Conor and I moved in together in October 2016 and last spring, I talked about how we managed our finances those first few months. We’re hardly experts (as in we’re not experts at all) but we got through splitting expenses while living together for a year, then our wedding ($$$), and most recently, talking about plans to move and to save for our future – all without any big fights so clearly we’re doing something right.
We were married one year after moving in together, so here’s a 5 month update on how things have changed (financially) since our wedding, and some advice for managing finances once you’re married.
Find a common ground
Our similar spending values are probably the biggest reason we avoid arguing over finances. We both value owning less, investing in fewer things that we really want/need, and in saving. And we both think about purchases before actually making them – something I hope most of you do, too. I realize not all couples are on the same page in terms of spending and saving, so if that’s the case, I recommend sitting down together every week, talking about what you each value, and finding something that works for both of you.
We were both always very honest about how much we were making and spending from the start. I know that information isn’t always easy to share, but it’s so important to know where you’re both at in terms of spending, saving, and debt. I have a friend who would lie to her husband about spending before they got engaged, and I never understood that. You need to know the habits of the person you see a future with because if you’re not honest, you will end up having some serious problems in the future.
Start with a joint account and credit card for shared expenses
For the first few months of our marriage, we continued to rely on splitwise to track our shared expenses and settled up at the end of the month. After weighing our options, neither of us seemed to have strong opinions about what to do with our finances, but we wanted to combine something, so we opened a joint account for our shared expenses to start. I also added Conor to my credit card so we could pay for all our mutual expenses from our joint account. All our bills (home, car etc), groceries, restaurants, OB appointments, etc. are all paid for from our joint account. Anything “extra” like manicures or lunches with friends comes out of our personal accounts. Ok those come out of my account because I’m the one that does those things.
Keep something separate
Having that separate account has been key because with all the changes that have taken place the past few months, it’s nice to maintain that sense of independence. It isn’t about keeping secrets and ultimately, I know both Conor and I respect each other enough to know we wouldn’t buy something we couldn’t afford. But that personal account has allowed us to keep an open dialogue and to still work together while still maintaining that sense of independence we had before getting married. Because sometimes, you just need to splurge on a big sale or new pair of slides, and that’s ok.
Discuss goals and big expenses
It’s important to us that we keep saving each month, so whether you decide on a joint or individual savings, keep saving for your future. We also have some big expenses coming up and want to make sure we’re on the same page, which means communicating and talking through what we both want. We really wanted to go to London this spring but were in the process of buying a home and prepping for baby, so after talking it through, decided it would be best to hold off on a big trip.
Then there’s the small stuff. There are these dining chairs I’ve wanted for our future dining table for forever but they’re a little more than we want to spend, so I told Conor that if he wasn’t comfortable I’d scrap the idea altogether because we have to be on the same page about this stuff. The small things add up both financially and emotionally, and resentment is the last thing you want when it comes to money.
Communicate and be open to change
We split the down payment on our home and will figure things out how much we want to share from there. At this point, we have an open dialogue. Conor thinks we should merge everything into one account so we’re talking about it and will see what happens. I’m sure things will change once our daughter arrives but this seemed like a good transition during the first few months of marriage, and it’s worked for us.
I’d love to know how you handle finances with a significant other or spouse! Tell me in the comments below!