Combining Finances

Happy Monday, everyone!  Consider checking out my other new post: Five Similarities with Weight and Debt Loss.


I’m convinced Ronald wouldn’t have pulled such a mean trick!

For the most part, I admit that I’m fairly mistrusting.  I think it stems from when I was 6 or 7, and my mom picked up dinner for us at a McDonald’s drive-thru.  The Happy Meal promo at the time was a container in the shape of a McDonald’s character, and when you lift the lid open the burger and fries were inside.  So my mom handed me my Happy Meal, which was shaped as Grimace, and since she didn’t like “fast food smell” in the car I had to keep it closed for the drive.  During the drive, I just kept looking at Grimace’s jovial smile and outstretched arms like he was ready to give me a hug, and I smiled back at my new friend.  When we got home, I lifted the lid to find out the container was empty!  Instantly, what I mistook for a jovial smile was really one of menace and mischief, and my level of trust and faith in humanity plummeted at that point (well, not really, but I did cry).

So okay, perhaps it wasn’t Grimace but the employee’s oversight, and perhaps there were a few things to avoid this – why we didn’t notice the Happy Meal was hella light, why were we at McDonald’s in the first place, etc.  But with instances like these, I kind of have a general mistrust of people, especially when it comes to my belongings and money.  I have no shame in counting the change back from a cashier, especially when they lift my see-through bag of mangoes and ask how many is in there (the answer, if you’re curious, was three… three).  I periodically check my wallet to make sure all my credit cards are in their proper place, that no monetary bills magically fell (even though there’s a zipper), etc.  It also becomes heightened when we travel, as I check every pocket that I dispersed my money in, to the point where it looks like I’m doing a little upper body jig.

So when it comes to “my” money and B’s money turning into “our” money as we start the process of joint accounts, I get a little apprehensive.  I love and trust B wholeheartedly, but I guess because I’ve been doing this on my own for more than a decade (we mostly split the bills), I come from a divorced home, and there’s a lot of divorces going on around me, it’s been more of a challenging process than I thought.  I think a reasonable first step is any prospective monetary gifts from the wedding, since it only makes sense that this goes into a joint account since it is both of ours.  But in figuring out things beyond that, we’ll have to do a little trial and error.  I think our ideal is to have a joint account, but still keep personal accounts since we’ve both been independent for so long and pretty autonomous.

It was kind of validating to know KK also thought this was nerve-wracking at first, at least when it came to combined money management.  And honestly, I don’t really have any reason to not trust him, considering he’s more financially responsible than me.  I guess I’m a bit of a cynic, and think of the worst case scenarios… but, I guess that’s where faith and trust will have to step in!  I am pretty sure most PF’ers have combined accounts, but I’m curious how long it took to configure and implement your financial systems.


41 thoughts on “Combining Finances

  1. I love your description of Grimace and finding out how you had been robbed – though it does suck that it happened. I think combining finances is a personal issue, though my wife and I combined ours from day one. Like Holly said, we’re a team and couldn’t imagine the further stress of keeping things separate. You gotta go with what works for you though. 🙂

    • Haha, I know, it was really traumatic in my kid world, but now it’s just hilarious. Wow, so you started off combining right away? That’s awesome, I hope it gels for us in that way, as well!

  2. As you know, we have combined finances. We didn’t combine until after the wedding. It took about 3 months to get all the payments and things moved to the joint account. I think once you combine it, communication is really important. Taking that first step and through communicating and actually seeing that you are becoming one will help you with the trust issue. There’s a reason why you chose him, so go with it and work at it continuously.

    • I definitely agree that communication is key – we have pretty wonderful communication, I think my reservations are just from my own past issues. It’s nice to hear that you both combined successfully so early on!

  3. I don’t think there’s a right way or wrong way to combine finances. It’s all just trial and error to see what works… I even think it’s ok to not combine finances at all! I’m sure you two will quickly find what works for you both! 🙂

    • I agree there’s no right or wrong way, just whatever works. Aww, thanks for the faith that we’ll reach a good rhythm quickly, I kinda think so, too! Have you and J ever discussed combining down the line?

  4. My wife and I are in the process of combining finances fully. We got married in May, so we still have our own accounts here and there that we need to clean up, but our goal over the next 6 months is to consolidate our accounts together. Even now, we’ve found it much better than previously, when we split a lot of stuff and tracked to make sure we were contributing our fair share. Like Holly said, we now have shared goals and work towards them together. We don’t have to worry about who pays for what for everything, which is nice.

    • That’s a great way of putting it – it sounds a lot more efficient when you work as a team! Are you two fully consolidating or still leaving a personal account open for each of you?

  5. I had a fair number of reasons to be mistrustful when it came to money before marriage, but when it came down to it, combining was a no brainer. We formalized the set-up after we were legally married and never really looked back. For us, it’s such a big part of keeping common goals that I don’t know what it would look like if we didn’t combine them.

    • I hope when it gets down to it, that it gels and becomes a no-brainer to us, as well! That’s a great way of looking at it, that you’re more open and transparent with common goals!

  6. I can understand your hesitation. I think as long as you keep communicating about money with B and you have frequent check in’s and you all have access to the same information, it’s probably going to be just fine!

    • I do like the routine check-ins idea, whether we end up having a joint or still keeping personal accounts. I agree communication is key!

  7. When my hubby and I combined our finances, it was such a relief as we both had debt and had been trying to deal with it in our own ways – not the best idea as we eventually got into lots more debt! It took around 10 years for us to give in and get a joint account which all our money now goes into. It’s so much easier for us to track our earnings and outgoings as a family and it’s made us more trusting of each other I guess. We didn’t get a joint account for ages as we still wanted to be independent of each other. But actually, we still are as we share the same views on where our money goes now (on debts… sigh).

    • That’s interesting, it took my friend about 10 years to find a system that both were happy with, as well – I can definitely see how it builds trust! I know, it’s such a bummer when lots of money goes towards debt, but at least you/we’re both working on it now!

  8. Mickey D’s would have been on my list after that snafu. I’d have cried too. Loudly. I’m not married but like you – I’ve been on my own long enough that I’m very used to taking care of everything myself. While I believe I would co-mingle finances when I find my one true love, I would probably maintain a separate account too.

    • Haha, yeah, it was pretty sad, but kind of funny now. 🙂 I agree that keeping both is ideal, but I guess we’ll see when we actually move forward with it! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  9. My wife and I have had joint accounts since very early on (about when we first moved in together, about 6 months into our dating relationship). But we are weird.

    The main hurdle we still have is paying for gifts without the other one knowing about it, since we each have visibility to the account activity.

    • Haha, I think that’s the biggest reason why I want to keep a personal account, I like surprising people so that would make it challenging if he knew what store I went to and how much I spent! That’s awesome that you and your wife were so trusting with each other even before marriage!

  10. My husband and I have been married for a year and together for 8 years before that, and we still don’t have joint accounts (well, one joint vacation-y account that I have since raided for my grad school tuition). It’s not really a matter of trust, as most marital assets are considered joint property subject to equal or equitable split in a divorce, but it’s a matter of logistics. I never thought I wouldn’t combine finances, but at this point it’s easier not to.

    • You bring up a good point, I guess that’s a way of looking at it (like if it isn’t broke, why fix it?). I guess when it becomes challenging, then that’s the time to work on combining or whatnot. Good luck with grad school, and thanks for stopping by!

  11. It’s hard to combine finances and give up that control (esp. when you’re used to having your own separate finances). You’ll find something that works for you guys. For us we just have our own accounts and decide who pays which bill. Maybe when we get married we’ll combine, maybe not.

    • Agreed, I think it’s about the control aspect for me, especially when I’ve been independent for so long. It’s funny because he mentioned about consolidating cell phone bills and whatnot last night, and it was a really easy conversation! So maybe this won’t be as challenging as I assumed after all (I hope so at least!).

  12. I think it’s normal to be apprehensive about combining finances. It’s a big change as you’re used to doing things your own way. Maybe you have a schedule of how you pay your bills and just a set way of doing things. Now you have to add someone else into the equation and kind of figure things out again. You have to consider their thoughts and feelings before making a purchase/investment. My boyfriend and I still split the bills and most likely will continue to do so until we are engaged or maybe married. I don’t really see a point in combining right now, especially since there’s not much to combine!

    • Yeah, I agree about thinking about the other when making purchases…. I think it’ll be more prevalent once we (hopefully) have kids. Then I think that makes sense to combine finances. That’s great that you two have a system down despite being independent!

  13. Okay, first of all, that’s a very zen Ronald.

    Second of all, I think you’re absolutely right to be worried about joining finances. I had a joint account with my ex husband, and that was it. If someone had told me when we were newlyweds that I shouldn’t do that because we’d split and he’d drain the account before I could even think to get to an ATM, I would have punched them in the face. No one ever thinks they’re going to split. But tons of people do. (I don’t think you will…I just think it’s good to protect yourself because you never truly know.)

    I like your idea of having one joint and then still maintaining separate accounts. My fiance and I may do that one day. For right now the completely separate accounts thing is working.

    • haha, I know, right? The McD’s in Thailand have Ronald posing that way, since that’s how people greet each other. 🙂 Yeah, I hate to be a cynic, but you never know what will happen down the line, and even though we see ourselves for the long haul, you just plain never know unfortunately. I agree a hybrid of joint and personal is reasonable, I hope it works out for us!

  14. My partner and I have been together for 5 years and are practically married, but feel no need to have a joint account. We have talked about it and having it separate just works for us. I don’t know if that will be forever, but you do what works for you in the moment and adjust as needed.

    • I agree, it’s working well so far, and if you two have been doing that for five years then surely something is working right! I guess I’ll just have to see what happens down the line.

  15. It would have been more apt if it had been the Hamburguler! ;P The hubby and I are not combining our finances in the traditional sense. We just opened a joint chequing and savings account for things related to the house (mortgage, utilities, maintenance) but we’re going to keep everything else separate. Too many times have we seen couples get into arguments over who spent whose money despite the fact that if you decide to join your finances it should be “our” money. Anyways, I’m sure its going to work out. You are definitely getting a handle on your finances and it sounds like B is very responsible with his.

    • Haha, that would have been pretty amusing had it been Hamburglar! I lean towards that model just so that there’s still some independence with “individual” spending. I definitely don’t want to argue about money, so I suppose we’ll go through a trial and error period.

  16. I remember those days when happy meals actually made you happy. They were a special treat not something you got everyday. That dang Grimace stole your heart and your food. Wifey and I now have joint accounts but it didn’t start that way. All I can say is that couples should really discuss money before getting married. I mean really talk about what you want, how you handle money and plans for the future. We didn’t and paid for it. Find what works for the two of you and thats all that really matters. I can truly say it was hard for the wifey to trust someone with her hard earned money after doing it alone for so long. Remember its a long journey and a lot of work and finances is a bigger issue than most people think about.

    • Haha, yeah, we would get it a couple times a month and I would love it – now I’m not so sure I would give it to my kids with all the nutrition information out there, but only time will tell. It sounds like your situation is a bit similar to mine – thanks for your advice on really sitting down and talking about it. I’m sure we’ll have more in depth discussions throughout this process, but I agree it helps to really get it all out there. I’m glad to hear you and your wifey reached a point that worked out for both of you!

  17. Pingback: Slowing Down After a Nutty Week » Student Debt Survivor

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