Marriage Mondays: Figuring Out Finances

A.P. and I pay bills. I know. Shocker. When we first moved in together, I gave A.P. checks for the bills every month. Before we got married, we decided that things needed to change with our finances, so we opened a joint checking and savings account. We decided to use the checking to pay our bills, and the savings for any money we both received (e.g. a monetary gift to the two of us). We kept our personal accounts. In other words, we are a yours, mine, and ours couple.

This type of financial setup is difficult for so many reasons, but also rewarding. It's hard simply because it's a lot of accounts and money to keep track of. It's also impossible to cover all our costs entirely, since as a couple, you often get a lot of unexpected bills (car mechanic, ginormous tax bill, etc.) which means that sometimes we each feel like we're paying more than the other. Though more often than not, it feels pretty fair. Also, it means that we're, in some ways, allowed to keep our different attitudes about money and never come to an agreement about some important issues. It's great, though, because I never have to ask permission to spend the money I've earned. Nor do I have to feel angry about someone spending the money I've earned.

My biggest problem with our finances, though, has been how to manage them. I've tried using various money management software (Mint, HelloWallet, Quicken etc.), all with mixed results. It seems that there is no good program to manage this type of financial situation, even though according to The Wall Street Journal, this is the best way for couples to handle their finances.

Also, I am good about spending, saving, and dealing with debt, but I am pretty clueless when it comes to retirement funds, purchasing a home, etc. It's research I know I should do, and a topic I know I should learn about, but it soooo doesn't interest me. One of the things that makes me happy about A.P. is that he understands these things much, much better than I do. However, he's not super proactive about dealing with our finances. I was, but because I never can seem to catch him at a time when he wants to sit down and work on our finances, I've become lazy about things, too.

Now, we have some big financial goals, and some family problems to deal with, and the state of our finances has moved its way to the top of my priority list. We are going to see a financial planner soon, who I hope will help me to make sense of things. If someone could sit down with me and explain things to me, I know I could manage things successfully.

I just think that finances in a marriage are complicated. There is so much to think about that I never had to think about when I was single. And it's not just finances! It's everything. Getting married means officially becoming a grownup when it comes to money and your "estate." You have to make a will, and get life insurance, and save for joint financial goals (babies, homes, cars, vacations, and oh, so much more). And please don't misunderstand, I probably would have gotten to this same point as a single person, but marriage somehow snaps things into place much more quickly.

We're constantly working on our finances, and even though we don't always agree, I am happy that our fights are never deal breakers. We're learning as we go, as I'm sure most young couples do, but it's tough, and it makes me feel stupid sometimes. I know things will get better, but it's definitely challenging in that I'm contemplating things I've never had to worry about before. You're officially a grownup when words like "deductible" and "money market" enter your lexicon.

How do/did/will you deal with finances in your relationship? And if you have know of any good money management software for yours/mine/ours account setups, please let me know in the comments! I'm dying for a good recommendation!


  1. I have never found a software that really worked for me. What does work, though, is writing down every cent I spend. I started doing that at a time where my finances weren't too good and it made me realize where the money went without me thinking about it. Now I don't really do it anymore but whenever I feel I should take back more control on my money again, I start doing it again.
    I'm pretty sure money must cause huge fights in a lot of couples, and I think the mine/yours/ours is the safest one :)

  2. I'm always curious about this sort of financing arrangements. We just have a joint account that everything goes into and we share, and it works great for us - especially since we have both gone through periods of unemployment. I can only imagine the hard feelings that would have been created by one of us having and the other having nothing. How do you two purchase/save for big ticket items or vacations? Each contribute half? We like to travel so each month we pull a small amount from each of our pay checks and it goes into our travel savings account.

  3. @ Musing: I've done the writing down what I spend, but our finances are getting more and more complicated. At this point, in addition to tracking spending the old fashioned way, I need some kind of super software that tracks every account we have. A girl can dream, right?

    @Midge: When I was unemployed, A.P. paid, and vice versa. We never have had an issue with covering the other. I think our separate accounts are just so that I can spend my money without asking and he can, too. That being said, we're pretty transparent about our money. A.P. is not as good about being transparent as I am, but that has to do with the fact that he banks at a different bank, and my accounts are at the same bank as our joint accounts. That being said, if I wanted to see, he'd show me. To save for big ticket items, we'll put money in our joint savings, each contributing half (sometimes A.P. ponies up a bit more, since he earns a bit more than me). For the most part, this situation works for us. It's not for everyone, but it's certainly okay for us. That being said, we're still figuring out how to do this best, and as we spend more, save more, and invest more, the formula changes.


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