4 Things No One Ever Told Me About Marriage and Money

Marriage and money can be tricky, but not if you're open. Here are 4 things to keep in mind about money when you get married.

I’m technically still in the honeymoon stage after getting married about two months ago. My marriage hardly feels like a ‘new relationship’ however, and not much has changed because I’ve known my husband for many years, we’ve lived together for a while and we’ve always had very open conversations about everything.

Before we tied the knot, we took pre-marital counseling and I greatly appreciated the personal finance chapter of our lesson. While we had discussed our financial goals and spending habits earlier in the relationship, I was interested to learn more about what my husband truly thought about certain financial topics and milestones that we have yet to achieve like buying a house, retiring at a certain age, our timeline for paying off our debt and so on.

While it’s important to discuss essential money topics like your financial philosophy, your debt and your credit score before marriage, we made sure to do that early on, which ensured that we were on the same page financially.

However, there were still a few practical things I feel like no one ever told me about marriage and money.

1. Taking on Someone Else’s Debt Sucks


When we got married, I knew my husband had more debt than me and it would be considered ‘our debt’ practically as soon as we made our nuptials official. We have a solid plan in place to use the avalanche method to attack our debt, but if I can be completely honest, I don’t like the extra debt one bit.

No one likes to pay off debt, especially when it isn’t theirs. I worked extremely hard to pay off a large portion of my debt last year, which left me with only student loan debt. When I got married, my debt total practically doubled which made me feel like I was taking a step backward or that all my progress had been washed away.

I love my husband unconditionally and will work with him so we can become debt free in the next few years, but I’d be lying if I said I was happy about taking on additional debt. Realistically, it sucks, but it’s something you have to work through when you’re married.

2. keep financial matters private


At my wedding reception, my Dad made a heartfelt speech about my husband and I. At the end of his speech, he reminded us to keep certain things within our marriage and not to involve others in our private affairs. His comment was very generalized, but since I’m a money nerd, I always tend to find or create a financial perspective for everything.

I don’t think everyone should know everything about our financial situation, especially family. While I am a blogger and I consider myself pretty open, I still don’t share every little detail about my finances (especially now that I don’t want my husband to feel uncomfortable).

When it comes to family, I love mine dearly but I don’t always find it beneficial to share specific details about our household finances even if I feel the need to vent. For example, if my husband made a stupid purchase that upset me, I wouldn’t find it helpful to tell everyone in my family about it. I feel like it opens up room for judgement or certain expectations and I don’t want to be judged by where and how much we work, how much we make and how much we spend.

With blog posts it’s different because I share tips, strategies and advice that most people can relate to for educational purposes. But for personal interaction with my loved ones, I want us to be viewed as regular people without any context related to our household finances. I won’t keep family completely in the dark, but I won’t involve them in every little thing either.

3. You Don’t need joint Accounts


Before I got married, I got a lot of advice about how to handle your bank accounts. Most of what I heard was in support of combining finances when you’re married to make it easier and to have everything out in the open.

While we definitely don’t believe in secrets, having everything combined in one account was not ideal at all. I personally have several bank accounts and I feel they help keep me organized. When we got married, my husband moved over to the same bank as me, but we kept our own accounts and turned one of my extra accounts into a joint account so we could transfer money to each other and pay bills easily. This way, we still split expenses so one person isn’t bombarded with paying all the bills every week.

I still kept my Capital One 360 savings accounts open and just gave my husband my online banking password so he can be in the loop about everything. When it comes to deciding whether to completely combine finances or not, you should do whatever works best for you.

Marriage and money can be tricky, but not if you're open. Here are 4 things to keep in mind about money when you get married.

4. Fancy Gifts Aren’t required


I know I sound like an old maid saying this and maybe I’m talking myself out of the newlywed bliss stage, but I think by the time we got married, we realized that fancy gifts don’t make or break our relationship nor prove how much we love each other. We exchanged gifts while dating, but it got old quick and aside from birthdays and Christmas, it didn’t feel right to run out and buy a gift just because society said to do so.

Despite what people may say about committing to keep the romance alive and continuing to date each other after you’re married, we still respect and value each other and make time to do fun things together. However, we made a conscious effort to stop basing our happiness and relationship around gifts and material things once we decided to get married. Plus, we are focused on some much more important financial goals.


Can you relate to any of these realizations about money and marriage? What would you add to the list? What’s your philosophy on talking about personal finances with family? How do you feel about joint accounts for couples? Are they necessary?

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Chonce is a freelance writer who’s obsessed with frugality and passionate about helping others increase their savings rate, eliminate debt, and work toward financial stability. She chronicles her journey with balancing motherhood, work, and finances on her blog, MyDebt

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  • We share all of our accounts and it works well for us. I think it works so well because we were poor when we got married and didn’t have much money for a long time. It seems harder for adults who are more established to combine their accounts.

    • Chonce says:

      I agree, more money along with managing your own finances on your own for a long time can make combining everything seem more complicated. I’m glad we found a happy medium for now though!

  • My wife and I are both on our second marriage, and we decided to combine all our accounts. It makes things simpler for us organization-wise and it represents our joint responsibility and goals. Personally while I prefer joint accounts, I think it’s up to each couple to decide what’s right for them. I did read a recent statistic though that said couples with separate accounts are 20% more likely to overspend. That just emphasizes how important communication and budgeting are.

    • Chonce says:

      That’s really interesting, but I bet it’s naturally easier to overspend when you control an account on your own. That’s why it’s important to have weekly or monthly budget meetings and determine how much money each of you can spend separately and comfortably on expenses like wants, hobbies, lattes, etc.

  • Joint accounts are what society says but I think both people need their own space even if you are married. Having personal possessions is comforting to the mind of both individuals in case something ever went wrong.

    • Chonce says:

      Individuality is always important. When you become married you share so much though, so it’s important to be able to compromise, communicate, and work together though as well.

  • Ken says:

    My wife and I have separate accounts and it works out ok. She has specific bills that she pays out of her account. I have specific ones I pay out of my account. We also have a separate online savings account that holds our emergency fund and Christmas savings. It works for us.

    • Chonce says:

      Sounds very similar to our situation. Only we have joint savings since we combined savings and I added my husband on to my savings accounts.

  • Totally relate to #2, Chonce! I’m a very private person and lately, some family members have learned more about our finances. I’m not sure of the repercussions, or whether there will even be any, but it does make me uncomfortable when they make comments.

    Also #4. My husband bought me roses when we first started dating, other than that, in our 23 years of being together, we have not bought each other gifts. Instead, we do nice things for each other – bring each other a cup of coffee, give a backrub, or just offering to take on an extra household chore for them. This works well for us.

    • Chonce says:

      That’s sweet that you and your husband do nice things for each other like that. After a long day, taking one of my chores over seems like such a thoughtful and priceless ‘gift’ to me 🙂

  • I can definitely relate to the bank accounts. It wasn’t until last year that my husband got his account through my bank. We have always had a joint account for our bills, but having a husband and wife account (as we call them) keeps us orgained and separates expenses. For example, he pays for our gas out of the hubby account and I pay for groceries out of the wife account. It’s too much headache keeping up with who is spending what and worrying about having enough when bills are drafted from ur account. Each couple should do what works best for them and I wholeheartedly agree about not giving family dibs on very personal finance matters.

    • Chonce says:

      It’s so interesting to hear how different each couple handles money in their own way. There’s no telling how my husband and I may do things later down the road.

  • I can relate to the gifts point for sure. It gets more and more difficult each year to think of Christmas and Birthday gifts. We’ve gotten to the point where we keep lists so that we have some ideas, otherwise we don’t know what to get! And you’re right, we don’t HAVE to get each other anything. We’ve done $20 limits in the past and it forces you to be a bit more creative, but sometimes those gifts are more meaningful.

  • My wife and I have always had joint accounts from day one of our marriage, except for our credit cards. From time to time, we have had miscommunication surrounding those accounts. For that reason alone, I prefer joint accounts, but if maintaining separate accounts works for a couple, I would never stand in the way of that option. Personal finance is personal for a reason.

  • I think a couple should just do what’s right for them. 🙂

    For us, a joint account made the most sense. It’s helped us streamline and simplify our finances, instead of having money all over the place.

    And it’s really hard to pay off debt that isn’t yours! But that’s marriage. 😉 It’s all about communication and being a team at this point, and not who’s “winning.”

    • Chonce says:

      So true! It took a lot for me to start thinking ‘we’ and ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ but I’m down with the program now and committed to helping US become debt free 🙂

  • I can definitely relate to the gifts. My co-workers were shaming me for not getting an extravagant gift for my wife for Christmas. But we don’t spend extravagantly to begin with and when we do, we consult with each other. Buying an expensive gift does not mean you love them more.

    • Chonce says:

      Exactly. That’s just retailers’ way of trying to persuade you to put money in their pockets. You can’t buy love and a relationship shouldn’t be based on material things anyway.

  • ZJ Thorne says:

    Not wanting to burden my girlfriend is one of the reasons I’m working on paying off my debt. I don’t want her thoughts on whether we should marry clouded by that.

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