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My Wife and I Split

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The following is a contribution from my good friend Chris at This That And The MBA. If you’re interested in contributing to Frugal Rules, please consult our guidelines and contact us.

 

I bet that got your attention, we are doing just great. We are on our merry way on this journey we call life. This is our journey and we wouldn’t have it any other way. My wife and I married in our mid twenties; I was working while she was going to school for her masters. Life was great, living in an apartment out on our own. We had both lived with our parents up until we got married and then we spread our wings to go live together.

Separate Checking Accounts

“Sure,” you are thinking, “I thought they split, of course they have separate checking accounts.” Well, we’ve always had a combined checking account but in May of 2013 we are both moving to our own accounts. We are not having marital issues. It came to the point that we were having trouble controlling our spending. My wife was a spender and I was a saver, so this is our experiment to see if we can reign in spending. We tried the budgets, but it was too hard to do because we both thought of money differently. Now we will be each in control of our own income, we split out the bills in an equitable fashion that we could both live with.

Paying down debt is more about mindset I feel than anything else. We have tried to be in the mindset to pay down whenever we could, but the debt is just not going down as fast as we would like. Taking this additional step will help her control her spending when she does not have any additional funds in the account to purchase whatever she would like. I will continue to save and pay down our debt like I had been trying to do.

This solution may not be for everyone but being in the world of finance, I realize that the same shoe does not fit everyone. This is our journey and our money struggles. We got into this debt mess because it was more or less planned. “Right,” you’re thinking, “who plans debt?” Well, we did. It was our decision to maintain our lifestyle while my wife was not working as she had our 2 children. It was the best decision of our life and we can see the benefit in our children.

Paying down debt is not the only mission we are on, we have been saving for retirement as well, and we each take out 10% of our salaries for our 401k. So we are not bypassing other goals on our mission to pay down debt. We have paid down close to 5k in debt since February, but I want to speed this up as I see each month how much we are paying in interest and it is killing me.

How do you and your spouse manage your money? Ever go from a joint account to separate accounts? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

This is our attempt to manage our money before it manages us, share your stories.

My name is Christopher and I am the resident financial blogger over at This That and the MBA. You can find me on twitter as well @thsthtandthemba I am a happily married guy with 2 little girls who are the world to me.

 

Editor’s note: I greatly appreciate Chris’ honesty here. Like he said, in regards to finance, “one shoe does not fit everyone”, thus you need to go with what works for you. I also agree that paying down debt is largely about your mindset above everything else. Kudos to Chris and his wife for paying down $5,000 in debt in such a short time.

 

 

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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61 Comments

  • I’m not really clear on why you came to this solution and how you have split the bills. Did you try giving her one separate account for all her discretionary spending while keeping your incomes going to a joint account? That would have the dwindling balance effect without sacrificing your joint goals and coordination. I did this when I was single, actually – just transferred the discretionary portion of my paycheck to another checking account and when I was out and about I only used that debit card.

    • She would always tap the mutual account so it was not really working. She is the only daughter for her parents and has always really been taken care of. This is our attempt at giving her responsibility. We divided up our take home pay and added our savings as another bill.

      She is excited and it was something that we needed to do to get her on track. She even made her own lunch yesterday seeing how it was coming out of “her” money.

      • Sara says:

        My husband and I just did this for the same reasons, I’m more of a spender and it’s really helped me adjust! I’ve been making spending fasts a game 🙂 I’d love to hear an update of how this has worked for you two!

  • Michelle says:

    We have almost joint everything. We’ve been like this for years, and have never had a single problem 🙂 Different things work for different people.

  • Matt Becker says:

    The title definitely got my attention! My wife and I have joint everything, but I’m well aware that, like you say, there isn’t a single approach that works for everyone. I think it’s cool that you guys are making the effort to try something different. It sounds like you guys are on the same page in terms of trying to figure out a good situation, even with different styles. Good luck!

    • Thanks, hopefully it will work. She was concerned about me making more but I took more of the bills and we divided it up based upon our take home pay. I don’t spend much money and tend to save where she is the spender.

      Haha figured the title would get a lot of attention 🙂

      We are in the same place we were with one job, savings and goals seem stagnant so we are trying something different.

  • This is an interesting way of doing it. My wife and I have separate accounts, but have a joint account to pay all of the bills. I would think that splitting the bills would be tougher to deal with. I haven’t heard of anyone going this route when married, but good luck with it Chris.

    • One of the reasons we decided to take this route is my bills that i pay are pretty much the same every month. I gave her bills that she can have a direct impact on. Like grocery shopping. If she wants to use coupons, she will ultimately have more money to herself and electricity, she likes to keep every light on from the moment we get home till we go to sleep and 75 in our house in the winter. She will become aware of these things now, whereas before I just paid it and she had no idea how much it was. We are trying to get on the same page and bulk up our savings.

  • I would prefer joint accounts, but if splitting things up is the only way get the debt knocked out, that’s what you do.

    • I prefer it too, but her irresponsibility has really taken its toll and we had to come up with a plan of attack….We both have same goals of saving for a new home, paying down debt. But now her “money” will be significantly less than our combined money that she was used to seeing. I think a lot of it is psychological. We will see, maybe in 6 months we will scrap it!

  • As a single, young woman I don’t have any experience with the complications of joint vs. separate accounts. However, I have always believed I would want separate checking and one joint account when the time comes. I would want transparency with both parties about how we deal with money, but I know myself well enough to know I’d like to have an account I have control over. Perhaps my feelings will change when I “grow up.”

    • I dont mind her having my account information, but the account is only in my name. She can check it, I told her lets have a friendly competition on savings as well. I am trying to do anything to kick start her mindset into saving. We already save plenty for our 401k and retirement, I just want a nicer house now.

  • We have separate accounts, everything is seperate, because well, I want to control my own money, and he`s welcome to do whatever with his.. but we might get a joint savings account sometime in the future, for travel savings and such..

    • Plus I really hate asking her what this and that transaction is about. I dont care what they are but to have control over your money you need to know where you are bleeding. So she will have control and I wont have to worry about her small transactions any longer. Having partial OCD this will alleviate some of my having to check my account 30 times a day. Now it will only be whenever I spend which is alot easier to track. So I should have more time now 🙂

  • Jake Erickson says:

    This is very interesting and I applaud you for trying to figure out a method that works well for you. Fortunately, my wife and I agree on pretty much everything regarding money so we don’t have this issue, but I could see us splitting accounts if we starting running into trouble. Hopefully this works out for you and remember that paying off $5k since February is no small feat, congrats!

  • Yes, the title fooled me! 🙂 I’m not in a relationship, but for me I think I’d go with one joint account for all the shared bills, but separate accounts for other kinds of spending. Different things work for different people!

    • We didn’t keep the joint account because it was easier for her to just pick up a few bills. They were her student loans and her CC. All of which I had been taking care of. Kind of setting her up as well in case something ever happened to me. I had to show her how to do online bill pay and all that good stuff. Life is one big journey and I am glad I can share it with everyone.

  • Chris, good for you for figuring out a plan that works for your family. My uncle and his wife did the same thing when she was having some gambling issues. He’s a hard and fast saver, and wanted to stay with her while she worked through the issues (which she did) but at the same time didn’t want to take the chance on jeopardizing their entire family’s finances, so they made every thing separate. Kudos to both of you for doing what you need to do to help your situation.

    • Thank you, similar situation we both have the same goals, but one of us is more of an impulse buyer and sometimes cannot control themselves. 🙂 I still love her but we are getting no where fast at our current pace. We make well over 100k but we have same issues we did right out of college at 30k. Time for a change!

  • anna says:

    The title caught me off-guard! Right now my bf and I have our own separate accounts, but I can see ourselves doing a dual approach with a joint for everyday expenses and a separate account for our “slush” fund of sorts (I tend to be the spender just like your wife, so I agree it will help with self-control). I say if it works for you, and it sounds like you’re paying down the debt quickly, then carry on with it!

  • My wife and I have 3 checking accounts, but we are joint on all of them. If I were to explain how our finances funnel through our 3 checking accounts you would call me crazy, but it works for us!

  • Mackenzie says:

    As I mentioned to John, the title of this post totally got me!

    My husband and I have joint accounts as well as separate accounts. It’s what works. That’s what’s great about personal finance: it’s personal. You do what works for you! Good luck and I hope this works out for you guys 🙂

  • Okay, I admit the title scared me too! Glad to hear it’s only separate check accounts! It’s certainly non-traditional, but every couple works differently and it sounds like you two have mutually decided to try this. It does like it would allow your wife to feel in control of her finances, but also help her see the difference a few changes might make too. I love that you guys looked for a solution that will hopefully work for you both of you and would love to hear an update. Good luck!

    • I will definitely keep you all up to date…plus the great thing about this…it gives me something to write about 🙂

      That was one of the first things out of my wife’s mouth after I suggested we try this. Oh what are you looking for something to write about 🙂

      There will be trying times but we love eachother and it really is to benefit us both.

  • We actually just did the exact opposite. My wife and I finally combined our accounts.

  • Pauline says:

    We have a joint account for all things we pay monthly, and food. We top that up when it runs dry. All the rest, each one has his own money. I couldn’t pool 100% of resources, for as much as I want to believe in eternal love, I have seen too many bad things

    • The way we came into our relationship was I was the only one working, so we kind of just kept my accounts and I added her as a person on the account. No real responsibility she has had, so now we are giving her some and control over her money. It will be a refresher for me not having to make a payment for every bill.

  • krantcents says:

    Interesting experiment! We have always had joint accounts. We never had debt other than mortgages for income properties. I handled the finances because I am the financial person, but my wife handled successfully for years. I believe in cross training! 🙂 I think you should try it for 90-180 days and see if it works.

    • Yes i love the idea of cross training. I am getting all kinds of questions from my wife that she never asked before about our money. I really enjoy it. Before it was just a bill that i paid, now she is questioning charges and stuff like that. Really opened her eyes to how much was going in and out the door. We were honest about the money but she never really took the time or initiative to see what our bills were all about.

  • Kendal says:

    The post title definitely got my attention! Currently, my husband and I have a joint account but sometimes I wonder if we should have separate accounts. I’m a spender and he’s a saver, and though we have a nice cushion in savings and zero credit card debt, I know he cringes when I walk through the door with shopping bags. I’ve suggested budgeting in the past but ironically enough, he’s not excited about the concept because he doesn’t want his spending controlled. Thanks for writing this thought-provoking post!

  • I’ve never even considered going to split checking accounts. It definitely sounds like an interesting idea and hopefully it works for you guys. The thing I love about personal finance is there is no “one size fits all” solution to anything; what works for one person or couple won’t work for everyone.

  • I believe Chris you are in the right track towards your goal. Always focus on your desire to pay off your debt or mortgage, sooner or later you will completely debt free guy. Good luck.

  • Great post Chris! It’s cool that you are trying different ways to work together to manage spending. Please come back and let us know how it goes. =D

  • @debtblag says:

    Wow. Now that is a different way of doing things. I’d be interested to see where this ends up. Is the point that one of you learns their lesson and then you end up going back to a joint account?

  • Yet another great example of the personal side of PF! I’ll most likely opt for a mine, his, ours setup once I’m married, but I of course need to know his opinion/thoughts, too!

    • We were going to try the allowance type thing and put the rest for bills, but then we didnt know who would manage the ours account and who would pay the bills so we just decided to split the bills…so it could be similar to an ours account…its just coming from our separate accounts.

  • We had separate accounts for years and there was lots of not knowing what the other was doing, and we got into huge amounts of debt. Now we have a joint account for day to day stuff, but we each get an “allowance” each month to spend with no questions. It works so much better for us that way, but you know what will work for you guys.

    • We both will have access to view the accounts, she just never really had any responsibility so we are trying to give her responsibility. Working and bringing home a check and never getting to see any of it or really have much control she felt like she wasnt contributing. Now she will have control of her bills. It has allowed us to open up and be much more honest about money. It is so much easier to talk about now too.

  • Hopefully this experiment will allow you to get on the same page with money. Sounds like you have different viewpoints about how much to save/spend and that can be dangerous for any marriage. Getting on the same page will be critical going forward to pay off that debt. Good luck!

  • jim says:

    Chris,
    I think you are to be commended for what you’ve done. Time for her to take responsibility for her expenditures. I did the same thing with my spouse decades ago when she bounced a check (with MY name on it) from a joint account. Wow – did that ever wake her up. Best of luck, Bud. Sometimes princessess need to be dethroned and welcomed into the world of reality. Once she gets that, I suspect you guys will be on the same page and you’ll both be better off for having done so.

  • Definitely did get my attention! Sounds like you have the right reasons for a smart financial background. Great post.

  • At least you are giving it a try to see if you make the changes necessary to get things under control and working together. We have separate and joint accounts only because when I moved to Canada as a PR from the UK I needed my own account to build credit in Canada. I opened the account before I moved to Canada and still have it today. My wife has her own account and we have joint accounts as well. I just transfer all my money when I get it and we pay the bills from our joint account. It seems complicated but it’s not at all. We have a budget that works for us and we can’t imagine not having it in our life. It’s helped us to save more than we could have ever done managing money the way we used to as single people and as newlyweds. I hope your experiment works out for you both.

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I am hoping as well. We tried the budget and we could never get around to updating it or doing it more than 1-4 months…then it would be kicked wayside. Now we have added savings as a bill that we must pay now so that will bolster that. I dont balance my checkbook but i always know within a few dollars how much is in there, my ocd checks it all the time, so hopefully she will know her account balances now and will be enticed to see it grow.

  • Gary says:

    My wife is very similar to your wife. The route that we took was that we each have our own account for discretionary spending, and a joint account for all bills. Come payday we have money transferred into the joint account and the rest is ours to do as we please. It has helped my wife have better control over her spending as she knows her limit.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Jose says:

    My wife and I have kept separate finances since we have been married. Our situation is a bit different, there’s child support. alimony and other obligations on both sides.Trying to merge our finances would be infinitely complex and would probably lead to some conflict. Good luck on your experiment!

  • We have joint accounts for everything, and then we each get a certain amount of money to spend each month as each pleases for autonomy. It’s been working great so far (three years in).

  • My wife and I split our bills as well. We also have separate checking accounts. We each contribute to a savings account from our separate accounts, pay our respective bills and then utilize the money as we each see fit. It is about prioritization and that is the key. Everyone is going to have different biases, but as long as you are able to have a common mind for the big picture it can work out.

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