Slate.com is offering a very interesting series on how couples handle their money.
Do they pool it, keep it separate or sometimes share? Does education play into what method they choose? How has the economy affected the choices of couples today?
The author, Jessica Grose, just got married. Before she was married they had kept separate accounts but split the rent and other household expenses. She wasn’t sure what they would do after they got married but it made her want to know how other couples were handling it.
“I wanted to find out what other couples were doing, and how they decided to become Common Potters, Independent Operators, or Sometime Sharers. I also wondered whether social changes—the staggering debt of recent college graduates, the loss of pensions and 401(k) matching programs, the dominance of women in higher education, the declining rate of marriage, and the increasing rate of cohabitation—were changing couples’ financial relations. And hey, I’m a journalist, which means I get to report out the answers. I wanted to ask strangers the kinds of invasive questions about their relationships—how much do you earn? What money-related fights do you have?—that are really hard to discuss even among close friends. The pairs I profile in the course of this series (sometimes anonymously, to encourage candor) provide a rare, private view of how life partners hash out their financial lives. I also put up a 40-question survey in the fall asking married and cohabitating couples to weigh in on how they manage their money, so I’d have some numbers to crunch.”
“The survey hit a nerve: 5,858 people took it. My respondents aren’t a nationally representative sample, since they just volunteered. Instead, they’re a mostly young and highly educated bunch. Their average age was 33, and a full 48 percent of them have graduate degrees; 72 percent said they were married or in a civil union, and the remaining 27 percent said they were not. (One percent of respondents didn’t provide their marriage status.)”…
“In the coming installments of this series, I’ll dig into how couples like Deb and Brett and Beth and Alan chose their particular financial systems and figured out their budgeting, and how their choices fit into societal patterns. I’ll talk about the apps, Web sites, and other technological tools couples are using to manage their budgets. As for Mike and me, by the end of the series, we’ll decide how much money to merge and how to manage it.”
Michael and I have always been shared potters but we were married right after I graduated so there wasn’t much time to accrue individual wealth. Also despite having the same degree, he’s always made considerable more money than I have so well to my advantage for us to share. (Especially since I haven’t worked in an office in almost 10 years!)
Some couples say they want to be able to splurge on certain things without their partner complaining or interfering but if you’re embarrassed about spending that much for a shirt or haircut (like the story talks about) then maybe you shouldn’t be. If you have to hide what you’re spending that may be you shouldn’t be spending it.
When discussing the stories with Michael last night he said, “We’re partners on everything else, why wouldn’t we be on money?”
So read through the parts of the series and see what you think of the survey and her points. How do you handle your money and why?