Joining a life and a household with another person is a huge step with roughly a million complications and potential pitfalls. But what of joining finances?
I have gone through the process of combining households twice in my life. In my first marriage, we had joint everything and separate nothing. Married at twenty-two and fresh out of university, we just combined everything automatically as soon as we got married without giving it a second thought - we just assumed that's what we were supposed to do.
And it was relatively easy to do - all we had going in were our bank accounts and cars. The house, the mortgage, insurance, credit cards - those we got jointly, in both of our names. When that marriage broke up seven years later it was an absolute nightmare to separate everything - selling the home, paying off debts, cancelling credit cards, switching banks and insurance companies, dividing up assets and pension plans and savings.
When my current husband and I moved in together before getting married we put the lease for our new place in both our names but kept all the rest of our finances separate. As adults we had a lot more to deal with by then, previous lives, children, years of earning and spending and saving, and it made more sense to leave everything as it was - bank accounts, insurance policies, everything. We split the household expenses down the middle from our separate bank accounts and didn't change a thing.
Once we were married and moved from a rental to our current home things changed somewhat, of course. The home and mortgage are in both our names, as are the car and all the insurance policies. We've kept our banking separate up to this point, though - for no real reason other than sheer laziness - and have simply divided up which bills and payments each of us are responsible for.
Joining lives and households means joining financial responsibilities. But does that necessarily mean joining finances? Should some aspects be kept separate - credit cards, bank accounts, savings - or should everything be together? Or, might it be better to keep everything completely separate as it was when you were two single people?
How did / would / do you handle the joint finance situation?
Originally published as "Joint Finances" on my weekly article at gailvazoxlade.com