Married MR members--How did you and your SO setup your household budget?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by puma1552, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. puma1552, Nov 8, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010

    puma1552 macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    Money. The biggest cause of divorce, and something many people don't talk about assuming it will all work out.

    I've touched on this with the lady in the past, and will touch again after I gather some more ideas. The traditional method here in Japan is for the woman to control all the finances and give the man an allowance; this doesn't fly with either of us, thankfully.

    Right now I'm thinking pooling ALL money into a joint account isn't ideal. I think separate accounts are key. I am thinking maybe each of us could keep a separate account to spend as we please, and have a joint account for household bills/expenses/incidentals. I think if we each contribute an equal percentage of our respective incomes, that would be fair, plus 10-15% for emergencies/remodeling etc. I was also thinking of getting one joint credit card for household stuff, to be paid from this fund as well. Our own CCs would be paid from our own accounts so we are each responsible for our own.

    But how would you factor in student loans? I have them, she doesn't. Should this be my responsibility or added into the total bills, along with car payments and everything else?

    I know it's a personal question but I'm looking for ideas that work that I haven't thought of so we can make sure we make a choice that works for us. Would love to hear your thoughts on what works for you and what doesn't, or how you experienced members would do things different if you did things again. TIA.
  2. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    I give her an appropriate weekly allowance for things like food, clothing and general home maintenance.

    She doesn't complain else she gets the back of my hand.
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I think you have it almost right. Separate bank accounts is the way to go. student loans are can be part of the household bills if got spouse agrees. If not, somehow your part of the bills has to be refused if you don't make enough for everything. I don't think anyone should be punished for going to school, unless you dicked around and took an exorbitant amount of time to get a degree. (ie: 7 years for a 4-year degree)

    I wouldnt join accounts but I'd want things equal and maybe proportionate to my take home pay without feeling like things are so unbalanced that it seems unfair.
  4. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2002
    Sarasota FL
    Easy - direct deposit and she pays all the bills. It doesn't matter who earned it or who owes it, it's all the same pile.
  5. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    My wife and my finances are entirely separate. I don't even know what she earns or how much she has and vice versa. We alternate who pays for food etc and just split everything 50:50. It has been that way since we started dating. We're both independent people and never talked about it it just happened and works for us. Really a personal thing though. I'm sure our method wouldn't with for many.
  6. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    This is an interesting approach; how can you guys buy a house or cars without knowing your combined income (well cars I guess you can do on your own but what about the house)?
  7. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Me and the gf do something similar. Joint account for bills that we each put in some money into every month. If I works for you guys, it's a good plan.

    I like the percentage of income vs a set amount. I will be making 2x as much as my gf, so a percentage seems more fair, especially when we buy a place.

    I think there are many different ways to make it work, just do whatever is comfortable for you guys.
  8. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    Those with joint accounts for household bills--that would of course be a checking account, but do you also maintain a joint savings account?
  9. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    I've been married for 14 years and we have always had a joint bank account into which all money coming into the house goes. We have a joint savings account and neither of us spends significant money without discussion.

    We've always done this and it works great for us.

    Maybe it's a generational thing (I'm 44), but I view a marriage as an equal partnership and everything in the marriage is as much my wife's as mine, which includes any money coming into the household.
  10. Roric macrumors regular

    Sep 29, 2005
    17 years of marriage here and all our money is in the same account. Has been for about... 17 years!

    To those that advocate separate accounts and finances, are you married or are you in a business partnership? What is the purpose of the separate accounts? To make it easier when you split up? if so, maybe you shouldn't be together to begin with?

    Maybe it is like Phil said, its a generational thing.
  11. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    This......... But we also setup separate accounts along with the main account. We give each other spending money and if there is something big over $250.00 we talk about it first. This cuts down on a lot of frivolous spending and impulse buying.

    All of the bills come out of the main account.
  12. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Over the last 14 years my wife and I have tried all variations of joint and seperate accounts. The only one we found that works is:

    All pay goes into one joint account, bills come out of that account. Spending money come out of the joint and goes into our seperate accounts. Money left in the joint account at the end of the month goes into a savings account.

    EDIT: similar to rhett7660
  13. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    I think for the most part it just keeps frivolous petty fighting to a minimum if you both have separate accounts to make purchases of your own say from, without having to always consult or worry about being nagged on by the other. Also I think it may partially stem from the idea of unforseen circumstances; one unforseen circumstance was when my dad pulled $17k out of my parents' account after/during an argument.
  14. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    Joint account all the way. What's mine is hers and what's hers is mine. Simple.
  15. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    My wife and I have our direct deposits placed into personal accounts. Then we have a joint account where everything in our budget is paid from. Every two weeks, we each transfer a predetermined amount of money (based on our budget) into the joint account. Anything that's left in our personal accounts is free for us to spend on whatever we'd like.

    It works well for us. Both of us are contributing equally, but at the same time we have some financial independence where we can purchase things without feeling like we have to justify the expense to the other person.

    For big ticket items (cars, house, etc...), we have a joint savings account to funnel money into.
  16. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Separate accounts - mine, hers, and joint.

    We have our fights, but they're never over money.
  17. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    We go the separate account rule.

    While we share the household expenses and seems much easier to keep two different checking accounts.

    Its not like we have hidden agendas or secretly buy stuff without the knowledge of the other. That's not the case, but we found for us that keeping things seperate works well.

    I don't think there's one way that is the best. You can easily argue that joint accounts are the way to go and also make a compelling argument that keeping separate accounts is the wise move. Ultimately, it all comes down to what works best for you and your spouse.

    We've been blessed in that we've never had a fight over money. Not to say we have not been in need. She was out of work for 17 months that really wreaked havoc on our finances. So while arguments have come and gone between us, money has not been the reason :)
  18. Tilpots, Nov 8, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010

    Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    Curious, do any of you "separate accounts" folks have children? If so, how does that factor into the funneling of money into a personal account?
  19. chrmjenkins macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    Completely shared. It makes us less likely to blow money when we have to consider the fact we're depriving the family for the individual. We have toyed with the idea of each of us having an 'allowance' however.
  20. duncanapple macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2008
    I am not sure its a generational thing - I just recently got married (1 year ann next weekend actually) and we are now 27 and 28 y/o. All the checks go into a joint checking account and all savings go into a joint savings account. 401Ks are obv per person but we are each others beneficiary and each consider that money also "ours."

    To me the whole separate money concept seems a little selfish/non committal. To those that do it, don't take offense but the only real purpose it seems to serve is allowing for a clean break should the marriage not work out? As long as the marriage is viewed as 50/50, I don't see how separate accounts reflect independence? If I made more or my wife made more, I wouldn't want the other person to have to do with less because they make less. That's not much of a partnership in my mind. And like others have alluded to, what about big purchases? Furniture? And each time you eat out you have to remember who paid last time or get separate checks? Sounds like a PITA.

    It sounds cliche but it all boils down to communication. We both know what our monthly household bills are, we both have access to the accounts online, etc. We have a shared retirement goal and stick to a reasonable budget. We don't need permission from each other to buy stuff, but its obviously noteworthy to mention to the other if your going to spend thousands of dollars. I just bought a $2K camera lens, I ran that one through my wife lol. Its not that she nor I have single power veto authority, but big decisions impact us both and hence should be made together.

    I will say the only drawback to this whole thing is buying each other gifts, its hard to hide a surprise. I guess we both tend to be practical about those things and more often than not pick out our own gifts :)

    We have yet to have a fight about money and my wife quit her (very good) job this year to go pursue her passion. Right now I make the bulk/all of the money, but next year when she graduates she will likely make more. I view it as the overall household income - when it goes up and we both win.

    Hopefully I am not offending anyone - this isn't meant to be a flame but an honest perspective.

    YMMV obviously.
  21. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    Same here. It’s just the best way to make sure there are no issues.
  22. davidwarren macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    both our salaries are DD'ed into the same acccount. I don't see the benefit of seperate accounts versus the headache of managing them unless you don't trust your spouse.
  23. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Yes, and it doesn't make a difference - not sure why it would. :confused:

    In our case, it's a "lessons learned from first marriages" thing.

    Furthest thing from our minds - like I said, we also have joint checking and savings accounts.

    Her first husband used to spend money without checking the bank balance. My first wife and I would each spend money, and from time to time you end up having to explain why each of you withdrew the last $100 for something. It's much easier for each of us to have our own money to do with what we will - no headache of trying to track someone down to ask, "Hey, is there money in the account for me to go to dinner with a couple of co-workers tonight?" There's no hassle of trying to justify to someone else why you decided to spend $200 on clothes this weekend. We each put money into the joint account to take care of household expenses, and we each keep the rest.

    We take care of those the same way everyone else does. :rolleyes: You save up money and then you go buy it.

    Wow, you make it sound like you think we're petty people. If I have money, I pay. If she has money, she pays. It's not about keeping score. :rolleyes:

    Yeah, we don't have that problem.
  24. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    There's really nothing to manage. The transfer from my personal account to the joint is done automatically, and since the accounts are all from the same bank - instantaneous. Whatever is left over is discretionary for me. It's also is kind of nice to take her out to dinner or purchase a present for her on my "dime", as opposed to using the joint account as we usually do.

    Of course it's all semantics at the end of the day - we both consider our total income to be ours, but like many things in relationships, it's sometimes okay to let emotion trump logic. It's nice to not have to worry about eye rolling over each other's spending habits.
  25. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    It depends.
    My parents have a joint account and each have a separate account. Their separate accounts get a little money each month but really not much as one is the extra money from my mom pay check that is not spent on the house and my dad is from his part time teaching.

    As for finances my mom pays the bills and my dad has an idea what they are and how much they are. Only time my dad will try to hide something from my mom is when he is buying a gift for her and that is by charging it to another CC and paying that one himself. It has worked for them for 29 years.

    I going to best I will be more like my parents in I will have an idea what the monthly bills but money will be jointly owned.
    It is pretty much what ever works.

    It is really how you do budgeting as well. For my own personal budget I know what my bills are but there is a line item that is for lack of a better term "WHAT EVER I WANT" it is basicly X amount of money per month that I do not try to take what I spend it on. Things like going out wiht friends. buy a new game or upgrades for my bike would come out of it. It was not anything insane but I found having a little in that every month made life easier.

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