I wanted to talk about budgeting as a couple and why we made the choice to combine our money and have one family budget instead of taking the ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’ approach to joint finances. If you took a look at some of our previous posts and our start here page we gave a little bit of background into our personal history with money as well as our history as a couple. We have been together since 2005 and we met when we were in university; I was 20 and he was 23. We were dating for 6.5 years before we got married. We bought our first house the same year we got married and we made the decision to combine our income into 1 budget to pool all of our resources and share the money together.
Couple of reasons how we successfully manage joint finances:
- We have a detailed budget and we track EVERY expense outside of our personal cash allowance.
- All money decisions are shared. Budgets do not get adjusted until both parties agree to the terms of the adjustment.
- We each have our own credit cards and other than the mortgage we do not have shared credit.
- We each get a set amount of money to invest in RRSPs (we live in Canada) as we see fit. The balances of the investment accounts are tracked and we talk about investment strategy often.
- We truly believe that we are stronger as a whole than we would be individually and we want to pool our resources to build our lives together with common goals and purpose.
The Big Why:
The biggest reason that joint finances work for us is that we have a detailed budget, track every expense and we communicate often about money. We share the information on literally everything we spend our money on. The other person just has to open an excel file to see the money spent on the other person’s credit card or the updated balance on the investment accounts. There are no secrets and nothing is hidden. We review our budget every December, or sooner if there is a change in pay (up or down) and any changes that need to be made are jointly agreed upon.
How much money we assign to each line item in our budget is a reflection of how we prioritize our resources. It’s really easy when you don’t have joint finances to make decisions that work for you since you are usually not checking with anyone else. Sometimes our priorities don’t always line up. We work to communicate why we want to prioritize certain budgets and we talk about how the decision will impact our overall financial goals. We work together until we agree – which doesn’t always happen during 1 conversation.
While we share the details of our spending and share our money we have our own credit to make sure we are building a history along with RRSPs and TFSA accounts in our own names. I have heard from a lot of people who don’t have their own credit history because they have only joint credit and they didn’t have their names at the top of the credit card application. It’s important to develop your own credit history.
I don’t want to share my hard earned money with someone and not know where it goes or have any say. When we got married we became a partnership and decided the our resources were best utilized together. That means that we have to compromise. Surprisingly our communication skills are pretty decent when it come to money; sometimes they aren’t the best in other areas! We communicate open and honestly about how our money is working for us and over time we have developed a solid way to communicate. We still need to make an effort on how to talk with each other; for any relationship communication is key. Communication is one of the most difficult things to master in any relationship and neither one of us claims to be perfect or believes there isn’t more learning to do.
So that is some insight to understanding our joint finances and how we make it work for us. Details and transparency have led us to be more successful together than I believe we could have been on our own. This is be a controversial topic. I’m sure some people would think we are crazy and other people would agree completely. People’s past life experiences influence choices in the future which is no different for us. We do re-evaluate this decision from time to time and always come back to this being the right way for us.
So please share what works for your in your relationship. We would love to hear from your perspective. Let us know in the comments below!
Quote of the week – “Communication must be HOT. That’s Honest, Open and Two-way.” Dan Oswald.
Take care and keep on budgeting – Sarah
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