Separate Money

posted 2 years ago in Relationships
Post # 16
1640 posts
Bumble bee

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buzzerbeater :  I feel this way too.  This is absolutely a deal breaker for me.  I consider anything that puts my safety at risk- a deal breaker.  My husband knows and understands this.  Financial security is one of our mutual goals because it is important for me to feel safe and for my husband to feel safe.

-No cashing out 401ks

-No CC debt or consumer debt

-No large purchases on whims

Post # 17
9842 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

That would not fly with me. At all. Like it would be my hill to die on in my marriage.

His debt is your debt in most cases since you are married.

Post # 18
3066 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

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margz :  This would definitely make me uncomfortable on an emotional level, and that is before even getting into how financially nonsensical his approach to recent money issues and decisions has been.

My fiance and I bought a house together a couple of years ago. We have a joint account that we both contribute equally to that all our shared expenses come out of and beyond that we maintain separate accounts.  Like you, we make about the same amount of money so it works out quite fairly. It’s an easy, clean way of splitting our finances that allows us the freedom to make our own decisions about personal spending while at the same time respecting our shared goals.

However, we have discussed the what ifs in terms of unemployment, going back to school, making career changes, etc. and we are both committed to meeting every financial situation as a team.  If one of us loses our job, takes a pay cut in a career change, goes back to school, gets sick., etc. the other partner will increase their contribution to the joint account to make up for the shortfall and that’s that. At the end of the day, we do consider all of our money “ours”, we just have it set up in a way that, for now, while the circumstances allow it and it makes sense, we both have some personal freedom to do with our excess income what we will.

I’m sharing this with you because I wanted to show that the way you had your finances set up is fine and can work, but not if the mentality at the end of the day is anything other than a team mentality.

It sounds to me like you guys really didn’t discuss and sort through your financial values and goals before combining your lives together. That is unfortunate, especially given you were aware that you had very different views on money and debt. This was a ticking time bomb and it looks like it went off pretty early…

What you need to do now is do the hard work of talking through and coming to agreement on your financial values and your long term goals as a household. Then, you need to engage the services of a financial advisor to help you guys set up your finances in a way that helps you get there. 

Post # 19
3007 posts
Sugar bee

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margz :  I don’t know, Bee. This is a tough one. 

I’m in the camp of “my money is your money” and my husband and I both wanted to share our finances with each other. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of completely separated finances. I guess it’s hard for me to understand how you can be a partnership but still split everything up like roommates?

With that being said, I agree with PP that you guys need to see a counselor, therapist, financial advisor, etc. I think this can get ugly so it’s worth talking to someone.

Also, do you know for sure how much debt he has? I would be worried he’s hiding more than what he’s told you. 

If you haven’t already, I would also suggest ground rules for spending habits. I think most couples have a spending limit that they confer with each other before spending. Ours is about $100 because I’m cheap lol. But like some couples stated, it can be much more. But couples shouldn’t be making large purchases and not talking to the other person about it. 

Post # 20
3092 posts
Sugar bee

My husband and I have everything joint. The only thing that isn’t is my business account (I’m self-employed) for tax purposes but the salary from my business goes straight into our joint account. Now this doesn’t suit everyone and requires a large amount of trust. But what is mine is his and what is his is mine.

What concerns me about what you say is what would happen if you lost your job or became ill and couldn’t pay your half of the bills? Would your husband just let you get into debt? 

And how can you both plan financially if he just buys what he wants without any discussion with you?

At some stage he has to trust you enough to share everything. I think you need to have a very serious discussion with him.


Post # 21
2624 posts
Sugar bee

Have you talked to him about this at all?

It sounds a bit like you don’t feel comfortable approaching him about it, but you need to remind yourself that those ARE your finances that he’s mucking about with. Having separate spending money is one thing, but debt and financial security is another thing entirely. 

My husband and I have mostly separate finances, but all major financial decisions are made as a team. We even run moderate purchases by each other (like snowboards or video game systems) just to keep each other in the loop. It’s not to get permission really, it’s just part of an ongoing conversation because even if our bank accounts are separate, we approach the bigger picture as a team. 

There’s a way to have financial independence within a marriage that doesn’t involve one person putting the other at financial risk.

I’d have a long conversation about the best way to do this and then bring a lawyer in (amicably) if necessary. 

Post # 23
443 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

Honestly, your situation sounds like you have a roommate not a husband. You can’t be a team in some things but not others when you are married. Either you are a team or you’re not. I understand that some people have separate accounts, but to me, that seems like it gets complicated way faster than combining accounts. I think the two of you need to talk to some sort of third party about this. I also think it is important to acknowledge that the current set-up is NOT working for you. It’s not what you want and you compromised on something major without so much as a discussion. If this is the way things will be set up, then the two of you need some sort of agreement in writing.

ETA: You should be able to talk openly and frankly to your husband about money without him getting defensive or having the conversation get heated.

Post # 24
11259 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

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margz :  

Bee, the specifics, ie cashing out a 401K, buying a more expensive bike, the CC debt, aren’t the real issues here. Attempting to address them in isolation, either on your own or via a financial planner isn’t going to get to the core of what’s happening here.

You and your husband have entirely different views regarding not only money, but the very nature of marriage itself. He wants to be a team; except for the money thing?

Contrary to popular mythology, money is not the number one cause for divorce in the US. Marriages are more apt to fall apart over unmet expectations or lack of communication. You and your spouse are not singin’ from the same hymnal.

It’s telling that you feel the need to avoid a much needed discussion because you know he will become defensive. Do you often  stay quiet on hot topics to keep the peace?

How is it that you never discovered these differences before you were married?

We also can’t gloss over the fact that your husband lied to you. He, too, took the path of least resistance. There is absolutely no justification for lying. It is completely unacceptable. He did it to protect himself from the foreseeable and inevitable consequences of his own behavior. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his character.

I would put getting you both to a qualified couples therapist as a higher priority than a financial advisor at this point. The communication is just not functional here. Some people are simply not compatible.  This whole thing has a square peg being jammed into a round hole quality.

Post # 25
10 posts
  • Wedding: September 2014

In all the years and the relationships I’ve experienced, my method of keeping money from ruining a relationship is to keep it somewhat separate! I’ve shared checking accounts in marriage and that worked ok until I spent money on myself. Then the arguments started…
That being said, I’d suggest keeping your own checking and savings account and have a joint account for paying bills and other necessities. It should be discussed between the two people doing the sharing of accounts but it seems to me to work best this way. That way, even if in a relationship, each person is still autonomous!!

Post # 26
7803 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

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margz :  So when you land at retirement and you have money but he doesn’t–what happens then? Does he suddenly want to become a team with your money?

Get a post-nup asap and schedule counseling, Bee. 

Post # 27
1339 posts
Bumble bee

I think it’s pretty telling that he said his previous marriage was bad financially and his ex tried to control his money. He’ll likely say the same things about you. 

Post # 28
798 posts
Busy bee

I think the rest of the responses regarding financial infidelity are spot on. The only thing I have to add is that your money is separate now but what happens in 20 years when you’re both looking at retirement. It’s going to be difficult to live your dreams together if he’s still in massive debt and doesn’t have any retirement savings. Definitely look into protecting yourself and I also think you two need some outside help to resolve this. My husband and I are huge fans of Dave Ramsey, it really helped to get us both on the same page regarding how we think about and spend money. Good luck!

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