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separating finances during marriage.

Valued Member

Re: separating finances during marriage.

Do you trust that she will honor the agreement?  Are you sure that she will not leave you holding the bag and not contribute?  I have learned that unless the other party or both parties sincerely want to change their financial future then separation of finances wont change anything, fiscal compatibility is a must for a healthy relationship. For someone to change they have to want to change, you can't make them change.  Thus if your wife really was sincere about her desire to be more fiscally responsible you would not need to do this.  Not trying to be a Debbie downer, but being an ostrich won't make it go away.  I really hope that this works for you both, as relationships are hard enough, but have realistic expectations, pray for the best and prepare for the worst.


My hubby and I have everything separate for this very reason, he owns his business and a very successful one at that.  I took over the fiscal aspect of it 5 years ago and got his business turned around to where it should be.  Now he is right back to treating his business as though it is his personal endless source of money.  I got him personal credit cards with fantastic limits and he maxes them out in less than a month.  He then goes back to using company credit cards for his personal use, I am washing my hands of it all this coming year, let the chips fall where they may.  I am fiscally conservative and have recently focused on re-establishing my credit so that I can be more independent.  I do not want to be tied to him financially for anything!!!  Talking to him is like talking to a wall, I start all conversations with "I know it is your company but..."  


I do hope that you are both able to work through this and have a long happy marriage, wishing you both the very very best!!!!

Message 11 of 45
New Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

We had to file chp7 due to my DH having 100k in debt from a failed biz/personal cc debt before we married. 


He would see 10k in the checking acct, spend $$ without talking to me, and our checks would bounce. 10k first of the month, and -1k by day 30. It was that bad. The whole "I work hard and I make xzy money I deserve to spend it" nonesense....


Eventually, what I did, is set up a seperate account (that had a set amount of direct deposit ) in our names, but cut up his card and my card. I used bill pay and that would be where the household bills would automatically come out of. I put an extra 100 in just for safety purposes (in case the elect was 400 instead of 300...etc)


Then, I got him a secured card for 1200.00 He cant charge more than that, and I PIF. He has his "budget". He has no idea where we bank with, and what we do. If he wrecks his credit and gets more CC thats on him. I made sure after this 7 that i am creating my OWN credit profile. Hell or high water, I will be 800 someday. I will NEVER rely on someone else.


Its anger and sadness, I know, its hard to have two people with opposite spending habbits. But I have accts for vacations with the kids, and for holiday shopping. I save $$ for him so he can buy me a gift for birthday and anniversaries. He just cant do it. 


You have to ask yourself: Is it worth it? Ive decided that being a control freak and steering the ship is worth it, so that I can love him without condition. Do I jump through hoops? Of course. But no one comes without baggage. I have a terrible abusive family, and flinch when people move to fast. He has to deal with my demons. As long as we can choose to love, and find a place to be happy- thats the golden ticket.


Bet wishes!!!

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Message 12 of 45
Super Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

Bravo. I like your methods.
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Message 13 of 45

Re: separating finances during marriage.

In my opinion,

having seperate finances is the way to go to avoid unforseen problems down the road.It is better for at least one spouse to be the one with responsible money instead of not taking action and in a case of an unforeseen emergency you are both under water fighting to come to the surface. It is better to have a life jacket than none at all.

Nowadays seperate finances if becoming the new thing.


Do I approve of it? No

Is better in the long run?Yes




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Message 14 of 45
New Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

Great topic. My wife grew up in a High Net Worth family. At one point in her childhoold, her father told her she would never have to work if she chose not to.


They basically cut her off soon after they discovered she was dating me roughly 2 years ago.


No more unlimited credit card paid off by Dad every month, travelling the world and living it up, etc. It's been a rude awakening for her, but it's love, what can you do.


When we first met, we were living in NYC, a ridiculously expensive housing market. Median rent in decent neighborhoods is 3.5K/month, you can make six figures and qualify for tax-abated "affordable" housing. Looking back, I'm not sure how we made it.


We moved in quickly. When money grew tight, at one point I leant her a debit card and told her we needed to save $ X for housing costs, she nearly blew the whole thing without meaning to, she just had no concept that taking a $20 cab ride three times a day was a bad deal when you could buy an unlimited weekly subway pass for $31. I taught her these things, she is not dumb by any means, but budgeting was just never something she'd considered  Smiley Wink


When we first met I had next to nothing, and she paid the rent prior to her family ceasing paying her bills. Afterwards, she took undoubtedly humbling jobs when she could find them to help us get by. She demonstrated immense loyalty when I was going through a difficult time, so I have rarely had a second thought about supporting her financially.


She has made enormous progress in learning the value of the dollar, learning to look at price tags and comparison shop, to save receipts and return items, to say no to eating out all the time, to say no to impulse buys (usually!), and that for 99.99% of people, money does not come from an infinitely-renewable magical card.


We relocated from NYC to a far more affordable yet still desirable place to live, to start a family. But money still causes major strife in our marriage. She is our newborn's primary caregiver and probably will not work for a year or two, all the income ($3-4K/month) comes from my end, yet my wife has huge pride and hates feeling dependant. I try to strike a balance between being stingy and not imposing boundaries. It is not easy. 


Like some others have posted, she agrees we need to budget, and can sometimes be highly thrifty, but just does not quite understand that 1 hour of work = X amount of money for most people, and that's it, nothing more, period, end of story. That your spending simply cannot continuously add up to more than your income or you become a slave to interest.


I think personal finance skills just become second nature for the vast majority of us, to even subconsciosly consider spending in reference to our costs of living, to make a hundred subconscious calculations when choosing whether or not to make a purchase. But to people who grow up truly wealthy, personal finance can be just a foreign concept.


I manage all the bills and make sure we have enough to survive while planning for a better future. It took me a year to feel like it was a good idea to open a joint bank account. I realized that she had had my amazon account info for 6 months or so and had never ordered anything, so I decided she had changed from that naive girl I'd leant my debit card to a year prior. She is smart. Having a child has taught her how important managing personal finances is.


As far as separation and commingling of finances, we don't have joint credit, just the joint checking account, joint lease. I let her use one credit card of mine, but I think since I have 12 years of credit history but 3 or 4 baddies, she is better off starting from scratch. I am looking into adding Auth User, but even that can add complications, so I'm not too keen.


I watched my parents split even after 30 years, I'd guess they have 1.5 million in assets, and I think prenups make sense.


I wrote up a prenup using legalzoom, stating among other things that if we were to divorce, neither would have claim on any property of the others, other than a joint bank checking account and a primary residence if we ever buy a house to use as savings vehicle. She may inherit, and I wanted it to be clear that I would never go after a dime of that, plus I didn't want either of us owing the other alimony if things didn't work out.


I think the moral of the story is that  people can change for the better when it comes to financial habits, but it is usually a time consuming, oft painful process, sometimes with 2 steps forwards and 1 back.


Good luck out there!


Message 15 of 45
Frequent Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

Financial independence goes a long ways.  Some people never get to experience it and that's really what they needed all a long.  No more monitoring of the other partners spending habits, no critiquing, etc.  Do what you want as long as you can meet your obligations.


We have separate accounts.  We do not have a joint savings account.  The only loan we are on jointly is the mortgage.  We don't co-sign on each others auto loans.  She makes a lot more money a year than me ($75k + bonuses to my $45k).  That means she gets to save and spend more than me.  But I am proud of her because she works hard for it and deserves it.  We do talk about money so we can make sure we both contribute to things like vacations evenly.  I can't afford to contribute to lavish ones and she understands that and has no problem picking up my slack  as long as I contribute in some fashion and don't freeload. 


In short, I love it.  I understand that some are critical of having separate finances, like we are already preparing for our relationship to fail or something.  To each his own, I guess.

Message 16 of 45
Valued Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

Corvidae wrote:


In short, I love it.  I understand that some are critical of having separate finances, like we are already preparing for our relationship to fail or something.  To each his own, I guess.


I can’t say I belong to the crowd of those who are critical of having separate finances. But I am saying that many do it for reasons that are wrong, just as many also engage in shared finances for reasons that are wrong. I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to finances, many act in fear, and as science has proven, fear turns off thought.

When the financial crisis kicked in, people acted in fear and made terrible decisions of not getting into stocks again. There are also people that don’t necessarily need social security at 62, but take it anyway in fear of the social security system running out at some point. Etc etc.

And when people have goofed up for long enough, you may get the feeling that they have come to live by expectations such as

#1. It must be in the constitution.
#2. I’m protected by the government.

#3. The rich will trickle down to me.
#4. Winning the lottery one day soon.

When you have been through a divorce, which is often a bad experience, people tend to overreact later on, which is just one way of saying they didn’t see it coming. The bigger the love that was betrayed, the bigger the void to be filled by an opposite feeling.

I for one am merely interested in why people think separate finances work for them, as I have never tried it. I’m still looking for someone to tell me why it’s important to keep the little stuff separate, when mortgage, marriage and kids are shared! It’s not like you give up freedom or independence just because you share your finances, if that’s where it’s at.


Message 17 of 45
Frequent Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

I think the reasoning is different for everyone.  For me myself it is experience.  If I touch a hot burner on the stove with my bare hands I learn fast and won't do it again.


We share a mortgage only because we both needed to be on it to get it.  We have a kid together, but that is passive.  Whether we are together or not we will both be his parents.  We don't look at sharing him like he's an object. 


I don't equate love equaling trust, either.  Some may say you can't truly love without completely trusting, but I'd say you'd be a fool to think it (just out of experience, that is Smiley Happy )

Message 18 of 45
Established Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

gamegrrl wrote:

I'm pretty much the money Nazi around here. I don't trust my partner regarding paying bills (we went through that many years ago), so I take care of all money issues and tasks.


Here's the way I see it: Simply put, I am much better at managing money than he is. It's in our best interest for me to handle those things. So I do.


He has a few credit cards on his own now, and I periodically check in with him to make sure he's managing those ok. Today is the day that I ask those questions for the month. I always dread it.

This is how we are, except I do trust my spouse with money. He is actually quite good at it, maybe better than me; he just can't be bothered with it. Given the choice of paying bills/balancing our checkbook or looking at pictures on the "Cats High Five" subreddit forum he would choose the latter. It helps that he is very frugal, and not a spender. When I took over the finances all he wanted were two things: 1) Ensure that a good percentage of our paycheck went to ourselves, whether in savings or retirement and 2) Never, ever, ever carry a balance or pay interest on a credit card. 

The only problem is this he is sooo completely removed from the finances he is nearly clueless. An actual conversation we had:


Me: Do you know your Sallie Mae card's login information?

Him: Hmm... Sallie Mae card... is that Capital One?

Smiley Frustrated



Message 19 of 45
Valued Contributor

Re: separating finances during marriage.

Haha, he is exactly like my DW. Love her so!


Message 20 of 45