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How do you married couple's pay bills?

Valued Member

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?

My situation is pretty similar to yours in most aspects, aside from one. The similar points - wife and I bought a house together before we were married, we try to split things as evenly as possible, we don't fight about finances. The single biggest difference for us is that we were together for 5 years before getting married, 4 years before buying the house. During most of that time (probably about 2 or 3 years) we had a joint bank account, even not being married. For us it made sense. I made substantially more than her, and she was in school. I had been the one to nudge her into going back to school to fulfill her dream, and I knew it was going to be a financial burden, so we made an agreement. I would pay for everything, if she paid for her schooling. Loans were not an option, so this agreement made sense. Her job could cover her tuition expenses, she would walk away debt free, and she was pretty much guaranteed a job making slightly more than me. At that point, we had seperate finances. I realized pretty early on that she was down on herself every week looking at her bank account with nothing in it, and she didn't feel right asking me for money for food and gas. I'm pretty perceptive, so it didn't take long for me to realize that this was causing an issue. So I suggested a joint account. She could have the money for her tuition deposited into her account and have it automatically withdrawn every month, and the rest went into our joint account. She always felt bad using the money because she didn't feel like she was contributing. But we kept a very open line of communication throughout the time to get through it. I had all of the bills budgeted and knew what was coming out when, so we had an agreement for her to just let me know when she was using the card. It worked well, and over time became very natural for us. But she never felt right using more than what was needed out of that account, and I couldn't change that. She would always feel bad if there was something she wanted, but didn't need. And again, the open line of communication came in here, and I would always explain that I knew what the agreement was when I made the suggestion, and as long as we had the money to cover the bills, the rest was both of ours to use. 

 

Now that she graduated, and we're making 45/55 (she makes the 55% now Smiley Very Happy) we don't have to have those conversations as much, but she still knows that the money is both of ours to split. Once we started building credit and transitioned over to using cashback cards instead of our bank card, the agreement shifted to just making sure that I know how much is on each of her cards so I can allot payments. She still doesn't go crazy spending, even making more than me, and now I don't either. Anything more than about $50, and we have a conversation about it. She certainly is more frugal than I. I am the type of person that sees certain entertainment as a necessity (you gotta enjoy life if you can!). She grew up in a situation where you make the entertainment, you don't spend on it. But I'm slowly winning her over to the side of being willing to spend a bit to have some fun (of course, if it's affordable). 

 

Communication is the key to our success, though. We always communicate purchases and bill amounts. I used to be pretty tight lipped about finances, so it's been more of a struggle on my side to open up about what bills are due. I'm a lot better at remembering dates and amounts off the cuff than she is, she likes things written down. I've started to write them down so that she can see the reference. All in all, we don't fight about money. The biggest money oriented arguement we have is which remodel to start first and whether we need  the new patio set before the patio even exists. But I use the term "arguement" lightly there. It's more of four line back and forth banter. 

 

I do think the joint account creates an "us" ideology when it comes to finances. It no longer just affects one. Every dollar spent can have an impact on the other person. For some, like my wife and I, that's a good thing. It forced us to scrutenize our own spending. For others, though, it can be disasterous, openning up the relationship to the possibility of a single irresponsible party tanking the family finances. 

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Message 21 of 27
Established Contributor

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?


@kitt614wrote:

My situation is pretty similar to yours in most aspects, aside from one. The similar points - wife and I bought a house together before we were married, we try to split things as evenly as possible, we don't fight about finances. The single biggest difference for us is that we were together for 5 years before getting married, 4 years before buying the house. During most of that time (probably about 2 or 3 years) we had a joint bank account, even not being married. For us it made sense. I made substantially more than her, and she was in school. I had been the one to nudge her into going back to school to fulfill her dream, and I knew it was going to be a financial burden, so we made an agreement. I would pay for everything, if she paid for her schooling. Loans were not an option, so this agreement made sense. Her job could cover her tuition expenses, she would walk away debt free, and she was pretty much guaranteed a job making slightly more than me. At that point, we had seperate finances. I realized pretty early on that she was down on herself every week looking at her bank account with nothing in it, and she didn't feel right asking me for money for food and gas. I'm pretty perceptive, so it didn't take long for me to realize that this was causing an issue. So I suggested a joint account. She could have the money for her tuition deposited into her account and have it automatically withdrawn every month, and the rest went into our joint account. She always felt bad using the money because she didn't feel like she was contributing. But we kept a very open line of communication throughout the time to get through it. I had all of the bills budgeted and knew what was coming out when, so we had an agreement for her to just let me know when she was using the card. It worked well, and over time became very natural for us. But she never felt right using more than what was needed out of that account, and I couldn't change that. She would always feel bad if there was something she wanted, but didn't need. And again, the open line of communication came in here, and I would always explain that I knew what the agreement was when I made the suggestion, and as long as we had the money to cover the bills, the rest was both of ours to use. 

 

Now that she graduated, and we're making 45/55 (she makes the 55% now Smiley Very Happy) we don't have to have those conversations as much, but she still knows that the money is both of ours to split. Once we started building credit and transitioned over to using cashback cards instead of our bank card, the agreement shifted to just making sure that I know how much is on each of her cards so I can allot payments. She still doesn't go crazy spending, even making more than me, and now I don't either. Anything more than about $50, and we have a conversation about it. She certainly is more frugal than I. I am the type of person that sees certain entertainment as a necessity (you gotta enjoy life if you can!). She grew up in a situation where you make the entertainment, you don't spend on it. But I'm slowly winning her over to the side of being willing to spend a bit to have some fun (of course, if it's affordable). 

 

Communication is the key to our success, though. We always communicate purchases and bill amounts. I used to be pretty tight lipped about finances, so it's been more of a struggle on my side to open up about what bills are due. I'm a lot better at remembering dates and amounts off the cuff than she is, she likes things written down. I've started to write them down so that she can see the reference. All in all, we don't fight about money. The biggest money oriented arguement we have is which remodel to start first and whether we need  the new patio set before the patio even exists. But I use the term "arguement" lightly there. It's more of four line back and forth banter. 

 

I do think the joint account creates an "us" ideology when it comes to finances. It no longer just affects one. Every dollar spent can have an impact on the other person. For some, like my wife and I, that's a good thing. It forced us to scrutenize our own spending. For others, though, it can be disasterous, openning up the relationship to the possibility of a single irresponsible party tanking the family finances. 


Thanks for the share, this is a wonderful example!

 

Robot Very Happy


Message 22 of 27
Regular Contributor

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?

My wife and I got married a year and a half ago.  I had a house that we sold before we got married and we moved into her house.  We have joint checking, savings and investment accounts.  She has her 401k at her job and I have a 457b and a lifetime pension starting in 2 years, 11 months and 2 weeks, (but who's counting).  She makes almost 3 times as much as I do but combined we make about $275,000.  We put everything we have into joint accounts and have never had a disagreement about money.  We're pretty responsible when it comes to finances, (her FICO scores are in the 820's and mine are in the 790's).

Message 23 of 27
Established Contributor

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?


@kitt614wrote:

 

I do think the joint account creates an "us" ideology when it comes to finances. It no longer just affects one. Every dollar spent can have an impact on the other person. For some, like my wife and I, that's a good thing. It forced us to scrutenize our own spending. For others, though, it can be disasterous, openning up the relationship to the possibility of a single irresponsible party tanking the family finances. 


I agree 100%.

 

Current marriage we have an "us" ideology and are on the same page.

 

Prior marriage one persons irresponsiblity tanked the family finance. 


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Message 24 of 27
Established Contributor

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?

I am glad you found a medium that works for you. I would keep the joint accounts if you are argument free. However, money arguments can and do happen(it may be over what to do with excess funds), trending climbing expenses a spouse may see, or one wants to invest a great deal of money. We plit some larger bills and pay others assigned to us. We still have access to each other accounts ife needed and try to be transparent on what we buy or if one needs to access credit(we attempt to see if we can pay in cash first). I wish you many years of stress free marriage stay focused on your goals. 

Message 25 of 27
Frequent Contributor

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?

For the first couple of year of our marriage we each had our own acct but we eventually put them together. I set up all our bills on auto-pay and every week my husband and I go through what bills are coming out. Whatever is left, we tell each other how much money they need for the week , if it is just pocket money or whatever. I leave a little in the checking but the rest either goes to saving or invest for retirement.  For us, having separate accts felt like having separate lives and not working together.

Message 26 of 27
Established Member

Re: How do you married couple's pay bills?

Well, I'm on my second marriage.

 

First marriage, we had joint everything, paid all of our bills out of our joint accounts. Everything was "our money". Which is fine, but it did take away a lot of mystery and independence - plus, nothing was a surprise. Imagine getting a email alert that your husband just spent $125 at 1800-flowers.com. Also, a lot of the blame game happens when certain financial goals aren't met, or you see your spouse spending cash in a way that makes you question if his priorities are straight.

Second husband. We have separate personal accounts and credit cards. The only bill that is split is our housing payment. All other household bills are handled by the person it's assigned to. We have this all written up on a google sheets doc,  so there is never any confusion. I pay for our gym memberships and things like NetFlix, Hulu, Spotify. I also purchase all groceries (we have four kids so this is no small expense). He pays all utilities and home maintenance costs. He also pays for everything when we go out for nice dinners or concerts, and I LOVE to go out. lol.

We each pay our own car payments, insurance, cell phone, credit cards.
We are looking to get a joint car insurance policy soon though, and will probably split it.

We have a stand alone joint savings account that we both put money in for things like vacations.

It works really well for us, this arrangement lets us stay independent and meet our own personal financial goals. No money arguments either.

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Message 27 of 27