We always kept our money separate. We split expenses evenly and consistently PayPal’ed each other the difference. While our couple money habit has fluctuated in the past, they have never been quite this scrambled.
I don’t mean that in a bad way either. We got engaged. I changed jobs. We’ll be moving. It made the most sense for us to finally combine finances. Gulp. I know. We’re going to do it, slowly, and of course our very own way.
We combined our finances, sorta
Ok, so it would be a lie to say that we have officially combined everything. Like I said we are taking it slow as this is new couple territory for us. In the past, we climbed the hurdles of money transparency. We easily created shared money goals and had similar financial direction, but the logistics of all money was still very separate until recently. Below is what we did that changed the way we handle our finances as a couple.
1. We found a way to quickly share money
We still don’t have a joint checking account, but we do have immediate transfer set up at our credit union where we each hold accounts. This is essential as we needed a way to share and transfer money quickly. PayPal wasn’t cutting it this time.
2. We started budgeting on the same sheet and having budget meetings
We actually started a new budgeting sheet together sometime last year. Even more recently, we started havinhg weekly budget meetings to see where were at with our own spending. This increased our money transparency even more and really led to the full decision to handle the money a little bit differently.
(In the future I’ll be doing my own weekly spending reports- so stay tuned)
3. We set new financial goals
It had been some time since we set our financial goals. It was time to revisit them. We confirmed that paying off my student loans was still the main priority. We also had a wedding to save for and a possible future move. This meant it was time to open up multiple savings accounts and automate what was going in them.
4. We decided who would pay what
Since my income would be fluctuating so often, I was going to be in charge of new expenses. I pay myself from my business account into my personal checking account every month. From here, I put money into the following savings accounts:
- Future business expenses – this savings is beyond what I save for taxes. This is in case I need a new lens or a new cable of some kind for my computer.
- Future expenses- this savings is for short travel like camping, adult expenses like a broken dryer, and our pet emergency. It’s a good-sized fund for us to draw from for these kinds of expenses
- Emergency fund – for medical expenses or of course the major emergency
- Retirement- I opened an IRA recently to roll over my other retirement accounts into and I contribute to this each month
My bills coming out of my account were all reduced significantly. I took on:
- phone bill
- Gas (for my car only)
- Healthcare (only until we are married)
The rest of the money would go straight to student loans. That’s typically a good-sized chunk that goes to paying them off.
HisFI, was taking on the major expenses and bills including:
- Auto and home insurance
- Eating out
He also opened the wedding savings account. We have almost reached this goal, which is exciting to have it all set aside for the big day. His retirement and healthcare are taken out before we even see the paycheck so that’s why it’s not listed here.
The expenses not being split evenly and with HisFI taking on the more expensive items it was a hard transition for me mentally. I knew it was going to happen. We looked at the numbers before I made my career transition, but it’s still a new way for us to layout our money.
Basically, I am in charge of savings and extra student loan payments for the larger portion of my paychecks since they can fluctuate. He is in charge of the essential living items since he has a systematic paycheck. This is what we decided was best for right now.
5. We started putting both of our names on everything
This is a work in progress. It takes a surprising amount of time to make sure our names are on everything together. I know most couples might wait until they were officially married, but we bought a home together, so I think we’re past that.
We started with the Utilities, then combined our auto insurance policies, and double-checked that we were listed as the beneficiaries on all of our savings accounts and retirement accounts. Having both of our names on all the bills and expenses was essential for me, regardless of who was paying for it that month.
Just a start, we have time to evolve
Not having two consistent paychecks every month meant we were going to have to change how we did our finances. will evolve and change as we do. It’s good for us to start this process now, before we’re married, to really nail it down. I honestly don’t think we will ever fully combine, as we each appreciate the autonomy, but never say never.
What are the steps you took as a couple the redefined how you handled money? Did you partially combine or fully combine? Link your couple money posts below!