Wedding season is fast approaching. Soon-to-be newlyweds everywhere are scurrying to finalize last-minute details, adding a few more must-haves to their registries, and preparing for life together. Certain things will get consolidated in marriage, like Tupperware, coffee makers, beds, and (for some) last names. Still, other things may be kept separate. Wise people say that the secret to a happy marriage is having separate bathrooms. We’re not so sure that private space is the key to marital bliss (or that realistic for most) but there is something to be said for keeping a few things separate in a marriage. Cash may be one of those things. More and more couples are starting to take the “his, hers, and ours” approach to cash.
The notion behind separate cash is to let each person in a relationship enjoy guilt-free spending without disrupting the family budget. Even better, it allows for just enough secrecy to surprise (or be surprised!) with a great gift. An essential part to maintaining separate cash is a budget to help identify what portion of take-home pay can be allocated toward discretionary spending. From this discretionary pool, an agreed upon amount can be routed to separate checking accounts. Although it may seem like every dollar is used to cover “needs”, the reality is that most of us spend 10%-30% of our pay on wants (cable, dinners out, travel).
Prefer joint bathrooms and checking accounts? That’s okay, too. Whatever approach you choose, keep these tips in mind for a financially healthy marriage:
- Define shared goals and priorities.
- Touch base on your budget a few times a year to make sure you are staying on track with your shared plan.
- Be open and honest (no hiding purchases in your car!)