Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Is there a right way to combine finances with your partner?

Over the weekend I proposed to my girlfriend and we are now engaged to be married which is incredibly exciting.  I have been talking about doing it for so long on this blog that it a little surreal that the event has finally come and gone (although now a whole set of new planning starts).

A few months ago I wrote a post about money and relationships which encouraged readers to communicate with their partner to avoid misunderstandings, but also to make sure you are on the same page when it comes to finances.  For once I have been taking my own advice and my girlfriend fiancée and I have had some great discussions about our goals and objectives.

Finding a 'system' for finances is important...

However it is something that I have absolutely no experience in.  Most of my posts on this blog go through things I have settled on or decided but this question leaves me floundering.  I have absolutely no experience in sharing finances with someone else...

I have taken a poll of my married friends and friends that are in long term relationships and the number of systems are as varied as the number of relationships.  

Some people work on a strict system...

Some couples have a
very strict system for how finances are shared.  Money is either paid into their respective bank accounts or into a shared bank account and then allocated according to a strict system.  I.e.
  • Joint Savings
  • Joint expenditures
  • Individual spending allowances
The level of detail that people go to varies greatly.  Some people have multiple 'accounts'...for example date money, 'play' money, savings plan, marriage plan, house plan etc while others just work on the three basic ones I mentioned above.

While others have a more 'relaxed' shared finances system...

Where all money and expenditures are made from a joint account with the 'mine is yours and yours is mine' mentality that goes with it.  This system seems especially prevalent where one person stays at home and the other is the breadwinner.

Others keep strictly separate finances

A large number of young couples seem to have strictly separate finances and no joint bank accounts and share bills and expenses equally...almost like room mates or friends living together.

All these systems work...but what is the 'right' one?

Everyone I have spoken to has talked about the virtues of the system they use and how it works incredibly well for them...which leads me to my main dilemma...I have no idea what is the 'right' system or what is the best system to put in place.

I know that you can change whatever system you use to make it work for you but there seem to be upsides and downsides to all the various models of sharing your finances with a partner.

Unfortunately I don't have one answer for you...but if you share your finances with your partner I would love to hear from you!  What systems work and what doesn't work?  What do you wish you did differently? 

You May Also Be Interested In:


  1. First of all 90M congratulations, was actually thinking about asking you how it all went but that is fantastic! Sure it was almost a done deal anyway from the sounds of it..

    Enjoy South America, from memory you guys go soon too.

    As for the budgeting system, my perspective is that it's best to go with what works for both.. Personally and this may become more of a point for me sooner rather than later I'd be all about having joint goals i.e. holidays, dating (more wedding account but call it dating), home account (to save for one) then split out the rest,,

    I probably wouldn't bring this up at least until living together or after the 6 months of dating, then again you could agree that this is a very important/topical point :).. Great post and good luck with all that!

    1. Hi Jef! Thanks very much :)

      I really am looking forward to South America!

      We have talked about goals but are only starting to talk about joint finances and how to manage that now that we are engaged. The method you talk about is one that a lot of people mention but it seems to work well where both people are working...I wonder whether it works as well where one person is a stay at home parent...

  2. We had separated finances before we married (and each of us paid 50% of all shared expenses). Marriage makes it all easier - it's one big pile now. :)

    1. Nice! Do you find that you ever disagree on how much of the big pile is spent or saved? Or are you guys pretty much on the same page and personality types when it comes to that kind of stuff?

    2. We only argue over small things. :)
      I do the finances, but we talk about each big decision. But in general we are on the same page.

    3. Ahh that's great. I'd love to have a system like that.

      We're still discussing how we want it to work. The first thing we need to save for is the wedding and I was surprised to find that I am actually the one saying that "woah...do we really want to cut back on our lifestyle that much!"

      Definitely not a position I expected to find myself in!