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Blending your money

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Up until this point, my fiance and I have kept very separate finances. About 6 months ago, we got shared credit card account as I was booking all our travel back and forth between Atlanta and Philadelphia. It just made sense to have a shared card we could both access and pay on. It’s got a small limit, that we were both comfortable with as we dipped our toes in shared finance world. We truly only use it for those travel expenses – airfare, Uber rides and occasionally a meal. It has worked very well and caused no dissent.

I have to be honest, money was ALWAYS an issue in my marriage that ended almost 13 years ago. Those who have been following my story know some of the terrible decisions I made on that front and what it cost me.

As time has gone on, we discuss our money but not real details. He knows this blog site exists but I am not certain he has read many of my posts. And he most definitely knows my financial goal to be debt free in the next two years.

Married and money

I have absolutely no idea how to approach marriage and money. Everything we read and hear says that merging money and the accompanying decisions is key to wedded bliss and success. We want that…the wedded bliss and success part. Merging money is pretty scary. (And yes, I am a control freak and scared of my past mistakes.)

black and white hands

He has one child, fully grow and independent. I have five, with three still pretty dependent on me. He has been amazing! He budgeted money for each of them for Christmas. He hears them call me to ask for money for this or that…and he calls them and says “your mom now has a partner, you can call me too.” I mean, he is AMAZING!

But how does this work…is there a book on this? Guidelines? Best practices? I would love to hear from BAD readers who have blended their families on what their experiences have been?

I want to protect him from my bad mistakes and protect my children’s interests (we have discussed the what if something happens kind of situations, etc.)

Any resources, words of wisdom here?

We have picked a wedding date, but we haven’t picked a year. Thinking this year or next. I am not even certain I want a wedding as the thought of the planning, the dressing up and the money over whelm me. And I’m such an introvert, I think I would much prefer to use the $$ to have a spectacular family trip/honeymoon. He 100% supports whatever I decide. God truly knew what he was doing when He chose him for me. I am so loved and cherished and it’s made such a big difference in my life.


30 Comments

  • Reply Aurora |

    Don’t merge your finances. There is zero reason to do so and lots of reasons not to.

    Does he work? What does he do? How much money does he have in the bank from the sale of his business?

    In fact, I don’t think you should get married at all. That way, he cannot run up debt in your name.

    You constantly make foolish life decisions. Don’t marry this man. Live together, be partners, but don’t merge your money.

  • Reply Elspeth Farrow |

    You seem really focused on protecting your fiance from your bad decision making. I don’t think that you necessarily make bad decisions, but you can be impulsive and don’t fully research the decisions you’ve made or their potential impacts. For example, your health plan led to short term savings while your family was healthy, but you’ve had to take on medical debt this year.
    I suspect that your current plan to avoid hiring a lawyer for your son will have similar ramifications down the line, and will end up costing far more than $2500 in increased penalties, fines, and insurance premiums over the years.

    The best thing for you to do now is to really understand your fiance’s finances, and for him to understand yours. You say that you’ve discussed money but not the real details. Why not? He’s going to be your husband – who can you talk about your money with, openly and honestly, if not him?

    Things to talk about:

    – Is he employed? Does he make more or less than you? How will you split expenses?

    -How would you handle it when he moves in – will you maintain sole ownership of the property? Would he become a co-owner?

    -Is he in debt? Does he have a plan to pay it off if so?

    – Do you have plans to continue to support your kids’ educations in the future? Is he on the same page with his kid? What about their future weddings, first house purchase, first baby? What kind of financial support (if any) do you both see as being important to provide to adult children?

    – Does he have retirement savings? Is he on track to retire at 60? 65? 70? Never? What about you? How will you plan to age together with one or both of you working?

    – How will the two of you live BELOW your means when you live together? This means paying off debt, saving for retirement, and meeting your regular lifestyle expenses month after month after month. You don’t have a great track record of being able to do this consistently – does he?

    • Reply Anonymous |

      These are all such great questions outlined already for you. Not just saying things like “he’s great” “he’s really supportive” actually digging in deep and answering those tough questions you may not have even answered for yourself.

      • Reply Hope |

        Yes, the BAD community has definitely provided just what I needed as we move forward…slowly in this relationship.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    Well you’ve already intermingled, but I would definitely NOT mix your finances before you are married. Recipe for disaster!!

  • Reply Reece |

    This is not a smart decision. Your fiancé doesn’t live with you or even in your state yet; you have no business sharing finances at this point. When you do get married yes, then you can have a joint account in addition to your business account but you also need to hire an attorney to draft a pre nuptual agreement to protect anything you’d like to leave to your children after you pass (God forbid) and also to protect your interest in your side business. You seem to be looking at things through rose colored glasses but just remember how long it took you to pay off all the debt from your ex because you didn’t hire a divorce attorney and he ran up a bunch of credit cards and car payments in your name. Gotta be smarter than that this time around.

  • Reply Shanna |

    As an adult with 5 kids (even though they are adults for the most part) I would highly recommend NOT co-mingling your finances. Maybe set up ONE account that you are both listed on and you each deposit a set amount monthly to for shared expenses. I would keep your own accounts, credit cards, etc all in your name only. And he should as well. I realize you don’t want to go in to a marriage prepared for it to fail, but protecting EACH of you is important. As a married person, you also need to specify in your will if you want things to go to the surviving spouse or to your children.

  • Reply Laura |

    I wouldn’t have a credit card, or any joint account, with someone I’m not married too. Plenty of time to join finances after the wedding, and address how to handle money in pre-marriage counseling. Didn’t your ex husband screw you over on some loans or something? All the more reason to be cautious.

  • Reply Hannah |

    I wouldn’t combine finances. At this stage in your life, you’ve planned out what you want for your retirement and your your family. Yes, the plan now includes him, but you are two established adults. It makes more sense to get a prenup, pay your own part and not intermingle your money. Plenty of couples do this and allows both partners the financial freedom they may want. Also, looking way forward, it can make estate planning easier, as you cover what gets left to your kids and he does the same for his.

  • Reply Christy |

    My advice? Keep your finances separate. My husband and I have been married 15 years and do not have any joint accounts. We were both already established when we married, no kids (but have one son together now), two households. He is an independent contractor/business owner and I have a traditional corporate job. It just made sense for us to remain separate, and we split household expenses but each pays from our own accounts.

  • Reply Katie |

    Michelle Singletary, the personal finance columnist for the Washington Post, wrote a book on merging lives and finances. She’s level-headed and practical. I suggest picking up a copy, I think it’s called Your Money and Your Man, or something similar.

  • Reply Anon |

    I have been married for almost 15 years and my partner and I do a hybrid approach. We have a joint account and contribute equal amounts (this can also be done based on income percentage if that feels fairer) and our bills, investments, and spending as a family come out of that. Anything leftover we spend or save independently. This gives us a nice balance of financial independence, teamwork, and not nitpicking each other’s spending or purchases. It’s been great for us and we never fight about money. Do what works for you and don’t feel like your marital success hinges on joining your finances. It doesn’t.

  • Reply Megan |

    My husband and I don’t have a blended family, we have 2 kids together, but I can tell you what works for us. We have 3 sets of accounts: his, mine, and ours. Separately we each have checking, savings, and credit cards. The ours is just checking and savings, no credit cards. I do pay for one of my credit cards with the joint account though, so it may as well be “ours.”

    We put a small amount of our money in our separate accounts (about 10% each), then the rest goes in the joint account. This way he can splurge on anime, and I can buy running shoes and neither of us has to ask permission to spend on our hobbies or things the other person wouldn’t want to buy.

  • Reply steveark |

    We’ve been married 43 years so far and always had joint accounts on the ones that legally could be joint. Of course IRA’s and other retirement plans cannot be jointly owned so those are separate. But even when I inherited a seven figure amount from my parents I put it into a joint account because in my mind it was half hers the instant I inherited it. I mean if she decided she was done with me then I’d want her to leave with plenty of money to have a great life. But that’s just us, your experience would make anyone hesitant, once burned and all that. I wish I had better advice but I think it is a very individual decision and you need to do what feels right for you, and that’s likely to be more cautious than the way we chose to do it. The important thing is you found someone worthy of being loved and invested in, congratulations, that’s really a much bigger win than just making the optimum money decisions.

  • Reply TENN |

    My husband and I married later in life and do not have children. We have never merged our finances and I am pretty sure neither one of us is on the other’s bank account. The one with more assets going into the marriage had the lower income and it all evened out quickly. We each have bills that we pay, but have never calculated it out percentage wise. We do what makes sense. At this point, 6+ years after marriage, we have similar savings. We discuss finances as needed and have goals (paying off mortgage early, maximizing retirement, travel). The only financial thing besides a house and mortgage that we have in common is one credit card we got 3+ years after we got married. We were both financially independent before marriage. Not merging avoids the minutia. Either one of us has sufficient savings/income to cover the bills for a while in case of the worst happening. We do have a 2022 goal of getting our wills done and have changed our beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement.

  • Reply Hp |

    NO! Do not blend money until after marriage and even then, really consider it.

    A joint account where both partners contribute for joint expenses and separate accounts for individual expenses is probably best.

  • Reply Kate |

    I know plenty of couples who keep finances separate. If you make that decision together, it’s totally a reasonable one.

  • Reply Erin |

    Why don’t you have a justice of the peace, or a friend, ordained via internet, perform a very small ceremony with just your family attending, and then spend money on a honeymoon or something that makes both of you happy? A big fancy expensive wedding will leave you just as married, and with far less money in hand.

    • Reply Hope |

      That has been my thought exactly especially since there is no other way most of my family could attend with my mom going downhill.

  • Reply Jen |

    Is this not the guy you’ve mentioned before on this site? In fall 2020 you were in a 3-year relationship with someone how lived in Florida, not Philadelphia. Florida guy had multiple adult children, not one.

    So, if it’s not Florida man, you’ve known this guy for barely over a year. You have never lived in the same state, forget the same household. You need to take several steps back before you even THINK about commingling finances.

    • Reply Hope |

      I can understand the confusion. But yes, this is the same guy. He moved to Philadelphia last October from Florida. And we got engaged in December after 4 years of dating long distance.

      And you are also correct, when we met and actually up until last fall, he thought he had two children. That turned out to be a lie. His only child is a 30 year old son from a high school relationship.

      • Reply Jen |

        Thanks for clearing that up.

        Even with that info, I would not merge finances until you are married, and have lived together for a while. When you are doing long distance like you have done, you don’t see how the other person handles their day-to-day life. It’s easy for things to be hidden, or for things to fall through the cracks. I think you need a very real and solid understanding before you put your own finances on the line.

        I’m married, and my husband and I do not co-mingle our money. The way we handle bills is that some come out of my account, some come out of his. We settle up at the end of the month.

  • Reply Julene |

    I guess I’ll be the odd man/woman out here. While I wouldn’t combine finances before I was married, I would most definitely look at it as a joint venture and plan to do that when married. In my opinion, keeping separate finances, no matter what stage of life, is like separate lives. I think a finance class or book or plan or whatever would be a great thing for you both to take together so that you can truly open up and talk about it. Financial Peace University is a great course that brings it all out in the open but there are others too. And if you do combine finances, then both of you do the money together. In most states, when you marry your debt is his debt and his is yours. Why shouldn’t your money be also? I’ve been married twice (12 years the first time and 15 years going strong now). We have 3 daughters between us and everything has always been OURS. Prenuptial agreements are bad things initially if there are large sums of money or property for a few years. At that point you both should be all in and either good or on the way out. And just to be clear, my dad passed away when I was young, my mom remarried with a prenup and we combined 5 kids. 35 years later, we’re all still together and we are all equals (have been for a long time) as far as inheritance and family goes. The key is open communication, upfront discussions and joint decisions about finances.

    • Reply Julene |

      Correction to the above: Prenuptial agreements AREN’T bad things…. typo.

  • Reply SMS |

    The fact that you were booking all the travel (and presumably paying for it) gives me pause. Why didn’t he book his own flights?
    I would have prenups drawn up for both of you and keep finances separate for at least the near future.

    • Reply Hope |

      I am the planner, the coordinator and have the more complicated life with kids at home and a variety of responsibilities. It just makes sense.
      The shared credit card eliminated the need for me to call and get his credit card or ask for reimbursement, etc.

  • Reply Jaz |

    Because you each have separate established families, I’d recommend a hybrid approach – you each do your own financial thing and when you marry and move in together, contribute to a shared account. You all need to figure out the best and fairest contribution: is it a percentage or a set amount; do you each contribute the same amount or is each set amount different based on salary; how does that amount change if employment status changes. My husband and I completely combined our finances for simplicity since we’ve built our lives together, but given that you both already have well-established lives, I’d recommend only sharing finances for that part of your life that actually overlaps (and even then, only when you actually get to that point…).

  • Reply JP |

    Why on earth would you get a joint credit card with someone you aren’t married to? Someone who may or may not have 2 children? To say, its easy for us each to charge and pay on, that’s bologna. Its not hard to go online and pay a bill. I would think the best thing would be actually learning from your mistakes. We all want and deserve to be loved. But protect yourself just in case.

  • Reply Alice |

    Clearly I’m late commenting on this one, but I was on vacation!

    My husband and I have been married almost 11 years and have separate finances. My first marriage was a wreck financially. If my first husband left the house with $5 in his pocket, he’d spend $5. If he left with $50, he spent $50. If he didn’t have cash, he would stop at the little grocery store near us and get a sausage biscuit, a 2-liter, lunch to take to work, $10 of gas, and $20 cash. EVERY. DAY. We lost our home and there were times that I had to use my momma’s credit card to get groceries so the kids could eat.

    My current husband had a similar but not so grave experience. His ex wife spent money like there was no tomorrow and couldn’t afford her part of the bills, so he paid everything.

    When we got together, he had an adult daughter and I had two teenagers. We do not combine our finances. My name is on his account, and his on mine, but that’s mostly just to make things easier in case of emergency. We have zero financial problems. His only request of me was that I wouldn’t go into more debt. I was in debt when we got together, but that was from the first marriage and not really because of my spending habits.

So, what do you think ?