Splitting the Finances After Tying the Knot

17 September 2012

With the end of summer also comes the end of wedding season. Having attended a fair number of weddings myself in these past few months, besides wondering where the couple is going on honeymoon and what gifts they received from their registry, the one thing that I always wonder after the bride and groom say “I do” is how they intend on splitting up their finances. Perhaps that is an odd thing to think about, but when so many couples are more concerned with choosing wedding colours than choosing to get a joint bank account, you might be surprised how many newlyweds have given their finances any thought at all.

Being a future bride myself as well as a personal finance blogger, you better believe I have done plenty of research when it comes to money and marriage. Of course I am over the moon that in just a few months I'll be marrying my fiancé, but I can't say the same about giving another person access to my bank account for the very first time, even if that person is my husband. That being said, I know a number of married couples that tell me sharing their money with their spouse gives them a real sense of unity and security. I also know a few couples that share a joint bank account but have their own separate accounts as well. With all of these options floating around in my head, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of the different ways you can split up your finances post-nuptials.

Keeping Your Finances Separate – Since my my fiancé and I currently live together and already keep our finances separate, it would be a seamless transition if we were to continue on this path after we got married. However, we are both at the start of our careers and have very few assets and investments to our names. As soon as we decide it’s time to buy property together and start a family, it might make more sense to combine our finances instead. Another reason this might not be the best option to stick with for the long haul is that at a certain point in every couple’s relationship, one spouse may start to make more money than the other. I certainly wouldn’t want my husband to feel like he has to go without because he can’t afford everything I can, and I know he would feel the same way. Which brings me to the second option…

Combining All of Your Finances – This option I find to be quite daunting only because I alone have been in control of my finances for my entire life. Having to share all of my income with another person would definitely be an adjustment to say the least. That being said, I do like the idea that once we become one through matrimony, that won’t stop at just sharing the same last name. Moreover, as I have seen with many married couples, there may be a time when one of us is unemployed while the other continues to work. In that circumstance, combining our finances would make the most sense in order to support our other half. Then again, when you do share your money with someone else, that can make you feel entitled to critique their spending habits too, leading me to the third option…

Doing a Combination of the Two – This last option seems like a good compromise if neither option #1 nor #2 feel like a good fit. You can both share a joint bank account to cover your mutual bills, investments and savings, and family expenditures, but when it comes time for you to do a bit of wardrobe updating or splurging on the latest tech gadget, that’s when your separate account comes into play. Personally, I think this might be the best option for my fiancé and I to go with after we wed, as I can definitely foresee it preventing a number of “You spent how much on what?” arguments. We are both fairly frugal people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to indulge in a frivolous purchase here and there. As long as we make sure that our joint finances take care of all of the important stuff, what’s the harm in each having a bit of personal money to play around with?

Bargainmoosers, what do you think is the best way to split the finances post-nuptials?

(Image credit: AfroDad)


  • Kerry
    If neither one of you has assets, I think it's a better move to merge finances. If someone has a lot of money and their spouse doesn't, I'd recommend merging finances to some degree and letting the wealthier person keep separate investments.
    • Jessica M.
      Also, and I didn't include this, but if there is wealth involved (and even if there isn't really), having a pre-nup is never a bad idea.
  • JulieA
    I'm sorry, but I find this piece rather fluffy. I'd like to know this writer's qualifications/career experience (besides being a blogger), and education in the field of finance, as there doesn't seem to be anything substantial in the article to qualify/back up her personal take on the subject. Where is the research as to the pros and cons of merging assets as far as RRSPs, investments, insurance, property purchaces, etc? Where are the quotes from professionals in the field of finance who can either support or oppose her theories...or, for that matter, quotes from long-married folk from all three camps who can weigh in about what worked/didn't work for them? In a world where a 50% divorce rate is the norm, where are the quotes from relationship experts who can testify to how sharing marital income (or not) effects marriages either positively or negatively, and how each can either complicate or fascilitate a divorce? This subject matter is far too complicated and important to reduce to mere conjecture about what the writer thinks MAY work for herself and others.
    • Vanessa
      I don't think that the internet is the place to find experienced professional advice, nor is Bargain Moose the place to find heavily-researched articles with quotes.
  • Lauren
    My husband and I combined our money while we were still engaged. It just made sense. Our relationship started as good friends, and we looked out for each other. If one of us had money and the other one didn't we'd offer to cover lunch... and then make it clear that it wasn't a choice, lol. We even covered groceries for each other once in a while. When we started dating, it was like we had unspoken permission to offer more than just food, and whenever either of us had to pay anything we'd figure it out between us. Rather than going to the bank to withdraw money for each other or passing our bank cards back and forth, the joint account just made sense - we were already sharing everything anyways. I know my parents were surprised when we opened a joint account before getting married, and his parents never went the joint account route, but for us it was a convenience thing. We know and trust each other. If (God forbid) we ever broke up, we're not the type of people to try and take anything that isn't ours. If it's unclear what belongs to who, we're more likely to argue that the other person should get it just to avoid the conflict, lol. The only thing that's been kept separate is my term savings account, and that's because putting both our names on it would require closing that account and starting a new one, and the interest rate I've been getting on that account for the last 15 years or so is too good to give up. It will help us with the down payment on a house some day.

What do you think?

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