How To

How Do Married Couples Divide Their Money? Mint Answers

photo: Andrew Morrell Photography

Marriage and money. It’s a tricky combination.

Money is the number one reason why couples fight, and it’s one of the top three issues that eventually cause a couple to end up in divorce court. Is it any surprise, then, that many people take their money-and-my-relationship questions to online communities like Mint Answers, where they may not get the answers they want to hear or the advice they will ultimately follow, but can at least sample other people’s opinions and experience.

This week, we feature four money and relationship questions, from how to divide expenses with your significant other to whether it’s fair for a thrifty husband to pay off his spend-happy wife’s debts.

Click on the links below to read more answers or to chime in with your response.

How do married couples divide their money and expenses?

Answers:

1. I may get blasted for this… Isn’t marriage about trust? Why would you have separate accounts? We have a joint account where everything comes out of and are both active in the “maintenance” of it. It’s not a “his and her paycheck” type thing – it’s an “our paychecks” type of thing. We check with each other before making any purchases over a certain predetermined amount.

2. The best way I’ve heard it described is the American Way, the French Way, and the Cuban Way:
American Way: totally separate accounts, 50% / 50% of joint household bills
French Way: everyone contributes according to percentage of salary – i.e. if you make 70% of the total household income, you pay for 70% of the total household expenses.
Cuban Way: everything goes into one big pot, and household expenses & personal fun expenses are paid out of this common pot.

3. We do it the Cuban way–but where’s my cigar?

4. We do it the French way. Money is put into the Joint account at a predetermined rate (%) that covers most household expenses and then some. Think of it as a tax on your take-home pay (Federal, State, Family). 

That way you still have a sense of your own money that you can save for stuff without it always being a family decision. So I don’t get mad at my wife for spending $200 on some red strappy shoes or a purse, and she doesn’t get mad at me when I buy a PlayStation 3 or blow my money at the craps table. That way when you give a gift to your spouse, he/she appreciates it.

5. I don’t see how having separate accounts equates to a lack of trust.  If you are open to other concepts perhaps you will see it has some benefits and perhaps even requires more trust.

More answers to this question>

Is it fair for my Wife to ask me to pay off some of her debt because I manage my money better and sacrifice my wants more?

My wife and I are newlyweds and I feel she is always relying on my financial stability to take care of everything.  I am planning on going back to school and leaving my job soon and would really like to save up as much as I can but she makes me feel as I am being selfish and greedy because I don’t help her out financially especially recently with School tuition bills.  I constantly sacrifice my wants in life to get where I am at financially and feel as I am just giving my sacrifices away but I don’t want to be stingy either.  So am I being selfish, should I help her out more and be stern in my beliefs?

Answers:

1. I hate to break it to you buddy, but when you married her you also married her debt. Yes, you should pay off her debt, and you should no longer think of it as “her debt.” It’s YOUR debt.

If you want to live a long and happy life with your spouse, stop separating everything and thinking of things in terms of ‘yours’ and ‘mine.’ It’s just going to make you bitter with each other and lead to fights.

If she has a spending problem, then you need to work on it together, and if you’re too stingy with your money and you never have fun with it, then you also to work on that and loosen up.

2. It seems as if you and your spouse have very different priorities about money. I’ll just say that I’d be careful with your joint credit / joint accounts if you are worried about her spending habits, which will lead to a bigger conversation…

3. Sounds like you are being used. You are not being selfish, go to school for the long run that will be for the better. You wife may not be thinking about being around for the long haul and want to get what she can now. Been there, done that.

More answers to this question>>

It’s fair that I pay twice as much for the bills if I make twice the salary, right? We’re not married.

We’re not married. It shouldn’t matter that I’m a girl but everyone keeps telling me I’m being taken advantage of.

Answers:

1. I think what’s fair is what you both agree on and feel comfortable with.

2. I guess the key is, do YOU think you’re being taken advantage of?  If this is a serious relationship that is perhaps moving towards marriage, then I’d be more okay with an uneven split.  If this is a short term relationship, and you’re more like roommates than a couple, then I’d say he should pay as if he was a roommate.  It’s really up to you… if you resent paying for him, that resentment will build up over time.  But if you’re completely okay with paying more, then go right ahead!

More answers to this question>>

Help – I’m getting married?

I am getting married next year. My fiancé and I are receiving no help from either set of parents. What is the best type of account to open to save the money quickly that we will also be able to access in about a year?

Answers:

1. An online savings account. The one I would recommend for this, or for any specific short-term savings goal, is SmartyPig.com. I have no affiliation with them except as a satisfied customer.

2. I am also a fan of SmartyPig but another savings vehicle would be a CD. A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured time deposit issued by banks and brokerage firms across the country. Technically, a CD is a promissory note the issuing bank delivers to you. You are essentially loaning your money to a bank that will, in turn, repay you with interest at the end of the term.

CD’s are relatively safe investments; therefore, the rate of return may not be as aggressive as other investment accounts. Generally, the longer the term you select, the higher the rate of return. … Just make sure you select a CD within the time frame you will need to access the money.

More answers to this question>>

Do you have a money question that you feel has no black-or-white answer? Go to Mint Answers and ask away! While you’re there, feel free to answer questions from other community members. Come back often, as we introduce new enhancements to this feature.