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What's the right way to handle money in marriage?
Yes, of course there is a right way to handle money after saying "I do."
“I just got engaged. My fiancé believes in totally joint finances. I’m not so sure. What is the right way to handle money in marriage?”
The right way to handle money in a marriage is simple. Use the method that feels good for BOTH of you! Joint is the easiest and appropriate solution for some newly weds. For others, that old school advice is outdated and won’t work well.
Joint being the default doesn’t make it right for everyone!
There is nothing wrong with you, your partner or your relationship if another version (yes, even totally separate) is what works best.
Personally, I am a big fan of the hybrid model, which is sometimes called “yours, mine, and ours.”
Here’s how it breaks down in my marriage:
Joint accounts for our household bills, savings and investing goals (except separate retirement accounts, obviously).
Then we each have our own checking account for our spending money.
Peach and I each get an amount of money* that we can spend on whatever we want per month. This helps reduce nitpicking and fighting with each other. Plus, it’s nice to have some autonomy.
*The same amount, even though we earn different incomes.
It’s also important to acknowledge that your preference on how to handle family finances will likely change over time.
The one way that I do take a firm stand is that I don’t believe you should combine your finances with someone else until you’re married (yes, even if you live together). (The exception is setting up some level of legally binding agreements that tie you to each other, even if it isn’t a traditional marriage license.) It’s about legal protections. A married couple has to go to court to split up – which includes how to fairly divide assets. (Another reason to be on team prenup!).
Not married, but sharing a joint account? You and your partner are equally entitled to the funds in that account and either can legally drain the account and walk away. Sure, you could take your (then probably ex) partner to small claims court to try and get the money back, but that’s expensive and cumbersome! Or, if your partner has creditors, then those creditors could come for the joint account and it’s a whole process for you to try and keep your money from being garnished. Just keep your money separate until there’s a legally binding agreement involved. If you do elect to have a joint account for shared bills, then please only put the bare minimum needed in there.
Want help for how to navigate awkward financial conversations?
𝘎𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝗕𝗿𝗼𝗸𝗲 𝗠𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗧𝗮𝗹𝗸𝘀 𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆.
𝘈𝘷𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘥.
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