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Money & Marriage

In honor of my husband and mine’s 7 year wedding anniversary this week, I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects, money and marriage.

But first, a story...

A couple walks into a nice restaurant for their anniversary dinner. They open their menus. Spouse one immediately scans the prices and feels their chest constrict, proceeding to order the least expensive items while adding up the running total in their head. Spouse two doesn’t look at the prices. Knowing that this is a special occasion, they order to their heart’s content, and feel no guilt.

As you probably guessed, I am person one and my husband is person two. We had very similar upbringings, but our money mindsets are completely different. Neither is wrong, but we have had to learn to work through them nonetheless. My husband has taught me (the money nerd) to loosen the purse strings a bit and enjoy myself. So what if I could buy a whole bottle of wine for the same price as one glass at this restaurant? The point is to enjoy it with the dinner we’re having. And I have taught him to pay more attention to the details and that there are countless little ways to save money.

I wanted to a little bit about how we manage our finances as a couple, and why. From day one of our marriage, we have chosen to combine all of our money and keep a budget together. Here’s why:

1) We are a team, we spend like a team

Pooling our money creates a "we" mindset. We believe we have achieved money goals faster because of the momentum that’s been created working together. We aren’t roommates splitting our bills and paying each other back, we approach all our finances as a couple.

2) It forces us to communicate

We can't shy away from the hard conversations, which creates more intimacy in our relationship. We’re able to talk about our goals and dreams, and work together towards them. This part isn’t always easy, but it can also be the sweetest side to personal finance.

3) Times get tough

There have been numerous times in our relationship when one person is making significantly less, or no income (job changes, moving states, new businesses). Combining our finances has allowed us to wade through these challenging times without ever feeling like one is “supporting” the other. It takes both us to achieve our individual goals.

4) It simplifies things!

We don't have to worry about who paid for what, how much to put into the joint account, or paying each other back. All of our money is "our money."

5) We still get to spend like fools

Every month, our budget includes “play money” for each of us. We can spend this money freely without asking permission. This amount was decided upon by both of us before the month started. We don’t have to keep separate accounts to have freedom with our spending.

Now, I am not here to convince others to do it the way we do, but I do want to address a few of the common reasons I hear married couples use for keeping their money separate:

  1. One spouse spends more than the other on frivolous things
  2. To keep from fighting

In my humble opinion, neither of these are money issues at all, but communication issues. If one person is spending money frivolously without respect to their spouse’s input, the answer is to get on the same page and decide together how the family’s spending is aligning with their values. And if the whole goal in marriage is avoid arguments and fights, then a lot of communication will be lost for the sake of peace.

I’d love to hear your take on it! Do you choose to combine finances with your spouse, keep them separate, or a little bit of both, and more importantly, why?

Marriage: I had no idea what I was getting into at 24. It has been the greatest gift in my life!

Marriage: I had no idea what I was getting myself into at 24. It's been the greatest gift and biggest challenge of my life.

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