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November 29, 2012


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Hi, this sounds familiar. I lived with a guy like that once. The problem I think is that he views the "savings" / extra $ in the bank, which you think of as both of yours, as his alone. So he doesnt want you to spend any of it. And he thinks and acts like like you are being irresponsible with money etc. Meanwhile You are paying for everything for the 2 of you out of your salary alone, but he is ignoring this. Probably he has no idea how much you are paying for your joint lifestyle because he has never lived on his own before.

You need to fix this fast, by having him pay his real fair share. Calculate how much each month it costs for you two to live, write everything down, thensplit it exactly in each need to contribute this money each month into a joint bank account that you pay the bills from. If you like to spend even more each month on extras for the two of you, you need to agree and add this amount to your monthly cost of living. The intermittant nature of his pay makes no difference...if he is short one month he can take it out of his savings, but he must contribute his full half to your joint account each month. Only in this way will he actually realize how much you are paying for your joint lifestyle.

Regarding savings rate, I would think of it not in terms of a percent you should save, but rather just make it the default to save everything you can after your day to day living is taken care of. Then Consider together whether you really want to spend anything at all on each extra item that comes up. For example, instead of deciding to always spend $500 every month on eating out, consider whether tonite you really want to spend that $50 on eating out or do you want to put it towards your savings towards a wedding, vacation, house, etc.

Also, remember that although you have the ring, your finances are not legally joint until you are married. So you cant act as if his savings account that is in his name only is actually part yours. If worst case scenario you guys break up, his savings account is actually all his, and you'll be left feeling like a chump after paying all the rent and bills for the 2 of you for months. Happened to me...!

I think the first step is to sit him down and talk about your finances, your future together and most importantly trust if you are going to get married. You have to be able to communicate some of the issues you have with his “extreme saving habit” and I am very sure he will have his own issues with your “extreme spending habit.” I am not saying both are bad, as long as there is balance. The key to most life issues is balance. As long as you both have a goal and meeting that goal every month, he should be willing to let you spend without him accounting for all you spent the money on. But I think there are more underlying issues here that until you sit and talk about it, it will keep recurring. Do you have a monthly budget to include savings and individual spending money? Do you have debts you are currently paying off? Do you have a long term saving goal? I think you are both not on the same page financially and that causes a lot of problems amongst couples.
I would say since he sometimes makes triple what you take home and sometimes less, add all incomes together and whatever the percentage you make for that month is what you pay from your income or what you are responsible for every month. Note that when he brings in way less than you, you will be responsible for majority of the bills for that month and vice versa. E.g your monthly income adds up to $10,000 and you take home $3000/month. That means you will only be responsible for 30% of the bills for that month and he 70%.if on the other hand your total income for another month is $5000, which means you will be responsible for 60% of the bills and he 40%. Maybe having a joint account is not working for the both of you. I will advice you include this in your talk. Keep the joint account and let your share of the bills for every month go into this account to pay bills from. The rest of your income goes into your individual account and you are free to do whatever you choose. You don’t want to have any regrets if you end up parting ways down the road. I wish you nothing but the best. But marriage is work, been on the same page in almost all areas of your life, realizing what you own belongs to him to include your debts, having balance and most importantly should be for better for worse.

As a woman who has been in a similar situation before (feeling micro-managed) my thoughts run a little less on the side of money advice and more on the side of relationship advice.
The reason?
I eventually became divorced from a man like this. I have a high income and we had plenty of disposble income (mine, incidentally) after bills and savings. If you think micro-managing is bad now, add lawyers and hard feelings. This is just a major red flag as far as relationships go.
The best advice from a financial point of view is to reduce your cost of living. If you are spending 90% of your income on basic living, you need to do a hard-core assessment of what you really "need" in life. Otherwise, you could come to feel dependent on someone else's income. Even though I make a lot of money, I shop at goodwill, buy used cars, bought a small fixer upper house and don't have cable. These tactics and others have allowed me to save anywhere from 30-65% of my after-tax income (and I have student loan debt and a home). Realy take a hard look and see what you might be able to forgo. If your other half is so concerned about money, perhaps it is the time to discuss some of his "needs" vs. "wants" as well so that it isn't just you under scrutiny. Finances in maraige needs to be "all for one and one for all" or it will not work.
I am currently re-married and we have made a budget that we evaluate each month. We give ourselves "fun money" in a specific dollar amount each month. We each get the same amount and we do not have to answer to one another about how we spend that money. Because of our attitude of working together, we will be debt free in the next 5 years and will have a substantial amount saved.
You stated that you have some spending money...perhaps you could take that out of your account as cash and use the envelope system so that he cannot track online.
After a calm discussion and trying to implement better spending/saving strategies if he is still watching your every need to give the ring back and move on sister.

I think you first need to think about marriage counseling. If you are really in a committed relationship and will be married, you need to act like it. There is no separate money. There is no "my money" and "his money". It is "our money". You need to get married and then combine the money/finances. You both need to agree to a budget and stick to it. Any discretionary money is just that.

If you both can't agree to do something as easy as this, the rest of the decision making in your marriage will likely be difficult as well. If that is the case, you should rethink marriage and consider selling the home. I hate to be a Monday morning quarterback, but you both jumped the gun on buying and house and moving in together. You really need to fix this before it gets worse.

My suggestion on the budget front is to have you and him figure out his average take home pay. even though he works commission and it varies he should have a rough idea of what he typically gets a month. I'm self-employed and while I have good months and bad months there is a general average I can expect.

As BJ mentioned you can do proportional budgeting and base his portion on his average. to cover rough months, you two may want to create a savings account to capture a buffer.

As for watching the money so closely, that's a separate issue that should be handled sooner rather than later. discussing how you both feel and why could help you two to create a financial system that makes BOTH of you happy.

I agree with MC. You need to stop playing "my bills, your bills" and open a joint account that both of you fund, and you should put in an equal amount per month.

This is a temporary solution, until marriage. It will be a heavier burden on you because you have less income than he does, but it will free up your remaining income from an uncomfortable level of scrutiny.

Control freaks are insecure, and because most of them never end up dealing with the underlying fear, they never stop being control freaks. And you can't control whether he ever does that or not. So, once you are married, for your own sake, either you both need to be on the same system so he feels like there's no need to watch what you're doing so closely, OR you need to plan to keep your money separated long-term. (I recommend the former. Take a look at Dave Ramsey's plan.) If you don't commit yourself to one of those two paths, you will continue to be second-guessed by him and feel controlled.

I have two thoughts on this. One is that, if he's this reluctant to share mere money(and sharing seems to be the problem), you might want to have a talk about his commitment to you. It might not be about the money at all. It could be that he simply doesn't want to be responsible in any way for you, which is a bad sign for a guy who is about to say "for better or for worse". After marriage, "his" and "hers" is for towels and underwear, not earnings.

The second thing is, if this is *just* about how the money is handled, merging your bank accounts and budgeting from the total, instead of trying to split everything evenly as if you were just roommates, would probably clear up the whole problem. There should be, at this point, no "his" and "hers" money. I know a lot of couples say that works for them, but of the people I've personally known who've done that, it's been nothing but one fight after another. One of my friends and her husband had this same issue, and when they merged all of their accounts, the difficulty vanished. Each of them put everything in the pot, and both agreed that the pot belonged to both of them, equally. They still haven't moved on to the crucial step of actually budgeting the money, so there is some stress, but it's not the degrading kind of stress where one party is always having to answer to the other.

Sit down together and work out a plan to pool your assets and live one financial life together. Have some spending money separately, by all means! Just don't think of it in terms of "this came from my paycheck, and that from his". I like to have a little extra shoe money, myself, once the bills are paid. ;0)

Sounds like you two need to sit down and make a solid budget and figure out what your priorities are. If you do that and spend within the budget that you both agree to then I don't see why he would freak out as much. That said, saving for the future is a great goal. Better than him racking up credit card debt and not telling you about it.

I am very cautious when someone asks for help in resolving a problem and then they proceed to tell a one sided version of the issue. Perhaps your fiancee would tell the same story but my guess is that his version would be very different.

Is this ask for help a secret from him? If not, then could we hear him explain how he sees the issue? There is likely a communication gap in the relationship and this one sided ask for help is only likely to make it worse. My advice is for you to sit down and talk and first agree on the problem. Then if you can't work it out, ask for advice. (Yes, I am married)

Please get out of this relationship now. At the very least get counseling for both of you or yourself. Your problems have nothing to do with how much is being saved, but your finance's need to control you. The amount you save won't change that. Don't marry him. Here's a list of warning signs: Even if #3 is the only one you identify with, that's bad enough.

Have you ever discussed what your fiance's goal is for the savings? It could be for the wedding, college for kids, home improvement, your future financial security...all worthy and laudable goals ultimately aimed at happiness for both of you! Understanding your fiance's reasons for saving would be helpful as you set budgeting and financial goals together.

I would agree with Lance in that sitting down to do a budget together would be a great move. I know it can be more difficult to do with a commissioned job, but it is possible. From there I would encourage them to take it as a team approach and to help each other by trusting the other with spending.

My goodness the comments stream here are only causing more confusion, and therefore more harm than good. There is no way from this Help a Reader post to gain enough information to draw any real conclusions. As Erik alluded to, there are two sides to the story. We need a Reader Profile that gives us all the financials from the couple together to give you any customized advice.

Examples of deficiencies include: You didn't say what your long term plans for your future were, thus we cannot tell you how much is reasonable for you to save. You didn't give us an income/expense sheet, thus we cannot determine whether to trust that you do or do not have a spending problem.

Since you are not married yet, all the advice about needing a joint account is in error. All you may need to fix the micromanaging/spending problem is a better budgeting method....or it may be an indication of something deeper. We cannot draw conclusions from the information given, thus all the advice about counseling and breaking off the marriage is in error.

Whether it is better to do things one way or the other always DEPENDS on the couple. When it comes to splitting bills exactly in half or doing proportional budgeting - that is your preference. Whether it's better to have joint accounts versus separate accounts - that is your preference. Some things that should not change is the need to save for retirement in each others separate IRA accounts. The need to have your own emergency savings account. The need to draw personal spending from your OWN income source. The need to determine your fiance's average takehome pay. The need for you as a couple to compromise on how much to save for all things that go into meeting the goals you've established for yourselves in life.

OK - I'll write the fictional other half of this story and then let's see if everyone still offers the same advice. Please excuse me if this isn't true but I am trying to make a point about offering advice when hearing one side of the story.

My financee and I have had issues with money. Like most Americans, we spent way more than we could afford and have piled up some debt. Nothing we can't handle but certainly nothing to be proud of. We have each worked through some of those issues but still have work to do. I never want to get into this situation again and I am working hard to watch that every dollar is spent on needs instead of wants until we pay off our bills and have an emergency fund that will ensure we never get into this situration again.

The problem I have is that my finacee isn't really on board in the process. I let her know that she can buy things that we need during this time of financial repair but other than that we need to stick to a strict financial diet. Every time I check on the bank account, I see charges for things that are wants and put us one step further away from financial independence. We have some really big expenses coming up (wedding, new home...) and she doesn't realize that these will only possible if we can buckle down and get our finances in order.

Please offer advice on how I can explain to her the importance of creating a budget and sticking to it.


Again - I am sorry if this is way off base.

This is more a trust issue than a finance issue. I can relate to this post, but I was the one who was micro-managing my wife's spending. The only outcome that will result in micromanaging someone else's spending is more arguments.

For us, the most difficult thing was to address the "trust" issue. We were lucky that we were friends with a couple who was willing to helped us out. This took several weeks and there is always 2 sides to a story. Just talking about each others concerns and issues helped me and wife see it from a different perspective.

From these talks, we came up with some actions which both of us agreed.
- Opened a joint account for family expense. There is no more my bills, her bills. It is now our bills.
- Opened 2 "sanity-no-questions-ask" monthly fund, 1 for me and 1 for my wife. We can buy whatever we want from this fund. No questions asked, no need to ask permission.
- Converted all our accounts to joint. No more my money, her money. It is now "our" money. She has access to all my accounts (and vice versa). Note: You might want to delay this until you are married.)
- Establish a "dating" fund. Since our kids were born, we had not been going out much. We realized that we also need to invest in our marriage. And this is nothing fancy. Just going out for movie or having a nice dinner (without the kids) has helped for us.

Since doing this, our fights over finance has greatly reduced and helped improve our marriage. :)
Good luck.

I guess as a 78 year old that has been married for 56 years I'm "Old School" compared with today's 33 year old men.

I considered it my duty and obligation to be the provider once we were married, as did my father and grandfather before me. During those 56 years I have never asked my wife to hand over any of her money. She is every bit as much of a saver as I am and today she has her own large IRA as well as a $200K inheritance which she received last year.

I have always paid all the bills, and to this day I give her a certain amount every week to buy the groceries. I also manage our investments as well as those of our three adult children. She has her own pension and SS check arriving every month and uses this to take care of her personal expenses. The only comingling of money that has occurred was when we found it prudent to pool our taxable savings into a Living Trust in 2000 when I was 66 and she was 67. We maintain separate savings and checking accounts at our Credit Union, but since she has never used a computer I use a Bill Pay service to pay her bills along with my own. Throughout the extensive overseas travelling that we have had over the years she has always paid her own way. Our marriage is built upon Total Trust and now in our Golden Years we are happier than ever before just taking care of each other and enjoying a very quiet life.

Let me share my experience and maybe some conclusions about three relationships.

1. My current relationship: I live with a woman who makes about 20% of what I make. She was previously married for 10 years and is now divorced. I was previously married for 20 and am now separated. She is 10 years younger than me.

Our intention is to remain together long-term, but we have set up our lives so neither one of us becomes financially dependent on the other. That way, we are only together because we want to be.

We live in "my" house - i.e., it is owned in my name only since before we met.

Based on both our past experience (see later) and the fact that I am legally still married to someone else, we have not commingled our finances.

I charge her "rent", which is approximately 2/3 of what she previusly paid for a pretty basic apartment in a worse part of town. She puts the other 1/3 into an account in her name only, with the understanding that if we buy a property together, that is her ocntribution, and if we split up that is her walk-away money. I pay all utilities, mortgage and house maintenance costs. The money from her covers approximately 25% of routine costs, and none of the major costs - replacement appliances, etc.

We split the cost of groceries and basic household supplies (cleaners, etc.). I pay for most of our entertainment and travel - simply because I have the money. She pays all costs directly related to her child who lives with us. We each buy our own clothing, etc. out of our own funds. We don't have many major expenses because we already own more than enough furniture, cars, etc. If we did, chances are I would pay for them or we would easily work out how to split them.

We each continue to invest for retirement independently - IRA, 401-k, etc.

This works because it is simple. Neither of us feels monitored or controlled by the other and there is minimal monthly reconciliation. In any case, I am a Quicken obssessive so it is very easy for us to total up each month.

2. My marriage: We married quite young, and it was a super-traditional marriage. My wife was my age, and earned a minimal amount. She moved around with me for work and stayed home to raise our kid. All our money went into joint accounts. There was no concept of "my money" and "your money". Approximately once a year, we agreed on a budget (by category, in Quicken) and attempted to stick to it. As our financial situation improved, we increased some categories.

All worked fine except for one category - clothing. Whenever she came howe with new clothing to show off, I would be unhappy about the amount spent. Eventually, our budget saved us. We agreed that as long as she stayed within the budget (which had a rather high number in the clothing category), I would not complain. And in turn, she would not keep telling me what each item cost or even show them to me unless she was putting them on to wear. (We called this "don't ask, don't tell".) So we had only one discussion per year on clothing - which was the budget number.

I could feel comfortable because I knew our budget was on track - in all categories, and she could relax because I didn't feel any need to micro-manage.

3. My partner's marriage: He was 5 years younger than her and the high earner (double to triple hers). He convinced her that they should save most of his pay and live on her income day to day, with him paying for major purchases. So she paid for utilities, etc. similar to the couple in this piece. Three issues arose:
a. He had no idea what it really cost to maintain their lifestyle because he never had to deal with a utility, doctor or grocery bill.
b. He had total control over all major purchases because they were paid for with "his" money.
c. When they split up, he took most of "his" money and she walked away with almost nothing.

I think there are three issues for thsi couple:
1. As others have already mentioned, they urgently need to sit down and make a budget. Do they agree on their overall goals and what should be spent in each category? Thsi will flush out many of their other issues.

2. They need to deal with power and control issues. If he makes most of the money, he could easily feel entitled to make the financial decisions, and eventually that will expand into all decisions because pretty much everything involves money to some degree.

3. They need to discuss "joint" versus "separate" accounts and spending. I suggest that they keep it as simple as possible with the goal of minimizing the number of disagreements and arguments.

You are essentially spending his money just because he earns more than you and therefore he probably thinks he has the right to know where his money is being spent (which I think is reasonable). I understand that you make considerably less than he does, but he might feel it's unfair that he is the only one in the relationship who is contributing for retirement and saving for the future while you spend every penny of what you make. He wants to know if you are spending on stuff that he thinks is useless and wasteful. It seems he does not trust you when it comes to spending. I believe his constant financial supervision will lead to further problems in your relationship, especially when it brings immense emotional stress to both of you it seems like. There is no quick and easy solution to this issue but I suggest sitting down with him laying out your near-term and long-term financial plans. If the amount he wants to save seems outrageously high, let him know logically why you think it is. If you think it's more of a psychological thing, maybe try suggesting if you could pay less mortgage than he does since you make less, and whatever amount that is left of your income you can spend freely without his micro-managing. If you believe you need external help, look for a marriage counselor. Good luck.

My opinion on this issue is probably not popular but by far the simplest and most elegant solution. If you aren't married don't live together. If you are living separately the issue doesn't exist. When you get married "you" and "me" cease to exist and there is just "us". That's part of what marriage entails, the acknowledgement that two individuals are going now going to operate as a single unit.

If you have fundamentally different notions of what's "his" and "yours" then you probably shouldn't be living together, these discussions must happen before that time comes. When you are married you should have confidence that your spouse will place "us" ahead of his own self and he can trust you to do the same. Then he doesn't have to worry about your spending habits because he knows you aren't going to do anything to hurt "us" by spending frivolously. And if he does express concerns you should take it seriously because he's not just protecting "his" stuff but trying to improve "us".

This is how my wife and I operate in our marriage. I make approximately three times what she does and it all goes into the same pot. She can spend money on anything she likes, I trust that she won't make mistakes and if she does we'll talk about it and resolve the issue in the future. The exact same thing applies to me, I'm no more likely to be the more wise and frugal spender than she is. In 2013 I will make approximately thirty times what she makes, in fact she's likely to leave her job completely and become a stay at home mom for the foreseeable future. The thought has never crossed my mind to not share all that we have equally with her. To be honest if I did think that way I wouldn't have gotten married in the first place.

He is a selfish obsessive control freak. If you marry him, you will suffer under this for the rest of your life, or until you tire from it and divorce him.

Hear that sound? That is the end-of-the-relationship clock ticking away towards its inevitable conclusion.

Won't be long now...

What is his sugestion/solution? Have you asked him how he feels about they way things are working?

You guys really need to get on the same page - you say you two make enough money to buy whatever you want, and in fact you bought a new TV recently. Yet he seems to feel you are spending too much, and you both have debt that isn't paid off. There is obviously a disconnect somewhere.

Sit down together and go over all your joint household expenses and add them up. Include things like groceries, basic utilities, maintenance, etc. Divide that up proportionally based on your income. Since his income varies, you may not be able to start this budget for another month or so - during that time, he should be saving his income so that he has a "buffer". Once he has at least one month of his portion in savings, I would recommend opening a joint checking account solely for you joint expenses. You can each direct your portion of the bills (and his one month expense "buffer") into that account and pay joint bills directly out of it.

I would also sit down and talk about a joint savings plan. You both need to be honest about what your goals are, what you are saving for, and make sure you're on the same page. I would also divide this up proportionally by income. If you both agree that you want to save $1k each month and he makes twice what you do, then you put in $333 and he contributs $667. What ever you each have left over from your incomes after joint expenses and your own bills that you brought into the relationship is yours to spend/save as you see fit.

What are the bills you both accumulated prior to the relationship? I'm not judging, but if his are student loan and yours are credit cards (or a similar situation) then I can see how he might be nervous to have you running around with a debit card. If you've given him no reason to be wary, what is it you are buying that he doesn't like? Is it a situation where you need new work shoes, but he just hears "I bought more shoes"? Or does he not realize how quickly you two run through groceries?

We need more specifics.

FWIW, my husband and I had a similar set up when we were living together before being married. He made more than I did yet we split all expenses 50/50. Though he had some student loan debt he was paying off, the end result was that he usually had more spending money than me, and I did occasionally feel frustrated about that. But I just kind of sucked it up until we got married.

However, my now-husband is a generous, loving man. He would never have been ok with a situation where I had no spending money and he had tons, even before we combined finances. He would never have wanted me to feel deprived or micro-managed (then again, I never gave him reason to worry about my spending habits). He often paid for extra expenses (movies, dinners, etc) unasked. One time I was taking a girls trip and the costs of travel/food ate up all my fun money for the month. I was fine with that, it was my decision to go of course, but he gave a friend of mine (who was going also) a card to give to me once we had arrived. Inside was spending money and strict instructions to buy myself something fun. He's a keeper!

I don't mean to malign your fiance by comparision, but if you aren't spending money irresponsibly and he really just doesn't want you having any part of his income, then there's a problem, IMO. At the end of the day he should want you to be happy and feel fulfilled in your relationship. You should want him to feel good about the amount he is saving and your financial picture together.

You should split your shared expenses (rent, utilities, food, etc) 50/50 and spend your own money on individual items. Commission pay doesn't matter; he can use savings from higher income months to pay for expenses during lower income months.

You make 1/4 of the household income so you should pay 1/4 of the household expenses. Then keep other finances separate.

You need work out your finances and differences on money before marriage.
You probably could use some couples counseling.

What are you spending money on? Are there debts or other obligations he's worried about? Hard to know if his reaction is reasonable or not without his side or more details.

I feel for the guy. When you are SE or commissioned with wild pay swings, savings is crucial. Why doe the girl spend 90% of her pay? Because she knows there will be another check for the same amount in two weeks.

The dude doesn't have that luxury. Which is why commissions are usually higher paid positions. Risk.

The guy has risk aversion, and wants his buffer savings as high as possible. It is his safety and security.

I agree joint account are ridiculous before you tie the knot. About as dumb as buying a house together before tying the knot. You should each pay your percentage of pay towards housing, and everything else separate. Have him give you cash for his half of the groceries.

Then when you get married, one account, all income dumped in. Set up a budget, and save the rest. That way when he makes more, he saves more. And you have a budget with defined limits and defined freedom.

Any quit buying expensive. Crap together until you are married.

FYI. My wife stays home with our kids most of the.time, works a little bit and keeps all of her earnings for her use. I make most all the money, and pay for everything. I wouldn't let her pay a bill or take her money even when she tries. I am like Limey...old school.

My 52 year old daughter divorced her incompatible, attorney husband 5 years ago, and 2 1/2 years ago she met a great guy through online dating and moved in with him about a year later when his youngest child went off to college. He had divorced his wife because she was openly cheating on him and had started siphoning money out of their accounts. He is a high income engineering manager in Hi-Tech, living in a $2M home in a gated community and with two kids away at out of state colleges. My daughter has two adult sons.

She is wealthy as the result of the divorce with almost $3M in bond investments and four more years of alimony left at $20K/month.

When the alimony stops she feels now that she would like to get married but there's no way she would comingle her assets with his, and would in all likelihood obtain a pre-nuptial agreement. Couples living together didn't happen in the 50's back in England but in America today with its high divorce rate it's commonplace and widely accepted except by very religious people so my wife and I are very happy for both of them.

Meanwhile she pays the same rent as she was paying before she moved in with him which was about $2K/month and she also buys their groceries. I think this is a great way to go at this point in the relationship. They are very much in love but after four more years of living together the situation will be much clearer to them both.

I agree with those that say that his controlling nature is a sign of a problem relationship. I would rethink the marriage.

You should not be spending 90% of your income on housing. You should be in a place where you spend roughly 1/3 (or less) of your income on principal, interest, insurance & HOA combined. That is your problem. Not his.

Your other issue, is that you need to be putting 10-15% of your own salary into savings for your own retirement. You will likely live longer than he will and you will draw a smaller SS check, so you must have savings of your own.

I understand the desire to split bills 50/50, but your income doesn't support that in your current home. Find a cheaper place, or find a better paying job.

The next thing is -- Why are you marrying this guy?
That's not a specific question, but a more generic one. I got married at age 20 when we were flat broke. I was still in school and he supported us, turning over his entire paycheck to me to manage. In the 25 years since, the tables have turned as he as become disabled to the extent that he will never again earn a steady income. I'm the primary wage earner, but whatever I earn is ours. I'm not saying we don't have separate accounts, because we do, I just think of all of it as belonging to both of us. I manage things online for both of us, and know instantly when he's been to the store (usually to buy something I want or need). I will have to work to support him for the next 20+ years. This is not a problem for me, but is one of the things that you sign up for when you pledge till death do us part. Just something to think about. A successful partnership requires that we each give 100%, not half.

Hi there,

I think this is why you have an engagement period- to work out all these things before getting married! Do not get married until you have this issue settled and you are both comfortable with it for several months. It could be a huge mistake if this is not resolved.

My wife and I had this problem early in our relationship prior to getting married- I made much, much more than she did (like 10X) and we had different perceptions of how this would work out. I sat down with her and told her that when we get married it will be both or our money and it is up to us to use it wisely, and to save for the future (retirement, children, etc). Following that we really got on the same page.

We've been married for over 5 years and had the arrangement that although our money is effectively pooled, that I will directly pay for all normal household expenses and travel, plus give her a monthly level of money that she manages- this is for her hobbies, paying for insurance for her relatives (our relatives), etc. It is good for both halves of the couple to be managing money and having control over spending habits.

Each couple has their own arrangement of what works for them. The best couples have both sides bringing something to the table when it comes to the partnership- this applies to financial areas plus all sorts of non-financial ones. You need to unlock that synergy in your own relationship.

Some people can do this by discussing it together, others need professional help.

Whichever path you take, good luck to you.


Sounds like you're doing a great job thinking about this right now, and addressing a problem before things actually go to marriage.

Now, admittedly I have the perspective of being someone who is a saver. That being said, nobody wants to be controlled or micromanaged. Sometimes we can change our partner's habits, which can be a good thing for both. But if that happens, it needs to be when both people see the value to it.

Better yet, and more common I would think, is the notion that we are all grown ups and need to be able to compromise like grown ups do. One person can't make unilateral decisions, or be intolerant of the other's views - be it with money or something else.

Best to have open, honest conversations ahead of time. Nip this in the bud, and work together to get on the same page on things - or at least on the same page about the need to respect each other's feelings and viewpoints. Money can pull people apart quickly, unfortunately. Divorce can really make that even more glaring. However, working together to succeed with money can also make people's lives so much easier.

Personally, I'm not into the idea of married couples splitting accounts after marriage in this way. Yes, I know that you noted that currently you're engaged though not yet actually married. But if married, it seems to be more of a "team" if thigns are shared. Sure, pre-marital assets could be allocated separately, and maybe a prenup involved. But marital assets being joint and shared, with no control issues, seems like a better recipe for success, right?

Best of luck with everything.

I don't have any advice on how to relieve pressure on your situation.

But to answer your question on savings, I'd say putting away anywhere between 10-20% per month is a good average. December for me tends to be closer to 10% since x-mas and all, but months like April-August, I can put away closer to 20%.

For some, 10-20% is not enough, but for the average American, I'd say its a very good start, and could be slightly above average.

"The problem lies not with me, but lately with him." - Your fundamental problem is expressed in that sentence.

My wife and I still struggle with this ourselves, but eight years in, we're learning that we each have a hand in every single problem we encounter.

As an 8-year veteran of a modern marriage, my advice is to have an honest sit-down. Even though you perceive him as the aggressor (since he's bringing the issue up); try to see the situation from his perspective. You both no doubt have solutions in mind, but try to just speak generally about your financial goals and status for a while before proposing any resolution (that should keep the discussion focused, the tension low, and elminate petty tit-for-tat arguments; creating a safe environment).

Side-note (kids; don't try THIS at home): you exposed yourself to a TREMENDOUS downside risk taking out a mortgage you can't afford on your own with someone with whom you have no legal relationship. I hope that you're at least on the deed for the house; if you're a co-signer ::shudder:: you are well and truly up the creek.

I am old school and don't really approve of living together--especially co-mingling finances. Buying a house together seems ridiculous when you aren't legally married. I understand it's difficult to sort things out if the relationship fails as seems likely to happen in this case.

I am recently married and my husband and I merged our finances about 9 months before we got married. I know a lot of people do not recommend this, but really, if something went wrong there would be very little savings to take (~$5K) at most.

I see there are three ways in general to set up money flow as a couple.
1) The way you have it, where people pay specific things
2) A joint account for expenses based on % earned, with the remaining for each person to individually spend
3) A completely joint account, with equal spending amounts in a separate no-guilt account

I understand why some couples would do #1 or #2 if they come into the marriage with significant assets. But I think feeling this inequality in income and resulting behavior of not wanting to share the income is a real problem.

I know a family where the woman saved her extra money for family trips, and the man used it to lease a sports car (not buy, lease). There was a big inequality in the extra money. Also, how would this work with a stay-at-home mom/dad? Many times a spouse that makes less or has a less demanding job will do many of the household tasks to make life easier, and I think that should count for something.

Personally, I think #3 is the best way to go. You should be on the same team. Decide on a budget or spending plan together. Review your net worth then too. Decide together what money needs to be spent for debt repayment. Set aside an amount of fun money that ideally, is the same amount for both of you. If you want to buy furniture or some other big purchase, work in into the budget. Save an equal percentage of the total income. Until you are married, leave savings accounts in individual names but join the main spending account together. But include everything in the budget and net worth review. If something goes wrong, there's only 1 month worth of income at risk.

You are a team-- talk about money and figure it out together!

@Carole: It's even more difficult to "sort things out" if the relationship fails after marriage.

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