Oh, goodness, money in marriage. It’s almost too taboo to even talk about, isn’t it? But the funny thing about “not talking about money” is that instead of being clear-eyed and understanding when you get yourself a spouse, you have your preconceived notions that 98% of the time do not match your partner’s.
Disagreeing about money is one of the biggest fights in any marriage. Each spouse has, in their mind, an idea of how it’s supposed to go. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard, “now that we’re engaged, what’s his is mine, and what’s mine is mine,” and the idea makes me cringe, just a little.
Well. There are more ways to handle married finances than simply a checkbook with two names in the corner. You have to find what works for you, as a couple. It’s really important to understand that you want to set your marriage up for financial success, so you may need to try one or more of the methods. Find what works for you!
Read on to find out all the different ways married couples split money.
7 Ways Married Couples Split Money 1 of 8
Weekly and Monthly Spending Rules 2 of 8
Otherwise known as budgeting. "This month, we're only spending $150 on groceries." Or, maybe weekly. "She gets $10 a week for fancy coffee, and he gets $12 a week for lunch food." Couples make the rules together, and keep each other honest. Perhaps using the envelope method?
How to make this work: Communicate openly and honestly. If you spent more than your rule, don't lie. Meet weekly or monthly (depending on how your rules are set) to make sure you're still on the same page.
Image by gracey
Yours, Mine, Ours 3 of 8
One joint account, and two individual accounts. Each partner's paycheck goes into their individual account, then each person puts money into the joint account, which is the place where bills get deducted.
How to make this work: Figure out the rules. Let's say, for the sake of argument, your joint bills total $2000 each month. You have to decide whether to split it evenly, or according to how much money each person makes. If you say, hey, these are shared expenses, we should split them evenly, make sure the lower earner is 100% okay with that. If you decide it should be based on salary, then make sure the higher earner is okay with that. Act in the interest of fairness.
If you split expenses based on salary, figure out how much higher the higher income earner is than the lower. Have that earner pay x% more, so the lower earner pays x% less.
Image by vilhelm
Joint Everything 4 of 8
You open accounts with both your names. You close the accounts that you had before you were married. Everything is shared. There may be rules/goals/budgets associated with this, but everything is shared. All bills, all savings, everything.
How to make this work: Don't look for a fight. If you're the kind of person who goes through the bank statements looking for something to harp on, this method isn't right for you. If you can't handle your partner "blowing" x amount of dollars on something, then definitely try something else. However, if you're a one-income family, you're already doing this.
Image by kakisky
The Allowance Method 5 of 8
This is used in conjunction with the "joint everything" method. Essentially, one spouse is in charge of all the money, and the other is given a weekly or monthly allowance to spend as they see fit. It sounds a little outdated to me, but looking at that image makes me think I could do okay with an allowance! The idea is to let the other person spend without fighting.
How to make this work: Make sure the allowance is reasonable. If you give your spouse $10 a month, that's not really giving them the freedom to spend money. That's letting them have two extra cups of coffee without you breathing down their neck. Adjust as you see fit.
Image by Alvimann
Separate Everything 6 of 8
Each spouse has their own accounts, and bills are split fairly. One spouse pays internet/cable/utilities, the other pays the mortgage. One pays for restaurant food, the other pays for groceries. Credit cards are not shared. In fact, nothing is shared. Each spouse has their own retirement savings, even.
How to make this work: Admittedly, this isn't the solution for everyone. But I grew up with it. My parents' finances were completely divorced, yet they were married 36 years, and they didn't fight once about money. My dad used to think my mom's department store makeup habit was out of control, and my mom used to think that my dad was a horrible waster of money because he went out to lunch every day. But they never, ever fought. He spent his money, she spent hers.
Image by Alvimann
Separate Past, Joint Future 7 of 8
Whatever debt each spouse came to the marriage with is that individual's responsibility to pay off. But everything else, going forward, is a joint effort. From savings for a down payment, to paying the groceries, it's all shared. Except the debt. Student loans? Credit cards? Whoever got into debt is going to get themselves out of it.
How to make this work: If you are marrying someone with credit card debt, you owe it to them to help get them out. Their debt is not your past, but if it doesn't get resolved, it becomes your future.
Image by gracey
Shared Savings Goals 8 of 8
In this scenario, most things stay separate, but both spouses contribute to shared goals. The vacation to Italy, the down payment on the house, the renovation of the kitchen, whatever your shared future goals are, each partner puts in what they can.
How to make this work: Each spouse should put saving first. Deposit some or all of your paycheck into shared savings, then transfer a set amount into each partner's account.
Image by pippalou
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