How buying a new car with my partner triggered cold feet

March 12 | Guest post by Vegancupcake

Vegancupcake wrote a wonderfully honest post touting pre-marital counseling, and now she's unleashing more wonderful honesty about the freaky experience of joining finances.

Photo by Used under Creative Commons license.

I never would have expected that my first bout of chilly feet would be triggered by a beautiful new car. I know cold feet can mean many things, and has an alarming sound to it. So let me define my version of it.

Lately I have been looking at my fiancee and seeing him as if I just met him — less in a cute, romantic way and more like he's suddenly an alien. I have been feeling cooped up in our apartment at times that would normally be relaxing and cuddly. I have been craving time with girlfriends and feeling claustrophobic when my guy wants to join us.

I have had thoughts like "How do people do this?" I have been aware of his faults. I have felt self-conscious and overly accountable about mine. I have wondered what life would be like if we weren't getting married this year. I have wondered where I might move if I wasn't in a relationship. For the first time ever, I have hoped we can just hang out in silence and won't have to talk.

Let me back up to before this set in.

Between Christmas and New Years, my fiancee and I took a few days to deal with business. We opened a joint bank account and bought a car! I have only ever owned hand-me-down cars from family members that were almost ten years old, so I have never owned a brand new car. Let me tell you, I have never felt so sentimental about a vehicle: I have a huge, sloppy, shmoopy crush on our car. We put no money down and will be paying off our car loan for years, but we both feel great about it.

The opening of a joint bank account and the negotiating of our own financial independence has been such an unsexy part of this pre-marriage time.

And we are splitting it.

The original plan wasn't to split it. Somewhere along the way, I guess since we were simultaneously considering the fusion of our finances into one bank account, we decided to co-own the car.

When we drove the car home, we were giddy. But I was also… stunned. Completely overwhelmed. I have never put no money down on something. And I'm pretty sure I was only able to do this because of his help and willingness to take part in financing it. I now feel more accountable, not just for my personality quirks, but for the way I spend and save my money.

By the time we got home, I was no longer giddy. I wrapped up in a blanket, opened our window (it was frigid out but I just needed AIR), and cried… hard. I'm sure my fiancee was totally alarmed at my fast switch from celebratory to crushed, but I have never been one to postpone waves of unexpected tumultuous feelings.

I am no longer at the window crying, but I still feel strung out, big-eyed, and disoriented. Of course, it helps to sort out that being daunted in the face of a huge turning point is different than being ambivalent about my partner.

But, the opening of a joint bank account and the negotiating of how much to retain our own financial independence on the side has been such an unsexy part of this pre-marriage time. How do you stop tallying who bought what and who owes more? How do you deal with the self-consciousness of someone else getting such a front row seat while you grow up?

  1. We never stopped tallying who bought what and who owes more…because we never started. This is a good lesson in partnership. Some days you give 10% and some days you give 90% – in the end it all works out ok – as long as you chose the right partner. A joint checking account was a no brainer to us as it was easiest to manage and we never felt the need to track who paid for what. We just did it, together.

    We've gone through periods where I earned more money than him, and now we're in a period where I earn no money. Luckily for us, money is not how we measure our worth to each other and our contributions to the marriage/parnership. My non-montetary contributions at this point are making both of our lives immeasurably richer.

    77 agree
    • "Luckily for us, money is not how we measure our worth to each other and our contributions to the marriage/parnership. My non-montetary contributions at this point are making both of our lives immeasurably richer."

      YES!!! I couldn't have said it better, though my husband and I still have split accounts so far. (We want to finish paying our own debts before we create them together – to us it makes sense for now.) BUT some days I pay and some days he pays, it all depends on who can. Soon, I will be making significantly less because we're having a baby soon and I'm going part time. But we will survive and will do out best not to fight over money. It's really not worth the fight.

      7 agree
    • Thank you so much for this. As someone who just finished school and has spent the past six months job-hunting unsuccessfully while my partner-in-crime supports us both, this was just what I needed to hear.

      8 agree
      • Since Future Husband (FH) and I have already been together 7 years, we fortunately (unfortunately?) had many opportunities to go through this. Although we still have separate bank accounts, there were periods where we could not have gotten along financially without the other. When he was unable to drive for a year and a half, he said he owed me for chauffeuring him around. When I relied on him to pay the bills while I finished grad school, I felt like I owed him. Yet when either of us was/is on the supporter side, we don't feel like the other is somehow in debt to us.

        We take care of each other, and we trust the other to take care of us. We also make sure we appreciate and thank the other for getting the groceries, filling up the tank, etc. I think the hardest part is accepting that someone else can have such an impact on your ability to be independent. When I start to feel like a mooch who would be screwed if he left, I remember that he wants to be with me and he wants to support me because he loves me – and I feel the same way about him.

        16 agree
  2. We still keep tally of who pays what, but it usually gets messed up, somebody doesn't get paid back and in the end neither of us care. We're in the process of co-owning our car but it's not nearly as edgy feeling probably because cars practically grow on trees in his family (they own a car lot) and we know that no matter what, we can and will always just get another in a couple years. We split rent even and everything else is whoever happens to have whatever card pays. Will we combine bank accounts? Probably soon. Will it be a big deal? Hardly.

    And nobody says you MUST have joint bank accounts. My parents kept separate accounts because my dad's spending habits drove my mom nuts. Worked out just fine for them.

    7 agree
    • I agree with this, unless there's a law insisting on joint bank accounts then you don't HAVE to combine. Know your limits and take small steps so you know what you're comfortable with.

      We have one joint account because we got a discount off the mortgage if we paid for it with a joint account at the same bank, but we don't use it for anything else. Everything else we keep absolutely separate. I know I can't be trusted with money and he is an accountant who constantly moves accounts to get that extra 0.02% interest. Combined accounts would result in murder within a year.

      14 agree
    • Like your parents, we keep separate accounts because I'm not really in agreement with hubby's spending habits. We split the rent evenly but not the other bills… he pays the gas and water bill, and I pay the electricity and internet bill no matter what the amounts for that month are. Other than that we don't really keep track other than saying something like, "I think I paid last time, so how about covering this time?" for groceries and the like if one person has been doing it for a few weeks in a row.

      I don't think hubby's finances are really my business unless he can't come up with our bill money and/or contribute to our savings.

      That said, knowing that we need to put money into savings we're more careful about frivolous spending.

      2 agree
    • We have separate accounts and use a whiteboard to track expenses. When I buy groceries, I divide the bill in half and put that amount in the "He owes" column. When he pays the internet bill, he puts half the amount in the "she owes" column. We only do this for household items and utilities; personal items don't go on the board.

      At the end of the month we tally up both columns. Whomever owes more pays the other the difference, we wipe the board clean, and start the whole thing over.

      The board is on the fridge for convenience. If company is coming over, we take a picture (hooray for camera phones) and then erase it so we aren't advertising our expenses to guests.

      6 agree
      • That is a really really good way of doing it. Think I might grab that one…makes it much easier than splitting it every single time (which is so hard since we rarely use cash, always use plastic.)

    • my fiance and I will prob not have a joint bank account ever. I am more of a saver and he a spender (but neither to an extreme). we have a "reconcilliation" at the end of each month where we split big purchases/bills but otherwise just kind of pay as falls natural. and since I am more of a saver if we have big emergency or unplanned expense i don't mind spending the money in my account because in reality all accounts our both our resources

  3. We're not combining bank accounts either, I reserve the right to spend too much at Sephora and keep that to myself. We have a co-credit card and everything just gets split at the end of the month. We keep separate accounts so we can still take each other out for dinner and buy surprise gifts but generally money hasn't caused to much stress. Although I should say that being accountable to another person about how I spend has drastically curt-tailed my shopping and unnecessary expenditures. I don't really see the point in having a joint bank account, it almost seems like the overshare aspect. I don't need to know where he spends every cent. My parents are happily married 25 years and have separate bank accounts.

    6 agree
    • I've curtailed my impulse purchases as well, now that my husband and I share all the monies. Unlike yourself, we have joint everything – at first I worried that I'd feel "owned" but at this point I'm really pleased that it's caused me to be more accountable about my spending. My husband never says no if I want to buy something purely for myself, but he does remind me sometimes that I should wait until the next payday. Consequently, we can actually live within a budget (and I still get new shoes every now and then!)

      5 agree
  4. My fiance and I have separate bank accounts, but when we get married, we plan on having joint bank accounts. I make a lot more than he does currently, but it won't always be that way. This past weekend, we went to pick out wedding bands. He insisted I buy a more expensive elaborate ring, but I feel guilty that we're spending so much on an item for me. We even had a small disagreement over who will pay for the rings or how much. Since I'm in a good financial place right now, I'm more than happy to pay for the rings, but he wants to pay for the amount of my ring because he feels like he's presenting it to me on the wedding day. My ring ended up being 4 times more than his. I don't think that's fair for him to have pay so much more for my ring. I'm not really keeping tally, and I don't think he is either. We love each other, and we know that it'll all even out in the end. That's all that really matters, right?

    • Absolutely. Evened out or not, its the love, respect and commitment that should be equal.
      My husband spent more on my ring than I did on his. How much more I don't know because I didn't ask even though he wanted to tell me (he insisted he got a good deal). Where did I buy his? Amazon. For less than $50 and again he insisted and picked it out. But to us its a physical symbol, not a status of who makes more or who spent more or who loves who more. We love, respect and are equally committed.

      3 agree
  5. We have been together 6 years and have never shared our finances. We have a joint savings account for vacations/wedding/etc. and a second for the house stuff like taxes and the oil bill. Other than that, everything is seperate and he pays his bills and I pay mine. His spending habits drive me crazy and he's often forgetful about what money he has going out so it's just easier for each of us to manage our own.

    I don't think we have any less of a partnership because we don't share our bank accounts. We can look at each others statements whenever we want but we still have the freedom to purchase what we want without having to report it to one another.

    6 agree
  6. We're happily married (5+ years) and our finances are completely separate. We each write a check for half the rent/utilities each month; we each have our own car and credit cards and disposable income for our hobbies. The idea of involving him in my finances makes me break out in hives; I class it with the idea of changing my name–i.e., oh HELL no. We are two very independent people and that's why our marriage works! :)

    6 agree
  7. Like many of you (yeah i feel support!) My futur-hubby and I have a joint account for the morgage of our house, but that's it.

    In my believes, we both work for our individual money, so we both can do what we want with our individual money. I don't have to know if he bough 3 DVDs this week, or lunch for 15$ bucks. For the stuff we both used (mostly house stuff, and grocery) we have a google doc to list who paid what, and split in half. In the end, neither of us feel that the other owe something and that's the point. But we both have a similar paycheck, and that's our way. :)

    1 agrees
  8. What struck me most about what Vegancupcake wrote was the question of " How do you deal with the self-consciousness of someone else getting such a front row seat while you grow up?" To me, that seems to be the real dilemma and wide eyed-crying at an open window issue.
    Over the years (months, weeks) of developing an intimate relationship with our partners, what we are really doing is giving ourselves permission to be more and more vulnerable with each other. To expose what we are unsure of in ourselves to someone and ask that they still love us and don't judge too harshly.

    I may be overstepping, or over reading- but the gist that I get is that you took a big leap (And congratulations to you! Those big steps and commitments are part of what makes life exciting!!) – but perhaps you feel a little over exposed to your fiance in a way that feels altogether too much. And that doesn't mean that it all won't work out, it's just a little scary at the beginning.

    Why not a find a well-rested, lows stress time to have a heart to heart? Air out the assumptions and fears you have about what it means to have a transparent spending habit. You might find he is processing some of his own. I think that as you negotiate the this or any new territory together the "how do I?" style questions ultimately solve themselves.

    The point of it all is simply that you and your beloved are handling life together. This is just one (of many) big and unfamiliar steps in that life that you will have learn "what it all means" together.

    45 agree
  9. We plan joining our accounts soon (or having a joint account, and smaller personal accounts for "me" money), just haven't made it around to the bank yet. We talk about all our finances though, so it's not going to be a big deal I think. We can't split 50/50 because he has a house and I have to give up my full-time job to move in with him, I'll contribute in other ways though :) The point is it has to be a set-up that the couple is comfortable with.

    2 agree
  10. We have a joint checking account which we use for rent, utilities, and food. If he wants to buy new ties for his Jeep, he does it from his account and if I want new shoes, I use my account.

    2 agree
  11. My Intended and I have been together for over 16 years and have had all our money going into the same hopper for over 8 years. It's just easier this way. He pays the bills out of the joint finances, and I file them so that I know what is coming in and out and know where to get the info if something happens to him. That's the thing I would stress with mingled finances, no matter who handles the bills/money, make sure you BOTH know all the passwords and info. Cause you never know what could happen and if something horrible does happen, the last thing you need is the stress of trying to figure out the password to pay the electric bill.

    7 agree
  12. We have separate accounts. We keep track of our major expenses like rent and insurance because he makes much more than I do, so he pays a higher percentage than I do. I do the finances and I tell him when to transfer what into our "joint account" which is in my name then I pay the bills.

    Everything else after bills we just keep in our own accounts. It gives us a freedom and keeps us from judging each other's "fun" spending, as I think I would if we had a true joint account that everything came out of.

    1 agrees
  13. It might help to look at this as a long-term thing, rather than a short-term "owing." Over the course of your marriage, you'll give, and you'll take. You'll contribute and benefit from partnering when it comes to money, time, privileges – all sorts of things tangible and intangible – all of which have value.

    Sometimes, these things flip-flop over time – over the last 13 (!) years, my spouse and I have flip-flopped several times between "breadwinner" and "sandwichmaker." Early on, I spent a lot of energy flustered about my contributions, from both sides of the coin. And though it took a long time to feel calm about it, now it seems clear that one person can ride, because they'll pick up later, or in their own area of contribution.

    Also, things just aren't going to be fair all the time. If one person is ill so that she or he can't earn money AND needs care, that's going to be a lot of "taking." But that's just how life goes. And it's actually the point of marriage – we enter into these partnerships because we care so deeply about each other that we're willing to partner for a lifetime, knowing full well that life isn't fair.

    The other thing that occurs to me is that conversations like this can underestimate the value of work that has typically been "women's work" – the nurturing of social connections and communities. Regardless of the gender of the person who does this community-building work for your family, it has HUGE value. There's no point in having a lot of money if you have no friends, or no one to help if you're unexpectedly hospitalized.

    On a practical note, early in our marriage, we pooled our finances, and then each person got the same allowance, regardless of the amount of that person's contribution to the pot. (There may have been a separate clothing allowance for the person who needed fancy work clothes.) That was a nice way to be a financial team without having to discuss or feel guilty about simple pleasures.

    Good luck!

    20 agree
    • The comment about "breadwinner" & "sandwich-maker" really made me laugh. I'm in a situation right now where my fiance is working and I am not. I was working three jobs, two of which ended at the end of January. I thought I would be able to subsist on the other part-time job, but that one is also now not really working much (haven't worked since last week, hadn't worked before that since a few weeks before that). I've been stressing a lot–we've got our wedding and honeymoon coming up and we're planning on moving to Florida in August (more environmental jobs for me there!). So…I'm not doing well with the whole "sandwich-maker" idea, because I feel guilty about not bringing in any money (and having lots of student loan debt), but this really made me feel better. It really is more of a give-and-take, and sometimes I apparently forget all the things I bring to the table too–not just monetary-wise.

  14. I'm struggling with balancing contributions (monetary and non-monetary) and value and that system of mental tallying that gets so ingrained in the roommate days and both does and doesn't apply to marriage. It's scary and uncomfortable to have to trust and let go of some control on the big stuff. My partner is awesome about it, great at sharing and helping me ease into the idea of it being "our money".

    Right now, I earn more, but he's halfway through his PhD and will probably be earning 2x what I do in a couple of years. The looming inequality has pushed us into good conversations about the real value of what each of us brings to the household and to quality of family life. Even if you are both good with it, money stuff is hopelessly tangled up with adulthood, independence, and the individual's value in society. With the American Dream of financial independence becoming ever more elusive, navigating money issues as a couple seems to have a lot more bumps than social conditioning would lead us to expect, which leaves us feeling like we're failing ourselves and our partners.

    Getting a session with a financial planner to go through our stuff, our prospects, and our goals is the very best thing we've done money wise. Outside perspective, hope, and conservative ways to plan for the future that were realistic have helped me chill about money more than therapy has.

    2 agree
    • Can I ask how you found your financial planner? I'd like to find one but they start with the assumption that you have wealth. I just want someone I can have an honest conversation with who can give me an honest assessment.

      1 agrees
      • We met one at a bridal show who is a part of First Investors. He came out last week for a consultation and to review our information. He was very nice and we were very honest about what our goals were and how much money we had to work with. Our guy is in PA/NJ but they have locations throughout the country.

  15. We don't keep track of who pays for what, because that takes away from the us-ness, I guess? It can be dangerous, especially if we ever break up, but I don't think we will.

    It just seems like something that can start fights, so we just join our money and leave it at that. No fights ^_^ It helps that he loves buying me things and feeling important and needed, so I imagine it depends on the personalities of the two people involved.

    Also, like the above poster stated, tallying money seems like something you'd do with a roommate. My hubby isn't my roommate, he's my partner for life 😀 So, as Pinkie Pie says, "Ya gotta share. Ya gotta care."

    3 agree
    • I totally agree! When my hubby and I got married, one of the first things we did was pool our savings together. I didn't event think of keeping a separate bank account. I was surprised to see and meet so many people who thought I was the crazy one. In retrospect, it could have been dangerous. My husband and I were fortunate enough to go into our marriage debt free, so there was never any fingers to point. Besides, we're both savers. I take the responsibility to make sure the bills get paid and a certain amount goes into banking. So long as I allow him a certain video game allowance, he's a happy camper :)

  16. oh and one other thing, I was given this relationship advice a long time ago, and honestly, I've never heard anything more true… "the minute you start keeping score, someone is going to lose" That works on all relationship fronts, be it financial, emotional, whatever. The axiom to that is "set up a test, and someone is going to fail" So I am also always careful never to "test" my partner. It's about trust people! Trust and partnering.

    13 agree
  17. Rather than talking about my own personal ways to deal, I'd like to address the open-ended questions that closed out the original post.

    "How do you stop tallying who bought what and who owes more?"

    If you are keeping track now, nothing says you have to stop after you're married. If a couple wants to watch the details of their spending, divvy things up accordingly, or simply monitor a budget more effectively, there is no reason not to just because you're married.

    "How do you deal with the self-consciousness of someone else getting such a front row seat while you grow up?"

    This part is probably multifaceted, but a big part might involve simply talking to your partner. He's in this partnership equally and may be going through similar emotions (just without the really obvious expressions). You aren't necessarily the only one growing up or suddenly becoming vulnerable, and it might help both of you to just realize that you're in it together, even through the unsexy, scary parts. Of course, some of it will just take time to adjust to, as well.

    3 agree
  18. I remember that feeling. Getting married was easy, getting the joint bank account was hard. It was 3 months into our marriage, we had just moved to another state and I had no job. Me, who had made sure I was financially independant from age 16 and who was used to paying all the bills and supporting him, was now completely dependant on him. It was scary and hard. Once I got over my pride, it was easy. And plus, once you marry, you're a team. There is no tit-for-tat. It no longer became his money or my money, it's now our money.

    4 agree
  19. This strikes me as a lot more to do with freaking out about buying a new car than freaking out about shared finances… I mean if I just bought a new car I would also be wrapped in a blanket hyperventilating. But I am a tight-wad and never forget the old adage of losing 30% when you drive it off the lot. THAT'S what I'd be flipping out about!

    2 agree
  20. For a long time in our relationship, my husband and I each had our own accounts and went half-sies on most things. We both had jobs that paid similar $$ and we both worked the same amount. But after we had a kid, things got a little more complicated. Now, we both work harder than ever, but only the office-going one of us gets a paycheck. The other one who stays home doesn't get paid. So, since we're both working "equally" but not getting paid equally, I feel like it's only fair to join our money together.

    2 agree
  21. This article is coming at a good time for me, since I am the primary breadwinner right now, and he just has a part time job, but I ran into some unexpected money issues and he is helping me out more than usual with his tax return. This is something I need to get used to, because while I don't feel like he owes me anything, since he's helping me out I feel like I need to pay him back somehow, even though he has said otherwise. I'm not sure how I'd feel if we were at the "but huge expensive item together" stage.

  22. Marriage isn't about keeping track of who pays what, and splitting expenses, and tallying it up at the end of the month. That's more of a "roommate" mentality than a "spouse" mentality. Just don't worry about who covered what or who pays for what. This "tallying" can bleed over into other areas of your relationship if you're not careful and then ruin it. In my first marriage, it was like a negative hate spiral over who did what, and neither one of us would change anything until the other did.

    3 agree
  23. Congrats on the car. :) But, do you *have* to merge finances, beyond using a joint account to make car payments or pay rent/mortgage? Situations vary… some couples have legal reasons or need to document the relationship. But for you… if what you are already doing is working for you both, is it really necessary to change anything else, right now?

    Talking about finances is important … in order to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page and know each other's needs and expectations. I don't think that financial discussions are meant to bend every couple to some One True Way of handling money.

    My fiancé and I had a similar discussion recently and recognized that we're doing fine without formally merging bank accounts. We already live together and contribute to shared expenses like rent and utilities evenly. But we don't keep a tab for small purchases like groceries, and instead trade off doing such errands. Neither of us feels like managing joint AND individual expenses out of a joint account. We each know how to do what we do just fine, and we like it this way. Why fix what isn't broken?

    If, later, we have a reason to change how we handle our money, we'll work it out then. In the meantime, it would be preposterous to imply that, because we're accommodating each other's needs, as well as fulfilling our respective financial obligations, we are somehow less of a couple (ha!).

    Just like any other aspect of a relationship that involves subtext about identity, I'd say that maintaining a sense of *financial* self-possession is totally OK. And by definition, self-possession MUST be tailor-made to the individual… in a certain relationship… at a particular moment.

    I guess what I'm saying is you and your partner should do whatever you want, as long as you both agree. :)

    And navigating the big changes along the way, well, yeah. It will be overwhelming. The thing is to love each other through it all anyway. :)

    3 agree
  24. I totally get why you were so excited about the car and how you feel so out of sorts now. My fiance and I opened a joint account before we got engaged, in addition to individual accounts. I really felt like it was a big step for us – I was in it for the long term thing. Even though I know this doesn't necessarily mean we will be happy together.

    Things have been great since then, but lately he's been saying he is going to close his account and just use ours. I'm getting a little antsy about this. I guess I don't him spending our money and silly trifle things that won't necessarily be for us. I don't mean to tally things so objectively, I just have a weird thing with money. I have more debt; I am working on it. And he never budgets. I think he is working on that.
    So after my long winded post – just take some time and talk things over with your fiance. I don't think avoiding any money talk is a good idea, but remember it can be stressful either way. And it really shouldn't be.

    1 agrees
  25. I prefer to see it as our money, but I grew up in a family where money didn't belong to anyone in particular. it was used for and by who needed it without having to pay it back.
    Being accountable for your spending can be difficult especially if you feel guilty about it. But if it's too stressful to talk about it then that's a sign there's a problem somewhere. Joint bank account or not I think its the keeping score and paying back that can be problematic. As long as we both agree on what we spend our money (including entertainment and hobbies) there's no need to look at every purchase. Fights about money can get ugly really quick because it isn't really about numbers going in or out but more about other issues or opposite views with no clear compromise.

    4 agree
  26. wow- it is so interesting to see how some people are very passionate about having their "own" money… i honestly didnt think that the world worked like that.

    me and my boyfriend got a joint account when we moved in together. ever since we moved in together, thought, the money has become "ours". there isnt my money and his money, there is our money which is all the money we have. we never judge or question the things that we buy because we are both budget concious people. i dont ever feel like i have to "hide" the massive makeup purchase I made, or whatever. if i want that, i can have that, if we have the money for it….

    i think that this writer needs to have a very frank conversation with her fiance about finaces. dont they say that most marriages fall apart becuase of money? better to figure it out now, rather then later!

    3 agree
    • I see this attitude as sweet, sorta, but honestly it feels little dismissive. If it works for you, I'm genuinely happy for you, but there is nothing less valid about a couple who is simply happiest pooling only the minimum and keeping their money theirs.

      It doesn't mean you are "like roommates not spouses," or that you're any less connected or in love. Money is a touchy subject and if a couple agrees that they'll love more and fight less with their finances mostly (or even entirely) separate, who is anyone else to argue?

      My future husband and I keep separate accounts. He's an obsessive saver and tallier of his own numbers, and if I say true… I am a little carefree and cavalier with money. If we pooled, we'd drive each other NUTS. Being able to step back and say "It's not my money" is HUGE and wonderful for us.

      2 agree
      • I totally agree here. In my case Groom makes less money than me. It bothers him more than it bothers me. I admit, I get more cheesed about the fact he gets to sleep in and work from home.

        If he and I did have a joint account, he would constantly feel like he had to ask me about every purchase he wanted to make. And I would worry that I was negatively impacting his home business every time I suggested we order in, or every time I bought a new corset (which is pretty often. I have a problem…).

        For us, marriage is about loving each other more than it is about logistics, and the logistics aren't symbolic of our romance. Our inability to combine bank accounts doesn't necessarily imply an inability to join our lives. In fact, quite the opposite: Our awareness of our respective and mutual situations makes our relationship more real, more personalized, more us. We looked at what we were "supposed" to do and said, "can we do that? should we? is that for us?" and we were able to open to the thought that the answer might be NO.

        1 agrees
  27. We too have decided to keep separate accounts. I think we will open a joint savings soon when we get closer to buying a house, but as for checking we see no reason to combine. As for bills we split just about everything, I add up what everything is going to cost and he gives me half that amount and I pay everything. It works good for us this way.

  28. My fiance said he really wanted us to get a joint account for everything, so that he knew he would be paying his fair share, and to stop him from frittering away his money on things he doesn't need.

    At first I was nervous about having a joint account for everything, rather than just for joint spending, but now I'm surprisingly excited by it all! Maybe it's just because we just went through a rough patch, but I am thrilled by how this shows the development of our relationship, as I think this is going to make a lot of sense for us, because of how we both think about money and so on. These things are so personal but now I really think we're making the right decision.

  29. One of the LEAST stressful parts of us getting married was creating a joint account. We still have two separate accounts for our student loan repayments (our only debt) but since we both ebb and flow with how employed we are (ie: sometimes I am flush, sometimes he is) it goes back and forth with who pays what. We have a budget, in a spreadsheet, and keep track of all of our spending in there, and we both have the same monthly "allowance" to do with as we please. Its a good habit to get into (keeping track of your spending) when you can. We are now expecting a baby, so the "yours mine and ours" lines are getting pretty blurry. Having said that, I was in two previous relationships where everything was cut down the middle and I was pretty careful not to let the money spill over one side or the other, mostly because I didn't trust the other person financially. I trust my husbands $$ decisions as much as my own. It all depends whether or not you two have a clear understanding about your finances together.

  30. It sounds like this is more an issue of dealing a major life transition than a purely fiscal one. Check out a book called the Conscious Bride. It discusses how we project our emotions regarding commitment and transitions onto everday or minor things.

  31. Money can create sooooo much drama.My husband and I had to get a joint account for visa purposes. Apparently the US government REQUIRES a certain amount of proof that you are legitimately married and one of those proofs is a joint account.
    Sooo, we have a joint checking and savings account. We both agreed, though, that we would keep our separate checking and savings accounts. We sat down and talked about budget and savings. Each month we each dump at least 1/2 – 3/4 (depending on our job circumstances) of the budget amount into the joint account. Any joint bills – rent, food, eating out, car payments, etc – get paid from that account. It is also the account that any emergencies get paid from. Any personal expenses – including our separate student loans – get paid from our personal accounts. That way he doesn't have to fret over any clothes or investment spending I do and I don't have wax eloquent over yet another computer game. Then too… if I want to buy him something special I don't have to worry about him finding out. 😀

    1 agrees
  32. Im so glad you posted this, I have that whole sense of "I'm not the only one"- we weren't engaged when he helped me purchase my first new car 'on my own' it was scary for me to not have any family around. My fiance's family is super great, just like him, but it was such a surreal moment for me. I've since got over the car buying event, but since we got engaged in Dec. things have felt so weird for me. Hearing you talk about your feels of needing space and time with the girls, helps me not to freak out. I did talk to my fiancé about these things a few nights ago and he's been so sweet and loving about it. I'm still so completely in love with him, it has just been such a internal growth for me from going to not much "family feelings" to lots of "family everything"~ Thank you :)

  33. My fiance and I dated for a long time, and at first neither of us had jobs because we were just kids in high school. When he got his first job, he'd buy stuff for me here or there when he could. When we moved on to college and I had a work/study position and he no longer had a job, I spent an entire semester paying for his food and gas while he kept track of what he owed and paid it back when his PELL grant came in. From there, we'd buy our lunches separately, but anytime we'd actually go on a date it was always "Okay, who's paying this time?" Of course he always wanted to to look like a gentleman, but I couldn't make him pay for everything. Then anytime we were out shopping and one of us didn't have our card on us, we'd keep track of who owed the other what. It was a pain.
    And then, we moved out of state and in with each other. And suddenly he suggested we merge bank accounts. I was shocked because I figured he wouldn't want to join accounts until we were finally married, but it was fantastic because he had a job at first and I didn't, so either he would be supporting me or I would be spending everything I had saved up. With our accounts merged, it didn't matter. He could use my savings, I could use his income. They were just mixed in together and we couldn't even differentiate where the money came from. We both make money now, and we don't even pay attention to whose is whose (it might help that our checks come on alternating weeks and usually are pretty close in amount). I feel that joining accounts made us feel closer. Sure, I can't recklessly spend money (not that I did when I was on my own) because I have to think about the both of our needs, but it helps us feel like one entity, in the end. I love it.

  34. My love and myself have semi-joint accounts. I have mine, and he has his, but we are both able to give or take between via online banking. I don't have access to his line of credit or credit cards, and he doesn't have access to mine. It works for us. If he needs money to pay a bill he asks and than transfers the money. Same goes with my way if I need cash for a bill. Our pay's etc get deposited into our prospective accounts and everything is still "separate", but we've given each other the option of sharing when needed.

    Another option, is that I know when we were linking our accounts we could change the permissions. I.E you're able to put money INTO the other person's account, but not withdraw. This may make some people feel more comfortable as it's a more convenient way to give the other their half of the bill money, while ensuring that they can't withdraw money from your account with your permission.

    Either way I feel every couple is different, and with open honest communication a balance will be found. Whether it's one joint account, semi join, separate , or keeping it all in a sock under the mattress. To each his or her own. :)

  35. We throw all our money into one account and pay bills from there, but we have a weekly "allowence" worked into our budget for each of us, a small amount in cash that we can spend on whatever we want. When the cash is gone, we don't spend more on anything that isn't already budgeted for, and if we want something more than our allowance costs, we save for a few weeks to buy it. It keeps us both from over spending, but not feeling like we're depriving ourselves. I don't think we could ever keep track of who pays what exactly, we're a team & our bills are for two people. Groceries are for two, water is for two, rent is for two, we're a unit now. You'll go crazy trying to keep track of who owes what all the time (or at least I would! It does work for some people who commented on this, it seems). Just throw it in one place and budget from your total monthly income. It's my opinion that my partner and I are sharing our life together, why not our money?

    Also, don't forget this is a "growing up" experience for your husband too. I don't see it so much as watching someone else grow up, as it is having the opportunity to do it together.

    1 agrees
  36. My partner and I also recently joined accounts, but are not yet engaged (it's coming though!)

    I am self employed/part time employed. With my self employment and part time employment I didn't break $20,000 this year. My partner, on the other hand, makes SIGNIFICANTLY more money then me. He also has SIGNIFICANTLY more debt.

    At first this was really hard for me to handle, because i also have a much higher propensity for shopping. And even though we've been together since HS, and you can't really be a gold digger in high school, i still felt like one. and i didn't stop feeling like one until we sat down together and wrote out our budget, really narrowing in honestly on our must haves, savings, and wants. Once i realized that my monthly income DOUBLED what we could put toward erasing *our* debt, i felt a lot better about the whole situation, and haven't looked back since.

    you'll get there – just be open and honest. and set your budget if you're a list making organization type like me. seeing it out there and balancing my part of our checkbook REALLY made a big difference in my stress levels.

  37. My finace and I keep separate accounts for our own personal spending and have one joint account for shared expenses- groceries, rent, etc… We tallied up the average we spend on the pre-agreed upon joint expenses, added a bit just-in-case, and then split the cost down the middle. We each put that amount into the joint account and anything that is left over, we can spend as we like. Here is the kicker: since we add little bit too much each month, after six months or so we have enough to take a weekend trip or splurge on something fun! Trust that you and your partner can talk business when necessary and then go back to cuteness and cuddles after.

    2 agree
  38. My partner and I have had a joint bank account for just under 2 years. We chose to have joint finances when we moved in together our final year of college; it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
    Since opening that account, we pay bills together, we buy groceries together, and we pay for eating out together. There was a time when I was unemployed and he wasn't; there have been times when my paycheck is larger than his.
    We have had to talk about finances and what sharing them means more than a few times,but in the end we realized that money is just money. I want to provide for him when he is without just as much as he wants to provide for me when I am without.
    My advice is to talk about it. You may feel like you "owe" him now and it's important to know that he doesn't feel that way. If he does, well…

    Good luck! I'm sure you can make it work =)

  39. I think once we moved in together, we just merged everything without really thinking about it. Which worked OK for us, but might not for others. I think a big part of it with us was not earning enough for money to be a real issue. Anything that wasn't groceries had to be discussed between the two of us, since neither of us earned enough to buy anything outright. We still do that…if it's not groceries, ask first, lol.

  40. My husband and I joined finances after a year together. It was actually really important to me, because having separate accounts felt like a division. For me, I felt that we were a team, a family, and the idea of "his" money and "my" money just made me uncomfortable. My husband was resistant at first, because as a drummer he has had tines where he will live on ramen to afford a cymbal, but I assured him I was on board. It just felt completely natural. Four and half years and a marriage later, it still feels right. And we are both trying to be moreresponsible financially but really like that we are trying to become adults together.

  41. I have found the following books to be very helpful and/or eye-opening: 'Your Money and Your Man' by great personal financial columnist Michelle Singletary and 'The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Too Much Up?' by Leslie Bennetts. Both pose very cut-and-dry, hard-stuff-head-on questions about combining finances. They're likely available at your local library (or were at mine at least! 😉

  42. my fiancé and i rented an apt together for a while first, and there we kept everything even-steven. it was just the way to do it, and now i look back and feel like it was definitely because of the whole 'roommate mentality'. i gave him half of whatever was due, or he'd give me half of whatever was due. he earns pretty well, and i am self employed and my work is somewhat seasonal so it was challenging for me at times to 'keep up', but i always prided myself on 'matching' everything that needed to be paid out.
    Since we got engaged, and bought a house together we've had that talk of a joint bank account and just dumping everything in. he would talk of 'our money' etc, and to be completely honest i first saw it as me forking over all my hard earned money because since he earned more i felt like it was easier for him, and i also didn't like the idea of getting an 'allowance'. we are both super independent people and i didn't want to feel like we were being managed or more importantly he was paying more, or like i couldn't keep up my end of things (see: stubborn). it's not even like i'm a big spender either, i don't really buy anything.

    the joint account hasn't happened yet, mostly because we sort of naturally fell into a pattern that seems to work for us i guess? i have money that goes into my work that is pretty budgeted each month (hst, supplies, etc) so i just keep that separate when i make it, and he keeps his old account but i can deposit into it (for bills). we pay what we can. we don't keep track anymore and it finally dawned on me that we don't have to meet directly in the middle at all times, because we'd drive ourselves crazy! we still split our mortgage right down the middle, but other then that we do what we can. like others mentioned, if my work is slow i'll contribute how i can monetarily or not. if that's $100 towards a large bill then that's what it is. if it's making supper and doing dishes all week long then that's what it is. if it's me paying a smaller bill in full then i'll gladly do that. when my work is going good i'll gladly pay out more for the bills or fill up our gas tanks, or randomly come home with a bunch of groceries. we both like the feeling of getting to contribute, and we're both very appreciative and thankful. and i never thought i'd be one to feel like it was ok getting taken care of, or being ok with not handing over 'enough' money for some bills. but i guess we're becoming grown ups or something. who knows. hopefully couples will find a natural balance that works for them. that's the point of being together, not trying to force things the way people think they should be.

    P.S. the one funny thing that struck a chord with me here is the car buying. we bought a second car for 'me' and did it jointly and this was after buying the house which was no big deal apparently. i should add that we bought the car on my 30th birthday so there was probably more going on in my own breakdown anyway! ha. but that's when it really seemed to hit me that we were making purchases and big life decisions, and this was all the real deal. he was really great about me freaking out, because he knows me really well. wedding is next haha we'll see if there are any more freak outs!

    sorry about the book here

    1 agrees
  43. When my hubby and I first got married, we plunged straight to the joint bank account. The first year of marriage was especially rocky, and often with finger pointing about money. I moved halfway across the country after our wedding with no job. After 3 months of job searching, it looked like I was going to be incredibly dependent on my husband for money. I couldn't stand feeling like I was owing him anything, but fortunately for me I have a wonderful husband with some awesome perspective. One day he told me that it's not his money. It's OURS. He doesn't plan on our marriage ending anytime in the future, so why take tabs on who spends what on what. In the end, it's all ours. From the desktop computer he bought to the hair cut I got. While he might not appreciate the fancy hair-do as much as I do, it makes him happy to see me happy.

    That being said, there have been times that we've had to put the other in check. When Christmas time comes around, video games start popping out like nobodies business and my husband must have them all. If I see we've got a pretty good cushion in our bank account, I will go spend more than I meant to on fabric and home decor. In the end, we have a good relationship of "checks and balances" (as my husband would say). So long as we have enough to pay the bills and put into savings we are a happy couple.

    1 agrees
  44. I think finances really tend to do that to people. My fiance and I bought a house in October and everything was great. But the pressure of all of the new bills, plus his (lack of substantial) income has seriously put stress on us and our relationship and I find myself wondering everytime we have a breakdown over money "Is this really what I want?"

    It comes and goes for me, but I do know that ultimately yes, this is what I want. And I'm hoping that since he is still young (21) that time/maturity will work itself out and he'll gain experience and education, therefore be able to be more of a monetary cushion for me.

    Bottom line: money is the root of all evil.

  45. I really needed to read this, and the comments especially, right now. My partner and I operate an online business together, and he also works a full time job. I have an antique business that is just getting off the ground and when we first started dating I had a very stressful but rewarding and somewhat lucrative job managing a bookstore, which I lost three years ago due to some underhanded fuckery. He and I live together and lately I have been feeling like a mooching loser because I make very little money compared to him. He is pretty adamant that I stay home, focus on my business and our business, and not attempt to rejoin the rat race. I do most of the household stuff, which I don't mind at all, and the online aspects of our business fall completely to me because he's a total luddite. He is wonderful about reminding me that 1, were it not for me he would be a starving bachelor living in filth, and 2, that were it not for me he would not be able to have his online bookstore, which is his dream. He is supportive and wonderful and tells me all the time that what we have is a true partnership where we support one another in many ways. However, the other day, I wanted to go grocery shopping and had to ask him for the cash, and it made me feel so bad and useless, as a 35 year old woman who has been working and paying bills since she was 16. It's hard sometimes to come to terms with the idea of blended finances, especially when you are used to having to do everything on your own. However, I have to remind myself (and this discussion helped) that having someone who you share all aspects of life (including finances) with is a blessing, how it's supposed to be. I am not a failure because I've stepped back from the corporate world to have my own business and follow my own dream, and I'm lucky to have a partner who supports it and helps me make it happen. We don't fight about money, and all the bad feelings that I have of 'not contributing' come from my own head, not him. Anyhow, sorry to ramble, but articles like this are why I love this site so much. Thanks.

    1 agrees
  46. I didn't read everything, but it seems most comments imply either having separate accounts or a joint account. What about having the best of both worlds? We each keep our separate accounts (current and savings) and have a joint account. We pay common expenses (groceries, mortgage, travels and common leisure) with the joint account and keep the right to have different spending habits with our own accounts (why would he pay for my books, why would I pay for his video games?). This works great for us.

    3 agree
  47. I feel ya 100%. I still have my own bank account, but my boyfriend and I live together, pay bills together, share all of our money, and we both contribute what we can, when we can. At first it was terrifying, and I was afraid we couldn't handle it, but we talked about it openly and honestly, and now it's reassuring knowing we take care of each other in every sense, including financially.

  48. When those of you who don't tally every purchase, and read the comments about the tally on groceries and who owes what at the end of each month: Do you get reminded of that scene in the Joy Luck Club about the Engineering husband with the crappy table he made, that could only support a vase of lilacs? Because I do.

    If it works for you that way, great! Good for you! I just couldn't do it, but for that image alone. :(

  49. This is definitely resonating with me right now: "…it helps to sort out that being daunted in the face of a huge turning point is different than being ambivalent about my partner" – the trouble is that it is hard to know if that feeling of panic, that anxiety, is being caused by the idea of getting married (I mean, it's HUGE) or of getting married to THIS person (who suddenly irritates me to no end – that's not how I used to feel about him, but I do now, so that's not a good sign, right?). My working theory in these last few months before the Day is that my anxiety is being caused by my anxiety: i.e., that I panic about getting married, so I evaluate him for reassurance that it is right, and find all these characteristics and habits that seem less than perfect, and am suddenly convinced I am making a mistake because I don't feel "right," or as I think I should feel. And that I am doing all this in a microsecond, so I am not aware of the thought process. These posts/articles about fear, anxiety and uncertainty are very reassuring and are helping me make space for happiness, even if for only another microsecond – please keep them coming!

  50. This post is such a good reminder to me that a marriage is not all about love, and romance, and mushy crap. It's also about learning to live with another being who is not perfect, who makes mistakes, and having to wade through all the trickery of life with that person. The financial aspect of marriage is one we haven't thought too much about. We have a silly system of who "owes" who what. If he buys dinner one night then I buy the next time. If he picks me up a soda on his way home I grab something small for him and so on. We have one joint checking account that is currently marked "Wedding Fund" that we both contribute to. Since I at this point make a substantial amount more than him most of the contributions come from me and that's okay. He puts in what he can afford to put in. He's never not paid his share of the rent or any other joint bill. I am planning to maintain as much financial independence as possible though. Joint bills are joint bills that will be split 50/50. My cell phone, car payment, netflix, medical bills, glasses, clothing, etc? Those are my responsibility and his personal bills and luxuries are his. It's worked for the whole time we've been living together and I don't see a need to change it after we're married.

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