditures, but we enjoy the freedom of not having a strict budget. Everyone has different ideas about how to manage money and what that means for a relationship. My wife and I have a GREAT marriage and couldn’t be closer, but we both enjoy maintaining our own accounts. We share the same spending (and saving)… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago
Reply to  Kirk

Kirk–My fiance and I also manage our finances in much the same way and have no plans to change it after we get married. We have been together for nearly 8 years and “sharing” finances for 7 of those. We live well below our means and are completely transparent. Luckily we have similar spending/saving habits (though like Kristin and Brian, with different motivations), but communication is also key to making this work for us.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

You certainly can have true intimacy without sharing a bank account or a budget. My inlaws have everything combined and have a great marraige after 41 years. My parents have everything separate (except the mortgage – both names are on the paperwork but only one of them is responsible for paying for it) – and have a great marraige after 41 years. It truly is about what works for your situation. Also – we’ve changed how we handle our finances several times in the last 12 years (married almost 10). A relationship isn’t black and white like married/not married or… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I don’t think I mentioned the fact that we’re not married (hence the preparing for the future paragraph). So we’re still not quite sure where we’re headed with the joint/separate finances thing. But we do know (and are still finding out) what to expect when we get there so that we can make the best decision for us.

Everyone’s comments are very encouraging 🙂

taryl
taryl
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

I like what my husband & I do – Joint accounts for household expenses and savings. Separate accounts for a little personal money and personal spending decisions. Not a new idea but to each his own.

Matt Becker
Matt Becker
7 years ago

This is a great article. I think the two biggest aspects of successfully uniting finances are communication and faith. The communication part came pretty naturally for my wife and I, though we’ve tweaked our process as we’ve learned how to work together. The faith part has been hard for me. Just like with you, there are good reasons why I chose to be with my wife, but I’ve had to learn how to be less controlling. Or I should say that I’m in the process of learning to be less controlling. When I have something that works for me, my… Read more »

Beth
Beth
7 years ago
Reply to  Matt Becker

I agree with what you say here, Matt, but when I was with my previous partner, we had great communication, and I trusted him to take care of the finances. I lost track of the number of red final demand notices we got, and it wasn’t until I took over the budgeting and paying the bills that they actually *got* paid! Throughout our marriage, he was financially incompetent, and it caused many rows, late payment fees, and other problems. We’re still in touch, and he seems to be the same way now. My current partner, in contrast, has the same… Read more »

Matt Becker
Matt Becker
7 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Hi Beth. I definitely agree that trust can’t be given blindly, as your example proves. The trust needs to be well-founded. This is part of the point of the open communication. If you can communicate well, you can figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and adjust your practices accordingly. There’s no one solution for every couple, as the other responses have proven. But you’re going to eventually need to get to a place where each person can be trusted with whatever responsibilities you as a couple of decided upon. If you can’t do that, the relationship is definitely going… Read more »

Josep
Josep
7 years ago

I just realized that the reason I save money is because I am scared to be poor…

As per our relationship, we have some simple rules: we join 30% of our income to pay bills and food (loan is not included). This makes us pay in euivalent money in time. The other 70% can be spent or saved in any way we want. I believe in the stock market, but my wife believes in a savings account. At the end of the day, it makes us sabe “the best way we know”, which is what is important. Isn’t it?

Anne Cross
Anne Cross
7 years ago

I really appreciate your bravery, honesty, and openess in sharing your experience. I was *so* struck by “I realized that he seeks financial independence because he wants to live a nice, comfortable life. Meanwhile, I seek financial independence because I’m terrified of being poor.”
I’ve been in just the same situation in a relationship in the past, but didn’t have that realization. Boy, it would have helped.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

My wife and I work our finances out in harmony because she does it all. Yep, I nearly compeltely have given her the reigns. I understand money and what we have, etc., but she does all the money stuff. SHe likes the control and I’m more laid back. She tells me from week to week what I can spend, and that’s what I do. Easy for me. And she’s happy being in charge of money!

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

I don’t understand the completely separate finances in a marriage, the two couples I know that had completely separate finances divorced or are in the process of divorcing (one being J.D. and no I don’t know him in real life). But I’m sure separate finances work just fine for some couples and its my own biases that color my outlook although questions I posed to JD were never answered like how do you manage retirement savings. This was an issue for my friend who would fully max out retirement savings but her husband did not because he didn’t feel like… Read more »

Marla
Marla
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

I’m a young cynic, but I could NEVER assume that I would be fully taken care of in retirement if my future husband was the one in control of the retirement fund. Which is why I would always hang on to my own finances. Separate all the way. Plus, I DO NOT want to be arguing with someone about how they should spend my money (or half my money, or 3/4 of my money… etc).

Maybe it’s that, as the definition of relationships and marriage changes, the way people approach their finances also changes?

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Marla

I agree Marla, but what would you do if your spouse was not working or couldn’t contribute or couldn’t max out retirement, would you help them or manage your finances together or just say too bad you are on your own in retirement. Which of course doesn’t make sense because if you assume you will be married in retirement wouldn’t you want to put as much money, each of you, into tax advantaged savings? It just doesn’t make sense to me to leave Mr. Sam on his own to save for retirement when we can combine forces and we can… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

But wouldn’t they cross that bridge when they got to it? Neither person should be doing anything with the 401ks until retirement. How to manage the growing of the funds, and how to manage the funds themselves are two different things.

There’s no reason why each couldn’t manage investing their own 401k, and make decisions together what to do with it when it’s time to take the funds out. That way if there is a separation, both are prepared.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

@lmoot, I think what Sam is saying is that if she and Mr. Sam split household expenses 50/50, he couldn’t max out his retirement accounts. By her paying more than half, they BOTH get more in retirement. And it’s not a hardship for her to pay for more than half.

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

Well that addresses one of the many misconceptions about splitting finances. Who says the finances have to be split 50/50? Separate finances is not synonymous with equal financing. I guess the “separate accounts” version woud be to recalculate each person’s monthly expense contributions (he pays less, she pays more) so that he COULD afford to max out his retirement accounts. Either way it doesn’t really matter where the money is coming from, joint or separate, the result is the same. So my response is, there is little difference between how most separate or joint finances handle retirement. The main possible… Read more »

Julie
Julie
7 years ago
Reply to  Marla

Marla: From my understanding, if the marriage is dissolved, the money gets split up anyway, regardless of whose name the accounts are in. That is, unless you have a prenup.

jessica
jessica
7 years ago
Reply to  Julie

That is my understanding as well. When my husband and I first started contributing to our 401ks I wanted to put more in mine because my employer had a higher match. However, I was worried that if something happened to us it would leave him in the lurch. So I looked it up. At least in NC if you divorce then the retirement funds get split along with everything else.

Jen
Jen
7 years ago
Reply to  Julie

Yes. In the eyes of the court, unless you have a prenup otherwise, it’s combined, whether or not you keep them separately.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

I’m going to edit this to say I don’t understand separate finances when it comes to retirement. If both spouses can max out their tax advantaged retirement accounts by combining forces (which is what we do, Mr. Sam would not be able to max his accounts without help from me) it doesn’t make sense to me not to do so. I’d like to hear from someone that has separate finances from their spouse and hear how they manage retirement savings. We do have his and hers accounts for our day to day money (our allowance money). We also use the… Read more »

Ely
Ely
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

This is a challenging area, especially since my husband is 16 years older than me. He is 55, with no retirement savings and plenty of debt. He plans to work until he dies. If he is unable to do that, we would have to live on my income alone, unless the noises his parents have made about a trust turn out to be true. I put about 15% of my income into my own retirement accounts. Based on my family history, I have to plan on living to 100, a lot of that time alone. I HAVE to save as… Read more »

Charlotte
Charlotte
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

We have separate finances. I contribute to my 401K and he contributes to his. We contribute the same percentage (10%) but since my salary is 20% higher than his, we contribute unequal amounts, which is fine by us. I plan to open a Roth IRA this year, and I will encourage him to do so as well. Most likely he will open his own at the same time, but ultimately the decision is up to him because he’s an adult and he is responsible for managing his own finances. The key is that we both understand being married means you… Read more »

Sheryl
Sheryl
7 years ago

One of the things that really caused my husband and I to get on the same page about money was making some big life changes to pursue other goals that required some heavy budgeting. Really hashing out the life we wanted to live and pushing for the goals that we most wanted to to prioritize in life made it much easier for us to discuss money as a tool to get there. We still sometimes need to check in and tweak the budget and re-evaluate the priorities but because we view money as a means to an end rather than… Read more »

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago

Kristin, have you ever heard the saying (William James): “You do not run from a bear because you are afraid of it, but rather become afraid of the bear because you run from it.” I wonder what would happen if you ran towards your fears and actually experienced that which you’re afraid of – at least for a little while. You might find out that it’s not that big of a deal after all. I used to have those kinds of bag lady fears too, but it seems like as time goes by, I’m willing to trust myself to have… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
7 years ago

Sigh. 🙁

M
M
7 years ago

Tyler,

Sending <<<>>> to you this day.

Ely
Ely
7 years ago
Reply to  M

this.

Jim Helms
Jim Helms
7 years ago

I have been in a committed and loving relationship for almost 19 years. Not a lot was written for same sex couples regarding relationships and money but I did find a solution for us a long time ago. We both needed(wanted) to control out own finances. We have both had separate checking and savings accounts for as long as we have been together. The only difference is that we base our budget a percentage of our income. Everything that comes into our lives make up 100% of the monies to be budgeted. Our payments are split up so that each… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

I came to the same conclusion about Jake that you did about your BF, Kristin — I have to let him reach some of these conclusions on his own and then help him when he asks, not force my own methods down his throat.

I did hear him say the other day that 3 of his 5 credit cards now have balances of less than $1500 each, and he’s thinking of paying each off in one fell swoop because then he “won’t have to worry about making that payment every month” anymore. Music to my ears!

Phoebe
Phoebe
7 years ago

I truly believe that everyone has to find what works for them. Some couples combine finances, some don’t, and both can work beautifully. Here’s what we’ve learned since getting married: 1. Let the person who has a natural inclination to handle the finances, handle them (from an administrative perspective). Before we got married we read that the downfall of relationships can be having one person do the finances and so we split the responsibilities. It would drive me nuts that my husband would wait to pay a bill, and he wouldn’t be so crazy about me for nagging him about… Read more »

Amy
Amy
7 years ago

We are totally different financially, but I didn’t know that until my FIL passed away and left a sizable inheritance to my husband. It threw our respective contributions to our joint finances so out of balance that I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought maybe we should split our finances at that point to make it fair. He had no debt and now a lot of savings, and I still had student loan debt. Then he lost his job and depended on me to support us. Now I’m pregnant and about to become a SAHM and the business he… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago

Kristin, I just wanted to thank you for not only this post but your transparency in general. What you write often resonates with me strongly and I will often forward your articles to my fiance with notes and comments. The “I realized that he seeks financial independence because he wants to live a nice, comfortable life. Meanwhile, I seek financial independence because I’m terrified of being poor.” is so true for me and it’s something I’m striving to be more aware of. I think it’s good to have a partner that helps balance this out and puts more “hope” into… Read more »

Dani Renee
Dani Renee
7 years ago

My parents have joint accounts so that’s what I grew up with as my normal. So, I used to believe that if a couple didn’t merge finances, it meant something was wrong and they were clearly on the road to splitsville. The popular arguments for merging has already been stated by a few commentators. For every story about a now-divorced couple (who *clearly* split solely because they didn’t have a joint bank account), there are countless stories (and studies!) of couples who merged bank accounts, divorced and one partner (usually the woman) was royally screwed over. In the west, we’re… Read more »

tori
tori
7 years ago

My husband & I have joint checking and savings accounts and we use the same Mint account to monitor everything. We wanted to have joint accounts because it makes it harder to ever lie to each other, hide expenses, etc. and it makes it less of an issue when one of us makes more money – what’s mine is yours. That said, our budget also has a monthly allowance for each of us to spend however we would like, so that we don’t argue over small expenses like eating out, music, and clothing. If we want something bigger, we have… Read more »

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

I think I really like Brian! “Sometimes he should let it get to him more” and “his attitude to be too casual”? Pshaw, no such thing in my mind. Two emotions I’ve found never solve *anything* in life: worry and jealousy. Worry gets you absolutely nowhere but sick. No, the solution is to let loose a short blue streak, think hard about the problem, then job on.

Good article as always, Kristin!

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Edward

Haha, thanks, Edward. Brian will be glad to hear your kind words. I really admire this attitude! My mom was a worrier, my grandma was a worrier, and as M mentioned, maybe it does have something to do with an innate fear of being a “bag-lady.” When I was little, my parents were hell bent on making sure I grew up without ever having to depend on a man, and that definitely contributed to my motivation for financial independence. (Not that I’m blaming them–I appreciate what they’ve instilled in me.) But for whatever reason, I’m a worrier, and I just… Read more »

Diane
Diane
7 years ago

What I find is that in a first marriage, money is pooled together. Being young, couples feel that they will be together until one partner dies. Generally, in a second (and subsequent) marriages, couples don’t pool all of their money together. This may be due to the experience in the prior marriage(s) or because their lives are too complicated, i.e. children from prior marriages. So both ways can absolutely work. What is most important is that each party has money of their own and can make some independent decisions without having to ask for permission. Also, it may be quite… Read more »

Nate
Nate
7 years ago

Did anybody here try the YNAB software? The whole system is the only thing that has finally started to work for us as a couple. After trying Quicken, then Mint for years, I think it is revolutionary. The end of living paycheck to paycheck is now reality.

Ely
Ely
7 years ago

Sigh. I hate how any conversation about couples finances brings out the ‘joint is the only way’ crowd. Why can’t you people just share what works for YOU without the holier-than-thou garbage? I wonder how many of them ‘protest too much’ as it were… Anyway. Like Kristin and Brian, my spouse and I began on opposite ends of the spectrum and have worked toward the middle together. Today, we rarely fight about money, I stress way less, he’s paying off his debt (and I DON’T nag) and I don’t freak out over every unplanned expense. And we have enough savings… Read more »

Jamie
Jamie
7 years ago

I read a great line in a book yesterday: “If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us…then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place.” (Amor Towles, Rules of Civility) This line popped into my head as I started to comment here, because my dude and I are so perfectly matched in every way except financially– We were CLOSE to being matched perfectly financially, so we had to get creative. We are both thrifty and can get along well with very little. However, he is fantastically generous with money and I… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago

On my own site today I wrote about joining forces with an until-now-secret love. I didn’t address finances because we’re still working that out, but I expect I’ll do this later. Short form: We’re middle-aged so it’s a different story. We have grown children and for that reason certain finances will remain stay separate. But groceries, gas (it’s a one-car relationship), utilities, taxes and repairs will be split 50-50. We’re considering a joint checking account but that’s still up in the air. Heck, I’m still not finished moving my stuff in, let alone my money. If we don’t do joint… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Awe, Donna, I just read your post and it gave me goosebumps. Very sweet! Brian and I also split everything down the middle. I think it works because we put the other person first. We don’t let anything get in the way of making things financially fair for the other person. If one of us lost our job, for example, we know we could depend on the other. But we’d do everything we could to prevent that burden from happening. Essentially, I think we’re financially independent not just for ourselves, but for the sake of the other, too. If that… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

It makes a great deal of sense: Financial independence means that you won’t be asking your partner to shoulder more expenses than is fair.
And we, too, know that each can count on the other in times of financial trouble. It’s a partnership, after all.

Paula
Paula
7 years ago

After a divorce nine years ago, I realized that I had to handle my diminished assets differently than I had during thirty years of marriage. Before I remarried, I began to become aware that I needed more financial education. My current husband has taught me much about budgeting and limiting the amount we spend. Now I am much wiser about our finances and we are enjoying a real increase in our total net worth. Before we wed, my husband helped us by organizing the payoff of my new student loans and some credit card debt. He set up a budget… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago

Just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s comments on what’s worked for them (and what hasn’t). I was nervous about this post, but you guys have not only been delicate about the topic, but you’ve also been very helpful. So thanks! And Happy V-Day!

krantcents
krantcents
7 years ago

As an old (44 years) married guy, my wife and I take responsibility for different things. Although we are on the same page and in agreement for the future, I take the lead in finances. After all, I was a former CFO and business owner. My plan helped us achieve financial freedom by the time I reached 38 years old. We talk about any major purchases or changes in our life. I think that is the key to a successful marriage. You may have difference in approach or how you handle things, but the outcome has to be the same.

Nick @ ayoungpro.com
Nick @ ayoungpro.com
7 years ago

It was a big adjustment for me to go from being single to being married, in regards to finances. A lot of the lessons you describe above are the same lessons I learned. The two most important things I have learned are: have patience with your mate and the differences you have, and constantly talk about things and learn from each other.

Dona Collins
Dona Collins
7 years ago

Money is a tough subject in our relationship. I’m always focused on it and work two jobs to make sure our bills are paid (including writing about – well – money). He, on the other hand, puts in a lot of hour at our fledgling business. He doesn’t make much, but his time is where it needs to be right now. I realize there has to be some sort of give and take for us to make our ventures take off. Still, it’s tough to work till the wee hours of the morning worrying about debts, medical bills, and yes… Read more »

Laura Donnovan
Laura Donnovan
7 years ago

Financial harmony is really tough to obtain in a relationship, but if you talk with the person and you both make a financial plan together it shouldn’t be such a problem.

J.D.
J.D.
7 years ago

It sounds like you’re doing the right thing. My wife and I have completely different philosophies on managing money, and we just keep the lines of communication open (and use a shared budget with all of our income). It has worked really good for us over the past 4 years we’ve been married. We talk about where we will spend the money for the current month at the beginning of the month, and try to stick with it. Over the 4 years, we’ve gotten closer to the same page. I’ve always been the one reluctant to spend money, and she’s… Read more »

Jo
Jo
7 years ago

Before we were married but living together we each paid half of all bills and rent etc. basically supporting ourselves. Whatever was left over was our personal cash to do with what we pleased. We have now been married 9 years, overtime things have been combined. All our money is pooled and budgeted for things like house, cars, food, investing and travel. We then each have a separate account which we get the same weekly allowance into, this stops any guilty feelings over spending/shopping. I say do what ever works. It helps we have no children and similar spending habits… Read more »

TTMK
TTMK
7 years ago

I think a real key to harmony is the ability to compromise. Sure, some people either have very different goals, or very different habits. Or both! In some cases, these things can be very difficult to overcome.

However, when the two people truly aren’t at extremes, I think that it could be very possible to be very successful together if they are both highly committed to each other and have the ability to truly compromise.

Sandi_k
Sandi_k
7 years ago

We’re a blend of “combined” and “separate.” We each have “our” accounts from which we pay our personal expenses (haircuts, gas, credit card bill). And we have a “joint” household account, from which we pay the mortgage, taxes, food, utilities, vet bills, and vacation expenses. We are legally joint on all accounts, which helps with the longer-term issues, as well as transparency. But in practice, “his” is his, and “mine” is mine. This has worked well for 16 years. Now, as we get older, it’s getting trickier. I have always been a big saver, and have set aside more money… Read more »

BillGuard Blog
BillGuard Blog
7 years ago
Reply to  Sandi_k

One quick note. This isn’t on the topic of love/relationships and money, per se. (I’m the last person who should be giving relationship advice!) Rather, its about something else you mentioned in your comment. You said: “We each have “our” accounts from which we pay our personal expenses (haircuts, gas, credit card bill). And we have a “joint” household account, from which we pay the mortgage, taxes, food, utilities, vet bills, and vacation expenses.” I’d just like to note a friendly warning: if you have both seperate and joint accounts, it might be easier for double-charges or unwanted charges or… Read more »

Jason
Jason
7 years ago

Thanks Kristin

slinky
slinky
7 years ago

We both have our own budgets that we manage in wildly different ways. We both think the other is a bit nutty for doing it the way they do. And we both trust the other to handle their money responsibly, be honest about everything, and to work together to reach both our mutual and also our personal goals. We’re both strong advocates for Seperate finances working just fine thank you very much. He has personal reasons to not combine finances. Me? I think it sounds inefficient and we’d honestly have more trouble deciding HOW to budget than WHAT to budget.… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
7 years ago

I like that you are pointing out a subject that is touchy but yet so important. I married my high school sweetheart right out of high school and so we really started together and made everything with eachother. I can see if you were an adult already and began a relashionship with someone who has already done so much for their financial future that this topic would be a huge help to discuss in the beginning.

Traci
Traci
7 years ago

Thank you for this post! I rarely comment, but since I read this I have been thinking about it a lot and I am grateful for the food for thought as I am just starting a life with a man and it is almost time to have the financial talk and come up with a game plan. We are very different, I am the saver, he is the “what is the point of saving money if we are miserable” viewpoint. I see clearly now that my way isn’t necessarily the best way! I have been facing ‘fear’ in a lot… Read more »

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