"Our bank accounts have been combined since we got back from our honeymoon, we didn't waste any time. Marrying our finances was a no brainer for us, and it didn't even need to be discussed. Money is referred to as 'our' rather than 'yours' and 'mine' and we both have our own income, but the money all goes to the same place. This decision helps us avoid any argument about who is contributing more to the household and who should cover which expenses. We work better as a team and so do our paychecks!" -from Four Things to Discuss Before the Wedding
When I was thinking about this series, I realized that I led you astray in the quote above because while we view our money as one, we don't necessarily have one large account. Today I wanted to discuss some of the questions people have asked me when they find out that while our finances may be combined, we still kept our different accounts and have never really combined them.
Why We Combined Bank Accounts After the Wedding
Are there benefits to keeping your accounts separate? Why haven't you combined them?
This is a complicated question for me to answer because while we have separate accounts, we don't really use them separately. A lot of our accounts are used as business accounts (for my money from doing hair, money from the blog, Joe's money from lawn care and his money from his other business).
Our paychecks are currently deposited in two different places for a few different reasons, but we used them as one. One account has an amazing interest rate for a checking account (better than our savings account with another bank) so we schedule auto bill pay and use it for those expenses that are the same every month and for our cars. The other account is easier for us to withdraw money from so we use it to fill our envelope system, pay for groceries, save for tuition every semester and add to our emergency savings.
As we paid off the debts that we had with our other banks, those accounts became inactive. They're still open for now, but the money in them is minimal or we've started to use them for other things (like my blog). Our bank accounts and the expenses we use them for are constantly evolving, just like our budget.
Did either of you have resentment for the other person's debt?
Honestly, I don't think we ever have. I'd had my car for a year when I met Joe and it was just something he accepted. Because we were in a serious relationship and knew we'd be getting married, going into debt so Joe could get his lawn care business started again was something we discussed and agreed on before we even got engaged. From the get go, we set goals and had plans to pay everything off as quickly as possible.
We knew before we got married, how much debt we had between the two of us, and after we tied the knot, we started attacking it together! The success we had in achieving our goal to pay that all off by the end of 2012 (a year and a half after we got married) wouldn't have happened if we'd viewed it as 'his and hers' rather than 'ours' or had resentment for the other person because of it. My car was paid off using our joint tax return, and at the end of the year, we both took profit from our businesses and my end of the year bonus and put it toward paying off the remainder of the debt (which was technically Joe's). If I had just used the money that I made to pay off my car and left him to pay off the debt from his lawn care equipment on his own, it would have taken us a lot longer, and would have caused a lot of resentment.
Who monitors the spending and do they get access to all accounts or do you each monitor your own?
Joe handles the money in our marriage and he really enjoys it so I let him take responsibility for paying our all of our bills and putting the money where it needs to be. Because we are constantly talking about our money, I am always aware of what's going on in our accounts and any big changes he makes, so it's still a team effort. I trust him to deal with all of those details and he's usually really excited to keep me updated, so I don't check our accounts quite as often, but every once and a while, I'll pull up Mint and look around.
We really love Mint because you can easily view all of your accounts, the balances on them and recent activity for each one in one place rather than logging into each account separately. You can also set financial goals and budgets and Mint will help you stick to them, this was really helpful when we were paying off our debt.
(Mint.com is not affiliated with this post in any way, but I think it's a really helpful resource.)
Have you combined your finances? How have you made it work best for you?