This post is sponsored by TD Bank for its 2018 Love & Money report. With the exception of direct quotes and stats from the report, all opinions are my own.
Last week, I made the biggest financial decision of my life. I legally tied myself to another person. Yup, Peach and I got married. It’s a tradition so nice we’re actually doing it twice. Long story, but we wanted to get married in our home church in New York City. However, the cost of having a full-blown New York City wedding is painful and that’s before you factor in a large extended family (my mom has eight siblings, my dad has five siblings and Peach’s dad has five siblings). So, we decided to have our cake and eat it too.
We got married in a small ceremony at our church last Saturday, which is both the religious and legal ceremony. We’re officially husband and wife. But next month, we’ll host the larger celebration of our commitment in Western New York for all extended family and our friends to attend. Obviously, it’s not our most frugal choice – but it’s the decision we made.
DECIDING HOW TO HANDLE MONEY IN MARRIAGE
Speaking of decisions, we’ve spent years determining how exactly we planned to handle money in marriage. Long-time readers know I’ve gone on-and-on about getting financially naked and the importance of talking to your partner about money. So, I was delighted when TD Bank’s 2018 Love and Money report came out and it said 89% of 18 to 34 year olds are very to extremely comfortable talking about money with their partners and 31% even discuss money within the first three months. I’m pretty sure Peach and I didn’t talk money within the first three months of dating, except for maybe setting a spending limit on Christmas gifts.
We’ve lived together for about two years, but before marriage we pretty much just had a 50/50 split on the household finances and only created a joint account after our engagement in order to save for the wedding and honeymoon. We had a pretty stable budget in place and knew all the details of each other’s financial lives (student loans, net worths, credit scores, etc). But getting married does add a new dynamic. We needed to decide if we were going to merge our money or keep it separate. Turns out, roughly 28% of 18 to 34 year olds wait until after marriage to merge money, according to the Love and Money report.
BEING A TEAM — WITH A TWIST
Peach and I plan to be part of that 28%, with a twist. We’ll have a joint account into which we’ll deposit our salaries. We’ll use this account to pay bills, move money into savings and investments and then fund our “fun funds”. We each will maintain a personal checking account where we’ll put our fun funds aka monthly discretionary spending money. We’re going to have a set amount of money we can each spend per month on whatever non-essentials we choose. This will reduce any nitpicking at each other about how we’re electing to spend our money.
Even though we earn different salaries, we’re planning for our fun funds to be the same amount of money – which also fosters the team mentality we both have when it comes to finances in marriage. Interestingly, over 50% of people surveyed in our age group responded that they share a credit card. We haven’t totally figured out our credit card strategy yet because I’ve historically been more of the travel hacker and therefore have more cards than Peach. I’ll probably close a couple and then we’ll pick or one two to be our main cards and Peach can get added as an authorized user. Or, we’ll just keep focusing on hacking and not be authorized users because it doubles our hacking abilities! (Super money nerd moment).
“Setting up a budget together for shared expenses and agreeing on a premise of how and what money will come into and out of that budget is a great first step. Whether it’s through a joint account or credit partnership, aligning your money and budget will allow you to work together as a couple towards common goals,” said Jason Thacker, Head of Consumer Deposits and Payments at TD Bank.
STAYING OPEN TO CHANGE
Regardless, we do already have monthly money meetings and those will also be a chance to check in on all the credit cards – regardless of owner – as well as see how we’re keeping pace towards our goals and evaluating if we need to tweak our money management style in marriage.
We know that dealing with money in a marriage is also an evolving process, especially as our lives change. We might start a family or buy a home and that will mean we need to re-evaluate our money management techniques. We’ve already evolved a lot over the years, especially when it came to our thoughts on how to handle Peach’s student loan debt after marriage – but that will be a story for another time.
How do you and your partner handle money in your relationship?