So you've decided to take the plunge and get married! You may be perfectly willing to share your hopes, dreams, living space and deepest, darkest secrets with your soon-to-be spouse…but sharing your money? If you are like many couples, no matter how long you have been in a relationship and how well you know each other’s likes, dislikes and quirky habits, your finances may have remained fairly private from one another.
Traditionally, when couples get married they immediately combine all of their money into joint accounts. However, we’ve all heard some statistic or another about the correlation between finances and divorce. That’s not to say that immediately combining all of your assets into joint accounts is always a bad decision; it’s simply not the only choice out there.
If you’d like to join accounts but are reluctant to go all in when it comes to your money, here are a few options that modern couples are opting for these days.
Divvy Up the Bills
Using this method, you and your significant other would compile a list of all of your bills and split them up however it makes sense. For example, if one person likes to crank up the AC, that person might take control of the electric bill. Or if one person insists on getting a large cable package with all of the premium channels, it might make sense for that person to be in charge of paying the cable bill. This is a great way to be able to enjoy your indulgences without your partner nagging you about the bill.
The “Divvy Up the Bills” method is also great for people who enter into a marriage with debt. Being in charge of your own car payments or your own student loans is a good way to avoid arguments or resentment.
Separate but Equal
In the “Separate but Equal” model, you have one joint account and two separate accounts. Add up all your bills, split the total evenly down the middle, and both partners contribute that amount equally. The rest of your income is yours to spend, save or do whatever you want with.
This method is good for independent couples in which both partners make a decent living and want to be able to use their hard-earned income however they choose. It helps avoid feelings of dependence or control.
Equal Slice of Pie
This method is similar to the “Separate but Equal” approach in that you have one joint account for bills and two separate accounts for everything else. The difference is that instead of contributing an equal dollar amount to the joint account, each person contributes a certain percentage of his/her income.
This is a good method for couples in which one person makes significantly more money than the other. That person might want to enjoy a nicer lifestyle than his/her partner would be able to afford without assistance. This gives both partners a fair way to contribute to the bills and still have some money left over.
The Imaginary Salary
Remember our blog post about the imaginary mortgage? (Quick recap – you “pretend” you are paying a mortgage on a home that you do not yet own as a way of preparing yourself for the monthly payments to come while saving up for a down payment at the same time.) Well, “The Imaginary Salary” is similar. Using this method, the two of you live off of one person’s income and save the other person’s income.
Besides this being a great way to put away a large sum of money, this method is great for people who plan on living off of one income in the near future. Think about it – how great would it be to stop working and not have to change your lifestyle? This is also a good method for couples in which one person has an inconsistent income.
These aren’t the only options you have when it comes to combining your finances, and of course you can combine techniques or change your method at any time. As long as you and your partner both agree on a method and are honest with each other, you are off to a great start!
If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out these related articles:
Money Management in Your 20s: I Just Graduated from College, Welcome to My Private Jet
Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It
The Imaginary Mortgage: Fake It Til You Make It