Written by Shira Boss
Marriage and money can be hard to mix. Here are some ways to make it work, with real-world tips from people we interviewed about their money habits as part of our Chase Blueprint-sponsored Smart Spending series:
What’s mine is yours
The pool-it-all system works well with a single breadwinner. But no matter who earns the money, it should be managed together. Each partner understands how much money there is and where it is going, and the couple works together to save for goals such as vacations or a home.
A key to making this work? Portion out some pocket money that each spouse can spend on whatever they like, without having to report details. Otherwise, “fishbowl syndrome” might cause partners to hide purchases, like Amanda Gallo did: “I was a stay at home housewife and had a bad shoe habit,” she says. “I hid it all from [my ex-husband] because I didn’t want to hear him complaining.”
Share some, separate some
Dual-earners might choose multiple accounts: a joint checking account for the shared household expenses (some financial experts recommend each partner contribute an equal percentage of earnings), and individual accounts for each spouse’s personal needs (and wants).
That’s what newlyweds Jessica Ritz and her husband do, so each can have what she calls their “secret indulgences.” “He likes to fish, and I like to shop,” she said. “So we have our own accounts for that, and that works perfectly for us.”
Live and let live
For some free spirits, having to co-manage every dollar can make coupling your money a bit of a challenge:
“I police my husband’s spending never,” Angela Perdos said. “My husband has total freedom of spending – you should see my house, it is completely full of toys and video games. Nor does he police mine, so it’s definitely pretty awesome.”
A free-wheeling approach can work as long as each partner spends within reason and the couple does not get saddled with unnecessary expenses. Best to do the big-picture planning together—and make sure basic expenses are covered—but not scrutinize every individual receipt.
TELL US: How do you and your spouse “couple your money”? What tips do you have for newlyweds and longtime couples about managing their money together? What’s worked for your family?
About this series: As part of our Smart Spending reporting, Patch is profiling people across the country who have found creative ways to save money. If you're a smart spender, we want to hear from you! Share your story here or in the comments section below.