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Do you and your spouse keep separate finances?

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I've been reading http://www.capitalism.net/ep_rom_i.htm and I came across the following paragraph:

By the way, I have to say that, in my opinion, keeping separate finances--unless required for business reasons--reflects a certain distance between the partners.

She doesn't elaborate beyond that. That's the entire paragraph. There is a paragraph before it about sharing expenses, but not about having separate finances.

I am really not sure how I feel about this. When I was married, and I hate to use my awful marriage as an example, it was torturous for me to keep our books. My ex was constantly losing receipts (and/or his job) and overspending, which made it a nightmare to try and keep our budget, much less our checking account, balanced. After my divorce, I told myself I would never share my finances with anyone again.

I've heard from bankers and other couples that keeping separate accounts has saved marriages. It sounds funny and is probably true, but I respect what Dr. Packer is saying in the above referenced essay, so this one paragraph has me wondering what I will do.

For those of you with a spouse, do you share finances or keep them separate, and why?

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I've been reading http://www.capitalism.net/ep_rom_i.htm and I came across the following paragraph:

She doesn't elaborate beyond that. That's the entire paragraph. There is a paragraph before it about sharing expenses, but not about having separate finances.

I am really not sure how I feel about this. When I was married, and I hate to use my awful marriage as an example, it was torturous for me to keep our books. My ex was constantly losing receipts (and/or his job) and overspending, which made it a nightmare to try and keep our budget, much less our checking account, balanced. After my divorce, I told myself I would never share my finances with anyone again.

I've heard from bankers and other couples that keeping separate accounts has saved marriages. It sounds funny and is probably true, but I respect what Dr. Packer is saying in the above referenced essay, so this one paragraph has me wondering what I will do.

For those of you with a spouse, do you share finances or keep them separate, and why?

I don't have a spouse, but if I did are finances would NOT be mingled, money is to important to share with others, even one's spouse. My values would be me, my money, then my spouse and so on. People can be replaced money needs to be earned by hard work.

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For those of you with a spouse, do you share finances or keep them separate, and why?

My wife and my finances are completely combined. This is mostly because I didn't think enough about sharing finances before getting married, but also because my wife has quite a bit of grad school debt. If I had it to do over again, I would probably opt for a system of sharing just those monies necessary for paying shared bills (rent, utilities, groceries, etc.), the rest belonging to whoever earned it. Of course, I would adjust the agreement when my wife takes off work to have our child. If, in the future, we decided that she should not work at all, then I would adjust the agreement accordingly (stay-at-home mom is a job in itself).

Anyway, having been married 2 years, I would say that at least some amount of money needs to belong solely to each person in the marriage. When you completely combine finances, every small purchase can become a serious discussion (read 'argument'). It's not fun having to screen the use of money I earned through some else's standards.

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I've been reading http://www.capitalism.net/ep_rom_i.htm and I came across the following paragraph:

She doesn't elaborate beyond that. That's the entire paragraph. There is a paragraph before it about sharing expenses, but not about having separate finances.

I think the answer is very simple: People who think that their marriage is likely to last (good match, a lot of build trust, both parties are responsible and meeting each other's needs) feel less incentive to hold back money in a separate bank account.

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I don't have a spouse, but if I were to marry, I would keep the finances separate, simply because it would get very complicated, should we get a divorce. It would be a shame, and unlikely due to how I make very careful decisions, but I can't control her actions.

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I haven't been married, but my parents did a mixture of the two. They had a joint account and each of them had personal accounts. My dad earned the money, and my mom managed it--Dad got an "allowance" each month that he was free to spend on whatever he felt like, no matter how ridiculous it was, and Mom saved up her "allowance" for stuff she wanted like matching furniture.

The only time I've seen them have issues over money was during tax time, and that was usually just arguing over who had to fill out the forms.

And, EC, money is a LOT easier to replace than a spouse. People that you love are not interchangeable with random street bums.

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I haven't been married, but my parents did a mixture of the two. They had a joint account and each of them had personal accounts. My dad earned the money, and my mom managed it--Dad got an "allowance" each month that he was free to spend on whatever he felt like, no matter how ridiculous it was, and Mom saved up her "allowance" for stuff she wanted like matching furniture.

The only time I've seen them have issues over money was during tax time, and that was usually just arguing over who had to fill out the forms.

And, EC, money is a LOT easier to replace than a spouse. People that you love are not interchangeable with random street bums.

I think my grandparents (they basically live with us by now) have that.

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"Finances" refers to so much more than a check account. Keeping two separate checking accounts because one spouse is lousy at record keeping is evasion -- it doesn't change his/her problem, it just puts a distance between the good-accounting spouse and bad-accounting spouse. If you're looking for distance rather than a solution, it might be a good idea to consider physical distance as well.

OTOH tax advantages would be a rational grounds for a more systematic separation of finances.

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I agree with David to an extent here. When you say finances, what exactly do you mean?

For instance, I manage and make most of the decisions within our brokerage accounts and our mortgage is under my name only. Moreover I mostly make the decisions for our 401(k) and IRA. But that isn't to say that I don't share plans with my wife before I make decisions in these accounts. As for my wife and I's "home finances", we each have our own seperate accounts (savings and checking respectively) but we also have a joint savings and checking.

I don't think that there is a particular generality here. Whether or not to share finances, and to what extent, should be discussed and decided upon by the partners in the marriage. My feeling is that most marriages have some degree of shared finances.

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I don't have a spouse, but if I did are finances would NOT be mingled, money is to important to share with others, even one's spouse. My values would be me, my money, then my spouse and so on. People can be replaced money needs to be earned by hard work.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. It sounds a bit absurd, but I may be interpreting it wrong. Does this mean, for instance, that if you go out to dinner you will each pay for your own share of the meal out of your respective accounts? If not, then you would be sharing finances. Or does it mean, in a more severe instance, that you would not pay for your spouse to leave a job and go to school, if that was a rational desire of hers? Would you buy a house and car under your name and then rent and lease them out to her?

The fact is actually that money can be replaced, as long as I have my mind to create my fortune. If you believe people can "be replaced" then I can't help but assume you have never lost a loved one.

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My rationale for keeping separate finances would be to ease the ability to make personal purchases that the other partner may not be interested in - a hobby that only one of the two has, or just anything that only one person really is going to be using.

For example, suppose one person makes 25k a year and the other 50k. They both contribute to the house's finances in a manner satisfactory with both people. Suppose I am the guy making 25k, though. If we have 1 bank account, how much of the extra money at the end of the month is mine to spend on whatever I choose? Must I consult with my partner for everything I want to get for myself?

I would not have a problem with, say, having a shared bank account in which we both deposit a set amount of money each month for expenses, shared savings to eventually purchase a house, etc. But a separate account for personal expenses - eating out at lunch, gassing up my truck, hobby materials, and so on and so forth - seems very reasonable to me.

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I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. It sounds a bit absurd, but I may be interpreting it wrong. Does this mean, for instance, that if you go out to dinner you will each pay for your own share of the meal out of your respective accounts? If not, then you would be sharing finances. Or does it mean, in a more severe instance, that you would not pay for your spouse to leave a job and go to school, if that was a rational desire of hers? Would you buy a house and car under your name and then rent and lease them out to her?

The fact is actually that money can be replaced, as long as I have my mind to create my fortune. If you believe people can "be replaced" then I can't help but assume you have never lost a loved one.

No. But I do think people mingle their finances to much when they get married, buying houses together and what-not acting like they are one person instead of two. Then as almost *always* happens when it comes time for the divorce they have to go through complicated legal meanuvering to see who gets what. Why put yourself through that? I'm not saying that you have to expect your marriage to fail just to accept that it probably will at some point and act accordingly.

Oh, I've lost love ones and in a way your right you can't totally replace what that person was to you, but you don't need to because it still exists in your mind. I mean any one friend or romantic interest can be replaced and probably by someone that you'll like better because as you get older and begin to understand your own values you begin to see what qualities you want others that you associate with to have. This is what I meant by being replaced.

As a side note, I guess I do just say the end result of my thinking at times without giving my reasoning, and I suppose without context some of it could sound "absurd". That's something that I need to work on finding a balance between giving a short concise answer and being one of these people that thinks that they have to write out their whole thought process in a long ass post which probably doesn't get read by many people.

Edited by EC
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No. But I do think people mingle their finances to much when they get married, buying houses together and what-not acting like they are one person instead of two. Then as almost *always* happens when it comes time for the divorce they have to go through complicated legal meanuvering to see who gets what. Why put yourself through that? I'm not saying that you have to expect your marriage to fail just to accept that it probably will at some point and act accordingly.

How about this: Don't marry someone whom you will divorce. But let's assume that you were to get divorced. In that case, why would you particulary care how it gets split up? If it came down to that, she can have everything. I can't see any reason why somebody with an interest in Objectivism would marry a "gold-digger" for a spouse. Unless there is a large group of Objectivists marrying strippers and porn stars, I see this as a non-issue.

I mean any one friend or romantic interest can be replaced and probably by someone that you'll like better because as you get older and begin to understand your own values you begin to see what qualities you want others that you associate with to have.

If by "romantic interest" you mean "one night with Ashley Dupree" or "a blowjob from that girl I met at the bar last night", then certainly I agree that it can be replaced. However, if by "romantic interest" we are talking about your wife or husbabd, i.e. the love of your life, then she/he can not be replaced. (Unless you never really loved her/him in the first place and you were faking the marriage.)

Edited by adrock3215
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No. But I do think people mingle their finances to much when they get married, buying houses together and what-not acting like they are one person instead of two. Then as almost *always* happens when it comes time for the divorce they have to go through complicated legal meanuvering to see who gets what. Why put yourself through that? I'm not saying that you have to expect your marriage to fail just to accept that it probably will at some point and act accordingly.

I'm not sure what state you're getting divorced in but in Michigan this reasoning is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what is in who's name; you'll still go through all the legal stuff. Only way to avoid it is a prenup. I think having a discussion every time somoene buys something to see who's name it goes in, in case of a divorce, signals the marriage is already headed there. Why marry someone like that?

FYI, we kept completely separate finances during the marrage. Completely separate. Down to the point of deciding which bills each person would pay for, and paying for bills separately. I dont' think it's as much the actual final arrangement that comes out being critical, but the reasoning and emotional responses regarding the decision to do so. In my case it should have been a huge warning bell.

The statement in the essay is a weak one. Reflecting a "certain distance" is given no real evaluation other than a slight negative one. Is a certain distance bad? Not sure. I don't know that I'd worry about it too much.

Edited by KendallJ
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I'm married and have been for 22 years. My wife and I have completely combined finances. This to me only makes sense. it is easied=r for the running of the household and there is never any argument over who pays for what.

I'm rather astonished by some of the comments here. People whom you love are not easily replaced. No one marries someone who they believe they will divorce, but shit happens.

What's more is that unless the partners in a marriage earn and contribute exacty equally to the financial arrangement, and onlyu if custody is shared exactly equally then the court/Lawers deciding on the divorce settlement will not give a rat's ass if your bank accounts were separate.

If it were that simple do you think that Heather Mills would have got almost 50 million dollars from Paul McCartney for 4 years of marriage?

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I agree with David to an extent here. When you say finances, what exactly do you mean?

I am not sure what Dr. Packer means. I wish she would've elaborated on that a bit.

I had this thought after reading all of your posts...joint check, joint savings, then in addition, individual savings accounts. Joint checking for day to day banking activity/expenses, joint savings for joint purchases (vacations, homes, etc.), then individual savings for personal purchases, hobbies, etc.

Obviously retirement accounts are separate due to their nature, and the money to fund those and other investments would be agreed upon and taken from the joint savings account. I also think the couple should agree on how much is withheld from paychecks for employer sponsored retirement accounts, and both couples should go to financial planning meetings, etc. It's really sad when one spouse dies and the other ends up across the desk from me in a state of despair over losing their loved one and now has the added confusion of not knowing anything about their finances. It adds insult to injury.

In my experience with financial planning, I have found that most successful couples commingle some stuff, while keeping other stuff separate, but they both know about all of it. I can also tell you that even the best of couples with tons of money argue over what to spend it on in retirement. :lol: What a nice problem to have! RV or European vacation home? Hmm?

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In my experience with financial planning, I have found that most successful couples commingle some stuff, while keeping other stuff separate, but they both know about all of it.

This is what my wife and I do and it works well because it follows natural laws. "Our" expenses get paid from "our" accounts while "my" expenses get paid from "my" account and "her" expenses get paid from "her" account. This makes managing cash flow far easier and assures that necessities like utility bills get paid while leaving other, personal bills the responsibility of the individual.

Quicken software makes all this a snap. See my article "Experiencing Objectivism through Quicken" to learn how to link your core values to your financial expenditures. I found this exercise and discipline quite revealing.

I am not a Libertarian but I confess sympathy for the "personal sovereignty" viewpoint of finances Harry Browne advocates in How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. In his words:

You'll be free of the nagging conflicts that many married people take for granted. You won't be subject to the bad consequences that Group-Trap relationships create. You'll be responsible for yourself; you won't be a 50% partner in a collective you can't completely control.

The time you spend together will be devoted to enjoying each other--instead of haggling over details.

I think you'll find, too, that you'll have far fewer financial problems than most married couples have. The respect for sovereignty tends to eliminate most of the exuberant overspending that can characterize a marriage. You won't be relying upon the other person to bail you out of your financial problems. You'll be less likely to involve yourself in long-term mortgages and contracts--something married couples do easily because of the alleged "permanence" of the relationship.

I should add that what little I have read on asset protection suggests that one ought to structure his finances in a way to maximize asset protection from lawsuits. This could mean individual or joint titling or even titling to land trusts or other instruments depending upon the laws in your state. Mark Warda elaborates on this in his book Complete Guide to Asset Protection Strategies.

Edited by LutherSetzer
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I am really not sure how I feel about this. When I was married, and I hate to use my awful marriage as an example, it was torturous for me to keep our books. My ex was constantly losing receipts (and/or his job) and overspending, which made it a nightmare to try and keep our budget, much less our checking account, balanced. After my divorce, I told myself I would never share my finances with anyone again.

I just got married last month, but I have been dating my wife for about five years and living together for about two years. This is one of the issues we discussed. It seems to me that the problem you had with your ex really wouldn't be a problem if he was simply more responsible with his finances. The issue here isn't whether the budget is shared, but that your ex simply isn't very good at keeping books. That is not an unusual problem, and to be honest I was (and still am from time to time) the same way early on while co-habitating with my wife. The only way to solve it is continuous communication about long term goals and values. As long as you have synchronized your long term financial goals and values, it's easy to come up with a financial strategy. After that it's just about practice. It's only a real problem if you and your spouse have fundamentally different ideas regarding values and life style with neither refusing to compromise. But then this is probably something that should have been worked out before finalizing the marriage and splitting up probably isn't the worst thing that could happen (certainly better than being enslaved by your mortgages for the rest of your life buying things that you cannot afford).

As far as the actual system goes, my wife and I have a mostly combined finance with roughly 80% of our income in a joint account used to run the household, invest, and save (also vacations and whatever larger expenses that needs to be discussed). Whatever is left we divide roughly 30-70 (she's 30 and I am 70) as allowances -- this due to the fact that I tend to be the one paying when we go out together or when shopping for pleasure. She keeps all the books, and I make all the major investment decisions. This has been working out fine so far, and as far as I can tell the ratios can easily be adjusted as we take on housing mortgages, cars, and children.

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I don't have a spouse, but if I were to marry, I would keep the finances separate, simply because it would get very complicated, should we get a divorce. It would be a shame, and unlikely due to how I make very careful decisions, but I can't control her actions.

I don't think it is necessarily healthy to enter a marriage thinking about divorce. If you and your spouse have common (or at least very similar) values then controlling her actions shouldn't be an issue.

I just got married, and I make significantly more money than my wife. But I still pool all the money together and take only a bit of allowance. I don't plan on getting divorced (no one does I guess...) and I consider the chance of it happening as so small that if it happens, then it happens. If you are confident about your decision to get married, then instead of basing your financial decisions based on a potential divorce, you should base it on maximizing your marriage. Joint finance is in generally much more efficient as far as decision making and saving time goes (instead of sitting around figuring out who pays for what when you live together).

It's true that it is important to have your own money to do as you please. How much that should be as a percentage to your income is for you to discuss with your spouse.

How about this: Don't marry someone whom you will divorce. But let's assume that you were to get divorced. In that case, why would you particulary care how it gets split up? If it came down to that, she can have everything. I can't see any reason why somebody with an interest in Objectivism would marry a "gold-digger" for a spouse. Unless there is a large group of Objectivists marrying strippers and porn stars, I see this as a non-issue.

Just curious: on what basis do you equate strippers and porn stars with gold diggers?

*** Mod's note: The discussion on strippers was split out here. ***

Edited by softwareNerd
Added 'split-topic' notice
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"Our" expenses get paid from "our" accounts while "my" expenses get paid from "my" account and "her" expenses get paid from "her" account. This makes managing cash flow far easier and assures that necessities like utility bills get paid while leaving other, personal bills the responsibility of the individual.

I frankly can't imagine doing things differently. Its not about being ready for a divorce, its about knowing you pull your weight, about remaining an individual. I suppose it can be weird when there is a non-working parent, but I don't like that arrangement to begin with :lol:

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I frankly can't imagine doing things differently. Its not about being ready for a divorce, its about knowing you pull your weight, about remaining an individual. I suppose it can be weird when there is a non-working parent, but I don't like that arrangement to begin with :P
Having separate spending accounts is a useful tool, but the real question is how the money gets into those accounts. I can't imagine my wife and I having personal spending budgets that depend on how much we earn individually. The way we look at it, all money earned and money-assets owned are originally joint. Of course, they are individually earned, but they are earned for us as a single entity.

The bulk of expenses are joint -- mortgage, health-care, food, kid, etc. --- so, it makes sense to spend these from a joint account.

Moving a certain amount into private spending accounts -- say, for each individual's clothes, or gifts they wish to buy each other -- can be useful because it "frees" each individual spender, by setting aside money that is budgeted for such spending, and they do not have to wonder if they have overspent. [My wife and I don't even use such segregated spending accounts, but I can see how some people would find them very convenient.]

We also view all retirement assets as joint, even though IRAs and 401-Ks are legally individual. We view them as joint in the way we invest: i.e. we view them as a consolidated portfolio, that does not have to optimized within a single account.

On saving and retirement (and even on current spending) both partners need to agree at some broad level of detail. For saving, the basic agreement would be about how much will be saved. In some cases, I also think it is useful to agree on the broad levels of risk in the investments that will be made (e.g. If one wants to put the bulk in CDs and the opther wants to put the bulk in commodites, they should talk it through until they have some agreement). Other than that, it is fine for one spouse to handle further details, with one caveat: the other should have enough to be able to pick up the leads, if the former dies, etc.

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My wife and I keep nearly all of our finances in joint accounts. It has worked well for us, in that we both have the ability to show restraint in spending. When we got married we were both in pretty poor financial positions. When we lived together before marriage we had separate finances, opening the joint accounts after we were married. As we were dirt poor when we got married, everything we have bought has been together. There is never an issue of "who pays?" with us.

Having joint finances sort of forced us to get our spending under control and to understand our finances better. To this day, we have an understanding that we check with each other before making any purchases larger than $100 or so. I also use Quicken personal finance software to track our spending down to the penny. I can see at a glance exactly how much money is coming in and going out and can watch categories for overspending.

Our main checking, savings, credit card and lines of credit are all joint accounts. Our mortgage is a line of credit and is a joint account, as is our car loan. We each also have one separate credit card and our investments are all separate, though we have each other named as beneficiaries of course.

In summary, I would suggest that a mix of joint and separate finances are a good strategy. If one spouse is more of a reckless spender than the other, then a separate account and an "allowance" can be a good way to firewall those tendencies.

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