Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's mine is mine... sort of

It's come to my attention that some people find the Kingston Castle's finance system 'weird.' Yes, weird. You see, we've been married six months and still don't have a shared checking account. Evidently, this is just unheard of among the group of work friends I recently had lunch with. How we got on the topic, I'm not sure, but they were pretty amazed at our situation. It used to bother me, like we should have one. Now it's just normal to me and I don't know when and if we'll make the change to a single account.

As a little background info, my parents who've been married for 30 years don't have a joint checking account either. My dad pays the utility-type bills, my mom pays the mortgage, and then the rest of the money goes to car payments, our savings (back in the day), etc. I think my mom bought groceries, my dad bought the cars, and what was left was theirs. I genuinely don't know the whole story, but those are the basics. It's how they've always done it and I didn't realize until I was older that it's somewhat odd. We grow up thinking you get married and "what's mine is yours, and what's yours is mine," right? Well, sometimes, what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours.

So why don't we share money? Actually, I think we would describe our arrangement as sharing money, but the logistics are a little complicated. He moved into my apartment when we got engaged, so all the "house" bills were in my name, along with my own bills. So he would transfer me money (we have the same bank, thank goodness) at the end of the month for his share. I could have just opened a second account and moved either my personal bills or house bills out of the first account, but I was far too lazy for that. So it all stayed with my personal checking. So now my checking takes care of all the bills for me and us.

In May last year, we made things really dizzying. He sold his truck and bought my Murano for me to drive. He took my Altima. So now, his car payment comes out of my account and and my car payment comes out of his. Same with insurance. So because the Murano payment is more, I pay him the difference, he makes the Murano payment, and I pay the Altima loan. For insurance, I pay my mom for the Altima (since we haven't bought the Altima from my dad, it's not in our name and thus still on their cheap policy) and he pays my Murano insurance. It evens us out a bit.

Additionally, my income is higher as well as constant, so I take care of dog expenses and groceries and contribute more to savings. He travels 4 times as far in a day and gets better gas mileage. Therefore, we end up with just about the same amount of spending money. Which would essentially happen if we had one account, right? We'd both contribute to pay bills and what was left would be split between us. So we "share" money, we just have a really back asswards way of going about it. We do, however, agree on what we consider the important things: how much goes to savings, what is a big purchase that needs to be discussed, etc. We're on the same page, at least.

There are some things I like about our little system, though:
  • We get to treat each other. If we had one account and went out for dinner, it wouldn't matter which card we handed over to the waitress. But because we keep separate accounts, I can say "I'd like to buy you dinner." It also makes it special when he decides to buy me a new top or shoes. He's sacrificing spending money to do something nice for me.
  • It's easier! I don't have to worry about keeping track of every last cent we both spend. Just me. That's really nice.
  • I don't have to be a hawk. I've heard some wives say that they watch their husband's statements and criticize when he spends on video games or something. For me, Dan's spending is out of sight, out of mind. As long as our bills are paid and we have savings, I don't have to fret over what he's spending on. Same with me. I don't have to feel guilty that he'd think some random expenditure is ridiculous.

It's yet another example of "whatever works." It may not be the norm, but for the time being, it fits. So what about you? Do you have a traditional "our account" system, or something more customized to your lifestyle?


BrownEyedGirlsMom said...

Like you said whatever works for you. To me it seems odd but if it is easier for you and feels right then that's good! Since D does the bills I have no idea what he spends on stuff - we kind of have a rule that spending over a certain amount on something needs to be discussed and that works for us.

Meghan said...

I totally agree! You have to do whatever works for you. OUr system is a little different too - we have a joint savings, but we each have our own checking account. Just in case of a problem, we did put each other's names on each account, but we are each responsible for certain bills. So far, it seems to work!

Brooke said...

C - I think it makes a difference that you and D essentially started off together right out of college and built your family financial system from the ground up. We essentially joined two "established" households. I have a feeling that when we buy a house and have kids, we'll start fresh with house expenses and create a new account for kids/house/dogs. We'll probably go with a his, mine, and ours type of system.

JMJE said...

My husband and I also have a weird financial system. We have kept it pretty much the same even since we got married. We have separate checking accounts and savings account but we recently got one joint savings account for things like vacations and big household stuff. The mortgage is in my name so he transfers me a portion of that every month. Then we just pay separate bills. Like I pay the cable and he pays the gas. I pay for most of the groceries and he usually pays when we go out. It may not always be pefectly even but it works and I can also take him out to dinner sometimes if I want. We decided that it worked when we lived together so didn't see any point in changing it once we were married.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. We live together, but we aren't married, so I guess it's a little less expected that we would join our money. But people still think it's strange. I've also heard that I'm unfair because I don't pay half the bills. J makes more than three times what I make, so we pay proportionate amounts of the expenses. And when we do things like go on vacation we each pay our own way. It works for us and we probably won't change things when we get married.

It's funny because I've found that certain people think, because J makes so much more than me, that he should just pay for everything and I should save my money. I usually tell these people to mind their own business.