Our theme for the month of March is “Ask the post calvin.” We’re taking on questions submitted by readers and offering our best advice.
Dear the post calvin,
I am getting married soon, and my future husband and I are trying to figure out what to do with our money. Do we put it all in one account? Do we have separate spending accounts for when one of us wants to buy something that the other person won’t use? What about when we want to buy gifts for one another? It seems weird to just take that out of a pool of all our money, but it also seems maybe weird to just keep our own accounts? Please advise.
Neither option is weird, but I don’t recommend choosing just one.
To tackle the less pleasant issue first: I do think it’s absolutely vital that you have at least one personal account that Mr. Money-Questions won’t have access to. He should have the same. The world is unpredictable and people even moreso; you both need a secure resource in case the other becomes a threat to your safety. If you prefer, consider this a backup emergency savings fund.
It sounds like you’re both already planning to manage the bulk of your expenses through shared accounts, and to generally treat the majority of your income as communal. This will vastly reduce the amount of math you have to do in your life, and the merging will continue to make more sense as you further build your lives as a unit. Be sure to talk often, especially early on, about what those shared expenses are: your home’s utilities may clearly fall into this category, but you may want to have agreed-upon expectations before purchasing a video game that only one of you enjoys.
You and your soon-to-be-husband could each contribute a set monthly amount—a number that is reasonable according to your individual income, not necessarily the same for both of you—to your shared account(s). Your joint contributions might be just enough to cover monthly necessities, could contribute to long-term savings, or go toward your backyard jacuzzi fund. Whether you’re left with a hefty sum or just enough for a movie ticket, you each can then do with the rest of your money as you wish. You might put all of the remainder toward your personal bank account or investments, you may choose to add it to your joint savings in addition to your set amount, or you could dispense of it on your monthly jacuzzi club membership.
Ultimately, you and your husband will have shared spending and savings goals that you’ll work toward as a team. If you choose to maintain personal funds as well, you’ll trust one another with how each partner uses money that isn’t earmarked for those goals.
Gwyneth Findlay is a writer and editor working in publishing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She graduated from Calvin in 2018 with a degree in writing and minors in French and gender studies. She also writes for the new Calvin alumni fiction blog, Presticogitation.