My fiancé and I haven't set a date yet, but we plan to move in with each other this fall. Previously, we have kept our finances completely separate. He often pays when we go out to dinner, but that's mostly because he makes a lot more money than I do, and he enjoys playing the role of the boyfriend who pays for dinner. Otherwise, we both have our own places, our own cars and our own approaches to money. He's a saver type, I'm a spender, and that's never been a problem before. But we're both wondering what we should do when we live under the same roof. I'm rather in favor of combining our finances, since we'll be getting married and having children someday. He thinks we should maybe come up with some interim arrangement, not completely separate but not completely together. What do you think?
His and Hers
His and Hers: What do I think? I think I don't know you well enough to tell you what I think, that's what I think. But it's never stopped me before, so here goes nothing. First of all, congrats on your engagement. I'm sure he's a wonderful guy, and you seem like a wonderful gal, so may the two of you live happily ever after or until money rears its ugly head, whichever comes first. Actually, that the two of you are doing a little financial planning is a good sign. Most couples traipse into marriage as if love alone will pay the bills. Not only will it not pay the bills, it often allows the bills to pile up, then slips out the side door while nobody's looking.
What to do? Well, there are various ways to go about this, and the one you land on will depend in part on how you define yourselves. As fiancé and fiancée, you aren't exactly married, but you aren't just dating either. On the other hand, you haven't set a wedding date, so you're a little less connected than most affianced people. The reason I bring this up is because we tend to select a financial relationship based on what we mean to each other. Friends living together don't have joint checking accounts. Married couples do, though not always. So do you see yourselves more as pre-married or post-dating? Exactly how firm is your commitment?
Okay, let's assume you're more post-dating. In that case, you'll probably want to keep separate accounts. You may also want to create a joint account to handle things like rent, utilities, doughnut runs. Since he makes a lot more than you do, you may want to set things up so that each of you contributes to the joint account on a percentage basis - 70-30, say. If he says 50-50 sounds like a much better idea, you should check his birth certificate, because you may have brought home the wrong guy. My philosophy is, From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
What a minute, that's the Communist philosophy! My philosophy is, As long as both parties agree to the arrangement, it doesn't really matter what it is. A lot of married couples have separate accounts, for instance, and it can have its benefits. This was many years ago now, but when my brother, in a fit of honesty, sat my sister-in-law down and revealed that he'd once had sex with a co-worker, she listened patiently to what he had to say, then, without saying a word, got in the car, drove to the bank and opened a new checking account, dividing everything they had in two. Today, they're still happily married, and they still have separate accounts.
There's a lesson in there somewhere. If you find it, let me know.
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