There are many ways to conduct your finances as a married or other-wise-committed couple. The most common three ways (very aptly described in this Slate series) are:
- Common Potters or 100% combined finances, where everything goes into the same account and what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine
- Independent Operators or 100% individual, where you pay yours and I pay mine
- and the middle ground of Sometimes Sharers or yours/mine/ours, where, just like the name indicates, incomes and expenses are divided into individual ones or shared ones.
Both CB’s and my parents have the 100% combined method, but that doesn’t mean that joint finances is better or worse than other methods. I am a big believer in different strokes for different folks. Right now, we only have individual accounts, even though (1) we have similar views on saving, investing, and (2) philosophically I believe that our money represent our joint resources (especially because we married relatively young and we have certainly not accumulated any type of “real wealth,” whatever that means). It’s just that the logistics of merging finances = a really big hassle. Neither of us feel up to tackling this hassle, and so it’s easier to keep bank accounts separate for a while.
We also decided how to split our finances for this school year, while I am a graduate student and CB is working full-time:
- I will pay for my tuition and most living expenses out of savings.
- I will remain on my parents’ family plan for cell phone, so all I had to do was pay for a smartphone. My monthly phone cost, however, is a big fat zero thanks to Mom & Dad.
- CB will pay my undergraduate student loans (less than $200/month), plus airfare for us to visit each other (around $500 every 2 months).
- If I really truly need money, all I need to do is to pick up the phone.
In many ways, finances after marriage will look exactly the same as finances before marriage, especially when it comes to the day-to-day things. We will eventually merge our money so that our bank statements catch up to our philosophy, but just not quite yet.