Marriage finances for the modern era: a proposal
My wife and I got married 2 years ago today. It’s been a wonderful ride! Looking back, one decision that’s worked out well for us is how we manage our finances. As I think it’s a model that could work well for most couples, improving both happiness and financial health, I wanted to tell you about it.
I subscribe to the notion that marriage is a partnership. It isn’t about merging two into one - it’s about two individuals planning the rest of their lives together.
At first we considered the traditional “share everything” approach to marriage finances: funnel everything into and out of a single joint account. While still the most socially acceptable choice, for two upwardly mobile professionals with individual wants and needs, it seemed to lack flexibility. On the flip side, keeping everything independent as we did prior to marriage wouldn’t scale for the sorts of long term planning we wanted to do, like buying a house or having kids.
We ended up going with a halfway approach: we kept our individual accounts, and added a shared joint account to which we contribute a percentage of our paychecks every month (say, 60%). A percentage makes more sense than a fixed dollar amount because it scales to life’s changes as they come along: if one of our startups fail or we became pregnant, the working one would share more of the load. Most payroll providers offer options for percentage contributions, so this is both easy and automatic.
This system has worked out great for us because it takes the contention out of minor everyday financial decisions, while keeping our sights on long term planning. If Heather wants to buy some new shoes or I the latest crowd-funded board game, we use our individual accounts. That 3d printer we’ve had our eyes on? Shared ( pitter patter my heart ). A big purchase on the horizon? We’ll start contributing a higher percentage to the pot.
With how much you hear about couples fighting over money issues, and how natural and effortless this system seems to us, I wanted to share it with couples looking for alternatives to the norm.
How do you manage your finances after marriage? Any other marriage tips to share? I’d love to chat about it with you over at Hacker News.
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