Some more thoughts (and responses)

Instead of commenting to each comment on my last post, I’m going to write another post that is pretty much one big response to all the comments. It might seem a little disjointed, so please bear with me.

My last post didn’t give an accurate portrayal of my financial history. I didn’t purposefully omit anything, but I realized reading the comments that it I failed to convey the reality of the situation. It’s true that I haven’t ever paid interest on my credit cards, but I have carried debt a few times, always rolling balances onto 0% APR cards and hustling to pay them off before the interest started accumulating. I did that when I traveled with my sister in Europe in my early 20s, and when I was on maternity leave both times. There have been other times I couldn’t pay my credit card off completely and had move money around or get help from my husband to cover my payments. My parents also gave me $10,000 in an investment account and I’ve dipped into that on occasion. My spending has always been irresponsible and I’ve never kept track of it, let alone monitored it carefully. I’m sure you all remember that I was actually lying to my husband about my spending habits for a time, when they got really excessive. Please let me assure you that I really do need to overhaul my attitude about money. It really is a serious problem that I need to get a handle on, and that is not me being overly self-critical. It’s just a fact.

And yes, it has been nice to have my parents help me so much. I’m sure I don’t realize how nice it’s been, because I have not walked in the shoes of those who had to hustle for financial security. It’s also the reason I haven’t been forced to figure this shit out until now; I’ve spent two decades walking the path of financial irresponsibility and now the ruts of overspending are so deep it will be really hard to get my wagon off this track. I’m not saying I have it harder than people who have not received financial support from family, I’m just saying that it has hindered as well as helped me.

The purpose of posting my spending online was first and foremost to hold myself accountable in my only-buying-consumables spending freeze. There were no other immediate goals intended in posting my spending this summer. Of course being aware of where I DO spend my money is a valuable exercise and I want to add the goal of figuring out where my money is going so that I can eventually make more informed and intentional decisions about how I spend my money. This will help me make realistic financial goals moving forward; by the end of the summer I want to have a budget in place that includes a manageable savings plan. If I am going to be setting aside money for savings, I will need to change how I spend, and I’m hoping these eight weeks of publicly tracking my spending will help me to plan and carry out those changes.

One thing I haven’t talked much about is the not insignificant matter of my husband. I am, of course, only one half of a couple. We both make money. We both spend money. We both need to be on board with this budgeting stuff right? I believe we do, but All Your Worth cautions not to come down to hard on your other half when you start overhauling your budget. I have tried to bring up my concerns about our financial situation a few times but my husband has expressed interest in pursuing the topic. It’s not that he doesn’t care, I think it just overwhelms him and he never feels like there is a good time to really hash it out (mostly he’s just too tired at the end of the day to participate in any meaningful conversation, let alone one as charged as how we spend our money). This definitely complicates things, but I’m not letting it get in the way of me making the changes that I need to make.

My husband and I have separate bank accounts. There is a very good reason for this: we are lazy. Well, that isn’t the whole truth, but it’s the easy truth. The honest truth is that for a long time I didn’t want our accounts joined because I didn’t want my husband to see my spending. (Remember that part about how I was hiding it, when it got really bad?) And since I’m the one who GETS THINGS DONE, the merging of our bank accounts just never happened. He has his accounts. I have mine. He pays certain bills and I pay others. We kind of sat down at certain points and figured some things out, while other things just happened without us saying much about it. Clearly it’s not the best way to go about things. Again, it’s more decision via indecision than any specific choice to do it this way.

The final nail in the coffin of merging our accounts is we can’t figure out where to put our money together. I don’t love my bank. He doesn’t love his. We’re too used to the mobile conveniences of our massive institutions to put our money in a credit union, where we want actually want it to be. So I bring up putting our money together. We realize we’re not sure how to proceed. The conversation ends and nothing happens. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Times a thousand.

We have talked about taking a small step in the right direction and I plan on opening a savings account at the credit union that opened an office in our neighborhood. When we figure out how much we’ll be putting into savings every month, that money (from both of us) will go there. We will both contribute to it. It will become our six-month emergency fund, the place we go to get money when something big needs fixing with the house, etc. We do plan on merging our finances completely some day soon, but without my enthusiasm driving it, it simply won’t happen.

The separate accounts, and the fact that we pay for things separately, also make tracking our spending habits harder. Luckily my husband doesn’t buy any THINGS with his money. He NEVER spends his money on stuff. But he does like to spend his money on food, and drinks, and going out and having a good time. And he usually is the one who puts the card down when we do those things together. So it’s going to take longer for those habits of ours to change, because right now he’s just not that interested in making sacrifices when it comes to that stuff. He does want to start contributing to his retirement (on top of his pension contribution) and putting something away for savings and he is aware enough of his balances not to spend more than he has left over, so I’m hoping that alone will help him make the necessary changes in our “eat/drink/be merry” budget. I will be trying hard to track what he spends on that stuff, at least when we’re together, so I can be more aware of how we can reign it in, but I will not be posting that spending because it’s not mine and I don’t feel comfortable putting his choices out there. (I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate it either.)

{Oh, and to answer the question about what my husband does, he was a big firm attorney for two years, right out of law school, and used most of that crazy money to pay down his high interest student debt. Then he worked for a non-profit for five years (making significantly less than I did as a teacher) and now he works for the city (making a little bit more than I do as a teacher, but with incredible health benefits.}

So this post got really long again, and I apologize. I hope that clears up any confusion from the last post and answered any questions people posed. I will be responding to comments on this post. Thank you for sticking with me while I flog the topic of finances to death. These are not changes that come easily to me. I’m taking baby steps, and baby steps take a lot of time. I promise my next few posts will be about something more fun, or at least less financial.

Do you and your partner have joint or separate accounts? How did you come to that decision? Does your partner share your financial aspirations? If not, how do you deal with that?

(Any tips on us joining our finances are welcome. Maybe hearing your suggestions will light a fire under my ass about it.)

42 Comments

  1. A lot here, but quickly—would your husband be willing to track his spending? My husband didn’t actually want to cut down spending at first—but he was up for tracking, and realized that tracking made him really question purchases more. We also put all our accounts on Mint (its free) so that I can see what he spends and vice versa. Its an added layer of accountability, but also lets me figure out the budget if he forgets to track for a few days and to track things like auto-payments from cc or bank accounts.

    1. I don’t know if he would be able to. Maybe? I worry it would cause resentment. Honestly, I’m just don’t want there to be another “thing” between us right now, if you know what I mean. But I plan on bringing this stuff up with him when he gets back from his trip to see what he is comfortable doing. I’m also going to push to merge our finances while I’m off for summer break and have more time during business hours to go in and make it happen. At the very least I think he’d sign up for Mint and he puts almost everything on a card so that would be good for him.

      1. Mint is great!

        I think it’s easier to have money talks when you know where everything is going and you can talk about the facts and frame it in terms of shared goals– is this where we want to be now, what do we want more of, what are our long-term goals, etc. That ways it’s easier to focus on the thought exercise (I don’t want to say problem because figuring out the money picture is not a problem except in the sense of like a word problem) and less on the unhelpful kind of emotions that can be attached to money talks.

  2. This clears things up. Good luck with all of this. It’s certainly very hard.

    My husband and I haven’t fully merged our finances, mostly out of laziness too. I get it.

  3. Just curious, how do you pay your mortgage? We set up our mortgage account on autopay and it def requires both our pay checks.

    Maybe it would help convince him to join accounts if you decide to do a lot on auto–eg save for college. I get the inertia in finding a bank but this is probably just one of those things you just have to grit your teeth and do. Do you both have direct deposit?

    And I’m sure you know this but since he works for a city it’s really easy for him to get on autopay for his 457 plan. And not to belabor the point but this is a community property state so you do have a say in what he does with “his” money.

    1. Our mortgage is autopaid from my husband’s account. Our renter also writes her checks to him. My husband covers the utilities bills, the internet and any media subscriptions we have (Netflix, Hulu plus). He sometimes gets groceries. I pay for the childcare, the monthly payment to my parents (they refinanced their mortgage to “gift” us $100K that we are paying back in 15 years at 2.95%), and the car and home insurance. I buy most of the groceries and anything else we (especially the kids) need.

      I know I have a say in what he does with “his” money but I also know where our marriage is right now and I know what my husband does if I come at him hard with demands. He will not respond well to that. I have to approach this right to make it a productive conversation. It will take some time but he will get there. Eventually.

  4. Our accounts are separate, too. But we pay bills (and everything else) based on who has the money at that time, so essentially all our money is merged. Like I usually pay for car insurance, but I’ve been paying for camp the past 3 months, so he took the car insurance. Sometimes if a gas or electric bill is small, I’ll pay it, but if it’s larger and/or I have another expense that month, he’ll pay it. Since K’s income is variable, it’s really hard to plan, and we do a lot of juggling. But I would never look at K having to bail me out as a weakness – it’s all “our” money, even if it’s in two separate places.

    I’ve never understood, if all finances are merged, how do you know how much money is in your account? I can’t imagine notifying each other of every single purchase. I have other stresses about money, but for now I’m fine with having separate bank accounts.

    Also, I am generally a pretty frugal person, but I have other money issues, so I can understand wanting to get a better hold on things. I bounce checks, and we lose a ton of money on late fees for bills. I wish we could get rid of all those fees! Right now, though, I’m just glad that all bills are getting paid, we’re paying down debt, and we’re both saving for retirement. More stringent financial goals or long-term plans can come later. I know that’s not ideal, but it’s about all I can handle right now.

    1. “how do you know how much money is in your account”—we check the balance online. One of the problems back before I started thinking about money, though, was that I never checked the balance to see whether a frivolous purchase really was “affordable” at the moment. Mint is actually more helpful for this, because it also has an area where it tells you what bills are coming due soon (i.e. cc bills) so you can’t just look at the x sitting in the bank account and think you are OK.
      If you take turns paying bills out of separate accounts, I imagine you can’t set up auto-pay features, which is what saves us from late fees. Our mortgage & utilities are all automatic.

    2. Those fees are killer. I read somewhere that banks make over $100 billion dollars a year on fees. Isn’t that insane! My bank used to make a killing on overdraft fees with me, but now I have that way more under control and it doesn’t happen anymore. We always pay for the same things every month and have everything set to autopay, which is helpful. I understand that doesn’t work for you because of the inconsistency of Coffee’s paycheck. That must be hard to manage, but it sounds like you found a good way to make it work. Well done.

  5. Every couple manages money to fit their needs. You two are merged in paying for things even with separate accounts. In CA, you each have a 50% interest in retirement savings post marriage. Any pre-marriage money is separate property unless you have a legal document saying otherwise.
    IF you do not each have a trust or will, you need to get one now as you have children to protect. You both also need life insurance, I presume you have some from employer but is it enough? Given today’s costs of children I suspect a million per child in coverage is about right, unless you have substantial income and might need more.
    It has never sounded like one person in your marriage is sitting on pots of money and the other is insolvent. It sounds like your husband considers debt a joint problem and liability and was not ugly about your cash flow problem. You guys win with that reaction.
    Mint sounds like it might work for you both after this summer is over. Take time and look at it and then decide.
    Anytime you track spending it helps show you where your money is going. Anything that makes tracking easier and faster and fits your personal needs as well is good. Just like a fitbit and walking does for me.
    It is brutally hard today, especially in areas like SF, for ANY couple/single person with children to survive financially. It is even hard for DINKs. Our middle class is under terrible financial pressure and operates so close to disaster financially that it is scary. It was very hard when I was raising two children in Bay Area as a sole income but today it is massively worse. Pause and consider if you think your children in 20 years will be able to afford to have children. Look at middle class incomes and how life has changed financially since the Eisenhower years when the middle class was robust and improving it’s living standards. Hmmm I am verging on politics, sorry, but it is part of what is impacting finances today.
    People in general do not want to look at their finances because it is so scary and do not want to do what you are doing right now ~ looking at wants versus needs, being honest with one’s self about spending and saving, confronting the truth about how precarious their financial situation is, even considering what would happen if one person in a couple were disabled or died.(Heaven forbid but it does happen.)
    You really are doing the brave hard responsible thing right now.

    1. You’re absolutely right about the middle class, especially in costal cities where COL is so incredibly high. I feel constantly frustrated by my inlaws because they seem unable to recognize how much harder it is for us than it was for them. They never even saved for retirement because they assumed my FIL’s pension would be enough to support them, and honestly it is because pensions back then were crazy, and no one thought to questions whether they would be available when the time came.

      We don’t have a will yet (I know we need one). I have life insurance but my husband hasn’t signed up yet. I keep asking him to but I can’t force him. Ah, the joys of marriage.

  6. Our checking accounts are separate but at the same bank so that transfers are easy and instantaneous. We keep one joint savings at that bank which we allow dips into and one at an online bank where we try not to dip into. It works for us. Tracking our spending on mint.com has been so eye-opening for me and it causes us to pay more attention to stupid things, like ATM fees. We’re mostly on the same page for financial goals but I’m clearly the more militant one 🙂

    1. Having our money at least in the same bank would be so nice, but if one of us has to move their money we might as well just set up entirely new accounts. Ugh. I don’t want to do it! So much work and for what? I know it’s important but it just doesn’t feel that important. I’m going to try to get it done this summer. We shall see.

  7. Our accounts are completely combined. We have every bill possible on auto-pay, and there’s no way we could cover that without everything in one place! We use Wells Fargo and really like them. My husband SUCKS at paying bills, so I had actually taken over paying his bills for him before we got married, and once we moved in together, we just moved all of our direct deposit stuff to the same account so I could set up autopay from one account. SO much easier.

    1. We both have autopay with our separate accounts and I think that is one of the reasons I don’t want to change because then we have to redo all the autopays! Ugh! It’s just so much work. But we only have to do it once and then it will be done forever. I need to get on it. I’ll feel better about it once it’s done.

  8. The whole separate vs. combined finances within a couple is so fascinating to me! So many different ways to make it work. We combined everything and our paychecks direct deposit into the joint account, which auto-pays our mortgage and all our bills. I have a (rather large) savings account that is in my name only. We have dipped into it in the past (before we were tracking spending) but I’d replenish it as soon as possible. We both have some separate investments from pre-marriage and of course our own retirement accounts.
    If they reason you haven’t combined is because of laziness (which I TOTALLY get, believe me!) you just need to bite the bullet and JFDI, because I think it makes things easier to track.

    1. I think you are right. I am going to bite the bullet and do it this summer, while I’m home more during bank hours. It’s going to be painful but once it’s done it will done forever.

  9. We have joint accounts. After we got married, when we changed names, we both joined each other’s accounts and eventually we got rid of one bank and stuck with the credit union. We have direct deposit and check the balance online often, and our credit union offers a free bill pay service that’s great – we tell them where to send a check and it just goes in time for the deadline we set. That way fewer places have our information and we avoid getting overcharged or double charged if auto debits go wrong. I take the bills back in July so it will be interesting to see how money changes.

    1. Does your credit union have any mobile features? Like an app or check deposit with an app? It’s not having those features that makes me not want to move to a credit union. I rely on my bank app so much, I just can’t imagine living without it anymore.

      1. Yeah, I am hooked on mobile deposits. At first I pooh-poohed the commercials but then a coworker said she did it so I tried and it was so easy. I also schedule payments from my phone (for bills that vary).

        1. I remember when I first saw a commercial for phones with cameras and I was like, THAT IS SO UNNECESSARY! BWAHAHAHA! There is no feature I use on my phone more than my camera and no feature I appreciate more. I think about my response to that commercial all the time. It’s obvious I was never destined to determine what people will actually find useful.

  10. I look at having separate accounts differently than most I guess. I feel like if you have separate accounts being married, it’s like having 2 different lives with different financial goals. Combining accounts and having things be “our money/our debt” instead of “my money/my debt” changes things drastically. Joint accounts = both people then have a buy-in or joint interest in where the money all goes. It really helps D and I stay accountable to each other when we pay all of our bills out of one account, and then know how much we have left to spend. We then have discussions on what is coming up in the next month, birthdays, hobbies, traveling and can divy up the money accordingly after all bills are paid.

    I’ve mentioned it several times, but we are huge Dave Ramsey fans. We’ve done really awesome financially on one income, because we are on the same page. We give every dollar of our paycheck a name before the month begins (we essentially budget one month ahead) and then use cash for the majority of our purchases. Paying with cash hurts more than with a card, and often people spend 20% more when paying with a card anyway.
    While reading through your spending, (not judging by the way), I did find that your groceries seemed awfully high. When you buy at Costco or Trader Joe’s, is that for a week or what? Do you go to the store with a specific list for meals for the week? Just curious. When we visited San Diego in April, I did notice at TJ’s that eating healthy is more expensive and eating out prices were more than here. We didn’t get out of a restaurant under $80 it seemed!!!
    I budget $450 in groceries a month for our family. 2 adults and 1-3.5 year old, 1-22 month old and we are currently eating VERY squeaky clean (Whole30). I try to go to the store once a month for BIG things, then shop for the fresh veggies each week in town. We do eat out 2 times a week and that comes from a separate cash envelope we have for Eating Out.
    I think Dave Ramsey recommends your mortgage being no more than 25%. Do you know what percentage yours is by chance? Also, he believes 15% of your income should go into retirement accounts, but ONLY AFTER you are debt free (minus house). Did you mention what % you put in or not? I couldn’t remember.

    I do think alot of your financial concerns come from not having a set budget that you follow on paper each month. Instead of simply tracking your spending, maybe actually budgeting and trying cash for a few expenses could help? When the $ in the envelope is out, then stop spending until next paycheck? I think trying a cash system for ONE expense would be really eye-opening for you, and trying for just one week would be a neat experiment! We also have cash envelopes for shopping, eating out, and we each get x amount in “blow money” (I LOL’d at that too!), that D and I each get and can spend however we want without asking each other. Sounds complicated, but it really isn’t and it’s worked so well for us.

    Please keep in mind, this is just what we do. I’m not telling you to do anything or say my way is better than yours. Please don’t think that! I just wanted to share a different perspective and ideas! You can always feel free to email me privately too if you prefer to talk more about this. 🙂 I like reading about budgeting and what others do. I’m glad you are sharing this!

    1. Re the groceries–I’m a pretty savvy shopper. I shop at TJs, whole foods, plus 3 local chains–Safeway, nob hill, savemart, plus target and costco (plus I get a few things at a fresh marketplace store where they have better stuff at good prices). I check the weekly ads for the chain stores and shop accordingly. I find TJs usually has the lowest prices on a lot of things. I shop elsewhere for stuff they don’t have, or for things where I prefer a different brand (eg soy milk, tortillas), plus if there’s a good sale at another store on something. At whole foods I get stuff not carried elsewhere ( a few things) or stuff where they have the best price (I’m not an idiot). I have a talent for knowing in my head what the usual price these various stores charge. All of which is to say $450 for a family of 4 is crazy low in California. We do “splurge” on fresh fruits in the summer etc, and for some things vegan is more expensive (but not as much as people think), plus we’re not spending $ on meat. So I don’t think 7-800 is way high for a month of groceries with 2 young kids. Maybe food is a lot cheaper in your state? I’ve only briefly lived elsewhere, and did not find that was true (ny, and in the Midwest where really crappy produce in the winter was crazy expensive).

      1. I totally agree, grocery costs do vary from state to state. I live in a tiny Wyoming town where all the produce in the store typically comes from the farmers near town or some from my garden. Maybe that’s why our prices seem lower than when we visited California? We don’t have a Trader Joes in the State unfortunately, but I do stock up on my favorites anytime we are close to one!
        We also don’t have the option of running to Costco often either since it’s also in another State. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we don’t have the option really to spend much money on food because we aren’t around places to shop much. It’s almost like an “out of sight, out of mind” deal, but in the same side, budgeting for food (regardless of food budget) is SO SO important. So is going into the store with a list and menu for the week!

    2. I will admit that I’ve looked into Dave Ramsey and I just can’t. I’m not sure if it’s a Christian component or just him in general but I can’t read the guy. I’ve tried. Thanks for the recommendation though, I appreciate it.

      As for the separate accounts, it really doesn’t feel to us like we’re are keeping separate financial lives and goals. Honestly I think up until now we didn’t really have financial lives or goals. We were just doing whatever we were doing without having set a course to anywhere. I’m not saying that is a good way to do things (it obviously isn’t), but it wasn’t like we were keeping our accounts separate to keep our financial lives separate. We just hadn’t taken the time to look at any of it in a really productive way. We still paid for everything together (our money just wasn’t pooled together first) and we never felt like anyone’s debt was their own. We came together to make our financial dream of owning a house come true and we’ve made living in it for three years work, even without a well thought out plan to do so. I guess I’m just disagreeing that if a couple’s money is separate their financial lives and goals are separate, and not just because I don’t believe that was the case for us, but because I don’t think it has to be the case for anyone. But that is just my opinion.

      1. Yeah, I’ve read that he actually gives crazy bad advice ( I subscribe to Money magazine). Plus yeah the religious aspect would def turn me off.

        1. The religious aspect absolutely turns me off. I have become a pretty staunch atheist in my old age and I find overt religious messages to be more and more chaffing. If I can avoid them I absolutely do.

  11. We have a joint checking account into which our paychecks are direct deposited and joint savings as well as joint stock account. We also have our IRA’s and other retirement (individual with the other as beneficiary). However, I do have a separate account (an occasional source of friction). This account was left to me specifically to be my SOLE property by my mother. She wanted me to always have money of my own- I had money when I went into the marriage (husband had debt) and she wanted me to always have that freedom. It was very important to her. And, I paid for the downpayment (20%) on our house which was then in both our names AND the equity was used to refinance and pay off husbands debts (We have since sold a couple houses). But she always wanted me to have money of my own, so I hold on to that, even though she’s been gone for a number of years. Mostly it works for us although he invests in stocks way more than I would and I’m more debt averse than he is.

    1. My husband has always had more money than me (thanks to his two years working as a corporate lawyer, and his thrifty tendencies) so I never felt like I had to keep any money that was just for me, because I never had any that was just for me. If anything, he has money that should be just for him, but he’s always put it out there for us and never laid claim to it as his own and I have always really appreciated that.

  12. Always so interesting to hear how other couples handle things. We have always had joint accounts, right from day 1, except for our RRSPs (kind of like your 401Ks, I think?). I’ve always paid the bills while dh handles the investments. When we both worked, we got paid every two weeks, & on payday, I would pay (sometimes post-date) all the bills that were coming due in the next two weeks before the next payday. However, pensions only get paid once a month so once I start getting mine (dh already gets his), I will have to figure out a different system. 😉

    I tracked our spending faithfully for several years, early in our marriage & after we bought our house — it really is an eye opener to see how much you are spending your money on and where. Dh started doing it again right after I lost my job last year. He’d calculated how much he thought we would need to live on per month in retirement, and was curious to see just how much we would be spending. Our spending varies from month to month (stuff like vacations, Christmas, home repairs, etc., intervenes), but we just passed 11 months of tracked spending, and his estimate of how much we’d need was pretty much bang on, within $100 on average. To be honest, I am much more of a spender than he is (although I really don’t think I’m THAT extravagant), and I find it a bit annoying to have to report my spending to him, when I mostly spent whatever I pleased on whatever I wanted for so many years while I was working. But it does keep me honest & make me consider whether I really need this.

    1. I think it’s awesome that you have had similar financial goals and are working together to make early retirement possible for both of you (especially since it was not in your plan to retire early). I think my husband and I will get there, it will just take some time.

      And it is so eye opening to see where we spend money when we monitor where it goes. Very, very eye opening.

  13. We have a bunch of posts on how couples manage their finances. We don’t think merging vs. not merging is really that important, even though a lot of people with merged finances seem to get up in arms about it. I do think that it’s important that couples have a system for figuring out their own “fun” money, but there are lots of ways to do that. My husband has an allowance that he sets himself and everything else is shared, but my parents have 3 accounts– his/hers/ours, with the ours for shared bills. Some couples with 3 accounts contribute income percentages, some fixed amounts. There’s a lot of ways to make things work.

    Here’s one of our posts on the topic: https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/sharing-finances/

  14. We have a joint checking and a joint saving account. We also are working with a financial advisor and have joint retirement accounts with her company. We have separate credit cards but that is mainly because my husband has to keep one at Wells Fargo (along with a separate savings/checking account) to save money on the interest rate of the property he owns in Colorado. Now that we are selling the place in September all of those WF accounts will be going away and we will likely get a joint credit card.

    I pushed for the joint everything but was also terrified because I used to spend my money on stupid stuff as well. I’m so glad that we merged everything because it makes it so much easier. Having everything merged means that we both can keep track of what each other is spending. More recently we have been trying to rein in spending so like you are using your blog to keep your spending in check, we are using each other.

    We used to use Quicken to do our budget but now use Mint. We don’t LOVE Mint but it works well enough and lets us know if we are getting close to our grocery or clothing budget. I would highly recommend it.

  15. We are completely merged financially. We were married in June and by the following February, we were completely merged. It was my to do and I didn’t want him knowing how I spent money because it a comment he made when we were dating, but I finally got over that. We still have his old credit union account, but I’m on that now, so we’re merged.

    It was a pain to close down the open separate accounts, but worth it. Major peace of mind.

    Interesting about your husbands job. Can’t say I blame him. My dad does mergers and acquisitions law, and it’s crazy stressful.

  16. We have been married 30 years, and we’re not totally merged yet! We started with separate accounts, and I wanted some independence, so we kept our separate accounts for a while. Then we moved overseas and happily operated joint accounts for three years. When we came back, we took up our separate accounts, but joined each other up for those. So whilst we both still tend to use our individual everyday accounts, they are totally accessible to each other, as everything is now a joint account. We have one credit card, and we both pay it off depending on who has the money at the time. For a long time I paid all the supermarket bills, and he covered the insurances, electricity etc. Now they all go on the credit card, though we never pay interest.

    For me, the important thing was transparency. That I knew I could, if I wanted, see everything that was going on in my husband’s account, and that he could see what was going on in mine. Though I do remember a period in my 30s, though, when I sometimes struggled to pay off my credit card (my husband rarely used credit), and so paid interest on it. Sigh. That was purely due to extravagance. We were earning good money, and for the first time in my life I was splashing out on quite expensive clothing. That doesn’t happen anymore!

    My husband tends to manage our savings and investments, though again, that’s all in joint names. He’s definitely a better saver – though for the last ten years, he’s been earning a lot more than me too. But he’s a very conservative investor, which I find frustrating!

    We have been extravagant with travel, rather than put it all into our savings, which is why we can’t afford to retire (though we’re only in our 50s) yet. We were hit with high interest rates when we were paying our mortgages (our first loan was at 16% in the 1980s!), and now that we’re trying to save, we’re hit with very low returns, as interest rates are only about 4-5%. Sigh. (There are no tax benefits for us to have a mortgage.) My parents-in-law talk about how hard things were for them, but they were able to invest in their 50s with those very high returns in the 1980s and even into the 1990s, and so are very comfortable now. Like your parents, they don’t really understand how hard it is for us now.

    Though we have managed the past two years with both of us unemployed – we’ve had the occasional income from contract jobs here and there but very little – earning more over the next ten years is our priority now. Out of necessity I’ve been able to adapt to spend very little on extras (virtually no new clothing except replacements for things that have fallen to bits), and we’re very careful about looking at prices of anything, right down to the cost of basics at the supermarket. Though we still go out for casual lunches/coffee or get pizza delivered, we can afford to do so because we’ve saved money on other things. I don’t really find it hard – I never had extra money as a kid. The hardest thing is not being able to travel right now, because it would eat into our retirement savings.

  17. I think it’s smart to address your own spending habits first before you try to get your husband on board. It’s always easier to have that conversation after you’ve tackled some of the work yourself, and watching you may make him more interested in change anyway.

    For many years we each had our own accounts, plus a joint account for household expenses that we each contributed a set % to. If that percentage (it was half of our take-home pay for each of us) hadn’t covered the mortgage, utilities, etc we would have done a set amount, I think. But the percentage was always enough so we didn’t. Now those accounts are all joint, but we still use them the same ways – I don’t look at what was my husband’s account unless he asks me to check for shady charges or reconcile it for him, as a favor, and he doesn’t look at what was mine, but we each could access all of them of we needed to.

    When we finally switched the joint account from the big bank to the credit union it was kind of a pain, just because there were so many automatic deposits and payments coming out of it and each one of them had a separate time frame for actually changing. I think in the end it took 3 or 4 months to get them all cleaned up.

    1. I am hoping that as I make better choices with my money my husband will follow suit. I know I have a lot more problems with over spending that he does so it makes sense for me to get it all under control before I start hounding him. It’s only fair.

      I’m SOOOOO not looking forward to changing all the auto pays. It’s going to be such a pain in the ass.

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