So excited to share this great insight from our friend Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for the TODAY show! Recently I shared some of my favorite wedding tips over on Jean’s blog, and now she’s here on BSB to share her expert advice on managing marriage and money. I know you’ll love her valuable tips! xoxo Jessica
Ask any bride to be, and they will tell you planning a wedding involves making a lot of decisions. During the frenzied months and weeks leading up to the big day, there’s often one detail couples neglect — how to manage their money after they have tied the knot.
Just as there are many varied options for celebrating—eloping or heading to the chapel, a sit down dinner or buffet style, a live band or DJ—there are different ways for couples to handle their finances.
Over the years, I’ve heard from countless couples on how they manage their money. Here are three of the most common styles and the good—and not so good—aspects of each:
1. Combine everything
How it works: With this approach, all money is deposited in a joint account, which is then used for all expenses including individual discretionary spending.
Best for: The couple who believes they are to be open with one another and that everything should be shared.
Pros: Both partners are fully aware of what’s being deposited and taken out of marital accounts.
Cons: All purchases will be subject to the possible scrutiny of your partner. It works for some relationships, but in others the spender may feel overly policed and the saver may feel resentful.
2. Yours, mine and ours
How it works: This method allows each individual to have their own account for their own spending, plus a shared joint account that’s used to cover household expenses. You can maintain fairness with disparate incomes by having all paychecks deposited into a joint account, then paying yourselves a set amount each month as an “allowance.”
Best for: Those who still want to maintain some autonomy, but also want the convenience of paying shared expenses.
Pros: Each individual is free to spend out of his or her personal account as they wish—without judgment from their partner.
Cons: Because this method isn’t fully transparent, you’ll need to have a great deal of trust in one another. It’s also important to note that because this approach requires frequent transfers, you’ll want to select a bank that makes doing so easy.
3. Completely separate
How it works: Each person maintains their own account, with shared bills being split so each person is responsible for certain expenses each month.
Best for: Couples who want full autonomy.
Pros: Each person can spend as they please, without the other knowing specifics. In addition, if one person has a heavier expense load, the other won’t be responsible for it.
Cons: You won’t know how money your spouse is spending or what they are spending it on. Often times with this approach, problems can crop up when one spouse pays a shared expense—such as a utility bill or a mortgage—out of a separate account. While some people swear by this method, others aren’t content with being unable to see that certain bills are being paid.
Which method do you think will work best for you and your partner?
About Jean: Jean Chatzky is a best-selling author and award-winning personal finance journalist. She is the finance editor for NBC’s Today show and blogs at JeanChatzky.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @JeanChatzky.