How We Handle Personal Spending - Marriage & Money Mini Series

I've had a few people mention to me that they keep their finances and budgets separate because one of them makes more than the other or someone has lots of debt and the other person has none, etc. Having separate accounts gives them more freedom with their personal spending and their own income. A lot of them have told me that they still have a joint account and they both contribute money to it every month, which probably works out well but isn't how we've chosen to approach things!

When you share a bank account, it can feel like you have no personal freedom with your money, but that doesn't have to be the case.

One of the biggest things we've done for success with our finances is to communicate about everything. We discuss our budget and we always talk to each other before we purchase something big. Using the envelope system has been a huge help because we both decided together how much we wanted to have to spend and once the cash is in the envelope, we don't have to consult each other or feel guilty about spending the money on what we want.

How do you split 'fun' money?

All of our fun money comes from our envelope system. Each of us has our own fun money, we each have money to spend on clothes, there is money for eating out, date night and vacations. When we set up our envelope system, we decided together how much we wanted to budget for each of those envelopes and how much we each should get to spend. How much income we make individually never dictates how much we have to spend because we have chosen to view our income and finances as one and not 'his' and 'hers'. In our eyes, we both contribute and work hard so we should get equal spending money.

Read: How to Make Combined Finances Work in Your Marriage

How do you buy gifts for the other person?

Even though Joe closely monitors all of our accounts, and I look at them occasionally as well, we've never had a problem with any of our surprises being ruined. I avoid looking at accounts around a holiday (because I get too curious) and I have found ways to "hide" my purchases (either by using cash or combining the purchase with others) so he doesn't get suspicious when he sees certain charges.

Because we discuss our budget on a regular basis, neither of us ever spends too much on the other. When we first got married, we'd always ask each other, "How much are you spending on me?" so it was about equal, but now we have set budgets. When we reevaluated the envelope system at the beginning of this year, we wrote down all of the holidays, birthdays, etc. that we planned on buying gifts, for ourselves and family and friends, and then we determined how much we wanted to spend on each one.

Read: One Tip for Success with Financial Goals in Your Marriage this Year

What do you do if someone slips up and makes a large, impulse purchase?

There have been times when I've gone a little overboard when I'm shopping at Michaels (but who hasn't), or gone on a shopping spree when I meant to buy only one shirt, but Joe has always been extremely forgiving. I think both of us have made somewhat large purchases without talking to the other person first, but it's never been a huge issue. We haven't had to deal with this on a large scale yet though and hopefully never will. I think if this happens, rather than trying to hide it, being honest about it is the best thing to do. The longer you keep it from each other, the worse the situation is going to be. Most of our "slip ups" have happened as a team, so we just feel ashamed together.

Read: Preparing for Your Family's Financial Future

How do you handle personal spending money in your marriage?