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I Don't Share Money With My Husband, And I Think It's Saved Our Relationship

Separate money = less fighting, more romance.

My husband and I have been married for seven years, and we still keep our finances separate.

Couple at a café in Paris
Evie Carrick

We got used to separate bank accounts and credit cards while dating, and it just didn’t make sense to change everything up just because we signed a piece of paper. I knew pooling your money and calling it even was the norm, but it felt complicated — and uneven. 

While this system works great for us, it might not be for everyone. There's no one right way to manage money as a couple, and it all comes down to what works best for the individuals involved.

WHY WE DO IT

Our values around money couldn’t be more different.

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I’m a saver and a penny-pincher (Scrooge, here). Watching a portion of my paycheck go into my savings and IRA every month makes me strangely happy. And while I’m down to splurge on a pricey ticket to Beirut or a spring wardrobe refresh, I see things like paying for a coffeeshop latte or eating out regularly as a waste of money.

My husband is the opposite. He’s free and easy with his money and lives in the moment. If he’s craving tacos, he’s getting tacos, regardless of what his bank account looks like or how many times he’s eaten out that week.

In short, I’m playing the long game while his motto is “life's short." We kinda balance each other out (and I love that he doesn't have the scarcity mentality I do), but I can’t imagine the arguments we would've had to endure if we'd gone the traditional route and shared our money.

We started our marriage on unequal footing.

And I like knowing I could take care of myself if something happened.

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I love my husband and truly believe we'll make it "'til death do us part," but I'm not naive. Couples break up, partners die, and life happens. I've heard one too many horror stories of women who totally give themselves (financially and otherwise) to their partner only to get dropped later on.  And I know that making the decision to leave a relationship that's become abusive or toxic is infinitely easier when you have a bank account full of money that's all yours.

Call me paranoid, but the last thing I want is to feel indebted to someone else (even someone I love).

Money isn’t a factor in our relationship (which probably cuts our fighting in half).

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Money continually ranks as one of the top reasons couples fight (usually right after sex), but it’s a moot point in our world. When he bought yet another snowboard (I think that brings his total to eight), I didn’t say a word. And he extended me the same regard when I splurged on a pair of $180 silk pajamas (they weren’t worth it, BTW). 

Things like this aren’t fodder for the cannon because they don’t affect the other person in any way. It’s up to each of us to decide how we make, spend, and save our own money.

Having our own money keeps the romance alive.

HOW WE DO IT

It really isn’t complicated. To start, we have separate savings and checking accounts and credit cards.

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I have no idea how much money he has in his savings or checking account — and to be honest, I don’t want to know. It’s also none of my business how much is on his credit card or how many cards he has (although we both made a pact to pay them off in full every month, and if we’re having trouble, we ask each other for help).

Then, we have one joint credit card for all joint things.

Screenshot of users on our joint account
Capital One

We call it our team card (we’re super cool, I know), and we put everything that involves both of us on it — gas, travel we do together, groceries, ordering in, etc. So if I was to grab breakfast alone, I’d use my personal card, but if he was there with me, we’d put it on the team card (unless one of us wanted to treat the other).

Each month, I pay off the team card in full and send him a Venmo request for his half. This is also when he pays me his half of our rent (which I pay via check).

We also split the cost of big, joint purchases like cars, furniture, and trips we go on together.

Couple in front of dome
Evie Carrick

When we bought a used Subaru a few years back, we both threw down $4,500 in cash to buy it. The same goes for car repairs and other big purchases like trips we take together and things for our apartment.

We haven't bought a home together, but when we've talked about it, we decided we would split the down payment (if we could both afford it at the time) and split the mortgage. 

When shit happens, we have each other’s back.

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I know our money approach might seem heartless, but it's a lot more human than it sounds. When my husband couldn’t pay his credit card in full, I transferred him the money, and he paid me back when he could. He did the same for me when I was having trouble finding my first job out of college. When one of us is down, the other is there to help out, but we always pay each other back eventually.

OUR PLAN GOING FORWARD

Things are about to get more complicated in our world: We're having a baby!! Our plan is to continue “the plan” with a few modifications.

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Basically, our team card is about to get a lot more use (yeah, travel points!). All kid purchases (diapers, car seat, etc.) will go on the team card, and so will things like breakfast out with Dad (even if I’m not there). 

Navigating the first couple months will be tricky. Since neither of us has paid leave, we've been stockpiling reserves to get us through it financially.

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We both work from home (win!), but as freelancers we don't have paid maternity/paternity leave (fail!), so our situation is different than most. We're both planning to cut down significantly on our workload and split baby duties those first couple of months. We also live near family, so we'll be relying on them a bit too (double win!). 

To cover expenses, we've been putting money away so we can both work less during that time period.

We haven’t hammered out the details, but our plan is to start a college savings plan for her.

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As you might imagine, this is something we’ll contribute to evenly from our own, personal accounts. So we’ll have to come up with a monthly number we both feel comfortable with, and then set up automatic, monthly transfers.

So that's why we do it, how we do it, and our plans for the future. Anyone have advice on keeping your money straight (and separate) with kids? I’d love to hear how you’ve made it work.

BTW, for more stories about money and careers, check out the rest of our personal finance posts

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