Combining Finances with a Partner

Making the decision on whether combining finances with a partner is a good idea is not an easy decision. There are several factors to be weighed upon, and it’s different for each couple. Some couples agree on combining all their finances, while others are a bit hesitant. This is a topic I am torn on; I can see some of the benefits, but because of past relationships, I don’t know if I’m able to trust someone enough financially yet to combine our finances.

Combining Finances

After researching and talking to many people, I’ve compiled a list of eight pros and cons to consider before deciding whether or not it is a good decision for you and your partner to combine your finances together.

Pro 1 – Convenience

Combining finances to have one single joint chequing account makes it easier to pay for living expenses and bills. If you both share a home, it can be easier to combine your money into one account to pay regular bills and your rent/mortgage instead of transferring money back and forth. Having a joint chequing account also allows both partners to see how much money is available to their household.

Con 1 – Potential for Fights About Money

Since both of you will own the account, you may feel like you have to discuss every dollar you spend and justify each purchase to your partner. If you’re used to being more independent with your finances, this may cause arguments around your spending habits.

Pro 2 – Easy to Keep Track of Bills

When combining finances, it can be much easier to have the household bills come out of one joint chequing account. This allows you to see what bills have been paid, and which bills have not. It aso streamlines the process since either partner can pay the bills when they are due.

Con 2 – Highlights Different Spending Styles

It can be very difficult to make a joint account work if both partners have different spending styles. If one of you is a spender and one of you is a saver, this can lead to financial arguments. In combining finances, boundaries should always be set. You should also have discussions regarding large purchases before they are made.

Pro 3 – Collaboration

Many couples have different incomes, which can sometimes lead to feelings of inequality. Combining finances can leave both partners feeling responsible for the same pool of money, rather than acting like separate entities. This can create a “team” feeling and allow partners to share the funds in their account equally.

Con 3 – No Privacy

Combining accounts mean that all of your transactions are completely transparent to the other person. This can be a good thing in many cases, however, it also makes it harder to purchase things like gifts for the other person or persona items you may want to keep private.

Pro 4 – Reduces Bank Fees

Many chequing accounts require that you have a minimum balance or you’re forced to may bank maintenance fees. By combining finances into one joint account, you can reduce the banking fees you are paying as there is only one account and if you’re both contributing, you will likely be able to hit the minimum amount to wave the fees.

Con 4 – Difficult To Separate if Needed

If you and your partner eventually separate, it can be difficult to separate your account and finances. To make things worse, each person has equal access to the account, so they have the right to withdraw funds and close the account at any time. This is also able to be done without the other person’s consent.

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My Experience

Although I am not in a spot where I have to even consider combining finances with another person, it’s still something I think about often. I have been with people in the past who have been completely irresponsible with their own finances, and it carried over to having them use mine in an irresponsible manner as well. I have never had a combined account or credit card with anyone, but I did give certain individuals access to my money (mistake #1).

Personally, I don’t know if I ever want to only have one single joint account with an individual. After looking at con 4 above, that is a major fear of mine. I believe having one account to transfer money into for bills is a good idea, or even a credit card that we both pay each month in full.

I fully believe that even if combining finances is the right decision for you and your partner, everyone should still have money of their own. Whether that be a savings account, an chequing account used for small personal purchases and gifts, or a RRSP retirement account. Although a couple may not plan on parting ways later on, it often happens, and you have to be financially prepared for the worst.

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Others’ Stories on Combining Finances with a Partner

Everyone’s money story is different. We all come from diverse financial backgrounds, and have had different experiences to draw upon. A list of pros and cons of combining finances is helpful, but I always like to hear from actual people on what works (or doesn’t work) for them. It’s nice to have the personal connections to draw from.

I’ve spoken to fifteen women from all over the world about their financial situation. Some of them have decided combining finances worked for them, while some have not. Personally, I find these interesting to read, and I hope you do as well!

*All the women have granted permission for their stories to be shared on The Millennial Approach.

 

Meagan

My husband and I keep our finances separate. We bought a house before we got married and opened a joint checking and savings with our mortgage lender. Every month, we each put equal amounts into the account enough to cover our mortgage and utilities for that month. We also have a joint credit card that we use for “joint” things like eating out together, groceries, things for the house, vacations, Netflix, etc. Each month I send him a Venmo request for half of that CC bill and pay it off. Other than that, our incomes are kept completely separate. I have my own checking and savings account where my paycheck goes each months and same for him. This works really well for us for now — but I think it’s mostly due to the fact that we both make about the same amount of money and we don’t have kids.

 

Mickaela

My husband and I have combined finances. Our pay goes into our joint account and we use it for everything – mortgage, car payments, insurance, cable, utilities, etc. However, each pay period we both take $300 that we use for ourselves and it’s “no questions asked” – we  can blow it on whatever you want with a guarantee of no judgement. We were comfortable with this because we make around the same amount of money.

 

Ashley

We each owned a place when I moved in with my now husband. Once I was able to rent my place out, we started splitting expenses (I started contributing to mortgage, utilities, split groceries etc) since my house was sort of paying for itself with the rental income. Once we got engaged six months later, we opened a joint savings and checking account. We put a limited amount into the joint chequing for joint household expenses, and then the rest went to our personal accounts.

Once we got married, we just reversed it (most of our checks go to joint account and small amount goes into our personal accounts for whatever we want). Honestly, we both end up transferring a lot of the personal money back to the checking account because we usually agree on spending. I just need to maintain a credit card and bank account I can use to buy gifts in secret.

 

Emily

My husband makes a significant amount more than I do so he pays all of the house bills. We keep our money separate for the time being. I pay for my student loans and groceries but we both have access to each other’s money. Once I get my loan paid off, everything will be put together.

 

Lauren

We bought a house and went to the bank and opened up a joint account that we both contribute money into each paycheck. That is the account that our mortgage, most of our bills and any large joint purchases come out of  (trips, new bed, TV, etc). He contributes more money than I do because he makes almost double. But, we both contribute a set amount so that we still have our own money to buy things we ‘want’ or go on trips/do things with our friends. This has worked well for us over the last few years.

We are having a baby soon and I’m sure we will have to start making some tweaks to our system due to me being on Mat leave and have only unemployment to draw from. He had a pretty minimal line of credit that we attached onto our joint account. Luckily, we both didn’t have any major school/credit debt before we combined accounts. If we did I might have felt differently, but I was okay will taking on the line of credit and working on paying it down together.

 

Shandie-Lyn

My partner and I opened a joint checking account when we moved in together for shared expenses. Both of us put a set amount into that account every month for things like groceries, bills, etc. We each still have separate chequing and savings accounts. We have no shared credits cards. The only thing we share is the one account. We have no mortgage so I pay our condo fees and he pays our insurance, internet, etc. It works perfectly for us.

 

Victoria

I’m married and we keep everything separate! We don’t have a mortgage so that makes things easier. I own the house, so he will Venmo me half for utilities and other shard household expenses. We  take turns buying things like groceries and it equals out.

 

Kalie

I’ve been married for 8 years. We have one joint account and one shared credit card. There have been times that I worked multiple jobs to put him through anesthesia school. Then we both were working and he was making more than me. Now I’m staying home with our baby and solely relying on his income. I believe our marriage is a partnership in every way, and we have shared financial responsibilities. Relationships ebb and flow, and so do financial contributions.

 

Amy

I heard a really interesting strategy on a podcast I listen to. The host just moved in with her boyfriend (not married) so they got a joint credit card where they charge all joint expenses. Then they each pay 1/2 of the bill. That way they don’t worry about who is paying for what and just split everything evenly. They keep their separate chequing and savings accounts. I thought that was a cool way to do it and would consider it when I move in with my boyfriend.

 

Aimee

I have been married twice and two totally different experiences. My first husband I met when I was only 20 and still in college and he already had a career. He basically supported me and even throughout the marriage he handled all the finances. We always discussed everything and made decisions together. That said, there was resentment on his part for having to be responsible for everything; even when I was working and there was a bit of dependency on my part and guilt every time I spent money. I feel like it created a weird power imbalance.

Now, I am remarried and I have my own money and I actually make around three times what my current husband makes. We keep our finances completely separate for the most part. We do have a joint account where we put money for emergencies and vacations.  I own the house we live in, and it’s in my name only. I have two teenagers who live with us so I am responsible for them; my current husband doesn’t pay for them at all. So it’s a bit complicated. Personally, having been on both sides of the equation, I think it is really important for each person to have their own money have some control over it. Even if one spouse is the primary breadwinner, I think the other spouse should have an account that they have control of even if the other spouse is the one that funds it.

 

Samantha

My husband and I have been married for almost one year. We have been together for a total of seven years, and have been living together since we started dating. We keep all finances separate and most likely always will. He makes just over double what I do, which doesn’t have a lot to do with it. But we both share the mindset that what’s his is his and what is mine is mine. He works hard for his money and has spent years getting to where he’s at, and likewise for myself.

In regards to bills, we split things according to our pay scales and I PayPal him money for bills twice a month when I get paid. When we go out for dinner or something he usually pays because he knows I don’t make as much as him. But sometimes I will treat him to a dinner or something as well. I also buy the majority of groceries so that things are a little bit more evenly split (he buys nice dinners out, I buy groceries). It has worked really well for our relationship.

The only time I’ve had people question it was when I worked at a bank and my female coworkers literally couldn’t wrap their heads around keeping finances separate. It shouldn’t matter to anyone else as long as it works for you! I will also add that my credit is not good compared to his, so it’s beneficial to keep things in his name for now until I can build up my credit.

 

Alison

My boyfriend and I mesh our finances. We’ve been together 4 years. We’re very transparent about money. Our names aren’t on anything together and likely won’t until we’re married. This isn’t a hard rule for us, but we just don’t really need to combine anything until then. We try to split things fairly based on income. I pay a little more rent because he buys 100% of our groceries, which comes out to more on his end. He makes more than double what I earn. We have budget meetings and talk about our financial future a lot. When we get married, everything will be 100% combined. His money will be mine, mine will be his. We want to live off of his income and save all of mine because our goal is for me to stay at home when we have kids. We follow Dave Ramsey baby steps.

Alison also runs her own personal finance Instagram account (which I love!!), and you can check it out here!

 

Anonymous

My partner and I have been together five years and keep everything separate. We do not live together so that makes it pretty easy. We have talked about signing a prenup before we get married next year. Not that we expect to divorce, but because I feel that I have worked extremely hard for my money and he feels the same. We both know anything can change, so we’d rather be protected if it does. If it doesn’t, we only see it as a benefit.

I see us having separate accounts and have one joint account for mortgage or rent and maybe insurance, phone, internet where we will both contribute evenly. I don’t think it’ll be based off each of our incomes, because we both strongly believe that we are solely responsible for how much we make. If we want to make more, that’s on us as individuals. However, on the flip side, if we want to contribute more, we can do that too.

* has asked her name to remain anonymous.

 

Courtney

I used to be so against combining money. When my boyfriend (at the time) and I moved in together we did not combine finances and we sent money back and forth via Venmo. Eventually, I created a budget  and realized I was spending a lot more money on things (I make a significant amount more) and we had a conversation about our financial goals (when to pay off loans, how to be aggressive, etc).

This turned into us each putting 75% of our salaries into a joint account, and the remaining 25% into our own personal chequing accounts. The 75% is used for rent, loan payments, savings account, food, groceries, gas, etc. The 25% is used for savings of our own, eating out without the other person and paying off private loans. We both put whatever we have extra into our savings (sometimes its almost the full 25% per person!). This seems to work well for us; we’ve been able to save more aggressively this way and it has allowed us to pay off our loans quicker. We are engaged now and plan to continue down this path as its helping us save a lot of money for a wedding as well.

 

Taylor

I’ve been with my significant other for eight years( live together, not married). We keep everything 100% separate, but are both very aware of how much we each have/make/save. For instance, he bought a car last month and we agreed on how much to put down/what monthly payment we could afford. We split everything exactly down the middle, with the exception of random little things. We will get married in the next couple of years at which point everything will be 100% combined, we just don’t want to mix money until we are married. I imagine once married, we will each keep a personal chequing that maybe gets $500-$1000 a month for just our own random spending. We both have very similar mindsets with money and are open about it. However, something about joint checking when we are unmarried just throws both of us off.

 

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I love getting to hear more stories about combining finances, and if it worked for you and your partner! Feel free to share them below!

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