Husbands and wives arguing about money is sadly an all too common occurrence. One that for many couples, puts the very marriage in jeopardy. I am an extremely blessed and fortunate man and as I've outlined in a previous post I’ve found the rare Moby Dick when it comes to my wife and another example of that is thankfully, my wife and I don’t argue about money, and it’s not because we have unlimited funds. To be clear, we do not. It’s because we trust each other and that allows us to have a plan that lets us manage the dollars that come through the door in a way that close to eliminates money related arguments.
Over the years I’ve received a number of questions from friends and family members that know us very well, asking how Mrs. Jake and I manage our personal finances to avoid fights and money related arguments. I never thought about it until it was brought up like that but it’s true. Here’s a look into how we do it.
First of all, from a personal banking perspective, together we have 5 checking accounts and 3 savings accounts. I know that this may sound like a lot to many readers but each account has a very distinct purpose and I’ll go over each one.
When we decided to cohabitate and have a child, we devised a non-marital financial arrangement that still works for us to this day. The first thing we did was centralize all of our banking into one bank. We did this primarily to allow for ease of money transfers between our accounts. We decided to go with a large too big to fail bank. (Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, etc) because we wanted the vast ATM networks, mobile banking options and other benefits that these mega banks offer. Since we both have jobs, we both have direct deposit and therefore we both have personal checking accounts. We both use those accounts for direct deposits, transfers OUT to other accounts and bill pay for personal bills. Personal bills include personal credit cards, individual car payments and any other responsibilities that we individually incur. One other final note about these checking accounts, we DO NOT have ATM/debit cards for these 2 accounts. By not having debit cards we can’t accidently over spend from those accounts.
We each also maintain a personal checking account for personal spending. These checking accounts do have ATM/debit cards and the money in these accounts is used for entertainment, hobbies, eating out, personal doodads, etc.
Next we also have 1 personal savings account each. My savings account money remains my money and my wife’s money in her savings account remains hers. I personally don’t know how much my wife has or puts into her account and she has no idea how much I put in or have in my savings account. It’s not a secret and either one of us could ask for and get a detailed accounting but neither of us have felt the need for that so far. This works for us because our FIRST priority is to our JOINT RESPONSIBILITIES and anything over and above that is ours to do whatever we want with it. Money does not flow into these savings accounts until our joint liabilities are met first. Additionally we also maintain a joint savings account. This account is used for large family purchases such as real estate, large household items or home improvements, etc.
Finally, we determined our monthly expenses for things like mortgages, utilities, groceries, and other household expenses and we both put 50% of the total nut each month into a shared checking account, and all bills are paid from that account. For example, we have a joint Sam’s Club MasterCard which we can use for purchases at Sam’s for most of our groceries and stuff or anywhere that MC is accepted (including gasoline) and this bill gets paid out of this joint account. This account does not have an ATM or debit card (for the same reasons as outlined above). It just has a checkbook with both our names and in our case, my wife handles the bill paying from that account.
I Recognize That This Approach Won't Work For Everyone
As I mentioned above, I'm a very blessed and fortunate man and I'm thankful for that and I recognize that for many couples, the struggle just to make ends meet is the real challenge. I've been there. If you're reading this and you are struggling financially please vist this site periodically or join my mailing list below I'm working on a post that outlines how I changed my financial situation. Hopefully some of the content will be helpful for you too.
For those of you reading this that are stable financially and still fight with your spouse over money, hopefully some of the tactics above can be useful for you.