Shortly after my husband and I were married he informed me that he wasn’t a fan of separate bank accounts. He wanted all of our individual accounts to be combined into one large account. I wasn’t exactly on board. “What if I want to spend money on something you deem wasteful?” I asked. He answered quickly and without hesitation. “I don’t care what you buy,” he said, “I just want an easy way to manage our money.” With that simple answer he convinced me to move our money.
We started with one small brokerage account. Then added a joint checking and savings account. We added two new credit cards and made certain that our names were on all pieces of joint property including cars and houses. Over time we also added special rights to each our of retirement accounts. This enables me to view his 401k and IRAs. I can’t move the money around, but I can see what he’s invested in and how it’s growing.
When I log onto our bank’s website I can see each and every one of our accounts and my husband can easily do the same. Our credit cards are also held jointly and upon logging in I can easily review all of our transactions.
Over the years our financial landscape has become extremely complex. My husband and I own our own company, one rental property, are members of two LLCs and one trust. In order to make certain that everything runs as smoothly as possible our current setup enables us to double check each other’s work.
When I schedule a credit card payment I ask my husband to log into our bank account to verify the date and amount. We follow this same practice when paying the mortgage, insurance premiums and other big ticket items.
Last Saturday night I noticed that our credit card payment had not been scheduled. It is a new account that we opened a few weeks ago and I guess it wasn’t on my husband’s radar yet. He paid the other bills, but somehow missed this one. If we weren’t double checking each other’s work we would have missed the payment and been charged interest and late fees.
I know a lot of families who do not wish to combine their finances, but I must say that since my husband and I started using this model I can’t imagine doing it any other way. From a financial perspective our lives are one big open book. I like knowing that we have nothing to hide from one another and that we really couldn’t hide anything from one another if we wanted to. We also run free credit reports a few times a year, so new credit cards would show up on those reports.
I also like knowing that we have each other’s backs. I know a lot of husbands and wives who grow resentful at keeping tabs on their money. If poor investments are made or the bills don’t get paid it’s all their fault. With our model we are equally responsible for the decisions we make.
It also helps us stay on the same page regarding short term and long term goals. We both have a solid picture of how much money we have in the bank and how much we still owe on our mortgages. With this information in mind we can more easily plan for the future.
So how about you? Who is in charge of your family finances?