My husband and I have split finances. We’ve been doing this since we started dating (despite having a joint bank account for 5 years). He watched his parents get divorced and have finances issues as a result of untangling their joint lives. I have strong ideals of being an independent woman who can make it on her own (cue Miss Independent).
Our Relationship (Joint Cynicism)
My husband and I have a very close and independent relationship. My charming husband refers to us as “mutually exclusive, roommates with benefits with income proportional expense sharing.” It’s no wonder I wanted to lock him down with those romantic one-liners.
We are best friends AND neither one of us wants to spend every waking moment with the other. One of the things I love most about our relationship is our ability to remain separate from each other, even though we come as a set (parties/weddings/etc.). We both value independence and prefer to see ourselves as two whole people together instead of two halves of a whole.
We also both see relationships as constantly changing and originally started out tentative about our own relationship. I want to know that if something happens I can make it on my own. He’s seen the process firsthand when his parents divorced.
This approach carries over to our finances. My husband paid off his student loans within a year of graduation while I went on to grad school accruing more debt. He has no debt at all (which is apparently a double-edged sword) so the mortgage is in my name.
We both agree my student loans are my responsibility since he already paid for his own education. Since we both use the house, he agreed to pay the mortgage and all other bills (particularly since my student loan payments are so high). Here’s a chart of our overall breakdown of expenses:
He helps out with my student loans because we strive to be debt free and he is able to contribute. Outside of these joint-related expenses, we manage our money independently.
I’m pretty much responsible for buying food, paying for our dogs’ expenses, my car needs, entertainment, and student loans. He covers pretty much everything else within reason.
As I talked to him about this post, one thing that struck me was his desire to make his own choices. He mentioned wanting to buy whatever he wanted without having to check in with me. I find this hilarious because he’s a bit of a tightwad and often comes to me to help convince him to buy whatever he’s after.
The Running Tab
Another running theme in our relationship is “The Running Tab.” As bizarre as it sounds, we keep a mental list of what we owe each other for what reason. I currently owe him approximately $60 for dinner (because the waiter didn’t ask if we wanted one bill or two), a check to the Virginia Board of Counseling to register my new job, and buying 12 books on Audible during a sale.
Therapist Note: It is crucial to a healthy relationship to not keep score. I separate finances from this because they are a true debt. We do not keep score about anything else except the dishes because we’re petty like that.
In addition to this, I owe him for half of our vacation this year. We have never taken a formal vacation together and this will be our honeymoon.
Almost always, I owe him money because he has always been the more financially stable one. He has been working and saving consistently from age 14 and I grew up in financial strain with terrible examples of how to manage money. Together we make a good team.
This post is in no way an attempt to influence you to change your way of managing your finances with your partner. Separate finances work really well for us and it does not feel strange because it is the way it has always been for us. If you have joint finances and it works for you, I encourage you to keep doing what works best for you.