Transitioning the “Me” Thinking Into “We” Thinking

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner when B suddenly entered and said, “There’s a great house that just listed!”  We usually check at house listings from time to time just to watch what the current pricing ranges are, but there was an eagerness in his voice with this one (which for B, is a big deal).  So I followed him back to his computer, and there, indeed, was a great house being listed for a really unusually “low” price.

By all accounts, it had all that he would want in our ‘forever house’ – an ideal layout with the master on the first floor and three bedrooms on the second, a canyon in the back, and a real fixer-upper to get his MacGuyver on.  It had most of the things I wanted, as well – not in a cookie cutter suburbs so we’re not subject to mello-roos or HOA, close to both our workplaces, and on a cul-de-sac.  So after he received my nod of approval, while I thought we were just going back to what we were doing since we originally thought we’d be able to buy a house in couple years, he started crunching numbers.  Aggressively.

I was a little shocked and confused by this, since there was no way that I had enough for my part of the down payment (we agreed that if I at least contributed 25-30% of a 20% down payment, then it would be proportionate to our earnings).  However, he was crunching the numbers to see if he could come up with the down payment, what our monthly payments would be, etc., and his whole activity pretty much freaked me out.  Now that I’ve had a couple of weeks to process it, these are the primary reasons where I discovered we were not truly aligned in our thinking, both in terms of finances and our views about buying our ‘forever’ place (sorry you’ll have to click, I haz no skillz):

heme

In the end, it all ended up being kiboshed since he stopped by the house the next day, and discovered that not only where there a ton of interested buyers, but there were already offers in cash and way above the asking price.  The latter is an extremely frustrating part all on its own as there’s a lot of investor buyers, but that’s for another ranty post.

Ever since this situation, I’ve noticed smaller situations where I’ve noticed that my ‘me’ thinking gets in the way, like he’ll offer to pay for my car repairs since he considers it “our” car/problem, but I resist and dig into my “savings” since I consider it “my” car/problem.  And I admit, even though it would be in my favor to combine finances, the implementation has been delayed on my part.  I’m guessing it’s because I’ve been on my own for so long, that this change is a lot more challenging than I thought.  He says that while he understands and it’s because I’m pretty independent, others say I’m that to a fault since I have no problem giving/sharing my stuff, but I often have trouble accepting/asking/taking/sharing other’s stuff.

I know over time, this will probably become easier, and I just have to figure out incremental steps in merging our finances, both in terms of logistics and mindset.  I do admit I was slightly disappointed that the house didn’t work out after my initial freak out mode, so if there’s a great house and the timing is right, I’m more open to me perhaps not contributing the ideal amount I would like to.  Or maybe I’m all talk since that situation is currently not staring me in my face, and I would still freak a little. 😉

Did this happen to anyone else when you were in the transition of combining finances?

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41 thoughts on “Transitioning the “Me” Thinking Into “We” Thinking

  1. The one thing my hubby and I agreed from the very beginning was combined finances. How to handle those combined finances took some time to figure out and it’s a working process, but we knew we had to combine everything from the beginning. I know some people do it differently, but for us, it’s just easier to build a life together with combined finances and it’s easier to become mentally and spiritually one without dividing mine and his money. I think there can be temptations when finances are separate and even if that’s not a threat, why leave any room? The problem I had was thinking of his family as my family and my family as his family.

    • I think that’s great that you combined from the get go – I never really thought that the process will also carry over into the mental and spiritual aspect, but that makes sense. Was it pretty easy for you from the get go to do so? That’s interesting about the family combining… like, it was difficult for you to think of his family as your family (and vice versa)?

      • Combining finances was from the beginning, but I think I had hard time with his family because I had some mother in law problem before we even got married. So I had resentment issue and it took my mother in law even longer time after we got married to really accept me as her family. Yes, a lot of drama.
        I’m super sensitive about my mom. My hubby in the beginning told me that he felt like I was married to my mom and not him and that comment hit me real hard. I had to learn how to be married to my hubby without feeling like I was abandoning my mom.

  2. $500k + for a fixer-upper in central SD would be a steal of a deal in Vancouver. In Vancouver, if you want an ancient fixer-upper (that’s putting it kindly), then you are looking at around 1 mil. Even 35 minutes outside the City, where I live, my friend’s sister just bought a 70 year old house at a bargain price of $700k. Its insane.

    I admire how independent you are Anna! However, I can’t really picture pretty boy B getting his ” MacGuyver on” 🙂

    • That is silly about $1M – there’s definitely parts of SD that have that, as well, but no way are we even thinking about those areas (nor do we want to, since the high school kids roll to school in BMW’s and Range Rovers… it’s crazy). The house sold way above the asking price, but I don’t think it reached $700k – but yeah, the ones here are built in the 50’s and 60’s as well. I kinda like it more than the newer cookie cutter houses, though, has more character. 🙂

      Haha, PBB would surprise you. 😉 He kind of works in the construction industry, so he’s very handy around the house and with cars. One of his most attractive qualities for sure since I just have to say “Um, so I broke something again” and then it gets fixed. 🙂

  3. I had (and still do have) a hard time changing my thinking. I am kind of a control-freak, and he is more easy-going, so usually what I want ends up happening. 🙂

    My cousin and his wife just moved from La Jolla (renting) to LA and bought a foreclosure. They did alright for price, surprisingly. I don’t know the details, but it worked for them after renting in SD for close to 13 years.

    • We seem to have the same dynamics, as I tend to be more controlling and he always tells me to ease up. Do you think you two will eventually combine (you don’t have to answer if that’s too personal). Wow, that’s surprising about LA, since that’s an expensive area, too, congrats to your cousin – but indeed, La Jolla is pretty pricey. It’s a great area, though!

      • We’re working toward figuring out how to do it. We are halfway combined, but I find it’s the personalities of being independent adults that makes it so difficult. I just need to be able to a little better at giving up control. I’m pretty stubborn though.

        I always loved La Jolla when I would visit (was last there in 2011 for their wedding at UCSD)… but yeah, the prices were all insane! I’m not quite sure, but I know the only reason they could afford to buy in LA was because it was a foreclosure.

  4. Interesting dilemma. It’s the downside of mental accounting, I think. For example, the down-payment will hypothetically be the same, regardless of how much comes from your money or his money. But it feels different. Same with the car repair. The mechanic and car don’t care where the money comes from, but we, the contributors, might.

    Maybe, with the house, you could set up a system where you “catch up” if he puts more down, initially. Maybe making slightly more of the house payment each month, keeping track, until you get to the amount you’d be happy with (not necessarily 50%, per se), and then going back to some other split.

    • That’s a great thought – I agree that no matter the fund source, the outcome is the same. I guess I still itemize things mentally between me and him. That’s so funny because I mentioned the same thing to him, about how I might not be able to give a lump sum now, but perhaps I can contribute more monthly. He just looked at me a little oddly… looking back, I assume it’s either 1) he just thinks of us as one fund source and/or 2) growing up, his dad was the one who bought the family house, so perhaps he has a similar mindset?

  5. It sounds perfectly normal to me. I understand your hesitation in letting B put more down than you. If I were in that situation, it wouldn’t truly feel like “our” house either. I think it’s great you’ve been independent for so long, certainly better than the other way around! I’m not sure if we’ll combine finances once we get married or earlier, but it is harder when there’s an income gap. I’ve already experienced this in a way, with having a lot more in savings than R. Sometimes he feels a bit inferior because of it, but I would have his back if his car needed repairs, like B would have yours. However, R does make more than me now, he just has higher bills. Emotions and money are complicated, aren’t they? I guess it’s all about feeling comfortable and easing into things.

    • Thanks for getting me, EM! Emotions and money are definitely complicated, especially with merging and wanting to feel like a partner in it, you know? That’s so kind that you would have R’s back if he would need car repairs, he’s got a good woman in his life! 🙂

  6. We run into the same crap here in Colorado as well. Lots of the places we wanted would get 3 or 4 offers within hours of going on the market. While we finally got a home, we have been trying to buy a rental and having zero luck. A thought I’ve often has is that we’ll just have to wait until the next downturn when money dries up.

    Regarding stuff, everything is just ours. I always smirk when I hear a married person talking about “my car” or “his car” or whatever. To us, it’s all just stuff. Who cares. Except for my Transformers. Those are mine.

    • LOL at Transformers – are you going to see the movie when it comes out? We saw the preview for it and B’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. 🙂 I think I still consider it “my” car since I’ve had it over 10 years prior to B (and made poor choices in the past with taking care of it, so it feels like it’s “my” problem). I think that once we get a new car once I run this one to the ground, that I would consider it “ours”… I hope so, at least! Did you and the Mrs. combine finances fairly quickly?

  7. I’m with ya girl. I make more money and on that end it’s hard to truly feel combined in some ways and not in others. Like, I pay for his health insurance (through my work), but we don’t have combined finances. In some ways I think it’s great, in other ways I hate “paying each other back” all the time. I mean we don’t take it too seriously, but sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to combine. But I also would like us to be closer in income, but maybe it doesn’t matter? Your partner is your partner — all this money and relationship stuff is hard! I hope you guys can find an “affordable” house at some point.

    • Thanks Melanie, I hope we can get an ‘affordable’ house, as well! I do have some benefits that are better than B’s, but because of his industry I think he’ll always make more. Do money issues ever come up between you two because of the income gap? But I agree, partners are partners, and despite me not making as much, I’d like to think I contribute more in other non-financial areas that make for a symbiotic relationship. 🙂

      • Oh, of course! Even though I make more, we both make a fairly low income, so it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to feel like you can barely support yourself, and then feel responsible for being in a partnership. Which is weird, because we have separate finances, but you know at the end of the day, should anything come up we have each other’s back. He definitely contributes in a lot of non-financial ways, but I hope we can both reach a level where we are more comfortable and not stressed.

  8. San Diego is expensive, yo… My husband and I have always combined finances but, I admit it was a bit difficult for me when I left my job to stay home with my daughter and I no longer had an income to contribute. That was an adjustment for me, for sure!

    • SD is crazy expensive! We’re so established here, though, both in terms of careers and friends, so we’re trying to make it work as much as possible… just hope we can make it happen! Oh man, that must have been the biggest transition – did you write about it in your blog? I would love to hear how that process went!

  9. The hubby and I haven’t (and probably will never) combined our finances. Its more him than me, he’s also very independant and doesn’t want to give up control (as he sees it) of his money. We do split the bills according to our incomes and I actually put in exactly the same amount as he did on the house so I definitely feel that it is ours and we both have a say. We went to see plenty of houses that put their prices down very low as an inticiment to attract more buyers/bidders but its still up to the current owners what they accept it or not, can always sell for more. Home shopping is not fun!

    • I like knowing that there’s couples out there that don’t combine, but still make it work like you two! House shopping is definitely not fun when you’re in the thick of it – I just hope we manage to find something reasonably priced and centrally located. A girl can dream, right? 😉

  10. My husband and I married pretty young, so we didn’t have much money and had not lived on our own for any great period of time, which probably made it much easier to commingle our finances. It is tricky to figure out what method is best for you, but it’s great that B is ready and wants it to be “we” and “our” money, rather than “his” and “your” money. I suspect since you are independent (which is great!), make less at this time and most importantly are a caring person, you don’t want B (or anyone else) to think you’re taking advantage of him or not pulling your weight. I get it; I do. However, don’t overlook all the other things you do in your relationship and soon to be marriage. I imagine you more than carry your weight when it comes to that. Thankfully, it sounds like B doesn’t want, expect or view you as anything less than a full partner. Sadly, some husbands (and wives too) don’t when they earn more than the other. It’s great that you two are openly communicating. It does get easier. 🙂

    • I think that’s exactly how I feel, Shannon – I always feel the need to ‘earn my keep,’ even though he’s pretty comfortable with the ‘we’ and ‘our’ aspect, which I of course am thankful for! I hope it gets easier, and that I’m able to work on my issues with letting go of some things… I do objectively think I carry my weight in other aspects of our relationship (especially with the wedding planning), but I suppose because money/finances is so measurable and quantifiable, that I tend to have issues with that department. I do agree communicating is key, though, and positive things will work themselves out if we keep talking about it. 🙂

  11. We didn’t think twice about combining finances, so there’s that. We have had different opinions financially a few times, but now we’re on the same page — paying off debt, living the minimalist lifestyle, spending discretionary income on travel and eating out, and steadily saving for retirement until the debt is paid off and we start saving more aggressively. Trust me, it’s a good thing that B sees everything on a “we” level 🙂 And while you are holding onto independence, you are on the preferable side of independence (not being greedy about money, just being uncomfortable about others covering your share).

    • I think that’s great that you two combined right away without a second thought, as well as both of you being on the same page financially! I am really grateful that B thinks of us as ‘we’, so I just gotta get comfortable with thinking like that, as well! I just don’t want to feel like I’m mooching, despite him not thinking like that at all.

  12. Since there is no “we” (unless you count Max and he’d be a spender if he had his own money!) I can imagine it is an adjustment going from “me” to “we”. It would be for me. I am independent too and used to making all my decisions myself, so I hope I would be as open and ready as B is to combine finances. I always felt sorry for those who got an “allowance”, although now that I think about it, my dad got an allowance and he was the breadwinner. LOL! It worked for them, so that’s all that matters. I’m sure you’ll figure it out and it takes time to adapt to a “we” mindset too. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

    • Yeah, I have some friends that are on an allowance, and though it works for them for the most part, I don’t know if I would be comfortable with that (especially since they actually call it an allowance – can’t it just be ‘their’ money?). LOL I love Max’s escapades, though, so I’m sure his expenses are all worth it. 😉

  13. Mr PoP likes to joke by telling me, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours…” =)

    We had a pretty casual relationship with finances when we were dating and even living together before we got married and combined everything. We kindof alternated buying groceries or dinners out and gas, etc. Rent was split 50/50. It was very casual, though. So when Mr PoP said that he really wanted combined finances after we married (“and could you please take over paying the bills on time?”), it wasn’t that big of a deal. It all just went in one pile. It didn’t matter who earned more or less, it all belonged to both of us combined. And it felt oddly natural, even though I’m a fairly independent woman.

    • Hahaha, love that, and my friends say the same things, as well, with a big smile on their face! 🙂 I love that it felt really natural for you, as I for sure see you as an independent woman. I hope I can get into that mindset once we start to – I still teeter at ‘pushing the button’ so to speak, but perhaps that’s all I need to do in order to get comfortable with it (like, learn how to swim by being tossed in a pool, you know?).

  14. We’ve been living like married for a while. Our accounts are separate and will continue to be after marriage, but we have a pretty symbiotic relationship when it comes to money. We don’t always have a lot of it as I just graduated and he just started college, but whoever has it pays whatever bills need to be paid. And we usually have one major goal going on that we both know we’re saving for. We don’t keep track of who makes what or what % either one has paid. Even before we had kids we didn’t. We’re lucky our relationship turned out well, though. :p If we had trusted each other that much from the get go and then broken up it could have been pretty bad.

    • That’s great that despite you two not combining finances, that it works out symbiotically and effectively for you! It makes me learn that there’s not one true set way, you know? I have a pretty awful habit of keeping track (of everything!), so I think I have to manage a way to still do so because it’s in my nature, but not make it feel like I’m keeping tabs, if that makes sense. It’s all a work in progress!

  15. Yeah, this whole post really resonated since the past couple weeks, we’ve been A) looking into Mr. Bacon getting a new car–he keeps saying “we’re” buying a new car, and “our new car”; and B) shopping for a bigger place to rent (the studio is getting too tiny). He likes to defer to “if that’s what you want that’s fine” (about a 1-bedroom) but then I realized he really wants a 2-bedroom. SO…we need to make sure we communicate what we each want better! Haven’t even gotten to combining finances yet, and I’m hesitant because, well, I make twice as much as he does and am more financially responsible 😦 To be continued!

    • Ah, we are going through very similar things! It’s nice to know that someone is going through the same process – definitely write more about it, as I like learning about others’ thoughts and actions towards it (especially since you’re on the ‘other’ point of view with making more/ being more responsible). Good luck with housing hunting, and car shopping!

      • Thanks! My blog is only semi-anonymous so I haven’t written much about being the breadwinner (everyone knows it but I’m sure my parents wish he made more money). We saw a 2bed/2bath condo tonight we really like! Woohoo!

  16. I’m all for combining your finances once you’re married. At that point, you guys are a team working toward shared goals. One person may make or bring more money than the other person, but you both add monetary and non-monetary contributions to the relationship that make you better as a unit. Combining your finances allows you to spend less time working on the personal accounting and more time planning for the future.

  17. We don’t have combined finances but we do have shared finances. He has his pay and it goes into his account and I have mine and it goes into my account, then he pays some bills for the household and I pay the others. I know it’s probably not really a traditional way to pay bills, but it works for us. When we get married that might change, but “if it ain’t broke…”?

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