Published on August 27th, 2011 | by Pete1
Love Me, Love My Debt? Should Marriage Automatically Mean Shared Accounts?
I’m a married man. I expect a lot of my happy readers (that’s you, by the way) could well also be married, or perhaps living with a partner. So how does this impact on how you manage your money, and should it mean that you have a joint account? I have heard all different types of couple money management, some of which I like, some of which I don’t. I had a lot of my debt before I met my wife, and so I didn’t feel it was fair that she should suffer as a result of poor decisions I made in the past. Therefore, I’ve always made a conscious effort to keep my personal debts away from our joint finances. This doesn’t mean I don’t think we should share some of our finance, in fact we do.
My wife and I have a joint account, and it is from this account that we pay our mortgage, utilities and buy all of our food. However, we also both have our individual accounts, from which we pay for our debts, mobile phone bills, fuel and hobbies etc. Every month we both put 50% of our wages into the joint account, and this pays all of our bills. We like doing it this way as it means that in affect, we are both paying for everything. We don’t earn the same amount and this means that we are putting in different amounts of money, however, we are both putting in proportionately the same amount of our pay. This means that we both contribute to the mortgage, and we can both feel we pay our way. It also means that we are responsible for our own bills and my wife does not have to shoulder any of my debts, which she likes!
I’ve heard of some couples who put all of their pay into a joint account and don’t have their own individual accounts. There are 2 main problems I see with this. Firstly, I have heard that this leads to arguments as people fall out over money that has been spent from the joint account that the other person may view as wasteful or unnecessary. I would hate feeling guilty every time I spent money having a pint, or paying subs to play football. At least if I do it with my own money from my own account I can spend a bit of money guilt free, or without feeling the need to justify it to my wife, and I expect the same sense of freedom applies to her (not that she drinks much beer or plays much football). Secondly, how do couples who operate like this buy each other presents? Surely they have to dip into the joint fund which means that you end up contributing to your own presents – that doesn’t seem right to me. I might as well tell my wife to but herself some flowers out of the joint account; hardly a romantic system!
Obviously these are just my thoughts, and ultimately people will decide to manage the finances in their relationships as they see fit. What systems do you use?