As you all know I have been following Serenity23 and friends as they blog their way through the book, Power to Prosper for the next 21 days. Today’s topic was near and dear to me: matrimonial money. I really liked the guest post today and rather than blog in Serenity’s comments I decided to respond on my blog.
Myron and I have discussed at length the best way to handle our finances once we get married. I’ve never been married and he’s been divorced so it was imperative that we get a handle on our money styles and even examine how we observed our parents handling money in their own marriages. It’s important to both of us that money not become a sticking point or a thorn in our marriage.
From my personal experience, I have a checking and savings accounts. I rarely write checks but I keep some for those off times when I have to write one. I debit nearly everything and rarely carry cash. I pay all my bills online. I also have debt, in the form of my mortgage, car note and student loans.
Myron on the other hand, has a checking account and doesn’t have checks at all. He debits or pays in cash. He pays bills online or has them drafted out. He has minimal debt. His car is paid for (though we will be selling it after the wedding to get him a newer one).
My parents have separate checking accounts. They make all household purchases jointly and swap money back and forth between them as needed. That is the system that worked best for them. I think Myron’s folks have everything joint. (Correct me if I am wrong, baby.)
Since I have been designated the family CFO, initially I think that we will keep our current checking accounts and definitely have a joint household account to pay bills from. The joint account will probably morph out the wedding account we’re going to set up. We will probably roll with that for a while, then have another conversation within 6 months to a year, to re-assess what we need to do going forward. I don’t see anything wrong with easing ourselves into the process. We already think of the money as being in one pot anyway.
One thing that we probably need to discuss in more detail is what is our threshold for individual purchases. Is it $100.00?? $250.00?? We are definitely in agreement that we need to be accountable to each other over a certain dollar amount, we just need to nail that figure down and agree on it.
Another item we need to discuss in more detail that we’ve started having conversations about is retirement. We are an older couple (we’ll both be 37 when we get married) and it’s imperative that we get real serious about looking WAY into the future. I have an 401K from a previous employer that needs to be rolled over at some point and I haven’t been saving for retirement at all since I got laid off in February 2009. He is in a much better position by working for the state because he has a 401K AND will be eligible for a pension. We probably need to up his contributions because we both have a lot of catch up to do. We have both cashed out 401Ks from previous jobs in the past. If there is something I could take back from my 20s, that would definitely be it. That was definitely not a good financial move.
Other money related discussions that we’ve had: how to handle requests from family for money, what we are going to do with my townhouse, and my penchant for shoe shopping!!! LOL!! 🙂
I think discussions about money prior to getting married are ESSENTIAL. But once you have the conversations, that doesn’t mean they are over. These types of talks should be fluid and ongoing. I am grateful that we have overcome our initial discomfort with talking about money with each other because it will make conversations down the road much easier.
Commenters, any thoughts that you’d like to add??