Why Combining Finances Is the Feminist Thing to Do

No 80 cents on the dollar in our household

A couple walks along the waterfront

When I first started writing about married finances for APW, years ago, I assumed that most married couples handled their finances more or less the way we did. That early on, they struggled through the emotional process of combining finances (giving up the idea of “my money” was really hard for me), and then had dumped everything into one pot and sorted out some sort of budget. That was my solid understanding of how marriage worked: Mini-Socialism! All pulling together for the same goal! I still get my own money to buy shoes!

But then I realized that was not the case. Our generation is not combining their finances, more often than they are. And while that seemed troubling to me in terms of long-term implications (Do you have shared financial goals? What if one of you stays home to take care of your kids? How about the fact that men statistically out earn women?), I felt like I needed to know more. So I started asking why people were not combining finances. Lucky for me, I had an Internet of newlyweds to poll, so I got some answers. The reasons I heard most frequently were these:

  • My partner earns more than me, and until I can contribute an equal amount to our relationship, I don’t feel like it’s okay to pool the bills. I can’t ask more from my partner then I am giving.
  • I make less, so it’s only fair that I have less spending money. (But sometimes my partner treats me to a nice dinner.)
  • I’m an independent woman, so on feminist principal I should keep my finances separate (even if I make less than my partner).
  • I can’t ask my partner to help pay off my debt.
  • My partner doesn’t like me to know what they are doing with their money.
  • It’s better to keep the money separate, in case you get divorced.

I mean, look. There are a host of valid reasons for keeping your finances, or portions of your finances, separate. Maybe one of you runs a business. Maybe one of you is heir to a sizable family fortune, and there are legal ramifications around that. Whatever. Fair. But the point is, these were not the reasons people were giving me. The reasons people were giving me had to do with two ideas:

  • That we can measure what we contribute to our partnerships in financial terms.
  • That our strength lies in our total independence, not in learning mutual dependence.

And on the basis of those arguments, I think we’re making a mistake. I worry that on a fundamental level we’re coming at relationships and money from the wrong angle. We’re thinking that we need to be equal contributors to our partnerships, but we’re overvaluing financial contributions. Generations before us, of course, didn’t have the chance to fall into this trap. They knew that while everyone might have different jobs in a family, all of those jobs helped make the family tick. Yes, someone needed to earn money to buy food, but someone also needed to cook the food (which used to involve a lot less microwaving). Sure, someone needed to pay the bills, but growing tiny humans and then keeping them alive was a huge job, too. Add to this the fact that many women didn’t even have the option of doing meaningful financial work outside of the home, so partnerships were not viewed as dueling moneymaking operations.

I’m not glamorizing the past. In the past, I couldn’t even have worn pants. I’m damn grateful for all of the feminists that fought and sacrificed so I could vote, own property, have a career, choose to stay home or not, and have an equal say in running the household finances. But I don’t think those women fought and sacrificed so I would judge myself based on how much money I brought into my marriage, or upend the mini-Socialism of the family, or feel that I had to work outside the home to be a valued partner. They fought for me to be valued as a whole human being, not just as someone who earned money.

Which brings me back to finances. First, a lot of us are living legal fictions. Sure, you can choose to not combine finances and let your partner “treat” you to dinner (something I find unsettling, and reminiscent of when women didn’t have equal access to family earning power). But unless you have an ironclad prenup, under the law you own your partner’s shit. You own their money, you own their debt. And the legal reality is that your partner is treating you to dinner with money that’s yours.

Second, marriage is about pulling together. It’s about building a life together, through thick and thin. When we don’t let our partners pay down our debt with us, not only are we not letting them support us, but we’re also not letting them help-us-pay-off-the-damn-debt-so-we-can-save-for-a-downpayment-together. When we feel guilty about being unemployed, we’re not fully realizing that marriage usually lasts for a long time, and sooner or later we’re going to be financially carrying more of the burden than our partners. When we think we deserve less spending money because we make less, we’re devaluing all the things we do to make our household run (chores! cooking! jokes! hugs! planning!). Plus, we’re totally depriving ourselves of new shoes. When we hold back because of the possibility of divorce, we’re not creating a fully functional partnership in the moment. And when we keep our money separate because of feminism, I think we do feminism a disservice.

Being married is scary. It’s about creating great dependence and great emotional vulnerability. Anyone who tells you this isn’t terrifying shit has no idea what they are talking about. But it’s that release of our close held ideas of self and protection that allow new things to grow and flower. New plans, businesses, careers, travel, babies, no-babies, and all of it. It’s all made better by the truly scary shit of sharing your money and building a life together. That, and being allowed to wear pants. Literally.

This post originally ran on APW in March 2012.

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Marty

    I’ve always viewed marriage as an economic partnership. I know it’s not the most romantic view, but it’s basically how the law views marriage too. If I wanted to keep everything separate, then I never needed to get married in the first place. My husband and I kept everything 99% separate before marriage, because I never wanted to feel like I owed him anything if we broke up. Despite me being in school and living together, I always paid my share even if it meant I had to take out more in loans. However, after we were married, we combined everything, and my student loans were paid off with marital money (as my degree is also martial property). At that point legally, everything that was his was mine and what was mine was his, and all our financial goals are shared goals, because we were in a partnership. If the partnership breaks up, the law has rules to sort out who gets what, or we could get a pre/post-nup agreement if we want to set our own rules.

    • Jess

      I, too, always considered marriage more practical (shared household labor, pooled financial support, maybe if you get lucky someone who says “Go do that thing! You’d be good at it!”)

      It was actually kind of surprising to me how scary it is to go from that idea and belief to actually *combining* our accounts. We… aren’t done yet.

  • HCampGust

    Thank you.

  • Fiona

    For me, part of the POINT of marriage is to level the playing field of opportunities between us. My husband grew up as a sharecropper in the Dominican Republic, and when we got married, I worked hard to share the benefits of my social class, both tangible and intangible. If someday he makes more than I do, our egalitarian system stands. Just as my social capital is mine, it’s also his and vice versa.

  • Laura C

    This is the example my parents always set — their money is 100% shared and it’s never been a source of stress that I’ve seen (admittedly in part because there’s always been enough money, but also because they don’t judge each other’s spending). So I don’t think I could have been in a relationship where that wasn’t what we did. I read these reasons for not doing it and it feels like people are saying they don’t really trust their partner or their relationship, or they don’t think they deserve to be equal. Which I realize is not always the case, that people come from a lot of places on this and that applying my filter to their reasons may not work. But…yeah, I couldn’t do it. I need to feel like my marriage is a team proposition.

    Funny story: recently we had brunch with my husband’s cousin and his new wife, and they were talking about a big surprise she threw for him the night before their wedding, having his favorite musician play a party, and we asked how she’d kept it a secret. One of the things they mentioned as having been stressful while she was keeping this big secret was that he kept saying ok, we’ve said we’re going to combine finances, let’s get that done, and she kept having to be evasive because she had these expenses related to the surprise, and he was wondering if there was something major she was hiding from him. (Like, lifetime major, not your-favorite-musician-playing major.)

    • Lisa

      Ha, I love that story! My husband says that one of the things he dislikes about having completely joined finances is that it makes it difficult to purchase presents for me. Since I do a lot of budget reconciliation, if I see a charge I don’t recognize, I’m going to call him and ask what the $100 from the jewelry store or Amazon is. He now will tell me not to look at certain card statements for X amount of time so I don’t spoil my own surprises.

      • Laura C

        We have two shared credit cards, but I get the statements for one and he gets the statements for the other, so it works out well as long as we remember to think what we’re pulling out of our pocket when buying a gift.

        • rg223

          We actually have our own credit cards, as well as one shared, so this works well (although we do eventually have to reconcile our spending on our shared budget).

          • BSM

            This is the same set up we have, so gifts go on our individual cards, eventually those expenses are reconciled within our budget, and there’s still the surprise (plus CC points)!

          • Jan

            We do too, though my partner mostly only uses our joint card. He’s really the one who manages that card, though, so he could buy me the moon and I wouldn’t notice. I use my personal credit card that he doesn’t have access to, so I don’t run the risk of spoiling things.

        • Same.

      • flashphase

        I spoiled my birthday present and then we agreed he could keep one individual credit card just for stuff he wanted to keep secret (under a certain amount + he still pays the credit card from our checking account, so I know the totals, just not the purchases!)

        • Basketcase

          This is actually really sensible – It’s something I was going to do once I went back to work post-baby, because my husband does the reconciliations, but never got around to. I use cash where possible instead…

      • Eenie

        I just spoiled my own birthday surprise! What is this charge from random online store?!?!

        • Lisa

          Yup! I double ruined it because I was also the first person home the day it got delivered and saw the package with the brand’s name all over the outside.

          Luckily I actually don’t like surprises that much and enjoy the build-up to getting the thing about as much as owning it.

    • Katharine Parker

      “This is the example my parents always set — their money is 100% shared and it’s never been a source of stress that I’ve seen (admittedly in part because there’s always been enough money, but also because they don’t judge each other’s spending).” My parents are the same way, so this has always been my model and my default. I do things a little bit differently with my husband, so we each get fun money that the other doesn’t examine (my parents are 100% shared, nothing hidden, my dad buys my mom gifts in cash so she won’t know), but it works for us.

      My parents also are still together after 40 years of marriage, which completely shapes how I view what marriage is and the expectations I have for my own life. The idea of keeping money separate in case of divorce would not occur to me, although I say that without judgment for people who make that choice.

      • Laura C

        My parents are coming up on 50 years, which is amazing to me not because I didn’t think they’d make it but because…50 years!

        I think they just aren’t sentimental enough about gifts to care if the other ultimately knows what they spent. Neither of them is a big gifts person and what does my mom care if my dad knows how much the sweater she got him for Christmas cost? Maybe that would be different if either of them was more interested in gifts or if they spent more relative to their overall budget on gifts.

  • savannnah

    Struggling with this right now as I move from being the one who makes 1/3 more than husband to making nothing an being reliant on him as we move to the west coast for his promotion. I worry about my contribution to our household and also on a fundamental level as a capitalist, I worry that I really do view myself as a less valuable and powerful person in anticipation of not having a job. Our finances have been shared for a year or two but we just got married so its all mixed into that- a lot of transitions right now around identity and power and $. On the one side my husband get it and on the other can’t help but be excited about his new 33% raise and is also really adjusting to the idea that I want a big say in what we do with that money and how much I want in the bank during my unemployment. This leads to his musing about getting a new computer pushing me towards a total anxiety moment that lasts the whole day. We’ve talked a lot and are processing but I’m surprised how much I care about having a high-ish paying job as part of my identity.

    • SarahRose472

      In my prenatal class the “moms” talked about this now that many of us will be home 4-6 months, and part of that time without income or with less income than normal — I think there is a more generous interpretation to be made about your feelings, which is that it might just be fear of dependence. While Meg makes good points about learning mutual dependence being an important part of marriage, in a lot of ways it’s emotionally easier to have both partners being relatively independent, financially and otherwise.

      • Zoya

        Fear of dependence is absolutely at the root of a lot of this for me. We have mostly shared finances, and I still occasionally freak out about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to afford our current lifestyle on my income alone.

        • Jess

          “Fear of Dependence” could be the title of my biography…

  • Abs

    I’m in theory totally in agreement with this, although in practice it’s terrifying, especially as both partner and I have fairly complex grown-up finances. So what’s been working for us is easing into combining things slowly, as though easing into a hot bath. We’ve had a shared budget for joint expenses for a long time, and we just keep sorting more and more things into the joint budget rather than our individual ones. And also money keeps accumulating in our joint account because we’re both very conservative with our estimates of how much we’re spend. So eventually we’ll have to come up with some sane plan for joint savings. I wish we could have it all done and perfect now, but slow and steady seems to be the way that helps us be calm and think clearly.

    • Jane

      We’ve been struggling with that as well. I came into the marriage with more assets while my husband is currently earning vastly more than I ever have, to the point that our assets will be worth about the same within two years of marriage. He really feels like that he should get to reap the benefits of him having strong earnings and doesn’t like that that coincided with us getting married. We have transitioned to him making all of the deposits to the joint checking account, but it’s clearly going to take us quite a bit of time to work through these feelings. We had a small breakthrough realizing that we want to see ourselves as a team and recognizing that we don’t, but don’t have a path towards that feeling yet. I was really excited when we first got married as it was the first time we were on the same page about our relationship pretty much since we started dating, but this appears to be another shift where we aren’t on the same page.

      • Amy March

        And he doesn’t feel like both of you reaping those benefits is good enough? Humph.

        • Jane

          He admitted he needs to think about that one… Among other things, he seems worried that sharing his income will result in me being not interested in working or holding a job. This is of course all wrapped up in his feelings about it being weird to have money for the first time in his life and us being in the same field, but him having advanced more.

          Our temporary conclusion was that I should take our prenup to a new lawyer (my first lawyer didn’t agree with what we were doing) and make a few slight changes that would reduce my stress level as we figure these things out. (Somehow we ended up signing a document that gives him half of the growth of the condo since we got married, despite me owning 75% of it, and without him sharing any of his income….)

          • AmandaBee

            Oof, yeah, there’s a few layers of things to unpack there. Like, trying to control your spouse’s career decisions by withholding money is generally not a solid marriage move, which you probably don’t need internet strangers to tell you.

            In addition to getting some legal/financial advice, have you tried marriage counseling? Might be helpful to work out some of those around financial contributions, career decisions, and control/trust issues with someone professional.

          • Amy March

            Yeah sounds like you def need to get some professional help with this situation- good luck!

          • Abs

            I think it’s very easy to feel that any hesitation about combining finances is about reluctance to commit to the relationship, or about selfishness, and there’s so very much more to it than that. Both my partner and I have voiced a fear of having the other person’s financial future entirely in our hands–we have different strategies for managing our investments, and it’s less that we’re super committed to one or the other than that it feels much more high stakes to be playing with a loved one’s money than with our own. I also have a lot of weird money feelings of my own (family-related), and it feels too hard to put my partner in the middle of that. Eventually we will work it all out, but it’s easier to take a baby step, get comfortable with that, and then take another one.

            Which is all to say, it’s allowed to be hard, it’s allowed to be scary, and just because you both aren’t cannon-balling straight into the shared finances pool doesn’t mean that your relationship is in trouble.

          • Jane

            Thanks Abs. You’re right – I don’t see our hesitation about combining finances as any level of reluctance to commit to the relationship or as selfishness. There are so many feelings wrapped up in all of this.

            My parent has a friend who let their spouse manage all of their pre-marriage money and then the spouse lost it all during a time period where the stock market did well. Even having the same investment strategy as my husband, that story gives me pause. Or how controlling my parents were with money and how much effort I’ve spent working on having healthier financial thoughts and reduced anxiety seems to have entirely gone out the window by now needing to figure this out with my spouse!

          • S

            I’m very curious/worried about how you both ended up signing all these things that really screwed you over! Was it a bad lawyer thing? How did you both feel about it at the time?

          • Jane

            Me too. My husband didn’t realize that what we signed states the condo growth is community until about 9 months after we signed it? We’d gone over the document so many times and spent so much time arguing with my lawyer over what we wanted that the details didn’t register fully anymore by the time we signed it.

            The lesson we learned from this is that you should know enough of what you want before you pick a lawyer to draft the prenup so that you can find a lawyer that is a good fit for what you want.

          • Amy March

            I mean that’s actually pretty standard- growth of assets during the marriage is typically joint property. I don’t think that’s a sign you had a bad lawyer, even if it’s not what you intended.

          • Jane

            Oh I understand that it’s standard. But to make growth of the separate condo asset community while keeping during marriage income separate is a disservice given that the condo is appreciating at about the same rate per year as he can save right now.

          • Amy March

            Oh yeah. Sorry I’m totally getting confused with the details here! So he’s seriously telling you he thinks of his income as “ours” even though you signed a prenup that says it’s separate? That’s just bonkers and I think you’re giving him way too much credit with this whole introspective thing. It’s easy to be slowly introspective about money when you’re profiting off the status quo significantly!

          • S

            Also I have NO idea about the law, but even if something is standard, if you’ve gone to a specific lawyer and explained your own situation and interests and what you’re looking for in a prenup etc, then it kind of does sound like they haven’t represented your interests if they’ve gone with something that’s standard but not what you wanted? Like unless you specifically walked in and said, “Give us the standard contract” then it does sound like at the very least the lawyer could have explained things better. Again though, I have no idea about this stuff, so I’m probably talking out of my butt.

          • Anon4Dis

            Your butt is spot on. If your lawyer didn’t take the time to make sure you (1) knew what was in the contract and (2) knew what it means, you did NOT get good service.

          • S

            Also, yeah, law aside, the main issue is that your husband doesn’t trust you. I’m sure you’re right and he’s just unpacking preconceived ideas and slowly thinking this all through and trying to “get there” in terms of trusting you financially, but I really do think it would be worthwhile going to a counsellor together. Think of it this way: you went to see a lawyer for the state of your mutual interests. Getting on the same page emotionally is in my book even more important. If my partner told me he didn’t trust me to not work if we shared finances, it’d be counsellor or separation, tbh.

          • Jane

            No worries! Not exactly. He sees his income as “his”, but his assets as “ours” (even though our prenup says that assets or debts have to be jointly titled to be “ours”). Which is just…not the spirit of what we signed. It seems that both of our philosophies have changed from when we signed the agreement but we’re not as in alignment now as we were then.

      • Emily

        That’s tough. I have to be honest I had these feelings when my partner and I first moved in together. I spent all of grad school saving pennies and had a cushion. He had been starting a company and was in the red. I was frustrated having to pay for the security deposit, groceries, etc. I think the turning point for me was when I realized how committed we were. And then he started making a lot more than me. Now I’m like, marry me babe please so I can pay your debts. (So romantic)

      • MC

        I feel you on this, and it’s only been recently that we’ve really felt the communal part of it strongly. What worked for us was just combining all our finances from the get go to really immerse ourselves in the idea that all money was OURS (vs. mine and his). Then we had lots of discussions whenever resentment about where our money was going cropped up. We both have the same amount of personal money that we get every month that is judgment-free. But what really helped recently was that we thought of all the contributions that each of us make to our household and our marriage: the money each of us make, the amount each of us work and the value of our work outside of our marriage, the volunteer work we do, the household labor each of us do, the emotional labor we do, the time we spend with our friends that makes us better partners, etc. Once we realized that it was impossible to quantify all of that in dollar amounts, and that we don’t actually value one person’s total contributions over the other, then it was a lot easier to accept that our money is communal. Took LOTS of time and introspection and therapy on my end to help with my money stress.

        • Jane

          Thanks for sharing, MC! This was really helpful. My husband is really slowly introspective and it doesn’t help that we’ve had a lot of life changes all at once (not all intentional!) which requires so much processing. It sounds like patience, talking and introspection is helpful here :)

        • Jane

          I assume that combining all of your finances from the get go and then sorting out the introspection later was a huge part of this? We’ve been struggling with the fact that I only see money as “ours” if it’s in a joint account while he sees all of his+hers+ours money as ours… We’ve been trying spreadsheets and things but I just can’t see his money as ours unless it’s in a joint account.

          • Abs

            This is something I struggle with too–for various reasons it doesn’t really make sense to put all our money in one big pot. What makes sense theoretically is for us to think about it all as ours, but it’s really hard to make the mental shift without the bureaucratic shift.

          • Amy March

            Well it isn’t “ours” if he refuses to give you access to it so that makes sense!

  • Sonnie

    One of the benefits of getting married (relatively) young is that neither of us came to the marriage with all that much financial baggage or assets. We moved in together and got engaged a month after I graduated from college and so I didn’t entrench the feelings of “mine” or “yours” before everything became “ours.” Figuring out how to create a mini-socialism when we’re still figuring out finances in general made the transition significantly easier, and we really don’t know any different years later. Now that our friends, who have gotten to know what “mine” feels like, are getting married and are having a much harder time combining finances, we look at each other and say thank god that we didn’t have to work through those emotions and logistics when we threw everything in one pot.

    • Jane

      Being attached to “mine” is really hard to get past!

    • Yeah, we didn’t get married quite as quickly after college, but we still got engaged within a year of graduating, so we had an eye towards combined finances (although we didn’t actually combine them until married) and neither of us really had a chance to get used to money being just theirs.

    • Anon

      Agreed. My now husband and i moved in together when we were 23 and 25….we are now 34 and 36 with a 1 year old daughter, and own a house, 2 cars etc. Our finances are infinitely more complicated now than they were years ago. We originally combined finances because we were relatively broke and needed to pool cash together to get by. Now we still have everything shared and it is the norm for us.

  • Staria

    I would really love to see added, and a financial discussion based on, the additional scenario: You are the partner who earns significantly more. Particularly if you’re the partner who’s going to have to grow any babies in the relationship and recover from the birth.

    I earn almost double what my partner does. We are both in industries that aren’t our dream but use skills we are both good at and enjoy. Mine is a better paid industry and more senior role. What do I do when we’re facing a 2/3 drop in household income?

    We don’t have shared finances because we were each burned by previous partners who did a personality and behaviour 180 after moving in together. We’ve discussed we probably should get a joint account but we’ll always have separate accounts of our own because that helps us feel secure. I also watched the lack of power my mother had due to being a stay at home mother for 15 years. She had zero options. She told me always to have my own money.

    I don’t know how to approach it all so we’re going to see a financial planner this week.

    • GCDC

      Maybe not exactly what you are looking for, but having a kid really solidified the need for shared finances for my husband and me. Before our daughter was born, it was pretty easy to split expenditures into his and hers; his clothes or activity could have been his expense, and vice versa. But after our daughter was born, all decisions, including financial ones, became more more co-dependent. Part of this is that all the diapers, food, clothes (not to mention gargantuan child care costs) are “shared” expenses in that we are both accountable to our daughter and responsible for her care, and the increased expenses resulting from having a kid left us less discretionary money to retain individually. But there are tons of tangential decisions that all have financial ramifications too. If one partner has an opportunity to work more hours (and therefore make more money), the other partner has to take on all the extra child caring activities, or hire those out. Your example of maternity leave is a good one – if you have a system where you, individually, bear the brunt of lost wages during maternity leave, that strikes me as shockingly unfair since the birth of a child equally affects/benefits your partner.

      I think what I’m trying to say is that having a kid really made the marriage as mini-socialism argument make sense to me. Pretty much every decision we make affects our daughter and therefore affects the other spouse as well, and, for that reason, we really need to be on the same page about all those decision. At least in my mind, co-parenting requires an incredible amount of trust and transparency, and money management seems to be naturally a part of that.

      To speak to your specific circumstances, it seems like you’re consulting a professional and asking the right questions. I’d suggest just keeping an open mind and talking the subject to death until you reach somewhere you are both comfortable.

    • Cathi

      Obviously I don’t know the particulars of your relationship (or your job’s benefits), but this is how it worked for my husband and I when I had our daughter:

      (The tl;dr is “just live frugally for a couple months, you’ll be fine”)

      -Pretty much as soon as I got pregnant we revised our budget so that we could live comfortably off his (lesser than mine) salary in perpetuity
      -We began living on that revised budget which had two benefits:
      a) we essentially socked away my entire salary
      b) made the uncomfortable adjustment of lowering our standard of living while everything else was still stable (so it wasn’t suddenly surprise! take care of this baby and never shop at Whole Foods again! in one fell swoop)
      -I worked until the day I went into labor
      -“Maternity leave” was simply three months of unemployment for me. I would hope that if you’re in a well-paid industry in a senior role that you would have some form of paid leave, be it short term disability or actual paid parental leave
      -I went back to work, baby went to daycare

      The outcome for us was the 3 months I wasn’t working we were just breaking even. Nothing was going into savings other than my husband’s pretax retirement contributions. But we had savings accumulated and didn’t have to worry about that brief drop in income.

      For what it’s worth, we keep separate accounts due to sheer laziness of combining them and we each just pay random bills. I’m in charge of rent, so when my checking account got low during the “maternity leave” months, I just pulled money from my savings account to cover it.

      Are you thinking the “2/3 drop in income” is a permanent thing, with you leaving the workforce for the foreseeable child-rearing future? Or do you just mean temporarily during however long you will be out while recovering from birth/nurturing a wee infant?

  • emilyg25

    When this article was first published, my partner and I were not yet engaged. I knew I wanted to combine finances when we married but was having a hard time embracing that—he made twice as much as me and I had student loans. The idea that separate finances is a legal fiction helped me get over that hump.

    Now we’ve been married four years and I’ve gotten promotions, reduced my workload and my paycheck, he’s been laid off, we’ve paid off debt, accumulated new debt, etc. The reality of a long marriage is that incomes and circumstances fluctuate. I’m glad we’re in it together, financially and otherwise.

    • Abs

      Exactly. I would also add, though, that at least for me, this is much easier when it’s forward looking. I’ve much more comfortable with the idea that money I’ve earned since we’ve been married is ours than I am with the idea that the money/assets that were mine before the relationship began are no longer mine. One advantage of being together for longer is that your joint financial life ends up being longer than your separate financial life.

  • AmandaBee

    Learning to combine finances and see money as “our money” was definitely a gradual process for us. When we first moved in together, we kept things separate and just balanced out expenses at the end of the month. Gradually that shifted toward a shared checking account but separate savings/checking for each of us. When we decided to get married was when we 100% combined our finances, with the exception of retirement savings.

    For me, combining finances was a way to signal that we now operate as a single unit, pursuing shared goals. I made more at the time, and it was also a way to try and mitigate my husband’s feelings that he couldn’t spend “my money” because he made less. I’m always very careful to phrase things in terms of “our money” because that’s how we see it.

    But combining finances also means that all of our spending is up for negotiation. To prevent arguments, our approach is that we set aside a chunk of money each month for individual fun money, and neither of us has to justify that spending as long as it’s within the agreed-upon amount. The separation of fun money is purely symbolic – it’s still in the same account – but lets each of us feel like we can control our own personal spending to some extent.

    • GotMarried!

      Do you jointly plan retirement accounts? I realize that federal tax law wise, they have to be separate; however I struggle with how if I change my 401K withholding from 5% to 25% to max out my contributions this year it greatly impact my take-home pay, and thus OUR financial situation.

      • Sonnie

        We do, conceptually at least. My company match is absolutely horrible so we funnel a larger chunk of income into my husband’s 401k, who has an incredible match. We think of it just like we think of budgeting for anything else, because functionally you are budgeting it, just in a different order (pre-take home) than normal.

      • AmandaBee

        So my retirement is tied up into a state system, and the amount I contribute/have matched is pretty set in stone. We largely pretend that money doesn’t exist, but the going assumption is that some day when we access that money it will be “our money” despite the fact that it’s in my name. If changing my contribution was an option, we’d probably just treat that as a joint budgeting conversation around whether that’s the best option for the money, compared with other things we could do with it.

        We actually need to set up Roth IRAs for both of us, but we’ll be factoring the contributions into our shared budget, so in that sense they’re still shared money if that makes sense. Basically neither of us would make a retirement contribution decision without consulting the other person.

        • ART

          Curious to know (if you’re interested in sharing) how you’ll invest your Roth IRA money once you get past the contribution part, or more specifically, how *differently* you’ll invest in each account and how much input you’ll each have on each other’s accounts? I finally got my husband set up with a Roth IRA, but he has very different ideas about investment risk than I do. We’re at a point where his Roth IRA is essentially managed as the conservative portion of our portfolio, while mine plus my 401k is the aggressive part, because I don’t mind seeing fluctuations in my accounts but he has real anxiety about “playing the stock market” (I hardly see buying index funds as “playing” but that is one illustration of the difference in our outlook…)

          • AmandaBee

            TBH neither of us is at that stage yet because for various reasons we’ve put off opening the accounts (and we need to get our ish together and do that!). But I can imagine that we’d either split it like you do or ask a financial advisor to help guide us as a sort of neutral party. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there!

          • ART

            Totally – a conversation for another time :) I am the money manager/bean counter of our family, and my husband’s pretty confident with what I’m doing, but also kind of sticks his head in the sand despite my efforts to keep him in the loop (I don’t want to be the spouse that does 100% of the money management and then dies and the other one is like, I don’t know where anything is or what I have left). And although my Roth IRA has been on auto-deduct and auto-invest for years, we have not set that up for him yet for various reasons so I feel you!

          • GotMarried!

            Both my and my husband’s Roth IRA’s are managed by the same Financial Adviser. I’ve been using our adviser for years, and my parents for years before that. When we go married, getting my husband set up to start making contributions into his own accounts was one of my objectives. Neither of us have the time/inclination at this point to actively manage or research our investment options and we trust our chosen professional to have our best interests at heart. It helps that he does handle my families money, which in comparison to my husband and mine is a more significant sum.

      • flashphase

        Yes. We decided together how much we would each set aside for retirement. It was hard for him to take a “lower” paycheck and contribute more to retirement, but I showed him that we could afford it by having my income cover more on a day to day basis.

      • emilyg25

        Yes, we do. We also make sure that each person has enough in their name that if we divorce down the line, they’ll be okay (though a lot of states split retirement accounts in divorce too). We plan our whole financial picture together.

    • Abs

      The negotiation thing is a real challenge. My partner is in a field where all the conferences and other work travel he does are paid for by his company, no questions asked. I’m in academia, so no matter how necessary it is professionally to go somewhere, I have to pay out of pocket, and maybe apply for some reimbursement, and maybe get some fraction of that. I struggle with how we’ll deal with that when all the money is our money–will I have to make a case to him that I need to go to X conference? What will count as necessary? Does anything unnecessary still come out of my fun money?

      • AmandaBee

        I’m in academia as well, so I totally feel you. The negotiation can be hard! Especially when money is low and we have to prioritize (currently our status). I think it helps that we treat career related needs as joint expenses and we trust each other to define career needs fairly. If I say a conference was important for my career, my husband trusts me and we budget it in.

        Logistically, we use YNAB and have a bucket for education and career development that is considered joint expense. So if I need cash for conference travel, it comes from the career development bucket and is joint. My fun money covers just that – fun stuff. So if I want to grab cocktails with friends at said conference, that might be fun money. But a networking lunch would be career development. My husband largely trusts me to make that distinction so I don’t feel like I have to ask permission, of that makes sense.

  • Colette

    My husband and I have split finances with a joint budget. We split our bills by financial capability, in the ratio of our paychecks to one another (I make more so I have more of the burden). Could we put everything in a joint account and pretend it’s all “our” money with no difference… sure. But we would still know that I put in 60% and he put in 40% so it’s really no different than to just pay the rent from my own account.

    Besides that, it’s a form of independence to have spending privacy. My whole childhood, I watched my parents question each other over every single charge on the bank statement. They both worked but neither wanted “their money” to pay for the other’s things. Combining accounts does not eliminate the “my money, his money” idea. I don’t want to be accountable to anyone over grabbing a Starbucks with my own money that I earned. You’re allowed to have privacy in a marriage, your bank account is no different.

    • emmers

      This is kind of where we are. It’s not super strict, but we’ve budgeted so we roughly have the same amount of spending money. It does vary, since he has work expenses that vary, like sometimes he has to eat out for work, but covered by him. Or he sometimes ends up driving more for work, and has to shell out more gas. Or there may be more vet bills than anticipated that I end up covering, so he’ll transfer some money to me to help.

      We’re a team, but with some privacy. Right now we’re working super hard to pay off some debt, and once that happens we may combine accounts, or we may not. I think for me that’s the main thing– to be on the same page with spending philosophies, and in pooling our resources, even if the accounts are separate. And to both be working towards shared goals, and be in constant communication about this stuff. In some ways, I like how having pre-marriage debt has brought us together, and has highlighted how we work as a team, and when we each have had windfalls/pay increases, we’ve talked about what to do with them, and how to balance needs/quality of life/paying off debt.

      Because as someone below pointed out, most retirement accounts have to be separate. So there’s still a certain amount of trust and communication that needs to be there, even if you have a joint checking/savings.

      • GCDC

        Just a real quick point: under federal law, a spouse has to waive his/her rights to money in the spouse’s retirement account (this rule applies to most retirement accounts – there are some exceptions). So the law still treats assets in a retirement account as property of both spouses to a certain extent, even though the account is only in one spouse’s name.

    • BSM

      For some people, combining accounts does eliminate the “my money, his money” idea entirely. YMM certainly V, but me and my husband are totally those people.

      • Anne

        Yep, same here. I’m definitely only accountable to myself when I buy myself coffee, and I don’t micromanage my husband’s spending, either. I don’t think “joint finances” means questioning each other over every charge on a bank statement.

        • BSM

          For us it means we don’t have to micromanage or question each other’s spending. We have a detailed budget (with a decent cushion), and we stick to it. If something comes up, we chat about it and figure out a solution.

          I don’t think we’ve had even a tense conversation about money since fully combining when we got married 2+ years ago. I’m sure we will at some point, but fully combining really took away the vast majority of the discomfort we used to have when dealing with our finances.

      • AP

        This. As the lower-earner in our relationship, I was terrified that my husband was going to micromanage or question my spending once we combined finances. But…that was based on my money baggage, not the actual realities of our relationship. Combining finances is one of the best things we’ve ever done to solidify our ‘team’ and build trust.

        • BSM

          “Combining finances is one of the best things we’ve ever done to solidify our ‘team’ and build trust.”

          Totally agree. How we manage and discuss our finances is something I’m really proud of in our marriage.

      • We have completely combined budgets–although we do have a set of individual fun money for each of us. This doesn’t cover things like clothes (we have a combined clothes budget)–it mostly covers things that the other person thinks is stupid and doesn’t want to spend money on (so for me it is books books books and for my husband it is sports statistics websites) but all our income counts as joint.

  • Mrrpaderp

    This is a great post. I’d love to hear more about how breadwinning women deal with this issue. A lot of these discussions assume that the woman is making less or maybe about the same as her partner, but women are increasingly becoming the primary earners in their households.

    One of them is emotional labor. Granted that’s an issue in any relationship. When you’re the breadwinner and/or working more hours and you’re still taking on more than half of the emotional labor, it leads to a whole lot of resentment. Not only does my income pay for the housekeeper, but I also have to deal with scheduling and quality control.

    Another issue is one that Meg’s brought up in the past – the pink tax. It costs more to be a woman. Wardrobe, makeup, skin care, etc. – that stuff isn’t “fun” it’s armor. This issue doesn’t go away just because you’re the one bringing in more money. He sees me buying a good pair of black pumps or new suit is “shopping” not a necessary business expense. Then he wonders why does she get to do all this shopping but his spending has to be on a budget.

    I think some of these issues can get obscured by a salary divide. Men say that they don’t have to do as much emotional labor because they earn more, or they don’t want your makeup coming out of their pocket. When the woman is the one earning more, though, it really sheds light on the fact that these issues are rooted in gender roles, not finances.

    • Zoya

      Hear, hear!

    • AmandaBee

      I’m currently the breadwinner, and it does shift the dynamics of the conversation, though I still think that combining finances was the most equitable way to go. Regarding emotional labor, we kind of separated the conversation about money from the conversation about labor. When we talk about labor, it’s in terms of hours, and it includes both work and emotional/household labor. So because I currently work more, husband does more household labor. But if he worked the same hours and earned less, we’d split the household work more down the middle (or, realistically, hire someone).

      Pink tax is something my husband and I recently talked about. While some of my clothing, makeup, personal care, etc. is definitely “fun money” spending, lots of it is also stuff I need to look like a reasonably professional adult. Each month we agree on a certain amount of money for “personal care” (toiletries, haircuts, makeup, etc.) and just acknowledge that I’m going to spend more of that pool of cash than him. But that only works because our money came out of joint accounts, and because he trusts me to be honest about what I need and what that will cost.

      • laddibugg

        What my SO and I struggle with is that we both work the same hours more or less ( I probably work an hour or two more and occasional extra time), but he has a much more physically demanding job. While I do work in an office, it can be very fast paced (I work in finance) and emotionally draining. I’m not really sure how to divide ‘labor’, especially since we have a young child.

    • BSM

      Having 100% shared finances (we have no personal “fun” money) helps us combat the pink tax. Both our clothes and upkeep get line items in our regular budget, and we allocate more to mine both because they cost more and because they’re (especially clothes) a bit of a hobby for me. We have a gardening line item for my husband’s hobby :)

      When we’ve needed to tighten our belts a bit more, we’ve decreased the “hobby” portion of my clothes money, my husband’s hobby money, and both of our upkeep budgets. It doesn’t feel confrontational because it’s all our money, these are all our expenses, and we’re working together to figure out where we as a team can cut back.

      • Jan

        This is basically what we do, though we separate it out somewhat. We budget for both of us to have X amount set aside for whatever we need outside of bills and household expenses, and that number fluctuates depending on how careful we need to be that month. Theoretically we both have separate accounts for our fun money, but he doesn’t use his– he just pays directly out of our joint account. It’s important for me to maintain some financial privacy and independence because I’ve been burned before, so I use my separate account and anything I don’t spend I put in my personal savings. But, generally speaking, we are working together to figure this stuff out, we don’t attribute salaries to the individual, and it really is “our” money.

    • Megan

      I’m the main breadwinner in my marriage (I’m a woman married to a dude) and we combined our finances totally when we got married. I always thought of it as our money, partially because a few months before we got married we moved across country for my job and my husband spent a couple of years underemployed. We had made the decision to focus on my career (to his detriment!) as a couple and it only made sense that our financial reality was as a couple rather than individuals too.

      He’s now got a good job that just happens to pay about half what I earn (I work for a for-profit company, he works for the government), but we both work similar hours so it seems like a fair distribution of money earning effort. We tend to outsource a lot of the home details we don’t like, so we have a cleaner come through twice a month. For day to day housework (cooking, dishes, laundry), we have a rough system that tends to work: The person working from home that day takes care of dinner planning and cooking and tries to do a load of laundry. If we both are working from our non-home offices, we have a couple of easy dinners on hand to cook up– our goto is chicken sausage, frozen vegetable, quinoa or couscous and whoever is less exhausted does it. Usually that’s him, because I have a longer commute and tend to get grumpier than him when I’m tired.

      I tend to do more of the “household management” stuff like staying on top of our finances, remembering to order Christmas cards and send flowers on Mothers Day, but he does more of other things like taking out the garbage, taking care of our pets, and doing the dishes. Sometimes I start to feel like I’m not pulling my weight, but then I have to remind myself that household management stuff is work too.

      As for money we spend on individual things, I think I’m more comfortable spending on myself than he is, but I don’t think that’s due to a difference in what we earn (although who knows! Maybe it is). My hobby is clothes and I tend to buy a lot of dresses pseudo regularly. His hobbies are games and collectables, and he buys those less frequently. But we’re in a good financial place, so we don’t have to have a lot of hard conversations about budgeting, etc., which I’m sure has saved us a lot of grief. When we were in grad school we had a tighter budget, but we also made exactly the same amount of money so fair distribution didn’t come up then. Making enough money to be comfortable definitely makes things easier.

      It also helps that my husband really and truly doesn’t mind making less than me. I’ve seen couples where this isn’t the case and the man sometimes feels his masculinity is being threatened, which can cause a huge amount of other issues. No advice there, but glad that’s not our issue!

    • Eenie

      I don’t necessarily think that being the breadwinner means you don’t need to do your fair share of emotional labor (no matter who that is). I really think it comes down to time. Time is finite. We balance our household duties/emotional labor based on our time at home and how stressful our workday is. That balance is different for everyone. You have to find it, and it’s not easy.

    • Jenn

      I earn more than my husband, and have for most of our relationship (12 years). This doesn’t bother him in any way, but we have combined finances so he reaps the benefits of my money as I do his. I honestly have never thought that I should have to do less emotional labour because I make more money. To me, making more money doesn’t earn you more status in the relationship..it isn’t a points system where bringing home X means you don’t have to do Y.
      My husband recently quit his job and worked freelance part time for a couple months and handled our daughter’s transition to daycare as I returned to work early (Canada, so babe was 9.5 months old, vs the standard 12 months). My mum recently commented to me that she felt my husband now realized how much work it was to stay home and look after baby, and that he didn’t have dinner ready etc. for my coming home from work. I told her that I would never give him a hard time about that, as he never gave me a hard time during the previous 9 months when he would come home to a messy house, no food and a frazzled wife. We definitely argue about responsibilities and who does what etc. But income isn’t a factor.

  • ManderGimlet

    We have some shared accounts, but for the most part keep our money separate. We find it easier to instead discuss the bills we have and the savings plans we have as a goal, how much each of us will pay towards them (these figures change frequently as emergencies come up or one of us needs to work less or our savings plans need to be adjusted), and then leave whatever isn’t designated towards those shared things in our own accounts. We have very similar attitudes towards money so this works best for us and neither of us has anxiety about the other’s spending because we know both the bills are being paid and our savings goals are being addressed in our agreed manner. When it comes to things like vacations, eating out, etc, those are discussed either on case-by-case (vacations/travel) or are figured into our bills/expenses (take out/restaurant meals).

    I think one major positive to keeping money separate, for us, is that it can provide some parity in the “emotional labor” issue. My spouse does not like to/is not good at cooking, so instead of planning and cooking a meal, he will use his “fun” money for us to eat out a few nights a week. He still contributes to the shared grocery budget, but he is essentially paying “extra” in the way my “extra” is the labor of meal planning and cooking. Same with trips: I will do the planning and booking, he will pay a larger percentage of the trip expenses and/or pay for a luxury or upgrade to make the trip nicer for us. I think there are so many different ways to make budgets work, but it definitely takes a lot of discussion, adjustment, and trial-and-error.

    • Amy March

      Oh what a clever way to deal with splitting food provisioning duties equitably!

      • Anne

        Agreed! Though…we totally do the “I cook, he does the dishes” method, and while I know I put in much more time once you factor in meal planning, I still totally feel like I have the better end of the deal. The lengths I will go to when I’m home alone for a week to cook in such a way that I have as few dishes to do as possible are actually mildly embarrassing :-)

        • ManderGimlet

          Same! We also do the cook/dishes thing, but as I actually enjoy cooking and loathe doing dishes it never feels like one is “easier” than the other.

          • ssha

            Same, except opposite for us! He cooks, I do the dishes. When I mentioned “but you do more work than me!” he looked at me like I was crazy. “But I get the fun part!” he said. ha.

    • Jan

      This was really cool to read, thanks for sharing!

  • uggggh

    This is shockingly terrible advice. Women fought to have their own finances, and many many women get trapped in abusive relationships because their husbands or boyfriends exercise too much control over the finances and they can’t access money that he doesn’t know about or also have access to.
    It’s important to think about how you would get away if you ever needed to. Copies of all your important documentation in a separate safety deposit box that only you have access to is a good idea as well.
    It’s important to have some money that your husband can not access in case you need to get away. Women don’t typically go into relationships expecting their boyfriends/husbands to become abusive, until it happens. Women who end up in abusive marriages are not any different from women who don’t. They couldn’t necessarily predict in advance, and life changes, especially pregnancy, often precipitate or intensify abuse.

    Statistically, domestic violence is going to be a problem for an enormous number of women. It’s really messed up to specifically give women advice – and call that advice feminist! – that would make it more challenging for them to escape if their husband became abusive.

    • MTM

      YES. I was thinking this, and also step-situations. We have a joint account and cover expenses jointly (e.g. I pay for my step kids insurance), but I also have a personal account that he does not have access to, and he has an account that I don’t have access too (the children have their own accounts as well).

    • Eenie

      I believe in the philosophy Meg outlined above, but we both have a personal checking account with $5k in it. Multiple reasons for this – access to money in case accounts in the other persons name are frozen. If one of us tries to wipe out our joint account, the other still has money. And yes, if the relationship is abusive, it’s enough money to get away (hopefully). When I first set it up, I explained reason 1. I finally caved and explained reason 2 to my husband. He understood. I also know it’s there for reason 3.

      I think you can smartly combine finances without giving up all of the financial control to your spouse (if you want).

      • Anne

        Yeah, I think this is an important distinction to make: combining finances does not equal only one spouse having all the financial control. Like, yes, my husband and I share all our money, but that goes both ways—he has access to everything that is mine, but I have access to everything that is his, too (i.e., I guess technically either one of us could clean the other out). I think it’s depressing but totally logical to plan for the worst and keep some money in an account only you have access to, but “shared finances” shouldn’t make anyone automatically assume that in hetero relationships this means only the man has access to the money.

        • uggggh

          I think you might have misread my post. Nowhere did I imply that the man has the only access to the accounts. “they can’t access money that he doesn’t know about or also have access to” doesn’t mean “only the man has access to the money”.
          I’m totally for budgeting together and figuring out who will contribute what financially – which will be different for each couple, based on their circumstances.

    • TheHungryGhost

      Yeah. It’s honestly horrifying to dress up independent financial security as not ‘being in the moment as a team’.

      When my mum left her alcoholic, wife beating, child beating first husband, he took EVERYTHING from their joint account. She couldn’t even feed them.

      My fiance and I currently pool shared expenses, shared savings – everything that makes up our lives together from the house to meals out to savings to prep for children. We’ll probably, when we have kids, take all our incomings into one account, then pay OUT an amount to each person to spend or save from (rather than both chucking in). We’re separate people. We share a huge number of joint priorities linked to spending, and that’s an important part of security. But it would be pretty BORING if every one of our spending priorities were a ‘team decision’. I don’t need a team to tell me I want to spend £2k on a car, whilst he can go nuts and spend £3.5k.

      • uggggh

        Thank you!
        Honestly, it’s so horrifying to read “here’s some Feminist advice that will make it much harder, if not impossible, for you to leave your abusive husband”.
        What on earth is wrong with people.

  • S

    I’m someone that doesn’t share finances with my partner, and has no idea if that would change upon marriage. To be honest, there really is no big reason. We think of our money as “our” money, I just don’t know why it has to be in the one pool to view it like that. We’ve lived together for years – we pay for things equally, but also cover and carry each other if they’re earning less. We know the state of each other’s finances, regularly swap cards if we need to make a dash to the shops, know each other’s access codes, don’t make significant purchases without discussion, etc. I think one thing that might change upon marriage is that we might take our an account that’s shared, so we can be more on top of savings goals, etc. I don’t think either of us have any hesitation towards fully merging money, so it may happen down the line…I just don’t think either of us see any necessity for it yet. And I feel confident that whatever happens, we’ll always have our own separate accounts and cards as well, even if our primary account is shared – I’m a gift-giver, yo! I love me some surprise gift-giving antics.

    • S

      Actually reading this over, I realise I do “share finances” with my partner. It’s our money, it’s interchangeable, and neither of us would be happy with the other making large purchases without discussion. We just don’t have a shared account.

      • Jane

        Bingo :)

      • ART

        This is basically what we do, though we are married. We don’t track whose expenses are whose, and we talk about money, saving, and spending enough that we feel pretty well on track without having an official budget. We plan to at least get a joint account when we buy a house. Our only joint accounts now are for my husband’s business .

        • Kara E

          That’s more or less what we do – though we’re listed on each other’s primary accounts, they’re our individual accounts. We’re using quicken to get a more holistic view of our spending and savings, which has helped a lot emotionally for me (along with some language sensitivity). Even though my husband very much views our money as “ours” – I’m a little more sensitive to day to dy cashflow (and his income is way higher than mine). My biggest financial risk (for me) was to double my retirement savings before we actually got married which was scary because it meant less in my take-home paycheck, though the right thing for us in the long run. We’re looking at maternity leave soon (like in about 6 weeks!) and think we’ll be able to handle things a little better this time around financially, not from the money standpoint, but from the “who has what and where” standpoint. Fun times.

  • zero

    Completely agree that combined finances are often the fairest solution. We’ve just started moving towards a proportional model (not married). However, I still think it’s important to not become totally financially dependent on your partner. In our financial planning, we’re actually taking into account the idea that we should each retain a viable “exit option” to the relationship (which means, for example, that I get to save some more of my earnings when they hopefully finally increase, as he has more savings already).

  • sophia.s

    So I recently moved to another country to be with my partner, and, while waiting for some immigration stuff I can’t even look for work. Which makes me feel insecure in all sorts of ways. One thing i did stipulate was “while I’m not working you pay for basically all the things, and we do it in such a way that I dont have to ask you for every tiny expense”, because i get the bristish-style can not talk about money feelings. Once we get some bit of paperwork done, we’ll open up some bank stuff, and when asked I specified I prefer just doing a joint account for now, rather than separate ones, but I think he is also getting his own seperate account as well as the joint one, for small savings, which I am fine with. So I think at the moment the model is share expenses according to income, but we have not combined savings (seems a good mid step before throwing it all in ).
    On the other hand I recently moved my money from me in one country to me in another, and ran into some minor problem with the receiving bank, and specifically asked my sister whether I can transfer it to hers and grab it later, rather than my partner, because that is my “escape back home if things go bad” money. I mentioned the issue to my partner, and he offered to hold it for me, but was fine with my preference (in the end it got sorted out fine without either of them).
    I guess I think the fairest is combining (Which to me does not mean all in one bank account, to me, but rather living the same life considering joint rather than partial earnings), but also having some money in your own name, that partner does not have access to, just in case.

  • toomanybooks

    A lot of the reasons on that bulleted list involve the person saying they make less money than their spouse and thus it doesn’t seem fair! Am I the only one who’s like “I make a lot less money so it’s only fair that we pool our finances”?? I mean,
    1) we are married and we are a team, what’s mine is yours, etc
    2) it’s ACTIVISM because the wealth should be distributed more equally, her field (economist) pays more than mine (artist/designer) kind of no matter what. Lol.
    3) Helloooooo, I’m a gold digger! (Lol.)
    4) I will end up doing a lot of the shopping for shared stuff like groceries, but I make less, so it makes a lot of sense to have a joint bank account card to use.

    Also I’m gonna throw it out there that the idea that a woman makes less and thus shouldn’t expect to join finances with a husband who makes more… is… misogyny!

    I heard a joke recently, probably on 2 Dope Queens, of a woman saying “men are like, women are obsessed with getting married! And I’m like, pay me more so I don’t have to be!!” Loved it.

    • AtHomeInWA

      Late to the party, but: You’ve touched on one of the things that is my biggest concerns. The “incidental” expenses.

      I buy shampoo. I make sure we always have toothpaste. I’ll pick up some more non-stick spray on the way home from work. When the time comes, I’ll probably do the lion’s share of children’s birthday party work. One of my big concerns with completely separate finances is no matter that stuff. I can’t help but think that someone ends up holding the bag. Now, a joint account for incidentals would solve that problem, but now you’re debating if new underwear is “shopping” or a “cost of living.”

      • toomanybooks

        Yessssss. All the little groceries!

        We have separate accounts and then a joint account that we both contribute to – the joint account is for rent and other shared life expenses like groceries. I kinda know what the shared account would be used for and what it wouldn’t – basically that account is for immediately-essential-to-living shared expenses. So like, tbh underwear/most clothing IS shared by both of us (we’re two women of roughly the same size and taste) but that doesn’t come out of the joint account because that money has to be there for the other stuff we need it for. TBH I absolutely have bought all of the underwear for yeeeears, and definitely all the best underwear is mine. But I’ve paid for it! But also I’m basically a shopaholic. So.

  • laddibugg

    Sort of related, I see a lot of ‘memes’ on my Facebook/Instagram timeline that are along the lines of “Rent is $1400, utilities are $300. How much should the man pay?”*. SOOOO many of the women who answer think the man should pay $1400 or even $1700, even if both make roughly the same middle class salary. I also admit I’m a little stuck up–if my SO makes significantly less than me, I am not interested in living on just his salary to make him feel more ‘manly’ (insert eyeroll).
    I’m all for folks doing what works in their relationships, but many of them don’t understand that if I make $60k and he makes $60k, that I don’t want to live my life based on $60k (and no, I don’t believe in living a $120k life either). I’d much rather combine our finances and figure things out from the collective pot. Even if I was in a single income household, I’d still rather figure out things together

    *Same sex relationships don’t enter into the minds of some of these folks.

    • somanypseudonyms

      wait, what? I have never seen or heard of memes like this. Can you copy one here???

  • M

    Not making enough money, ladies??? Solve it through HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE!

  • Kate

    I know I am late in the game to be catching this article, but as someone who just recently got engaged + is finishing grad school with impending debt + often feels powerless about all things concerning money, this article articulated many of my current reservations about joining financial forces with my partner. THANK YOU!