Monday, March 28, 2011

Money and Marriage: Part III

Alright ladies and gents, this is my last post about how Neill and I handle finances. I've dished on the money situation when we dated and then when we moved in together. In this post, I want to share how we are handling things now that we are married.

For Neill and I, being open and honest with each other about our finances and our financial goals is VERY important. So, we've been having lots and lots of frank conversations about spending, saving, and goal setting. We try to be 100% transparent with one another and we've decided to take a big step that will help us with this. 

In my last post, I mentioned that we opened up a joint saving account a while ago that we've used in addition to each of our personal saving accounts. Now, however, having our individual accounts just doesn't seem to feel right anymore. Even though both of us have said that whatever we save individually is really for us, we want to make that thought a reality.  So, just last week we totally revamped our organization. With this new set-up neither one of us will keep a personal savings account. We'll only put money into our joint savings. This certainly wasn't something I would have wanted to do when I first moved in or even when we first got married, but right now it makes the most sense for us.

We decided to keep a total of two joint savings accounts so that we can save money for different purposes. One is a Save for a Rainy Day Account. This is our six month emergency fund that is not to be touched unless we have . . . an emergency. The second is a Save to Spend Account. This is where we can save for vacations or a new piece of furniture. The only catch? Our numbers aren't quite where we would like them to be. So, we've started a competition to get into savings gear. We each have a savings goal (different, to accommodate our salary difference) and the first person to reach their goal wins 500 dollars out of the Save to Spend account.

A bonus of merging our savings is that it motivated us to finally set up an emergency fund. We've always known where we might pull money from if we found ourselves in a dire situation, but this is the first time actually setting that money aside and working to see the number go up. I'm really excited about our new plan because I feel like we are a bajiliion steps closer to following through on our new years resolution to be financially secure.

I don't have any secrets to successfully negotiating finances in a relationship, but communicating and being flexible seem to really help. Since we both keep an eye on our finances and discuss them pretty regularly we are able to realize when something just isn't working. And, we aren't afraid to switch things up a bit. Who knows? Maybe in another year we'll decide to merge our checking accounts, although I must admit that idea doesn't appeal to either Neill or I right now. 

Finances can be a touchy subject to talk about and I think the uneasiness surrounding money-talk makes it extra difficult for couples. So, I thought I'd quiet that little voice in my head that says discussing money isn't appropriate and lay it all out there for everyone. I hope you've enjoyed reading about how Neill and I handle finances and I'd love to hear more from you  about how you handle money in your relationships! What are your thoughts on merging finances completely? Do you keep a private saving account? What motivates you to save money?


  1. My parents merged finances right after they got married and were totally fiscally open-- or so my mom thought. Within their first year of marriage, she'd lost her ring. From then on, my dad stashed $5 or $10 a week out of his lunch fund in a secret account. It accumulated pretty quickly, and he ended up taking her to a jewelry store to look at rings on their 20th wedding anniversary. She didn't really want a ring, though (how anti-climactic that conversation must have been), so they bought a $100 band and we spent the summer in England, living with friends while my dad did consulting work, a trip we wouldn't have afforded otherwise.

    In other words: communication is great, but sometimes so are secrets.
    -Carolyn (so glad we found each other's blogs!)

  2. This is great. The hubby and I just recently opened a joint savings account. It feels nice. The problem is, neither of us had more than $200 in our own accounts prior, so we are solely saving for emergency funds. I am in panic mode, as I'm about to be unemployed. We live paycheck to paycheck. We really need to start preparing for our future!

  3. So I'm not married yet, but currently with my boyfriend, we're both aiming towards a marriage that's transparent with everything, and especially money. It's true, money is a very touchy topic but it's extremely important nonetheless. For a few years now, we've individually split our savings into four parts - future investments; education; play; necessities. In this way, we're sure that when we get married, we'll have some funding for the future (house, wedding, etc), and also for ourselves. :) And of course, the play fund - needless to say! Everyone needs to be rewarded/motivated in some way. :) So the play fund comes in to satisfy the human need in another way.

    Thanks for sharing! :) x

  4. Carolyn - That is just about the SWEETEST story I've ever heard! It sounds like your parents have such a sweet marriage. If Neill happens to read this, I hope he knows doing something like this for me would be totally ok! (hint hint)

    Megan - I get panic-y too when I start thinking about money and savings. I try and remind myself that even five dollars a week adds up to a lot over time!

    Sarah - Wow! I like your system! I think it is awesome that you guys are talking about this sort of stuff before getting married.

  5. Oh, I didn't realize that the last post (part II) was describing when you were living together! I was a little confused about your anxiety towards opening the Costco card with him. But now I definitely get it : )

    I really like your friendly little savings competition idea. I'm looking forward to trying that sometime!

  6. I just saw this and it really struck me. Hubs and I had to pay for almost 75% of our wedding on our own....and with student loans, moving across the country, and bills, it was a struggle. We put our paychecks into direct deposit, and have a shared Google doc that allows us to budget every SINGLE bill. We each allocate some spending money for ourselves each month (hubs keeps a separate spending account so he can buy me flowers - his words, not mine). I'm happy to say, with us working together, we will have our most of our debt/wedding paid off by August! :)


  7. Thank you for being so candid about your finances and how you approach them! I've only been married about a month, so we are still figuring this out (although we actually got a joint account before our wedding). Glad to have found your blog - will be following from now on!

  8. April - I don't know how friendly the competition is! We both hate to lose! :)

    AJ - A shared google doc sounds like a really good idea! That is pretty insane that you will basically be debt free by August - you deserve a HUGE congrats for that!

    Casey - Congrats on the wedding! And no worries, we've been married almost ten months and we are still figuring all this out :)


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Every comment brings a smile to my face!