How We Combine Our Money Before Marriage

The biggest decision we make when it comes to our money is who we share our homes with. Often, this isn’t a financially motivated decision (unless you want to marry rich), but our relationships significantly impact our finances. In the case of our upcoming nuptials, the room for synergies is immense, but so are the obstacles.

How We Combine Our Money Before Marriage

If we don’t discuss money with our significant other, then over time, we naturally blur our financial habits with theirs and ultimately see a higher overall spend.

That process doesn’t interest us because it is messy, uncoordinated, and not conducive to building wealth.

Instead, we decided to get on the same page; common goals stemming from two sets of like values.

Yes, there is some overlap between our goals, but there are also differences as  we are two different people. I enjoy the occasional bottle of scotch that might run close to $100 a bottle. My fiancee enjoys wine and our cats… last year the number of cats in our house doubled! From 1 to 2, but I think we’re sticking to a 1:1 kitty to human ratio 😉

Once our goals are in alignment, which is the vast majority of the work, then we’re able to rely on each other as two heads are better than one.

Hashing out our goals was tough. We discovered that asking ourselves, “What does X really mean to us?” was the trick.

For example, if we ask ourselves, “What does money mean to us?”, our answer would probably be short, “money means financial freedom.”

On the other hand, when we ask ourselves, “What does financial freedom mean to us?”,  we would respond with the next layer. In our case it meant escaping the paycheck to paycheck cycle and therefore, we develop our options.

We ask ourselves this question until we distill the answer down to its core.

For me, it’s growth. When I’m growing, I’m more than just happy. I’m engaged and fulfilled.

For my fiancee, it’s independence; doing something for the love of labor rather than desperation or necessity.

It helps to have a neutral, safe environment when discussing money topics.

I wouldn’t want to bring up money for the first time during a hectic family party, for example.

Lastly, it helps to remind ourselves we’re in the middle of a long road.

If we find that we disagree on an approach to investing or a money saving opportunity, then we step back and try to view the whole picture.

What is your experience when it comes to personal finance and relationships? What has worked and not worked for you?

-Matt

P.S. As usual, here’s a podcast version of this same topic!

5 comments… add one
  • Kate @ Making it Rain Mar 8, 2017, 6:16 am

    Thank you for this post. How to manage finances in a relationship is so important, and I have definitely experienced the “blur our financial habits with theirs and ultimately see a higher overall spend” effect in my current relationship. We are not married but in a long-term partnership, and it has been difficult to navigate how we integrate our financial lives at this stage. We do talk about money often and I know we have similar values when it comes to spending, saving, debt, etc. but we have not gotten to the part about talking about long-term goals, and those might need to be hashed out next. Thanks for a little inspiration 🙂

  • Ryan @ Just Another Dollar Mar 8, 2017, 6:37 am

    I am fortunate to have a partner who wants to participate in our household finances. We started talking about money pretty early in our relationship, and I think that ensured that we grew together on the same page. Alyssa is a saver by nature, and I tend to be more of a spender, so we’ve definitely learned to balance each other out.

    The biggest thing we did to alleviate money stress was to open a joint checking account for household expenses. We each have the same amount deposited from each paycheck and use the account for rent, groceries, going out, utilities, and travel. That means we don’t have that awkward conversation about settling up for the rent each month, or who paid for dinner last time. It’s made a huge difference in our relationship.

    Great post, Matt! See you around.

    Ryan

  • Liz Mar 8, 2017, 8:05 am

    My husband and I combined our finances before we got married and it was the best thing we ever could have done. He was not as good at budgeting as I was, so he turned his money over to me (a big step in trust for him) and we found that we had more money together than when we both spent separately. That was when we got serious about saving and paying down debt.

    We still need to work on our financial goals together. Since I control the money/budgeting, he will often “check out” and I have to reel him back in to discuss what’s happening with our finances. Still, we’re doing much better than a few years ago. We’re always getting a bit better.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Mar 8, 2017, 8:20 am

    Money is such a messy topic when you combine it with relationships. I know a few couples who never combined finances and they’re happy as clams–it comes down to doing what’s best for you. For us, we have combined finances since it’s simpler for us.

    Mr. Picky Pincher and I didn’t combine finances until the ink was dry on our marriage certificate. I guess we’re old-fashioned, but we wanted to make sure we were legally bound together before combining accounts. While we were engaged, we opened one joint checking account. All of our joint bills like utilities and rent came from this account. Rent was $900/mo, so each of us deposited $450 into the account each month. It was easier for us than writing checks to each other. Once we got married, we closed our separate accounts and used our joint account for everything. It was a pretty smooth transition and we didn’t have any problems.

  • Lars-Christian Mar 8, 2017, 9:35 am

    It’s always interesting to hear how other couples handle these challenges, so thanks for the write-up. My takeaway is that communication is key, and that is a conclusion I can get fully behind!

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