Learning to Let Go of “My” Money

I once went shopping with my older cousin when I was about 16 years old. After we finished shopping we headed back to her house. I started to gather my shopping bags and head to the door, and I was surprised to see my cousin gather her shopping, but instead of heading to the door she walked to the back of the car and stuck the bags in the trunk. When I asked her why she did that, she told me that her husband would get upset if he found out she went shopping so she would hide the bags into her trunk and sneak them in when her husband wasn’t home. ”This is what married life is like,” I thought. In that instant, I decided that I would never let anyone tell me what I could do with my money.

After Mr. Gondola and I became engaged we settled down to talk about how we were going to do our finances as a married couple. Mr. G’s family is Japanese and his father, like many people his age, hands his paycheck over to his wife (who doesn’t work) and she controls all of the finances. I come from a family where the incomes are combined. I wanted something different from both of these styles, and I suggested that Mr. G and I keep our finances separate and split everything down the middle. Mr. G said he was fine with that and that had been our plan—until we went to premarital counseling.

During our talk with our counselor the subject of finances came up and our counselor brought up a very good point: “What will you do when you stop working to have kids?” The thought had never crossed my mind and I was a bit dumbfounded. I, unfortunately, work for a company that does not provide maternity leave. Our only source of income will be Mr. G’s paycheck, which means splitting things down the middle during that time will be impossible.

During our talk and even now, it is still difficult to wrap my head around the fact that I will have to depend on someone for money, and that I will have to discuss any big purchase as it will no longer be my money, but our money. Mr. G is fine with sharing his paycheck down the middle as he has grown up in a house that does that. In addition, like his parents, I will budget and handle the finances as I am better with money and actually like to make budgets.

There is one thing that I am afraid of. All my life, I have been afraid of my husband being the one who is critical of the purchases I make with our money, but I also realized that I could be just as critical as well. I am going to have to learn to let go of my 50/50 mindset and learn to open myself to the “what’s mine is yours” mindset.

gondola

My smile may be sweet, but I am kind of a control freak!

Anyone else out there worried about sharing finances? How do you open yourself up to sharing everything?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Gondola

Location:
Kyoto
Wedding Date:
December 1969

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  1. Member
    sn2bmrsmntgmry 1118 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:55 am

    Hands down this is the hardest part of “getting married” for DH and I. Mostly b/c we lived together before we got married and did our finances the way you originally outlined. Split everything down the middle, paid our own respective bills (college loan/car loans) and then had the rest to ourselves. But after getting married and buying a house and having a baby on the way we merged everything. Very difficult. We are working to figure it all out and it gets heated sometimes but it’s working out and I am hoping it will get easier as time goes on.

  2. Member
    maurasaurus 229 posts, Helper bee @ 8:20 am

    I am so glad that someone has brought this up – I know it’s a touchy subject for many, but I think about this alot. I was brought up to provide for myself and have been quite independent for some time… which has developed a “mine mine mine” attitude when it comes to my paycheck/finances. Not the best attitude to have going into a marriage, but it’s something I’m aware of and know we need to work on. We’ll be doing the “split it evenly down the middle” approach until we figure out a better plan!

  3. Member
    x0jlynn03 2126 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:22 am

    We decided once we got married to combine both our accounts and make it all “our money.” We’ve only been married 3 months.. but I still feel guilty if I buy a $30 dress, or treat myself to delicious Chipotle. He doesn’t care, but I still feel guilty, because I’m spending some of his money too. He does make more than me, maybe that’s why I have the guilty feeling. I don’t hide purchases from him, but I don’t flaunt them like I used to. I take care of paying all our shared bills (mortgage, gas bill, electric etc) but we’re responsible for paying our personal stuff.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    39bride, Guest @ 8:23 am

    I had some trepidation about this going into our marriage, but I reminded myself of this: If I trusted him enough to marry him, I had to trust him with OUR money, too. We didn’t live together before the wedding, so we sat down and made up an expected budget for our combined incomes and then revisited it the first few months to make sure it was reasonable.

    What really helped us adjust to it being our money in general was to have “fun money” set aside each month for each other to spend however we saw fit–beer, eating out for lunch, a splurge purchase, cheap round of golf, etc. We didn’t have to be accountable to each other for those purchases, which really helped us feel that neither was being controlled/monitored by the other (for bigger purchases, we discuss ahead of time). It also helped avoid fights about “frivolous” purchases.

    Looking back after nearly a year, combining our finances really helped us feel like, “we’re in this together” when I lost my job eight months into the marriage. We revisited our budget, tightened it up significantly and made it through until I was hired this week. I don’t think it even occurred to him that he should have more say because he earned the money, because we’d long ago decided that all money that came into the household was OURS; the transition to temporarily one income was effortless in that respect.

  5. Member
    hyena 2537 posts, Sugar bee @ 8:26 am

    It took me a while to get used to having “shared” finances and being okay with it, but after two years of marriage, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We each have our own “fun” money that we can spend on anything we want and the other person has no say, and we always discuss any major purchases together. I would recommend taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class if you can find one — it talks about budgeting and working with a partner for money, and we follow his plan and have found we’re much better at dealing with our money now than we ever were when we first got married!

    And I never have to hide my shopping bags. :)

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    39bride, Guest @ 8:36 am

    @Mrs. Hyena: I was looking for a “Like” button on your post, ’cause I love everything you wrote. You put it perfectly: “I wouldn’t have it any other way” (and in my case, the proof is in the pudding: how he handled being the sole breadwinner).

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 9:00 am

    I really do think combining finances and having absolute transparency is the way to go. Unless one’s husband is a jerk, he’s not going to have an issue with an “accidental” $200 dropped at Anthropologie occasionally (very occasionally!). I have an unwritten rule that unless I’m at Target or something, I always ask my husband if he’s okay with me spending more than $100. I make more than he does, but I just think that’s polite. I view it as “our” money, and he has a say in it too.

  8. Member
    stephee 1103 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:02 am

    We aren’t married yet, but have been living together for two years now. While we aren’t making the move to combined accounts until after (with the name changes, and we will be moving, etc, we just decided to wait), we are already treating everything as combined and have been for over a year. I make more money, and we decided to use my account to pay for EVERYTHING and his account for savings, until we make them both joint and we have a checking and savings account.

    It’s been working well, we both have “fun money” as others mentioned and I think that’s key. I can buy books, or lattes or gifts for him or myself and not feel the slightest bit guilty as long as it falls within my allotted amount (about $100 or $125 a month). Or I can save it to buy something bigger the next month for myself. He can do the same, and I could care less if he gets video games with it, or spends it all on gum (he has an addiction to gum, hehe).

    If I ever needed to hide a shopping bag for some reason other than surprising him with a gift, i wouldn’t feel I was in an equal healthy relationship, honestly.

  9. Member
    krenee24 21 posts, Newbee @ 9:05 am

    I tend to have the same view as 39bride… if you trust a person enough to join your life to theirs, why not your money too?

    My fiance and I are a little under 3 months from our wedding, but have lived together for the past 9 months (engaged for 5 of those). Originally, we were splitting bills by percentage because he makes quite a bit more than me (for instance, say he made 69K/yr and I made 42K/yr. That’s a total of $111k. Divide 42k by 111K, and you get 38%, divide 69k by 111K and you get 62%– so that’s the percent of the bills each of us paid) . This theory left us with a more equal amount of “fun” money leftover from our individual paychecks. This worked REALLY WELL for us.

    We opened a joint checking account about 2 months ago so that we could go ahead and start getting used to this new way of managing money. I actually think it’s been a wonderful thing for us. We are finally on a significant savings path, because all of the bills are being paid from the same place, and we can decide together what to spend money on or NOT spend money on. So far “frivolous purchases” haven’t been an issue, but I will admit I spent $100 at Target yesterday, and I feel a little self conscious about it, even though he doesn’t care :p It’s definitely going to take awhile to settle in to the concept of shared money!

  10. Member
    krenee24 21 posts, Newbee @ 9:17 am

    I also wanted to mention that when we had separate accounts, I switched banks so that we could link our accounts so that we could transfer money back and forth easily. We couldn’t take money out of the other’s account, but we could put money in each other’s account. This made the whole bill paying process much easier. My whole thing was that I wanted it to be easy. I detest complicated money matters! It makes me so stressy. I found the linked account o be really pretty stress free. If you choose to keep separate accounts after marriage, you might think about at least linking them to make the process more fluid. That or make sure you both have Paypal! :)

  11. Member
    Miss Moxy 223 posts, Helper bee @ 9:20 am

    I have the same issue. I moved to another state to be with my fiance, as he’s the one with the better financial status. Trying to get a job out here is very hard for me, so I had to become comfortable with running my purchases by him before they were made. I hate it, because since I was 16, I never asked for permission on how to spend my money. But even if I was working, I think we would just combine our finances as it’s easier to pay bills that way.

  12. Member
    mrssancerre 190 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:54 am

    Funnily enough this has never been an issue for FI and me. All the bills come out of his account, so I transfer half of everything to him at the beginning of the month. He makes extra payments on the mortgage and I do the food shopping. Apart from that, our money is our own and as long as we can meet all of our financial responsibilities we barely even know how the other spends their money.

    I can see how maternity leave is difficult though; statutory maternity pay here in the UK won’t even pay my share of the mortgage and bills! We’ll just have to save up beforehand so we have enough to make up the shortfall.

  13. Member
    elle05 38 posts, Newbee @ 10:13 am

    My fiancé and I have been listening to Dave Ramsey and his financial plan. The money is all combined, completely transparent. But both of us are a part of the budgeting process. We, together, name EVERY dollar– bills, savings, fun, food, clothes, date nights, etc– and then there is no fight over “You wanted us to save money” or “I didn’t want to spend.” We’re both equally responsible because we go through the discussion of it BEFORE the money ever is earned, thus spent.

    One “rule” is that we talk if we’re making a purchase higher than $50 (that may change amount after we’ve settled into this budget).

    The other key is DEFINITELY budgeting fun money, both as a couple and also allotting a specific amount for each of you separately. (But once that money is gone every month, we’re done. It’s up to us to choose how we spend it.)

    It is very different, and since we haven’t combined finances yet we’ll see how it runs once we’re married, but I’m really happy that we have discussed this and are deciding BEFORE we get into any financial arguments.

  14. Member
    penguin 3471 posts, Sugar bee @ 10:46 am

    We’ve been married for 5 years and have not combined finances. I think we’d both be more conscious of what we spent (in a good way) if our finances were combined. We both live without someone really “looking over our shoulder” but while that can sound overbearing sometimes, it’s also a good thing…kind of like Weight Watchers meetings, I guess, when a lot of what you just need is someone asking you what you’re eating and weighing you in. It’s not like you don’t already know how to lose weight, it’s just that without accountability to another person, you’re less likely to do it. I think it’s the same with saving and spending money.

    Anyway all this to say that I think there is a good middle ground – where you both decide (no matter who is bringing in the cash at that time) that you each get a credit card that you’re allowed to spend x amount on a month and neither of you are allowed to review each other’s credit cards – that’s your “me/fun” money. That, and other small things here and there that you can build into your finances to make sure that you always feel equal, and you always feel like you can spend a certain portion of your income on whatever you want (the spice of life!)

    Good luck with whatever you decide – these are rough decisions, even 5 years into marriage for me we haven’t quite ironed out. Not combining has worked for us – but only to an extent. We could be saving a lot more by just being accountable to each other!

  15. Member
    camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 11:16 am

    We’re like Mrs. Penguin and have not combined finances. We essentially make the same amount of money so it works for us!

  16. Member
    ykyegbride 317 posts, Helper bee @ 11:45 am

    We’re getting married in September, but have been living together since June 2012. In December 2012, we moved to a different province (state), and when we made that move, we combined finances – we have one chequing account, and one savings account, but each have our own credit cards.

    For us, it works perfectly – we consider ourselves a team, and so regardless of how much money is brought into the account, we are a team that pays bills, pays off debt, saves for the wedding, and saves for our future.

    It has worked out really well for us, and we are very open in communication – if I’m paying a credit card bill, I let him know and vice versa.

    We also help each other stay focused on our goals, but both of us don’t mind spending money for a night out with the guys, or a new pair of shoes! As long as it is less than $200, you can make any purchase you want!

  17. Member
    mswaterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:01 pm

    Very interesting post, Miss Gondola. We’ve decided to do 3 accounts, 1 joint for rent and such, and we each keep our own separate for other fun things like shopping and such ;)

  18. Member
    Mathis13 242 posts, Helper bee @ 4:43 pm

    We actually just found out we’re expecting our first and are about to experience just what you’ve described. I will not be returning to my teaching position and we will (obviously) no longer be splitting finances. As someone who has worked since I was 18 and has always prided themselves on being “independent” it is a tough pill to swallow. Everyone keeps telling me it will be okay and marveling at my having such a supportive husband, but I am still having trouble making the mental transition. Luckily I have helped raise quite a few kids in my family so I know the difference between what is necessary and what is frivolous when it comes to adding the expense of a child. Still, for me as a woman there is nothing like having your own and feeling like you’re making a contribution to your household.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    UKBride, Guest @ 4:55 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that the counselor assumes a woman will stop working when she has kids? Many women decide to go back to work after having kids / don’t really stop working in some cases. This would have annoyed me.

  20. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 7:34 pm

    We combined our finances completely almost two years ago, and it’s still a work in progress (mostly for me). Being accountable to my spouse for what I buy and how much I spend is important, but so is being trusted to be responsible with our money. It forces us to communicate and constantly work toward our financial goals together.

  21. Member
    MrsLDC 5060 posts, Bee Keeper @ 9:55 pm

    Really well written, thanks Miss G. That’s given me a lot to mull over. Mr D-C and I have been living together for 2 years now and we already consider everything financial as “our money”. I really want to combine finances officially once we’re married as it is what I’m used to my family doing. However, Mr D-C’s m&d don’t combine finances, so this is new to him. I’m sure we’ll work it out.

  22. Member
    sciencegeekgirl 24 posts, Newbee @ 12:15 am

    We’re not married yet but we share finances. Relationships in general should be a give and take. You’re a team. It’a not about lies and hiding things. The only time I lie and hide something is if it’s a surprise for my SO. Otherwise finances should be a team effort. It’s wise just in case there’s an emergency some day.

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    js, Guest @ 6:46 am

    I’m not going to tell you how to handle your finances as a couple. My husband and I have a system that works for us. I personally struggle with being dependent on someone else financially as a woman, so I know where you’re coming from. But I do want to say, you’re looking at it wrong. Presumably, you’ll want to buy a house someday. You will both work to save money for this, working towards this goal together, deciding what house to buy together. It won’t be “yours” or “his”, but ours. Just like future family vacations, cars, etc. My advice is budget everything! Use online banking and bill pay features. Don’t “ask” for permission because you’re a wife, but as a courtesy to your partner. Keep a personal credit card where you spend an agreed upon amount every month, say $200, and spent it on whatever the heck you want as long as its within your budgeted amount. If I want to spend $80 on a pair of shoes, I don’t have to ask my husband. We have $100 to spend on clothes every month and the budget would be updated to reflect my purchase. That’s it. Talk, talk, talk about money because the problems don’t go away if you ignore them and unless you’re a millionaire, to be financially stable, you have to communicate about what you’re spending. Good luck to you, you’re not alone!

  24. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:11 am

    Girl, we are on the same page! It’s terrifying to me to think that I may have to depend on someone else for money and be held accountable and potentially criticized for my purchases! We got a shared savings account when we were house-hunting to put our down-payment money into, and linked it to both of our checking accounts for easy transfers. We pay our mortgaged based on an equal percentage of monthly income (so he pays a higher dollar amount than I do, but it’s “fair”), and then split bills – I pay electric, he pays gas, the amounts are never the same, but we don’t compare those. Then we take turns buying groceries, so nothing is exactly fair as far as what we pay every month. This is leading me to think that, now that we are engaged, we should get a joint checking account as well, and just put all of our “bill” money into that account and I can pay all of the bills (I’m better with finances than he is) out of that account rather than running to him for a check.

    At the same time, we still plan to keep our own checking accounts for our personal things, because I don’t want him to criticize me if I want to splurge on new clothes, and vice versa. We’re both kind of shopaholics, and like our privacy. I think it’ll work, but we will definitely need to cut down on the “personal” amounts so that we are still making good financial progress towards our joint future!

  25. Member
    BigJohno 36 posts, Newbee @ 9:24 pm

    Very interesting post, Miss Gondola.

  26. Member
    gondola 1046 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:36 pm

    Wow everyone, I got so much good advice: Set aside fun money, budget, and communicate. I hope everything works out well for us. I’m also going to get Dave Ramsey’s book. I’ve heard so many good things about it!
    @UKBride: He didn’t assume, I had let him know beforehand. If he had just assumed I would have been upset too.

  27. Member
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:43 am

    We combined finances when we moved in together, a while before we were married, so this wasn’t ever really an issue for us. We don’t have rules or anything, we just discuss big purchases with each other. So if I’m going to go get some nail polish or a new dress, cool, no big deal. If, however, I decide I just HAVE TO HAVE new running shoes that are $100, then I’ll check in and make sure it’s good. Same way from him to me. We’ve had no issues!

  28. Guest Icon Guest
    39bride, Guest @ 1:01 pm

    One more tip I forgot: We have a rule that all major financial discussions (big purchases, budget analysis/adjustment, etc), must happen while cuddling. :D We’re bigtime cuddlers, and we found that tough discussions go better while cuddling. For other couples, I imagine there are other stress reduction techniques that would work like that…

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