T Nation

Combining Households and Incomes


#1

Today is the big day! Hockey and I close on our house at three and start moving in together. Very excited, very nervous.

For those of you who've gone into relationships once families and assets are in the picture, how did you manage money?

*We have an agreement regarding the house that states that in the event of a breakup, the house is divided according to initial investment, then 50/50 on any value above that (we're paying cash, his investment is significantly higher). In the event of a death the house goes to fully the survivor.

*We're still working through what to do day-to-day, but it looks like we're leaning toward a joint account and paychecks going there. In the event of a breakup we divide any savings and simply stop auto-depositing there. Once we finish renovations on the house there should be significant accrual of savings. Those will divide evenly. We've gotten a joint credit card for our shared expenses (household, dining out, etc) and then I'm leaning toward keeping my separate one because I like to track my discretionary spending. We both maintain zero balances on credit cards, so there will presumably be no accrual of high-interest debt.

He earns approximately double what I do, so it's unbalanced in my favor. He also has approximately double what I have in long term savings, though we are both in very good shape for our ages in that regard. He's offered that if I want to I can maintain a separate savings account and auto-deposit some portion of my pay there. I may - I have kids in school and still do a lot of rescuing. He's also suggested that I max out my 401K, since we'll be living very cheaply.

Any advice? The "pre-nup" regarding the house was initiated by me. I don't want to worry about him worrying about my motives. I've read so much misery on here about relationships and money - what do normal people do when they combine households?

Also, all of a sudden he's making mild "ol' ball and chain" jokes. Yesterday morning I said something like "omg, it's tomorrow!" and he was like "yup! losing my freedom tomorrow!" So I noted that I'm losing MY freedom, too, and he said something to the effect of that I wanted to. But it was his idea! As is all the money stuff - I would have been content to keep everything even-steven. Why are men so weird? Is it some sort of Man Code that they get captured reluctantly?

Lastly, so far most of his stuff is headed for either a kid apartment or the basement. Do you think he's really upset about that? My furniture is a lot nicer looking, and probably better quality. Definitely less brown. We're going to use his very nice TVs, though. And his awesome grill and good cookware. I think he's joking when he makes that hang-dog face and says he guesses the tree trunk tables that he made one million years ago will live in the basement. With his brown futon. And his brown chair. And the coffee table made out of some sort of warehouse equipment thing. :-/ So far I've just been sort of looking off into the distance and then changing the subject when this stuff comes up. Should I DO something? If so, what?

I'm dreading the day we have to discuss the lamp he made that looks like a creepy man with teeth. And I believe there may be a giant set of moose antlers to contend with. Luckily we're moving me first. He'll go fully in next month. Probably by then nothing else will fit.

So, any advice from those of you who've been here?


#2
  1. We all know you enough (even on the interwebz)to be certain that you would not take advantage of him. Presumably, Hockey who is around you much more has twigged it, i.e. a non-issue.
  2. Of course he is in a mild panic. This is a major shift into something partially unknown. Roll with it. It will pass.
  3. I have been the single wage earner in my family for nigh on 30 years. The idea a taking advantage of that fact in case of a blow-up would be repugnant. We know Hockey is a real man.
  4. LET HIM HAVE some of his bloody furniture, even if yours is “nicer”. It is not a replay of Germany’s invasion of Poland. Even offer it.

TQB


#3

Sounds like the two of you have a pretty good plan. My wife and I started with practically nothing so I’m sorry I can’t be of better help.

Lol, I’d say you’re right about his stuff. He’ll give you a hard time about it because that’s what we guys do, but I seriously doubt he really cares. Personal opinion, as long as I feel like I have a space of my own (even if it’s the size of a closet) I haven’t cared what furniture, color, lighting etc… the rest of the house has been. So my only advice would be to let him do what ever the heck he wants in “his” space.

Another personal opinion here, I make jokes in light of stressing out or being apprehensive during change (or arguments for that matter). It sounds like he’s doing basically the same thing in regards to the “ball and chain” comments.


#4

[quote]TQB wrote:

  1. LET HIM HAVE some of his bloody furniture, even if yours is “nicer”. It is not a replay of Germany’s invasion of Poland. Even offer it.
    [/quote]

If you could see me right now, you’d notice me looking into the faraway distance. No eye contact. lol

I’ll try. We’re keeping all of the beds, because combined we have quite a crew. And we each have our grandmother’s dresser sets, which we’ll keep all of even if it means getting rid of an objectively nicer/less battered set I have.

Have I mentioned that he has awesome electronics? And a very nice grill? There is room for Polish things! But that creepy-man-with-teeth lamp! And the antlers. Oy.

usmccds423, he’ll have a workshop in the basement, and possibly will build a garage with a big room on top at some point for manly hang-out space (pool table, etc). I get a spare bedroom for my treadmill and weights. YAY

I acknowledge (to him and generally) that his couch is much more comfortable than mine. But I can’t describe how ugly it is. It’s like they did it on purpose! “Let’s see, what’s the least pleasing combination of browns we can incorporate? And the floral pattern for the pillows - what weeds does NO ONE EVER stop to gaze at when seen outdoors? Let’s use some of those, captured in late fall, when they’re dead.”

I’m really nervous, too. It’s scary!


#5

He says he’s not nervous. So it’s just me twisted in knots, then?


#6

Me and my wife moved in together and got married a few months later. We each had bank accounts, I had more money than she did, we both always had good jobs. My job had a credit union on the premises, so I opened a joint account for us, we closed out our separate accounts. So our money was always pooled together.

I never had any question about our relationship, I never heard any reservations on her end. It was a good feeling to be able to trust someone to that extent.


#7

[quote]beachguy498 wrote:
Me and my wife moved in together and got married a few months later. We each had bank accounts, I had more money than she did, we both always had good jobs. My job had a credit union on the premises, so I opened a joint account for us, we closed out our separate accounts. So our money was always pooled together.

I never had any question about our relationship, I never heard any reservations on her end. It was a good feeling to be able to trust someone to that extent. [/quote]

I realized a few months ago that I trust him more than I did my parents, who weren’t particularly trustworthy. I think my anxiety has to do with the question of day-to-day compatibility. Although we’re together so much now that there shouldn’t be any surprises. I’m tidier than he is. But he can fix things. I dunno. ~fret~

I can’t wait until there’s only one bed, though, and we’re both in it unless he’s out of town. ~happy~


#8

You’re thinking here. Most people don’t, and the money/assets bite them eventually.

Even without a marriage, contact a lawyer in your state. Find out your state’s view of asset comingling if you later split the sheets. Some places don’t require a marriage to affect comingling.

My first wife died and left me everything. My second wife and I have a prenup but I pay for everything anyway. Works well. As long as I have a comfortable couch, good tv, and great sex, I don’t care what the wife does to the house.


#9

I forgot to mention having separate bank accounts is a real plus.


#10

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
So, any advice from those of you who’ve been here?
[/quote]

Yes, if you are going to get 1/2 married, you might as well get all-the-way married.


#11

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
He says he’s not nervous. So it’s just me twisted in knots, then?[/quote]

Well, yes…and no.

Putting myself in his shoes, I would never admit that I was nervous to move in together. You might think, “oh this is so wonderful, he’s sharing his feelings with me” but he’s worried you’ll see it as “Oh my god, is he second guessing this? Is it too soon, i knew it was too soon, I should have listened to Mary she told me we shouldn’t move in together after what happened with her and Bill, what does this mean for us, does he not love me anymore, oh my god i bet he met someone else, it’s probably that woman from accounting he told me about, the one who won’t refill the coffee pot when she’s done, is he going to break up with me, he’s going to break up with me, i knew it, we never should have gotten together, i knew this could never work, i wonder if my ex is still on facebook, he sure looked like he was having fun on the Costa Rica trip he took…”

Why would I open that door? That right there is a day and a half discussion about my feelings and our relationship that I don’t want to have and is completely avoidable if I keep my mouth shut.

He’s human, this is a big change, he loves you. Trust that if something serious comes up, he’ll bring it to your attention.

Lastly, regarding the ball and chain comments, sometimes society hands you a script and you don’t really question it. I think he’s either repeating from that script and isn’t aware that it bothers you, or it’s his way of telling you that he’s feeling something at the ending of one chapter of his life but also excited about the beginning of a new chapter.

You can either ignore it or you can try and explicitly identify it for him, but without assigning it to him. Just acknowledge out loud that his furniture has been with him a long time and that it’s hard to part with something that you’ve seen every day for the last 15 years. And then drop it.

I don’t know if any of this is helpful, but when I read your description I had a very visceral reaction. Then again, I’m an emotional retard so take all my suggestions with a grain of salt.


#12

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
*We’re still working through what to do day-to-day, but it looks like we’re leaning toward a joint account and paychecks going there. In the event of a breakup we divide any savings and simply stop auto-depositing there. Once we finish renovations on the house there should be significant accrual of savings. Those will divide evenly. We’ve gotten a joint credit card for our shared expenses (household, dining out, etc) and then I’m leaning toward keeping my separate one because I like to track my discretionary spending. We both maintain zero balances on credit cards, so there will presumably be no accrual of high-interest debt.
[/quote]

Why would you co-mingle accounts? Unless you have a very specific reason to do so this is asking for a mess down the road if things don’t work out. I don’t even have joint credit card, checking, or savings account with my wife. For example, If your name is on his card and he makes a late payment or defaults your credit gets just as fucked as if you made the late payment or default.


#13

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
So, any advice from those of you who’ve been here?
[/quote]

Yes, if you are going to get 1/2 married, you might as well get all-the-way married.[/quote]

x2, but whatever works for you two.

My wife and I had separate finances for the first few years of marriage. We split expenses evenly and had what was left over for “play money.” This was my idea, because at the time I made slightly less money than her, had much less in savings, and wasn’t comfortable spending “her” money. This led to some very convoluted budget discussions and much unnecessary stress.

At about the 3.5 year mark, I realized that we needed to have a common purpose and common goals as a family, and that my efforts to make things “fair” (or whatever) were actually a hindrance to that. I decided that in order to work together towards common financial goals, I needed to stop seeing it as “my money” and “her money,” and realize that all of it was actually “ours.” So we merged our finances - checking, savings, credit, all of it. My income is our income, her debt is our debt, etc. She was on board with this, since she’d wanted to combine finances when we initially got married. Things have been a lot clearer for us since then.

So, I guess you need to decide if the two of you are a team with common goals and aspirations or not. The way you manage your lives (finances included) should reflect that. IMO, of course.


#14

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
Yes, if you are going to get 1/2 married, you might as well get all-the-way married.[/quote]

Congratulations, I don’t believe men really care too much about furniture. Sounds like you found a good partner.


#15

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
So, any advice from those of you who’ve been here?
[/quote]

Yes, if you are going to get 1/2 married, you might as well get all-the-way married.[/quote]

x2, but whatever works for you two.

My wife and I had separate finances for the first few years of marriage. We split expenses evenly and had what was left over for “play money.” This was my idea, because at the time I made slightly less money than her, had much less in savings, and wasn’t comfortable spending “her” money. This led to some very convoluted budget discussions and much unnecessary stress.

At about the 3.5 year mark, I realized that we needed to have a common purpose and common goals as a family, and that my efforts to make things “fair” (or whatever) were actually a hindrance to that. I decided that in order to work together towards common financial goals, I needed to stop seeing it as “my money” and “her money,” and realize that all of it was actually “ours.” So we merged our finances - checking, savings, credit, all of it. My income is our income, her debt is our debt, etc. She was on board with this, since she’d wanted to combine finances when we initially got married. Things have been a lot clearer for us since then.

So, I guess you need to decide if the two of you are a team with common goals and aspirations or not. The way you manage your lives (finances included) should reflect that. IMO, of course.[/quote]

Many people think I’m crazy, but I just don’t get joint accounts. At all. My wife and I have common goals and we have passwords to each others accounts, but we both know with absolute certainty which accounts I am responsible for managing and which accounts she is responsible for managing. There are absolutely no misunderstandings this way.


#16

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
So, any advice from those of you who’ve been here?
[/quote]

Yes, if you are going to get 1/2 married, you might as well get all-the-way married.[/quote]

x2, but whatever works for you two.

My wife and I had separate finances for the first few years of marriage. We split expenses evenly and had what was left over for “play money.” This was my idea, because at the time I made slightly less money than her, had much less in savings, and wasn’t comfortable spending “her” money. This led to some very convoluted budget discussions and much unnecessary stress.

At about the 3.5 year mark, I realized that we needed to have a common purpose and common goals as a family, and that my efforts to make things “fair” (or whatever) were actually a hindrance to that. I decided that in order to work together towards common financial goals, I needed to stop seeing it as “my money” and “her money,” and realize that all of it was actually “ours.” So we merged our finances - checking, savings, credit, all of it. My income is our income, her debt is our debt, etc. She was on board with this, since she’d wanted to combine finances when we initially got married. Things have been a lot clearer for us since then.

So, I guess you need to decide if the two of you are a team with common goals and aspirations or not. The way you manage your lives (finances included) should reflect that. IMO, of course.[/quote]

Many people think I’m crazy, but I just don’t get joint accounts. At all. My wife and I have common goals and we have passwords to each others accounts, but we both know with absolute certainty which accounts I am responsible for managing and which accounts she is responsible for managing. There are absolutely no misunderstandings this way.
[/quote]

I think every couple needs to find their own sense of balance. My wife and I have joint accounts, we don’t have any separate accounts and we have done it this way since way before we were married.

I manage all of the finances, so this is obviously the best way for us to do it.


#17

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Many people think I’m crazy, but I just don’t get joint accounts. At all. My wife and I have common goals and we have passwords to each others accounts, but we both know with absolute certainty which accounts I am responsible for managing and which accounts she is responsible for managing. There are absolutely no misunderstandings this way.
[/quote]
What do you see as the advantage of doing it this way? If you are legally married, your debts and assets are legally held in common, even if you have separate accounts. It seems to me you are adding an extra layer of complication without any benefit other than perhaps feeling better about it.


#18

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
So, any advice from those of you who’ve been here?
[/quote]

Yes, if you are going to get 1/2 married, you might as well get all-the-way married.[/quote]

x2, but whatever works for you two.

My wife and I had separate finances for the first few years of marriage. We split expenses evenly and had what was left over for “play money.” This was my idea, because at the time I made slightly less money than her, had much less in savings, and wasn’t comfortable spending “her” money. This led to some very convoluted budget discussions and much unnecessary stress.

At about the 3.5 year mark, I realized that we needed to have a common purpose and common goals as a family, and that my efforts to make things “fair” (or whatever) were actually a hindrance to that. I decided that in order to work together towards common financial goals, I needed to stop seeing it as “my money” and “her money,” and realize that all of it was actually “ours.” So we merged our finances - checking, savings, credit, all of it. My income is our income, her debt is our debt, etc. She was on board with this, since she’d wanted to combine finances when we initially got married. Things have been a lot clearer for us since then.

So, I guess you need to decide if the two of you are a team with common goals and aspirations or not. The way you manage your lives (finances included) should reflect that. IMO, of course.[/quote]

Many people think I’m crazy, but I just don’t get joint accounts. At all. My wife and I have common goals and we have passwords to each others accounts, but we both know with absolute certainty which accounts I am responsible for managing and which accounts she is responsible for managing. There are absolutely no misunderstandings this way.
[/quote]

I think every couple needs to find their own sense of balance. My wife and I have joint accounts, we don’t have any separate accounts and we have done it this way since way before we were married.

I manage all of the finances, so this is obviously the best way for us to do it. [/quote]

FWIW, my wife and I keep somewhat separate financial identities, but basically I pay all the bills and she write checks on my account to herself for whatever she wants, but generally related to household stuff.

She works as a nurse practitioner and whatever she makes is her mad money, but we agreed she has to save 20% back into various mutual funds and maxes out her 401K. In reality, she probably saves about 50% of her post-tax income. (I do the same, but probably save 75% back — no debt and no real bills except utilities and taxes.)

The separate pots of money are nice because if she wants to splurge on whatever and I want a new rifle, we don’t care.


#19

[quote]Silyak wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Many people think I’m crazy, but I just don’t get joint accounts. At all. My wife and I have common goals and we have passwords to each others accounts, but we both know with absolute certainty which accounts I am responsible for managing and which accounts she is responsible for managing. There are absolutely no misunderstandings this way.
[/quote]
What do you see as the advantage of doing it this way? If you are legally married, your debts and assets are legally held in common, even if you have separate accounts. It seems to me you are adding an extra layer of complication without any benefit other than perhaps feeling better about it. [/quote]

Your debts are not legally common, depending on the state.


#20

[quote]Silyak wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Many people think I’m crazy, but I just don’t get joint accounts. At all. My wife and I have common goals and we have passwords to each others accounts, but we both know with absolute certainty which accounts I am responsible for managing and which accounts she is responsible for managing. There are absolutely no misunderstandings this way.
[/quote]
What do you see as the advantage of doing it this way? If you are legally married, your debts and assets are legally held in common, even if you have separate accounts. It seems to me you are adding an extra layer of complication without any benefit other than perhaps feeling better about it. [/quote]

Even in a common-law state a spouse has the right to “manage” the income that spouse earns until it goes into a common account. Also, gifts and other things are separate property until you co-mingle. Also, keeping credit cards and things separate keeps your credit scores separate. If, god forbid, you ran into a financial hardship, you might be in a position to selectively choose which accounts to default on or miss payments and keep one partners credit in good standing. Or, if one partner forgets to pay a bill, both partners get credit dings on a joint account. We have been two-income and one-income partners and never had any issues keeping things separate and I can think of lots of reason why not to combine.