My partner didn't want to merge our finances at first

May 28th, 2020

This story was submitted as part of our #modernfamily series. Follow along as couples share the good, bad and ugly on navigating love and money together.

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My wife was raised to be a very independent person and not to rely on anyone but herself financially. When we started dating she always insisted on contributing despite being in her last year of college and not having any meaningful income. I had been out of school for several years and was already established in my career, so while money was tight for me at the start, I definitely earned more than her part-time job paid. We always made agreements for birthdays and holidays about spending limits for how much was ‘too much’ so neither of us felt bad for not spending as much as the other.

After college she was committed to getting her first full-time job, living on her own and paying her own bills. I think she wanted to prove to herself she could do it and also have the experience of doing it on her own. Even though we'd talked about moving-in together (and eventually get married!), she wanted to do things on her own first. I begrudgingly went along with her plan realizing that she needed to do this so she was never left to wonder. I think I just wanted to move in together at this point since I'd already been living on my own for several years and was pretty tired of it. I had my house, bills, truck payment, insurance and all the other bills that go along with living solo, and so did she. So it felt like we were wasting money by not consolidating, but it was important to her, so I stayed the course.

Two years later both our careers were thriving, we were deeply in love so we got engaged and started wedding planning. As the expenses for the wedding started racking up my wife quickly realized how difficult it was to manage who was contributing what for which expense between her, I, and our parents. We were running spreadsheets and planning boards to track everything and just keeping tabs on who paid for what was creating a lot of stress for us.

We started to seriously talk about merging our finances and building a common pool of shared money. At first, I thought she might be opposed to it because she really valued her independence but after seeing what a hassle it was to manage, she was willing to listen. She'd felt the accomplishment of proving she was self-sufficient but was ready and willing to build a partnership with me so we decided to take the plunge. When we were two months out from the wedding we went down to the credit union and converted my accounts over to joint accounts with her. We went all in, both our incomes and expenses as one shared pool. Once everything was in one pot, managing budgets and expenses became SO much easier. No more splitting checks, no more paying each other back - it was all ours together.

Here we sit several years later as happy as can be. We’ve never had a financial disagreement or miscommunication about our money. We both have a crystal clear picture of what’s coming in and what’s going out, we have our shared goals as a couple as well as personal project goals for the things we want to do on our own. We’ve paid off our cars, are so close to paying off our student loans and even bought a house together! We also agreed on our long term goals around savings and retirement and treat everything as something we do together.

A few years ago, we tried decided to re-introduce a personal account for each of us after ruining a few anniversary and birthday gifts by seeing the transaction on the shared account, but aside from that, it's all one pot. Importantly for us, it’s not segmented by who contributes what to the pool and we treat life as if we’ll never not be together, and that’s what works for us.

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