Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Money

Since we've gotten married, we have been much more transparent about money.  We merged our "marital earnings" but not our savings (because that is what happens when you marry a lawyer), so everything that is marital earnings goes into the same pot and we try to keep our spending approximately equal, and low.  A few changes that we have made include:

1) We switched from Mint to Quicken.  Quicken has slightly better tools than Mint, and Mint kept having problems with some of the banks we use.  We keep it on our joint computer (that was a really big step, btw, and the subject of a future Marriage Matters post.)

2) We opened, and use a joint checking account.  When I started my job, I set up direct deposit.  Eventually both of us will direct deposit into a joint checking account, and pay bills out of it.  Since all of our earnings since we got married are considered marital earnings, it makes sense to keep them jointly.  This will both protect our individual assets if we get divorced, and make our marital earnings easier to value and divide.

3) We talk about saving for retirement.  We're only starting this conversation, but for us, retirement is something we don't know much about, but that we know we should be saving for.  I truly think that anybody our age needs to not take social security for granted, and probably not even expect it, so retirement savings it is.

4) We talk about how much we spend on items, how much is reasonable to spend, and how to prioritize our spending.  Spending for things that affect us jointly comes first - rent, utilities, and food.  Then it's important but not totally necessary stuff - gym memberships, new contacts and glasses, etc.  Then is fun stuff for one of us that the other person doesn't think is necessary or enjoys - like new clothing for me; fun electronic toys for Mark.  These conversations are really hard to have without one or both of us feeling guilty or defensive, but I'm hoping we'll get better at them over time.  (Also when we have more money.)

5)  We keep each other in check.  When one of us suddenly gets the idea to do something fun and expensive, the other of us is there to ask whether we can afford it.  And I think that little voice in the back of my head thinking, "what will my husband say?" is one of the biggest advantages of being married, when it comes to finances.  I don't spend money stupidly anymore, and we discuss bigger purchases together before one of us makes them.  This is also important with sites like Groupon - it's really easy to buy deals and feel like they are deals, but often one of us thinks it's a great idea and the other person reminds them that the restaurant the groupon is for is far away, or the activity that it involves is free at another place, or that we don't actually kiteboard or want to.  This way, we don't throw away money on things we won't use.

Does anyone have any other tips for finances?  How are you managing money now that you are married?


  1. Excellent!!

    We have a joint account that our paychecks direct deposit into. We have savings that automatically deducts, and bills that automatically deduct. We talk weekly about finances, and always before spending large amounts of money. We both have individual accounts that our 'play money' is automatically transferred into, and from there we can buy anything we want without checking, which feels free.

    It works really well for us. so far, at least!

  2. Great post. As a fellow lawyer, I relate to your preference to keep marital funds separate. I always kind of roll my eyes and chuckle when married people say they are keeping their finances totally separate.

  3. Right after we got engaged, I started seeing money differently. Even though our accounts weren't combined, I knew that they would be, so suddenly I was conscious of what the Beagle would think of my purchases. Our accounts are combined now, since I'm the breadwinner in the relationship now, we both need to live off of my income.

    I definitely think it helps to have someone to be accountable to when it comes to spending.