Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the give & take

In several frequented locations of my life I hear (eavesdrop?) conversations of people that are either married or getting married soon. One of the recurring trends lately has been that of separate finances. I was surprised at how many people mentioned they were keeping things separate financially. One went so far as to say his fiancĂ©e would be paying her typical cost of rent towards "my mortgage" once they get married and move in together. There were so many things about that conversation that rubbed me the wrong way. For one-- my mortgage? You mean your (as in you and your new wife) mortgage? Call me old fashioned, but I'm just a joint-checking kind of girl.

There just seems something skeevy about separate finances when married to me. I know some people claim it works for their relationships, but I feel like there is a lot hidden (and selfish) that shouldn't be as a result of that. This wasn't an easy concept for me at first, though. Pre-marriage Jon and I had every intention of combining our checking accounts but we didn't get around to it until a few months after our nuptials. During that time I found myself needing to ask Jon to pay rent with "his money". He would reiterate that it was our money, but I couldn't help but feel guilty for seeing his checking account shrink around the first of the month. When we finally combined accounts I still found myself dreading using his debit card (I joined his account because I hated PNC). It just felt like I was taking from him. Eventually, with gentle reminders that we shared everything, it got easier.

Now that we're "joint" I couldn't imagine being separate. There's an accountability with being joint--I can't make the impulse buys I used to because Jon would know and I know he'd disapprove (just like he can't buy bow ties and bicycle accessories without dreading the imminent glare I'd give him come statement time). There are no arguments about money with being joint--one of us doesn't feel like we're always responsible for certain payments. There's no discussion of who's buying if we treat ourselves to dinner. There are no arguments about how "you wasted your money on [fill in the blank] but we really need a [fill in the blank]!" But I think the biggest perk is that there's a closeness with being joint--there aren't feelings that the money we use for rent or utilities is mine or his. It's ours, which we both contribute to, and we respect the money in our account accordingly. I don't want to make the impulse buys as much because I know half of that is Jon's money and I don't want to take it from him. We call each other out of respect if we see that special item we want to pick up that we normally wouldn't. And the other never spews out "NO!" Sometimes we'll discuss the feasibility of such a purchase, but it is totally respectful, loving, and wise.

Plus, joint-checking is a good incentive to stick around for the long haul ;).

1 comment:

  1. My grandma told me a story about her and my grandpa arguing over whose turn it was to buy the next 6 pack of beer. They had their finances separate for years.

    My man and I opened a new account together when we got married. I didn't even thing any other way. We did have a few glitches in overspending and communication... But it's all worked out over time. :)