Today marks two whole months since R. and I got hitched! Time has flown by, and we’ve definitely had our hands full since the wedding!
Speaking of busy, I’m here to tell you the cold, hard truth of combining finances with your spouse – why it sucks, why it’s fantastic, and why it’s the best thing to keep your marriage together. I may not be an expert on marriage yet, but I know what old married couples have told me.
Even the thought of combining accounts is enough for some of us to jump out a window. Especially when you’re in your 30’s and have managed money independently for some time. It feels like there’s suddenly a rooster in the hen-house. “Hey, um, what are you doing here? No, no, that’s mine – please don’t go through my things!” It’s weird. Not only does your spouse have access to all of your money, but you also hand over an equal vote to what happens to that money. And it’s not just your money anymore, it’s our money. Every feminist bone in my body wanted to jump out and burn a bra in solidarity of my independent sisters not needing men.
But then I realized something. I want R. in my life. I want him to be a part of every decision and every dream that I have. I chose him exactly two months ago to be with me for life. I don’t need him, but I want him. So I decided to act like it.
R. agreed to shut down his accounts with a big, yucky bank and we made my awesome, local credit union accounts a joint venture. Once I knew all the money was just in the one checking and savings, I could breathe. It is so much easier! Anytime a debit purchase is made or a bill is paid, we only have to keep up with one account. It’s fantastic. Other reasons why its the greatest thing since Boston Cream Pie:
It makes budgeting a breeze. When you only have money going in and out of once place, you only need to make one plan – not a thousand little contingency plans (“if a then c, d, or e? What??”). Compound this with zero debt and you’re solid. Life is easier when you pay for things only with the cash on hand from one account.
You make a plan for the things you want and dreams you want to achieve, together. Ever hear that saying that “a dream without a plan is just a wish”? It’s so freaking true, folks! If you’re married, chances are pretty good that your spouse wants to see you happy and will support you in meeting your goals. What better way to do that than to sit down and plan what money will go where so those dreams become reality? I’ve been wanting to be an accountant and CPA for the past 4 years. R. is on board, so we’ve allocated $500 a month for my education expenses (how sweet is that?). On the flip side, R. wants to do an out of state bike race, so we’ll budget some money for that so he can go kick some ass:)
You keep each other from paying stupid tax. Remember that time you got screwed over on a car deal or that other time you bought a really extravagant wedding gift for some cousin you hardly know? No? Your spouse probably does. Having someone else to hold you accountable allows you to think carefully about your decisions. Two heads are always better than one (usually). Just like the three branches of government, sometimes we need checks and balances to keep us from veering off the edge. Having to discuss purchases allows you the time to slow down and really think through the costs vs. benefits.
You consult each other before making decisions. Some may balk at this, but this is essential for keeping harmony in your home. You know your spouse is going to see what kind of spending you’re doing. Its either agreed upon spending, or its not. Simple as that. The checking account is like the playing field, and the budget is the game rules. “This is what we’re going to spend this month on these things.” You both agree or its a no-go. And sometimes life happens or an emergency pops up. Okay, take a moment and talk to each other! You can always adjust the budget. This is more about respect than it is about money. I know R. and I are always on the same side when he asks my opinion about something or I want to know how much money we can spend on xyz.
Has it been all lollipops and unicorns in our house? No. It’s really hard to combine your lives and your finances, even with someone you deeply love. There is an adjustment period that I’m sure we’re still mucking our way through. But I know we’ll come out on the other side, better for combining our finances and tackling life as a team.
Let hear from you, the reader! What was the toughest financial obstacle you and your new spouse faced? What did you learn? Please comment, like and subscribe below. Thank you for reading!