Jeremy and I handle our finances as a married couple maybe a little differently than some – at least differently from a lot of the couples that I know. And truthfully, it’s not all that different from how we’ve handled it from the very beginning. The cool thing is… we don’t fight about money. Like, ever.
That’s not meant to sound like I’m boasting so much as it’s me telling you that money doesn’t have to be such a pain point with your spouse. There’s 10 things we do so that we stay on the same page and work together to utilize our income wisely.
We don’t share bank accounts
To be fair, the reason for this stemmed from personal insecurities about giving someone unlimited access to my earnings. We both have experience with abusive relationships where money was an issue of concern, so it was an easy decision for us to keep our income separate. I trust my husband completely, but I’ve done the same before in a marriage. I feel more comfortable knowing that at all times, I’m the only one who has full access to my bank account.
The other big reason we don’t share accounts is because it would just be far too complicated. I have an online business, several bank accounts, and money is constantly flowing in and out of my account. I’m not an Accountant (and frankly, mine should hate me). I think it’s enough to have to manage my own money without mixing Jeremy’s financial responsibilities into the mix.
Do we have access to each other’s money? Sure… in a way. For example: when we need to make an online purchase, I have access to Jeremy’s debit and credit cards. Do I use them without telling him first? Nope. I’m respectful of his bank account. Doesn’t seem to stop him from asking me “Hey, what did you buy from Amazon?” a week later. It was a water filter for the fridge, dear…
We assume responsibility for our own bills
Jeremy and I each have personal bills that we created prior to dating, let alone marriage. It’s bills like… his student loans, or my phone bill. We’re each responsible for taking care of our own bills.
This has worked really well for us, because it’s bills we were already used to paying ourselves anyways. Instead of putting all of our income into a big pile and chipping away at it to pay all of the bills in our lives, it’s easier for us to focus on what bills we’ve made ourselves. By doing that, we always know what we can afford.
Because I’m not responsible for his bills and he’s not responsible for mine, neither of us end up feeling put out. And it’s made it okay if I decide that I want to buy myself a new pair of pants, or if he wants to buy a video game. No one ends up feeling screwed over because we’ve each already used our earnings to pay our own bills – rather than one of us worrying that the other is buying non-necessities while we need to pay the water bill.
We make personal financial goals
We each have personal goals we’d like to meet and separately, we work to make that happen. This might sound unusual for a married couple to look at finances that way – usually people talk about household income, rather than breaking the objective down into more manageable sounding goals.
Rather than say “We’d like to make $130,000 annually”, we break it down and focus on what it’s going to take to meet our income goals personally.
We communicate… a lot
I mean, of course this is on the list. Communication is very important – especially if you can’t watch what your partner is doing with their money at all times. This is where a lot of trust comes into play.
I’ll admit, it is a little scary knowing that Jeremy might not be paying the electric bill – after all, I experienced things like that with my first husband. But he hasn’t given me reason not to trust that he’ll pay it… and my lights are on right now.
Still, we talk about the bills. We keep tabs on how much the electric bill was month to month, remind each other that the mortgage is due, talk about how much we’re spending on the pest control people, how much it will cost to get the house pressure washed, etc. Openly communicating and not being afraid to talk about money is key.
We decide together when we’ve spent too much
It happens… we’re not perfect. Sometimes there’s just more money on the credit card that we’d like to see. Maybe we ate out more this month, or splurged on something. Again, the whole communication thing comes into play – we talk about it and agree to ease off the spending.
That means not spending money on stuff we don’t need. We don’t suggest going out for dinner when there’s plenty of food to be cooked at home. We don’t pick up random things at Target that we have no need for – no matter how cute those fuzzy socks are, or how badly I want to buy that kitty bed for our 4 cats.
We take a little spending break and stick to our needs and regular monthly responsibilities.
We acknowledge and accept that our income isn’t equal
Let’s be real… Jeremy makes more money than I do. Like, way more money. Just as I’ve accepted that as a reality, he’s accepted that he’s financially better able to provide for our family and afford certain bills.
When I moved in with Jeremy back in 2014, he continued paying the rent and the utilities himself. You might be thinking that it seems unfair – after all, don’t I take up half of the space? But for him, it made sense to just keep being responsible for that which he already knew that he could afford.
This helps relieve stress. Since I’m not responsible for larger bills that are out of my reach due to my income level, I don’t have to worry about them. I stick to paying my own bills and I contribute other ways financially to our home.
We talk about our debt, and how to manage it
This is a pretty big one for us, because truth is… we’ve got debt. We built/bought a new house in 2016. Granted, a house is arguably a necessity (and where we live, cheaper than renting an apartment) so it’s a debt I’m willing to accept. But we also have a car payment, credit cards, his student loans, my computer, our wedding rings… all financed.
A few months back, we started talking more about how to pay it down faster, because while we were still living comfortably, it felt like all we ever did was pay and pay – without ever finishing any of these bills.
I started looking into learning how to manage the debt better and to figure out what we could be doing to speed things along. If you’re interested in learning how to do that, I totally recommend a website called Debt Roundup, written by Grayson Bell. I actually met him as a fellow online entrepreneur… and then stumbled onto his financial blog.
We’ve chosen what our large purchases should be and when
It’s really all in the planning. Our first major purchase of 2019 will be gutters for our house… since our new house never came with any, and it’s been an annoying problem. That choice was put before other home improvements and things that we want to buy. It’s something we agreed on and will stick to.
Talking about our needs and wants is important to us. It’s helped us be more mindful of what we need to be doing with our money, while remembering still to do nice things for one another.
We help each other out
I have a fluctuating income, and truth be told… Jeremy has helped me out a few times financially over the years. And during months where I’ve managed to out-earn him (rare as they are), I’ve put that money towards home improvements we needed. So really, we help each other and find the best way to work it out so it feels fair.
We… always keep it about us
Notice that for every point in this post, I used “We”? That’s because it’s never about Jeremy… never about Kimi… We work together to financially strengthen and benefit us as a couple.
Never forget that even if you choose to separate your finances as we do, that everything you do affects your partner. Being respectful of each other’s financial contributions – even if one person is able to afford more than the other – is important.
Do you argue about debt?
What have been some of the major pain points in your marriage about finances?
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