Well, hello again, hive! In my last ‘after the wedding’ post, I explained that McGlovin and I are most effective when we work independently towards a shared goal. Once we are clear on our objectives, there’s no need for either of us to micromanage because we’re pretty clear on the division of responsibilities and we have absolute faith that we’re both doing our part. This style has worked for us when we were planning our wedding, when we arrange vacations, when we embark on home renovations and when we handle our finances. Yep- we know it’s uncommon, but McGlovin and I still have separate finances and no plans to combine them anytime soon!
So here’s some back-story: when McGlovin and I started dating, we immediately fell into a pattern of alternating who paid for dinner or movie tickets or things. When we moved in together we continued to split things somewhat evenly- I think he paid for our rent, and I paid for insurance, utilities and groceries. We bought a house, and now he pays the mortgage and insurance, and I continue to pay for utilities, our car insurance, groceries, etc. There’s just never been a real reason to combine finances, and keeping them separate seems to work for us.
When people learn about this arrangement they usually have tons of questions- I’ll try to answer some of those now!
Q: So, wait, your money stays totally separate? A: Yes. My paycheck goes into my bank account, his goes in to his. We each have health insurance taken out (somehow, it’s cheaper for each of us to have our own insurance) and we each have money put into retirement accounts. I don’t have access to his bank accounts and he doesn’t have access to mine. We could, but…why? We check in pretty regularly about whats in each of ours.
Q: How do you control discretionary spending, then? A: Well- we each spend whatever we want on whatever we want to buy. We don’t have a rule about telling each other when we’re buying things, but we would never hide it or judge…he knows that I spent some dollars on a bag a few months ago, and I recently learned about how expensive chain saws are…it’s crazy! And we usually talk about bigger things, like computers or other big ticket items. But we each use our own money, and stay on track with our financial assignments, so we’re good.
Q: Ok, so you each spend all of your money? A: No. Although all of our money is separate, we do tons of planning for our dollars. McGlovin is responsible for savings, and we check in regularly with that. We are saving for the long term, but also for shorter term items like vacation and a kitchen renovation. As for me…I’m responsible for paying my debt. I went to a private Catholic school for undergrad, and graduated with a serious amount of student loans, so a huge amount of my money goes to paying back those loans. Any money in our checking accounts after paying what we’re supposed to is ours, though.
Q: How does everything balance out? A: surprisingly well. McGlovin makes more money than I do, so he’s responsible for paying for more things (I count our mortgage and savings as paying for things, in addition to paying for date nights and vacation spending and things). He also tends to spend a tiny bit more money than I do, because he has it; for example, he has a higher car payment, because he was okay with budgeting that. I bought a less expensive car, because I’d rather spend my money on things that aren’t car payments. So we’re each pretty happy with our standard of living.
Q: That’s all well and good for right now, but what are you going to do when you have kids? A: I have no idea how that will affect us. To be honest, I imagine that we continue to each pay for some things- he’ll be the one taking them to the doctor, due to his schedule, so he’ll probably pay for that and likely childcare. I’m the one with a Prime membership, so I bet that I pay for diapers and things that need to be shopped for, like clothes.
Q: I still don’t understand why your finances are separate, since you are open about your spending and seem to be on the same page. Wouldn’t it be easier to just put everything together? A: Ok, here’s the thing: I bank with USAA. I love their customer service, their fee free ATM situation, and the fact that I never need to go to a bank for anything. McGlovin loves his local bank- he likes the people that work there, he likes to go in for his transactions, and he likes knowing that he has a local contact for any financial need. Neither of us wants to switch to the other, so we keep our banking separate. Yep- we’re a married couple with separate finances due to our irrational banking preferences.Our financial planner has approved this 🙂
So that’s what we do. Neither of us has direct access to the other person’s money, but we still consider all of the money in our relationship “one pot”- it just lives in difference places. If we ever needed to reallocate dollars from one account to the other it would absolutely not be an issue. Mostly, though, we just regulate our allocation by adjusting who pays for what. We know it’s not a conventional way for couples to handle things, but our separate finances has been working for us so far!
Tell me, hive- do any of you maintain separate finances, or plan to after marriage? Is there a specific reason why, or why not?