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Marriage and Debt

KLEXH25
Valued Contributor

Marriage and Debt

I'm curious to get some different perspectives on this. To what extent do you keep finances & debts separate when you're married? It's one thing to keep separate checking & savings accounts, but how do you handle pre-existing debts that each person brings into a marriage (student loans, credit card debt, auto loans)? Do you keep that completely separate (every person for themself), or is there incentive to help your spouse pay things down? For example, if you are trying to save for a common goal, such as a house, how do you tackle that if the other person is still paying off their debt and can't contribute as much (or anything)? I've seen people mention various scenarios throughout the forum, which has always made me curious about how different couples handle their finances.

 

*PS* - I would like to keep this conversation friendly. I realize people will have LOTS of opinions about marriage and finances, so what I'm looking for is specific examples of what you have found works for you (or hasn't worked for you in the past).





Message 1 of 26
25 REPLIES 25
Neblinosa
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt

We tackle our finances as one.  Early in our marriage we did things separately.  About 4 years ago we combined and have found that we can do so much more together.  We can accomplish goals faster because you dont look at it as my money or his money.  We paid off debt faster because we were on the same page and could put our combined income towards whatever goal we set whether that was paying down my husband's student loan or saving for our emergency fund.  We do give ourselves an "allowance" each month to do as we please but everything else is done with our combined money and discussed. 

 

In this I assume that both parties are being responsible.  You know what the other brought into the relationship and you discuss big purchases  regardless of whose name is on the contract.  My husband wouldnt buy a car without discussing with me and I wouldnt do it without talking to him.  

 

We have a joint account where we put our pay.  We each had separated accounts as well to keep our "allowance".  I closed mine since I stopped using it.  He still has his.  

 

 

Message 2 of 26
pinkandgrey
Community Leader
Senior Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt

I'm not qualified to answer this question as I'm not married, but I do know that my parents and my sister/her husband have everything in common. They share bank accounts and would help pay each other's bills if needed. 

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Message 3 of 26
Kforce
Valued Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt


@Neblinosa wrote:

We tackle our finances as one.  Early in our marriage we did things separately.  About 4 years ago we combined and have found that we can do so much more together.  We can accomplish goals faster because you dont look at it as my money or his money.  We paid off debt faster because we were on the same page and could put our combined income towards whatever goal we set whether that was paying down my husband's student loan or saving for our emergency fund.  We do give ourselves an "allowance" each month to do as we please but everything else is done with our combined money and discussed. 

 

In this I assume that both parties are being responsible.  You know what the other brought into the relationship and you discuss big purchases  regardless of whose name is on the contract.  My husband wouldnt buy a car without discussing with me and I wouldnt do it without talking to him.  

 

We have a joint account where we put our pay.  We each had separated accounts as well to keep our "allowance".  I closed mine since I stopped using it.  He still has his.  

 


This answer is right on with the big

 If : "Both parties are being responsible, have similar goals, and debts are not from foolish financial habits."

Else it is better to keep things separate.

Many start out separate and see how things go for a few years.

Go slow, you will know with a little time if it is wise or not.

 

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Message 4 of 26
Learning974
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt

I would say finances together. I would assume people talk about finances BEFORE marriage, thus everyone is aware of the other's financial situation. Doing things together gets it done faster, especially if you're working towards the same goals. Transparency is the key.

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Message 5 of 26
Kree
Established Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt

My wife and I both consider the other to be bad with money.

The wife because I use credit.

Me because the wife can't budget (its why she doesn't like credit, she over spends.)

 

So by mutual decision we keep our finances seperate.  I've got the primary job, so I take care of almost all the bills, she takes care of groceries and "fun" things.

Message 6 of 26
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt


@KLEXH25 wrote:

I'm curious to get some different perspectives on this. To what extent do you keep finances & debts separate when you're married? It's one thing to keep separate checking & savings accounts, but how do you handle pre-existing debts that each person brings into a marriage (student loans, credit card debt, auto loans)? Do you keep that completely separate (every person for themself), or is there incentive to help your spouse pay things down? For example, if you are trying to save for a common goal, such as a house, how do you tackle that if the other person is still paying off their debt and can't contribute as much (or anything)? I've seen people mention various scenarios throughout the forum, which has always made me curious about how different couples handle their finances.

 


Car's in my name, house is in hers, and we currently have no debt aside from the mortgage (which I pay even though it's in her name only). Nothing has joint ownership - it's all either in my name or hers. When we got married, she had no debt and I paid off my student loans (that is, she did not contribute).

 

As for finances, also 99% separate. We each have our own checking, savings, and brokerage accounts, though we do have an emergency savings account we both have logins to. I have no idea how much is in her checking/savings and she has no idea how much is in mine. We do have reciprocal login privileges (via Fidelity) to each other's brokerages, so I can make trades in her account on her behalf and vice versa. The joint emergency account also doubles as our transfer conduit - I can transfer money to her and vice versa via that account. This is useful for things like tax refunds: it goes into that account and then is split to our individual brokerage accounts for investment.

 

The only common goal I can think of would be another home. Anything else is of small enough value such that one or the other of us can cover it independently. When we travel, we'll split expenses (I'll buy airfare and hotel and she'll get train, for example), but there's never anything approaching us pooling money together for something. We do communicate about any purchase of more than a few thousand dollars so we're not going to catch the other off-guard by coming home with a car or new piece of art.

Message 7 of 26
jamaster14
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt

Our pre-exsisting debt is seperate.  we have a joint savings we both contribute to (i contribute a bit more bit i also make a bit more).  we both have auto loans and student loans.  i owe about 30% more on mine than she does.

 

we both have our own checking and savings.  we split rent and daycare.  i take care of utilities.  we kindof split food, its like whoever goes pays and it ends up being pretty even.  vacations come out of our joint savings.  

 

she has 25K in savings she brings pre-exsisting.  i bring in 12k pre-exsisting

 

I have 15K in credit card debt.  she has 0.

 

I pay all my CC debt.  we both pay our own auto and school loans.

 

she has elite credit (800+ everywhere) i have good credit (700-750 everywhere).

 

 

 



Message 8 of 26
800who
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt

@Neblinosa  I'm not married so I don't have any knowledge on the topic, but I do question... how does it work out if a spouse's income is considerably more than the others? I think about that all the time when thinking about marriage and finance

Message 9 of 26
Neblinosa
Regular Contributor

Re: Marriage and Debt


@800who wrote:

@Neblinosa  I'm not married so I don't have any knowledge on the topic, but I do question... how does it work out if a spouse's income is considerably more than the others? I think about that all the time when thinking about marriage and finance


We have that situation. I make almost 3 times what my husband makes.  When we make our monthly budget it is based off of our combined income and combined expenses.    I dont think I'm entitled to anything more than my husband simply because I make more.  I dont see it any differently than a single income with stay at home partner.  My husband and I both work hard at our careers .  I would think differently if I had a dead beat spouse and I wouldn't leave money available to be mishandled if I thought my spouse was irresponsible.  

Message 10 of 26
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