Three Ways for Couples to Manage Money

Al & Lesia Diamond Date Night.JPG

Couples communicate everyday but I sometimes wonder how many of those discussions involve personal finance. When you think about it, money is one of the most important, yet least discussed topics in most households.

Every couple has their own unique way of doing things (finances included). If your system is working, keep it up. If not, you might need to try something different. Here are three options for handling your finances as a couple:

  • 100% Together (My personal favorite) - Yours, Mine, Ours - you operate as a team and each member of the partnership puts 100% of their respective income in a joint account. From there, all the household expenses (i.e., mortgage/rent, transportation, utilities, grocery, debts, investments, etc.) are paid. You could also allocate a certain portion of the joint income to each individual as an allowance. By doing this, if you surprise your significant other with a gift, you can maintain the element of surprise since the cost will only be known by you.

  • Equal Sacrifice but Not Equal Giving - It's rare that each individual in a union earns the same amount of money. In an effort to ensure the higher earner doesn't feel like he/she is carrying the load alone, each individual could contribute 80% of his/her paycheck to the joint account for household expenses and keep the remaining 20% for personal use. Although both spouses are contributing the same percentage to the household, I'm not a big fan. For example, if one spouse earns $5,000 a month and the other earns $1,000, their fun money will amount to $1,000 and $200 respectively. The spouse with the lower income may one day resent the other. These percentages should not represent a specific target for your household. It's only an example. Do the math to determine what works best.

  • 100% Separate - You live under one roof, however, your household is divided into yours and mine. This option is my least favorite since each individual is operating in a vacuum. If a bill isn't paid (e.g., mortgage, car payment), you might not find out about it until it's too late. Plus, whichever one of you passes away first might leave the other confused about your portion of this financial arrangement.