Are you scared to tread in this water? Discussing finances with your significant other can be difficult and worrisome. After all, this can be a delicate topic for some.
My wife and I have been happily married for over seven years. We are successful in managing our finances in separate accounts. As a result, personal finance has not put a stress on our relationship. Although, most "financial experts" think this is a disaster. It works for my wife and I, and has done so for the 7 years. In fact, we have very rarely had an argument over finances. Thus, the reason to share this system and the process we implemented.
Disclaimer, every situation is different and unique. In other words, there is not a one shoe fits all approach to personal finance. Therefore, each person and family should manage their finances to fit. Still interested in reading about unorthodox finances in marriage?
If you are, I will share:
- Our Income Situation
- Why I Believe Separate Finances Works for Us
- How We Manage Bills
- Financial Position Check-Ins
- How We Manage Investments
Our Income Situation
My wife and I both work full-time jobs. We are both career and goal driven. Undoubtedly, time management and communication has been key. Namely, when balancing careers with family time. Overall, we have managed this well. We are both compensated nicely. As such, there is no plan for one of us to stay at home full time. This would not be a financially savvy move. I can proudly proclaim that momma is the bread-winner.
All of our accounts are managed separately. Any account you can imagine. Our checking, savings, 401(k)'s, IRA's, credit cards, etc. are exclusive. Her accounts are completely managed by her. Likewise, I control my own accounts.
However, we still consider all of money to be mutual. Besides, the vows stated were for richer, for poorer. We consider ourselves a team and position ourselves accordingly. This includes our financial goal of investing in real estate in the near future.
Our unorthodox finances in marriage started when we said "I do." Actually, it probably started sooner than that. We both had separate accounts heading into our wedding day. The wedding's expenses were split 50/50 between the two of us. We communicated our expectations and budgets for the big day prior to making commitments.
After the wedding we opened 1 savings account. This was where we placed our monetary gifts received from the wedding. We agreed to every dollar spent from that account. As well as that, we each maintained our other accounts. There were talks of transitioning into shared accounts. Neither of us followed through with it.
Subsequently, we kept separate accounts since. We do not have any intention of changing this model. We are both happy. Most importantly, we never argue over finances.
Why I Believe Separate Finances Works for Us
As previously mentioned, every family and couple has their own situation to manage. Our unorthodox finances in marriage works for our situation. The reason I believe the separate finance model works for us is as followed:
1. Above all else, we trust each other
Any road, bridge, dam, structure, etc stands or falls on the quality of it's foundation. Similarly, a marriage will only stand and last on the quality of it's foundation. Trust is a marriage's foundation. Do you like how I tapped my inner Civil Engineer for that metaphor?
I trust that my wife will make the right decisions with her time and money. I will never doubt her judgement and decision making. For this reason, I will never try to control her money management. Likewise, she trusts me in the same way. We both know each other's loving intentions.
2. We are both investors and money managers
This is the second most important reason the model works. My wife and I pay our future selves first. Namely, we contribute specific amounts to our 401(k)'s before the paycheck hits our accounts. Similarly, we pay our reoccurring monthly bills prior to any other additional expenses.
3. Our cost of living is split evenly
We pay our bills evenly. One of us pays the mortgage and insurance, and the other pays for childcare and utilities. We attempt to split our cost of living equally. This includes vacations and other life expenses. Overall, this is a driving force in reducing financial arguments.
Admittedly, we have never sat down and evaluated this dollar for dollar. We have analyzed it as a rough order of magnitude, and I consider it to be close enough.
How We Manage Our Bills
We split our cost of living 50/50, or close. However, this does not include our debt incurred as a result of college. Nevertheless, we have been supporters of paying off debt. In fact, we have used our tax return to payoff student loans. It is important to remember you're a team.
We split major home repair or upgrade costs. For example, our water softener's mother board got wet and shorted out. The costs to install a new one was split 50/50. Additionally, our DIY deck replacement's expenses were split too.
My wife and I acknowledge when each of us feels that the other is contributing more. We both recognize when this occurs. In this case, we will be sure to the other covers a future bill to bring back balance. Give and take is the name of the game.
Next, I will share our financial situation check-ins.
Financial Position Check-Ins
Are you ready for another one of The Financial Engineer-ism? Good. You know what they say about assuming? It can make an a$$ out of you and me. With this in mind, we have regular discussions on our financial positions.
The discussions typically include large expenses that are on the horizon. For instance, we thoroughly planned the birthing costs for our child. The contributions made to the Health Savings Account (HSA), saved use 20%. The discount came from paying the costs in full. Another example, she recently informed me of the annual plate registration expense. Thankfully she planned and covered the costs. Planning, anticipating, and communicating such expenses are crucial when managing finances separately.
Each year I share my budget with my wife. I discuss my major financial goals for the year. To demonstrate, I shared my goal acquiring real estate to invest in the short term rental market. As a result, she has poked holes in my business plan. She made me aware of metrics that I did not think about. Our conversations have brought forth ideas that were unconventional to the short term rental market.
How We Manage Investments
Most of our investments are managed separately as well. These accounts would include 401(k)'s, IRA's, and brokerage accounts. In addition, I manage our children's 529 plans. I update her quarterly on each account's balance. Similarly, we discuss where the fund's are invested.
As mentioned, most of our investments are managed separately. The future real estate investment has been a cooperative effort. Both parties must be all-in on this size-able investment. I am truly thankful she has taken the time to jump in with it. It has become a bonding experience for us as we track our progress. This investment is a true commitment that requires research and self-education. She has provided suggestions and thoughts I did not think about.
Unorthodox finances in marriage has been working well for us. It started since the day we said "I do." I do not see us changing the plan in the foreseeable future. Separating finance between spouses is not for everyone. Everybody has their own situation to manage.
We believe this model fits our situation. There are major reasons it works for us. The first, we trust each other. The second, we are both great money managers and investors. Finally, we attempt to split our cost of living 50/50. Although, we have the best of intentions to help each other thrive. Having a teamwork mindset is key. We acknowledge when one person may be contributing more than the other at a certain period in time. When this occurs the other person reciprocates down the road.
Having great communication about financial situations is crucial when managing separately. We inform one another of large costs approaching. Additionally, there are frequent discussions of our financial goals.
Everyone's situation is different. How do you and your significant other manage finances?