Combining Finances Makes Cents
I have been dying to share my story about how we handle finances in our household, but I've been pretty nervous of what people might think. For many couples, money is a taboo topic that either gets overlooked completely or causes serious drama in a relationship. But I want to bring this topic to the table and discuss the positive side effects of combining our finances. Ever since my boyfriend and I met about 6.5 years, we've always done our finances together. For many, this is a super strange concept, and we get asked about it all the time.
We didn't actually set out to start combining our finances right away. When we met, we were in very similar situations. We were both in college with some student loan debt (me much more than him), and a little bit of credit card debt. We both grew up in homes where finances were communicated clearly and there was no distrust or dishonest behavior. So it was fairly easy for us to get to the point of "let's just place the money essentially in a 'pile on the table' and each of us will pull from it what we need".
We started out viewing money as less of a "yours versus mine" and more of a "oh crap there's a bill due - who's got cash?!" It just wasn't a huge deal whose income was going where. Both of us had decent jobs (and decent debt), so we didn't feel the need to keep track. If couples are willing to share a last name, a house, and a bed, why not a bank account? What happened to "for richer or for poorer"? We feel that keeping our finances separate can be dangerous. Money equals power, so some people people feel that offers a kind of freedom. Money is a major component in our lives and our relationships. But does it have more power than it should? Combining our finances lessens the power we give money.
Fast forward 6.5 years, and we are still living with the same philosophy. It becomes less of a struggle over time and the communication flows freely now. If one of us wants to buy something not within our budget, we discuss and wait or go for it. Every week we go over finances with each other to make sure we are on the right track for our goals. There is no distrust or "hiding" of money and neither one of us feels ashamed to ask the other for extra money to have a bit of fun with.
There have been times when money wasn't exactly equal between us, and I can attest to the fact that it did cross our minds every now and then if what we were doing was right by each other. At one point in our relationship, I was making more that him, and there was also a period of time where I didn't bring in any income at all. So we've both been on either side of the scale. However, with open and HONEST communication, we both felt that it doesn't matter who makes what – as long as the bills get paid and we are both continually happy, then the decision to merge bank accounts was best for us.
Keeping finances separate does make it easier to buy what you want – "It’s my money, I can do what I want with it." But is that how it should be? What if you said that about your sex life, your house, or your children? If you promise to share your life together, then shouldn't that include EVERYTHING? Below are four reasons I have heard couples use to keep them from combining finances:
1. Fear: Adulting is hard ya'll! Many harbor a fear of growing up, or a fear of losing the false sense of security money gives us. Keeping finances separate is rooted in a desire to have full financial control.
2. Failure: We can’t go into a relationship or marriage already expecting failure – you've already made money your first priority. And if you are worried it won't work out between you, then you have MUCH bigger issues to worry about than money.
3. Fighting: Whether you combine finances or not, there are bills to be paid, gifts to purchase, emergencies, and goals to achieve. Fighting for what’s "yours" exposes selfishness and secrecy. Fighting about what is "ours" usually opens the conversation about money to a healthy compromise.
4. Financial Debt: As a committed couple, you should discuss debt, spending habits, and each other's outlook on money. It helps you develop a financial structure for the relationship. What’s mine is yours, right? Team up together and CRUSH the debt together.
By combining our finances and pooling our resources, we can both keep track of what each other is doing (in a healthy, constructive way) and neither one of us feels like we have to "ask" for money.
I keep a separate calendar for bills than I do for social gatherings and work related dates. This keeps everything in focus so we know what bill is due when. I keep everything abbreviated because I am always writing out what is due months in advance and I do months at a time. I also put down not only what is going out, but what is coming in as well (income). I would suggest writing down the amounts of each bill/paycheck on your personal calendar to see throughout the month where the bigger bills fall.
As with everything in a great relationship, you must keep the communication open and honest and flowing freely to make sure you are both happy with whatever decision you make. But here are some great reasons for taking the step towards combining everything in your lives:
– Promotes trust – Simplifies bill pay – Encourages communication – Forces accountability – Helps in an emergency – Cultivates a TEAM attitude – Completes financial goals faster
In what ways do you split your income with your partner? Do you keep things separate or combine everything together like we do? Please leave a comment below.