Inside My Wallet: Relationships and Money

By Katie, 5:02 am

Missed my first three Inside My Wallet posts? Check them out!

When I first asked for suggestions for my Inside My Wallet series, by far the most requested topic was about handling finances in a relationship. No big shocker there, since I’m pretty sure money tops the list of reasons couples fight/disagree.


Obviously every couple is different, so I can’t prescribe a definitive way for successfully merging your moula. But what I can tell you is what works for Dave and me and how we figured it out.

What Works For Us

From the beginning, Dave and I knew we wanted to completely merge our bank accounts. While many people I know choose to keep separate accounts, for a variety of reasons, we decided it would be best to keep everything all together.

This works for us because:

1. We’re both interested in financial stuff. In some couples, one person is the financial guru while the other wants nothing to do with monitoring the checking accounts. But Dave and I both enjoy it (or at least don’t mind it! And want to recommend to do Fifth Third apply for credit card), so having our accounts together means we can both get a good look at the whole picture.

2. We both pay bills. Again, while some people  prefer to have one person pay all the bills, Dave and I each pay some. He pays his student loans, I pay mine. He pays the gas bill, I pay the electric. This is mainly because we were each paying some of these bills prior to getting married, and we like having the load divided. It works for us. (We keep a shared spreadsheet where we document our bills, so we’re certain everything is getting paid each month!)

3. We are totally open books. Having nothing but joint accounts means that Dave’s aware of every single transaction I make, and vice versa. For us this is totally fine. We don’t need or want privacy in our spending. And yes, this means that if I happen to buy Dave a gift, he eventually knows how much it cost. This is in no way a problem for us because neither of us are big gift givers. For special occasions we usually prefer to plan something together – a nice dinner, a weekend trip, etc. _______________________________________________________________________________

So that’s what works for us. Obviously this wouldn’t be the case for everyone! What really matters, I think, isn’t the specifics of a relationship-based financial plan, but rather the process you take to get there. Here are the key steps.

Steps for Creating a Relationship-Based Financial Plan

1. Become self-aware. Taking some time to analyze my “money personality” was a great first step. I went into my relationship knowing what kind of spender/saver I was, what my goals and priorities were, etc.

2. Talk about it! Duh, right? And yet so many people don’t talk about money with their partners! If you’re going to share your life with someone, regardless of whether or not you share your bank account, your best bet is to be open with each other about your financial goals, dreams, frustrations, and anxieties.

3. Consider both the short and long term. While a Starbucks obsession doesn’t immediately seem connected to your goals for retirement, the two are actually closely linked. If you want to find the middle ground between spending now and saving for later, it’s important to think through both aspects of your finances.

4. Create a realistic system that feels good to both parties. In the end, the most important thing is that your financial plan works for both you and your partner.


Your turn to chime in!

What are your tips and suggestions for managing finances while in a committed relationship?

3 Responses to “Inside My Wallet: Relationships and Money”

  1. Alexis says:

    When I was married we had one account. When I divorced we fought over the stuff and the money. I wanted him to have it and he wanted me to have it. We decided to each take back what we had when we entered the marriage, sell the rest and split the money. I didn’t want to split the bank account 50/50 since he earned most of it. I didn’t think that was fair. If I was married now, I would keep my money separate and contribute 50% to a household account. By my age men have kids, some have grand kids. I’m not entitled to what should be their inheritance.

    • Katie says:

      Good point, Alexis. Your situation is exactly why I don’t want to be prescriptive – there are so many factors that come into play, making each person’s experience unique.

  2. Katie, these are awesome tips! I love that you simplify finances – because it’s a tough and intimidating topic. I don’t have any tips for managing finances in a marriage but I’ll definitely keep your great advice in mind when it comes time. :)

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