Monday, January 11, 2010

Merge Ahead

Speaking of money, Trent at the Simple Dollar posted an article recently recommending merging your bank accounts and other finances as soon as you get married:
...[keeping separate accounts] had serious disadvantages, chief among them the fact that it was hard for either one of us to really get a grip on what our true financial situation was.

I would not recommend doing that unless you have a very good, clear reason for doing so. It’s very clear in that wonderful 20/20 hindsight that the disadvantages of such a split far outweigh the advantages.

Instead, I would fold your accounts together...
That sounds like excellent advice for somebody who needs to do some figuring to know what their financial situation. Personally, I've always managed to keep a pretty close eye on what I have, even if improving my planning and budgeting has become a repeat resolution. So I find myself a little resistant to the idea of just dumping everything into one pot. But when you step away from Trent's purely practical reasoning, pooling your resources is part of the commitment you make to become a family, right? (of course, he also points out the value of a pre-nup in case things go south)

For our individual case, I imagine (although we haven't had the official conversation yet...bad engaged couple!) we'll move away from this slightly and each keep a personal account that we can use to fund our personal hobbies, gift buying, and other expenses that might be best kept separate (not to mention the gambling and escorts).


  1. Hmm. I can see Trent's point, but at the same time, I think there are perhaps more good, clear reasons to keep separate accounts than he's acknowledging. Econo Man and I are very up-front about how much money we both have, and we keep a joint checking account, but right now he's making a lot more money than I do. I think if we combined accounts 100%, I would feel that I needed his permission to buy things like clothes or books, which probably wouldn't be the healthiest dynamic for our relationship.

  2. I don't want to be judged for how much I spend on clothes and shoes more than I already am. So unless putting everything together comes with free marriage counseling, I say we have a main joint account and small personal checking accounts as well. For fun stuff. Like my blackjack habit.

  3. We combined our finances a little over a year ago. Of course, we also own a home together, so it was the next logical step. We used to keep separate accounts for our play money, but now we get a set allowance each month that we can do whatever we want with. This works especially well because the Boy has variable income, while mine is steady (I also make more).

    It took us about 2 years to find a comfortable system. I figure, as long as you are talking about money and have similar goals, you're going to be ok.

  4. Good advice, I can definitely see where Trent is coming from. For us though, it makes more sense to have two accounts because his is for income and mine (since I'm a student) is for handling my student loans. But once school is over and done with, we'll definitely be consolidating. Although I do like Ellie's idea of small personal accounts too... for the little things!

  5. Your last line made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

    The husband and I have been married for 6 months, and just opened a joint checking and savings on Saturday. We're retaining our personal accounts, for little stuff, gifts, etc, plus we feel strongly that having individual assets is important. I agree that the conversation is more important than anything else. I just get grumpy when we talk about money, but we do talk and the lines of communication are open, which I feel is more important than having totally combined finances.

  6. With 35 years expereince I suspect you are all confusing the cart and the horse. The core question is not accounts but whether you really think you are an economic partnership, where each of you helps the other person to be productive and has equal rights in the income stream. What you do after that decision is almost trivial. If you are partners, split the income and then pay common expenses half and half fine. But if you have the atttitude that I make more money and it's MINE MINE MINE, you will have problems whatever your do.

    I had the lower paying job and went on the field trips at school etc. But we were always full economic partners.