Combining Finances

Mr. W and I didn’t become roommates until we got married. He obediently paid his own mortgage, utility bills, and car payments, and ate canned vegetables for dinner. I paid my own rent and utility bills, tried not to shell out too much money each week on gourmet groceries and eating out, and did my best to avoid Sephora. Sigh. We knew it would be an, ahem, transition to get used to each other’s spending habits, but at the same time it felt too weird taking turns paying for dinner once we were married. Or splitting the mortgage payment. So we paid a trip to our neighborhood Chase to straighten things out.


Photo via FinishRich

Single Mr. W had a checking and savings account at Chase, a Chase Sapphire credit card, and a Macy’s card. I had a checking account, savings account, and several CDs at Bank of America, a United Explorer credit card, and a Banana Republic card. Here’s how things went down.

We decided to keep Mr. W’s checking account as our primary joint account, since he already pays all of the house bills out of it. I closed out all of my Bank of America accounts and transferred the money to the Chase account. We added my name to the account and ordered me a brand new Chase debit card once I changed my name. That’s Mrs. Wallaby, thank-you-very-much. And we also added each other onto our credit cards. So we each now have a Sapphire card and a United Explorer card. (Mr. W wasn’t too interested in the Banana Republic card. His loss. 😉 )

But, hive, Mr. W knows me. And I know him oh so well. We don’t see eye to eye on all of our spending… Like, if you ask me, we would totally survive without replacing our 55″ TV for a 60″ TV. (Right, ladies?!!) And Mr. W just makes a funny little sound and tries to stay mum when I bring home a new pair of boots. We’re both generally frugal and have the same financial ambitions, and we’ve carefully managed our personal finances and stayed out of debt. We make similar salaries, and through lots of (boring) conversations about money, we’ve both been putting aside similar amounts of money for retirement and savings each month. But when it comes to buying little things here and there, we don’t always see eye to eye.


Enjoying the hell out of my boots. Worth every penny. / Photo by Mustard Seed Photography

So to avoid arguments over small money matters, here’s our solution: allowances. We each get 5% of our take-home pay to spend on whateva-the-heck we want. If we want to buy something big that the other person doesn’t feel is necessary (cough cough, new TVs), we can save up our allowance, just like we did when we were five.

We’re still on the fence about how to carry out this allowance system. For now, we each have separate checking accounts at Chase and we transfer allowance money over to the accounts each month. (Funny story: Chase currently only offers two styles of debit cards: classic blue cards and Disney cards. So I ordered a 101 Dalmatians card for my allowance account. It’s like spending play money.)


Photo via

And we’ll see how it goes. I hope over time we’ll get used to sharing money and just rely on one account. It really would make things a whole lot simpler. As always, I’ll keep y’all posted. :)

How do you and your significant other manage your money? Did you combine finances when you tied the knot—or are you planning to? Is there are more efficient way for us to have separate “allowances”?


Mrs. Wallaby

Wedding Date:
November 2012
Newlywed Growing Pains
Hard Times
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  1. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 6:50 am

    @Mrs. Wallaby: My parents are very Dave Ramsey types :) I have tons of respect for them, they have managed their money very well and taught me a lot!

    I hate carrying cash too though. I always always use my debit card and keep track of it through my online banking account and Mint.

  2. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:25 am

    @Miss Lemur: Yeah same! Sigh…It doesn’t work exactly the same, though. I think if we ever go down to one income, we might switch to the cash system, because it doesn’t rely on accountability the way carrying a debit card does. Glad you have financially-savvy parents – I do too, and I look up to them so much. They’re retiring now at the age of 55 – lucky them!

  3. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 9:20 am

    I’m not married yet but my boyfriend and I treat our money as each others. So far, so good. But I love the allowance money! I sometimes feel guilty if I spend when he doesn’t, but I think this is a great compromise!

  4. Member
    This Time Round 10219 posts, Sugar Beekeeper @ 5:46 pm

    You might be interested on this very workable solution for Newlyweds that I saw on a Financial Advice Program (sorry don’t remember which one)

    1- Combine ALL incoming monies

    2- Deduct ALL the Living Expenses / Bills (Housing – Utilities – Groceries – Transportation Costs / Car Expenses – Insurances – Medical etc)

    3- Decide on an amount that you’ll put into a JOINT Savings account… for larger purchases, or things you are saving up for together (a House, a Car, Furniture, Vacation, Boat, Kid’s College Fund… whatever)

    4- Take the remaining amount and divide it in half…

    (a) With equal amounts going into EACH of your Independently administered Retirement Savings Plans

    (b) And then lastly, Equal amounts go into your “Spend as you wish” fund… the allowance that each of you have… which can be kept in an account under your own name.

    NOTE – the numbered order here is arbitrary… some couples follow the theory of pay themselves first and live off the balance… but the idea on how the money gets appropriated stays the same. In this way, BOTH partners have a equal stake… no one having access to more. So much better than splitting things proportionately such as 50-50 or he makes 2x as much so he pays 2/3 and you pay 1/3.

    BECAUSE, utimately there will come a time in the Relationship when a financial change / crisis will come about where percentages distribution based on income won’t work… usually when the woman takes leave to have a baby, raise a child, or look after an ailing parent.

    If you follow the above method from day one then it truly is a partnership, and no one person has more financial control over the other (Money being a HUGE issue in marital discourse).

    And as someone who has been Divorced (ya it sucks and it happens) it means that IF that fate should ever befall you… that no one person will have more control or access to more money… you’ll both have had half all along… so the split should be better… and not so much one using their wealth to dominate the seperation / divorce process (which happened to me… and put me at a terrible disadvantage… meaning that when after everything was said and done, I lost out on aprox $ 100 K that should have come to me, because my Hubby had managed the majority of our income thru his accounts etc). Something to think about.

    Hope this info helps someone…

  5. Member
    elky 968 posts, Busy bee @ 3:48 am

    We have a joint checking account that 100% goes into and we have “The Budget” that breaks down every category. We’re with ING Direct so we have like 8 or 9 savings accounts because they’re all free and we name them things like “Car” “Wedding” “Pet” “Home Improvement” “Emergency” etc. And I divide the money as per the budget into those accounts. When we’re paid we each get X amount for Allowance and X for RSP contributions. We deposit those into personal accounts and go about our way. We have the budget and anything that doesn’t work in it needs to be discussed. We live together and this has happened since then. Due to the income disparity it would have been unfair to split things 50/50 and not combine as otherwise it would build further resentment — its already difficult for guys when their lady makes more, no point rubbing it in by getting extra personal money…

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Dessy, Guest @ 6:56 am

    Combined finances will ultimately test you as a couple at first. Whats great about combining finances is that you get the ability to be open and share what you or our spouse have for quirks about money, the issue is also the quirks about money. Go into this with a single thought in mind, it will not define your relationship!

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