Merging money with some baggage - Talk About Marriage
Financial Problems in Marriage When financial times are tough, it adds to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. This section is for talking about how financial problems affect our relationships and ways to cope.

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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Merging money with some baggage

So...BF and I moved in together in December. He would like to have one joint checking account where we both spend household and personal money and have agreement on the dollar limit we can each spend without checking in. In other words, if something costs $200 or more, we check in with the other person first, but after bills and household things are paid for, discretionary spending under $200 is okay. He has said that one of the reasons he'd like to have a joint account is that he had that with his ex wife and it worked until she started cheating on him and all of a sudden wanted her own account. So, to some extent, I think he is worried that separate accounts would foster (or demonstrate) distrust.

Probably factored into that is that he was the primary breadwinner in his marriage, making significantly more than his ex-wife ever did and was okay with how the ex-wife spent money until, again, their relationship soured.

I want to be sensitive to BF's past issues. At the same time, I would like for us to have one joint checking account for household expenses, a joint savings account for household emergencies and "project" savings (like trips, furniture replacement,etc) and for each of us to have our own checking accounts. The reason I want separate, discretionary spending accounts is that we each have a set amount of discretionary money we know we can spend without asking.

In this relationship, I make almost as much money as my BF so money won't be nearly as tight as he experienced with his ex. Our household discretionary money will be more than he's seen in the past. In my mind, if we have one account that we're both spending freely from, there's a chance that we will overspend, not taking into consideration the multiple purchases under $200. But there's also an element there of me wanting to remain my own person. In past relationships I have not used my voice loudly enough when it came to financial decisions. I let my partners convince me to make stupid financial decisions and so now I'm pretty rabid about retaining my voice and sense of self and I see keeping at least some money separate as one way to do that.

An aspect of this, also, is that I actually like to have multiple accounts to keep my allocated money separated into different categories. Makes it easier to save and make sure I have enough for expenses. I also want to be able to spend a certain amount of my hard-earned money without considering how it will affect someone else or the numbers in our joint account. May be selfish, but there it is.

I think the real conflict here is that BF sees the joining of our money as something that couples who trust each other do. I want to maintain some autonomy over some of the money I earn, and I think he sees my desire to do this as sort of having one foot out of the relationship. I, on the other hand, am worried that if we completely merge our finances that my voice in financial decisions will get lost.

Thoughts?


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 04:31 PM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

I like your idea better. Yes, have a joint account, but also separate accounts. If he has worries because of past cheating, then simply show each other the statements/checks from your separate accounts each month, or the bill-pay page if that's what you use. Unless you are married, you do need separate accounts, IMO, and even then it is advisable.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 04:33 PM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

I vote your idea, you should maintain separate savings especially since you are not married.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 04:34 PM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

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Originally Posted by firebelly1 View Post
I would like for us to have one joint checking account for household expenses, a joint savings account for household emergencies and "project" savings (like trips, furniture replacement,etc) and for each of us to have our own checking accounts. The reason I want separate, discretionary spending accounts is that we each have a set amount of discretionary money we know we can spend without asking.
You have the right plan. You are not married. If and when you marry you can have a single account, but even then I recommend what you have described. Many of my married couple friends fight over money due to single account.

The baggage is a good reason NOT to merge money.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

I can see scenarios where people fight about money even when they have separate accounts. In any scenario I believe that the way you communicate about money is more important than the logistical scenario, and we communicate very well. We are talking about getting married at some point in the near future, but you all are reminding me that not being married (or common-law, which has most of the same financial protections in Canada) is a good reason to keep things separate for a while. At one point I suggested that we keep our separate accounts for a while and then after living together for a while (and building financial trust in each other) we can think about a joint account. Right now we each have completely separate accounts but I wouldn't be opposed at all to opening a joint account in addition to our personal ones right now that would be for joint expenses.

I think showing each other bank statements is a good way of building trust. We've been showing each other our pay stubs as we get them, and I think that helps too. I'm a little worried he will still feel like separate accounts demonstrates a relationship schism of some sort. Any way to assuage that?

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 05:12 PM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

If he's a reasonable adult, the compromise of a joint account for household expenses and separate accounts for personal expenses/savings should demonstrate both that you trust him and that you aren't a fool. Simply explain that, as an adult, you know that relationships don't work out sometimes and couples who are splitting can behave like insane people, legal protections aren't in place for unmarried couples, and until you're married it's more responsible to maintain separate accounts just in case.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 01:24 AM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

How old are you guys? Do either of you have kids from past marriages? Is this a rental you have moved into or is it an existing property one of you owns?


Quote:
Simply explain that, as an adult, you know that relationships don't work out sometimes and couples who are splitting can behave like insane people, legal protections aren't in place for unmarried couples, and until you're married it's more responsible to maintain separate accounts just in case.
They can get a pre nup or Binding Financial Agreement so they have the same protections as married couples.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 01:48 AM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

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Originally Posted by firebelly1 View Post
So...BF and I moved in together in December. He would like to have one joint checking account where we both spend household and personal money and have agreement on the dollar limit we can each spend without checking in. In other words, if something costs $200 or more, we check in with the other person first, but after bills and household things are paid for, discretionary spending under $200 is okay. He has said that one of the reasons he'd like to have a joint account is that he had that with his ex wife and it worked until she started cheating on him and all of a sudden wanted her own account. So, to some extent, I think he is worried that separate accounts would foster (or demonstrate) distrust.

Probably factored into that is that he was the primary breadwinner in his marriage, making significantly more than his ex-wife ever did and was okay with how the ex-wife spent money until, again, their relationship soured.

I want to be sensitive to BF's past issues. At the same time, I would like for us to have one joint checking account for household expenses, a joint savings account for household emergencies and "project" savings (like trips, furniture replacement,etc) and for each of us to have our own checking accounts. The reason I want separate, discretionary spending accounts is that we each have a set amount of discretionary money we know we can spend without asking.

In this relationship, I make almost as much money as my BF so money won't be nearly as tight as he experienced with his ex. Our household discretionary money will be more than he's seen in the past. In my mind, if we have one account that we're both spending freely from, there's a chance that we will overspend, not taking into consideration the multiple purchases under $200. But there's also an element there of me wanting to remain my own person. In past relationships I have not used my voice loudly enough when it came to financial decisions. I let my partners convince me to make stupid financial decisions and so now I'm pretty rabid about retaining my voice and sense of self and I see keeping at least some money separate as one way to do that.

An aspect of this, also, is that I actually like to have multiple accounts to keep my allocated money separated into different categories. Makes it easier to save and make sure I have enough for expenses. I also want to be able to spend a certain amount of my hard-earned money without considering how it will affect someone else or the numbers in our joint account. May be selfish, but there it is.

I think the real conflict here is that BF sees the joining of our money as something that couples who trust each other do. I want to maintain some autonomy over some of the money I earn, and I think he sees my desire to do this as sort of having one foot out of the relationship. I, on the other hand, am worried that if we completely merge our finances that my voice in financial decisions will get lost.

Thoughts?
do not do joint primary account. ESPECIALLY if you make similar or more money. if he wants joint then open a house jont account and both of you can contribute a preset agreed amount.

far easier and better to complain about money you have than argue about money that has gone faster than expected !!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

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How old are you guys? Do either of you have kids from past marriages? Is this a rental you have moved into or is it an existing property one of you owns?

They can get a pre nup or Binding Financial Agreement so they have the same protections as married couples.
I'm 45. He's 44. I'm American. He's Canadian. I'm working in Canada as a Temporary Worker until my permanent residency application is approved. I have three kids from my first marriage that are all sort of out of the house and living in the States. I'm paying on the oldest's student loans. The middle daughter is in college in the States, struggling. My youngest is working minimum wage and living with a friend after getting his GED.

My BF has three kids from his first marriage. The oldest is comfortably out of the house and his two youngest (14 and 16) live with their mom about 800 miles away. He still pays child support.

We're currently living in a rental with a one-year lease but would like to purchase a home in the next couple of years. We plan on getting married but will be considered "common-law" as of December of this year.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 04:57 PM
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Re: Merging money with some baggage

All good advice here already given. My husband and I started off when just living together with one joint account for household we both contributed to... Later for health reasons we made each other co-signatories on our other personal accounts. Then we married and slowly the many accounts (checking and savings) were just unwieldy. We have closed out most of the accounts except the one we use jointly.

I think your BF wanting joint at this point is a little hasty, that can only come with time and trust and is not always the best solution even for married couples. It just depends.

Minor children involved here then no way, you each need to have your own account and one for your household expenses. You both still have obligations that should not be shared. Do you really want your money going to pay his child support? Well if you only have a joint account that is what will happen. I would put my foot down there, even if I was married. Plus, you are paying your eldest child's loans, have another in college (presumably helping that one, too?) and a child living with a friend? How old is that child and are you still financially responsible? No, no... You need to be able to juggle your own responsibilities as you see fit.


Last edited by Sun Catcher; 01-15-2016 at 05:04 PM. Reason: Saw OP's latest post
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