mint condition

A few years ago I set up an account on Mint.com, but never really took the time to enter ALL of my bank information, credit card accounts and monthly expenses, so it sat kind of useless for a while.

While Nick and I have always shared financial responsibilities since we moved in together, we’ve admittedly been kind of lazy about completely combining our finances to make paying the bills and budgeting a bit more seamless. We have a joint bank account, but we use it only for saving for a house, and instead each have a personal bank account that we’ve always used on a regular basis for expenses, spending, and personal saving. I belong to a credit union that I love, Nick has belonged to the same bank for years, and neither of us ever wanted to switch, so we just stayed where we were. (Have I mentioned that we’re both stubborn Leos?)

I lived in our apartment alone for two years before Nick moved in with me, so I already had BillPayer set up for all of the utilities, which were all in my name; as such, I still just pay for the utilities and rent, and Nick writes me a check (yes, writes me a check!) each month for his half of everything. I pay for our car insurance and he pays for our cell phone plans. We each pay for our own car, and I pay off my student loans. We have separate credit cards that we use and pay off individually from our own accounts.

While it’s been easy to just stick with our old habits that began four years ago, this system is no longer working efficiently for us and it has become increasingly difficult to set goals for saving when our money is still somewhat separate. And, let’s face it: it’s time to stop being lazy. I always want to keep a bank account in my name, and Nick will do the same, but it’s finally time that we sit down and combine our everyday expenses so everything comes from one account. It may take a bit of time, but I’m pretty sure it will be way better than continuing with our current ridiculous setup.

Last week I revisited my Mint.com account and finally finished setting everything up; tonight, we have a hot date online to get Nick’s accounts added so we can see everything in one place, and to figure out how to move money to our joint account accordingly. Hopefully being able to track all of our spending together in one place will help us to make cuts where we need to, and it will allow us to save smarter for our future. While I know we’ll probably never have it together as well as my friend Catherine (seriously, she is my budgeting hero), I’m pretty sure I’ll feel a lot better once we’re all organized.

How do you and your partner share your money?

comments

  1. Before my husband and I got married, we talked pretty in-depth about money and how we were going to handle ours. I’m a firm believer in joint accounts, and my opinion is that once you get married, it shouldn’t be My money and His money, it should be Our money. Marrying my hubby came with a lot of credit card debt, we both had student loans, and no savings (we got married literally 2 weeks after we graduated from college). But I was very adamant … marriage is a joining of ALL things … your debt is my debt, your earnings are my earnings, etc. Three years later, it’s still hard – when you start with lots of debt and no savings, it’s difficult to make progress. But we’ve recently sat down and planned out a budget book … we’ve been really slowly paying down on the debt, but we’re going to make a larger effort to pay it down faster, and try to start saving after the debt is gone.

    Oh, money. I wish you didn’t mean so much…

  2. I do it all. The budget, the paying the bills everything. Not because I wanted to but because the hubs felt it was better for US if I did. That way he wouldn’t buy unnecessary stuff. All the budget was done in an excel spreadsheet. In which I would then program automatic transfers in various accounts to pay our stuff. From personal, house to savings.

    We’ve been on a tight budget pretty much the whole time we’ve been together. The fact that he went back to school for 3 years, and now a house and a baby (the baby wasn’t planned) we’ve had to adjust and pay off our debt in a little longer period of time.

    I wonder how this mint.com site is. I’ve read that they started working on a canadian version… maybe ill test it out.

  3. We are in a bit of a different situation. We both came out of college debt free (amazing parents) and both started working at good jobs right out of school so money has, thankfully, never been a big issue for us.
    With that said my husband makes more then twice the amount of money I do (always has, most likely always will – darn those engineers) so for me it has been hard because I have a hard time spending “his” money. (A term that only I use. He does not think of it that way at all.) When I moved into his condo I wrote him an actual check too. It was funny and a bit awkward but it worked.
    The first step we took towards being joint – which I think worked well – was we got a joint credit card. We put almost everything on that and then “split” paying it at the end of the month. The split was usually 65/35 of him paying more since he made more – but it was easier to swipe one credit card and deal with it once at the end of the month, then hemming and hawing every time we went to make a purchase. Just last weekend we officially became 100% joint when I closed out my personal checking & savings. A little scary, but a little awesome to be totally together on something so big.

  4. I’m always fascinated by married couples who maintain separate finances and each pay for exactly what they spend. How do you deal with conflicts if one person makes significantly more than the other? Let’s say, for example, you wind up making 3x more than Nick. Do you get to purchase significantly more/more expensive “stuff” than he does (e.g., you get to buy a new car because you can afford it, while he’s still driving the 10+ year old car, because that’s all he can afford)? Or do you just pay all the bills, and then he uses his money for his own spending? I am always curious how people make it work!

    We decided from day one that it wouldn’t be an option for us; after residency, my husband will be making $400k+/year; from the research side of medicine, I’ll likely never make more than $100k/year. It seemed like an unfair, uneven split to each pay for our own things, so we’ve combined it all together, have only joint accounts/credit cards. We didn’t like the thought of my husband having so much more financial freedom. What if we wanted to take a vacation and could easily afford it, but I could not? What about having children in the (very distant) future — would we split the cost of the child 50/50, since it’s an equally shared responsibility? I think if he was paying for 100% because he made more, it would feel more like child support. So knowing our huge pay difference, it made sense to combine it all together. That said, we also have been tracking everything in Mint for several years. I am the sole manager of our finances, but Husband logs in frequently to see how we are doing on saving. We also have several separate savings accounts in ING that we use for our various goals — downpayment on a future house, paying off his massive medical school debt, car fund for me for the future (he already owns a car, I do not have one), 5 year anniversary vacation, etc.

  5. @April, we’ve never necessarily looked at it as “mine” vs. “ours,” even though things have remained fairly separate. Realistically, we know that it’s all shared, we just haven’t gotten around to combining things in a more efficient way :)

    @Julie, it has worked out for us because we’ve essentially always made about the same amount of money as each other, give or take a few thousand a year. Right now, Nick is making more than me since I started a business, so he’s simply paying more for the groceries, entertainment, etc. than I do, since we split the rest of our monthly bills evenly. We’ve always just sort of stayed in communication about our money to make sure it’s all fair. While we certainly realize that it’s not the best setup and hope things will be more efficient when we sit down and really get organized to combine our finances 100%, there have never been problems, per se. We definitely would have done this sooner, though, if there were a huge difference in our earnings — I can see how that could become problematic.

  6. My situation sounds a lot like Disgruntled Julie’s (love that title by the way…) I think it would make me crazy if our finances were split because I’m a control freak and take care of everything money wise and the idea of things not being organized all together would make me nuts. We both get an amount of allowance money each week that we get to do whatever we want with and you don’t have to ask permission or check with the other person on that purchase. Of course we always end up knowing what the other person spent their money on since this is more of a budgeting issue then it is about the freedom to buy whatever thing. For us this works perfectly and I could never imagine doing things separate. Not every couple is in the same situation as us and I don’t necessarily believe that there is a one size fits all in this case.

    I’ve started using Mint and at first I thought I was in Type A person heaven with all the organization and categories. I still like it but I don’t feel like it has made things different or better for us budget wise.

  7. Rob and I kept our finances separate. We have one joint credit card that we use for groceries, vacations, entertainment, etc. But we split everything down the middle. This might seem silly to a lot of couples, but our excuse for keeping things this way is that we have NEVER fought about money in the 10 years we’ve been together. Rob is very frugal. I am not. But with separate accounts, he can’t be upset when I come home with a new gadget or pair of boots or whatever! As long as my savings account is increasing rather than decreasing, he doesn’t care how I spend my money. And I prefer it that way.

    I tried Mint a while ago, but I kind of gave up on it. I should look into it again.

  8. we’ve basically been through the same process as you guys – and it was hard for me to really start thinking about money I was earning and saving as truly “ours” – I had no problem paying our shared expenses, but trouble with the joint savings – guess I wanted to make sure I would always have enough independence. we really had to face up to it though because hubs has been unemployed 1.5 years now, and I came into the marriage with way more savings (and we both have big b-school debts). originally we had totally separate accounts and he wrote me a check for half the expenses. when he got laid off, we sat down and made a bunch of spreadsheets in google docs that we both have access to. we started by figuring out how much we actually bring in each month (looking at paystubs + using calculators online), even his unemployment. then, using past cc statements and bills, added up what we really need to spend and what we have left. we portioned that up into “fun” money and savings. we even have two types of savings we think about – one “short term” which is money that we need to say buy plane tix for thanksgiving or money to buy new bedding or whatever, that isn’t necessarily in our tight budget, and then “long term” which is untouchable. we have a sheet detailing how much we have in all our accounts and we update it every month with the savings, so I really feel like we have a great view into the situation. we now have a joint checking and savings, so we both dump our alloted portion for expenses (mine much larger than his since I’m the only one working) into joint checking and right now only I pay into joint savings. we decided to leave our individual savings from pre-marriage alone and just work together going forward, although if we got to buying a house that would probably change. I think it is going pretty well.

    another thing we started doing when we went on 1 income is to have a sheet for every month where we track EVERYTHING we spend. at first this seems like a pain, but if you charge most things it’s pretty easy to track (assuming you pay those charges every month, otherwise that system doesn’t work). we have columns for several types of expenses, the budget for each (so like groceries/drugstore/cleaners, fun together, our individual fun money, etc), and the current total so we can see how much we have left. we forced ourselves to be accountable to each other and it has really taught us a lot, and allowed us to stay within our 1-income means. I think having individual fun money in the budget is key – so I can buy say shoes even if I have to get them at Target or Payless – without feeling bad about it.

    it wasn’t easy because we come from very different thought processes about spending, but I am so proud that we made it work on one income. he might (hopefully!!) go back to work soon, and we’ve agreed we know now how to live on one income so we’ll save everything he makes in addition to that to try to make up for lost time. without all the tracking, it would be harder to know if we were succeeding – and I make really different decisions if I know how much exactly I have left! I also feel like if I don’t work if we have small kids someday, we can make that work too and we’ll already have a system. it is SO worth the time investment to find something that works for you! (and highly recommend google docs – you both have access, you can update it from anywhere, etc).

  9. We decided to put 80% of each of our paychecks into a joint account and keep 20% in our separate individual accounts as ‘fun money’. That way the mortgage, groceries, insurance, cable – basically all bills and vacations – come out of our joint account (we have a joint credit card), but if I want a new sweater it comes out of my personal account, or if he wants a new video game it comes out of his personal account. Since he earns (way, way) more, he has more ‘fun money’, but I think that’s fair. Each month we pull money from our joint account for savings, and I pull aside money from my personal account for a smaller personal savings account as well. I don’t think my husband saves from his fun money :) We like this setup because it means we have joint control and understanding of where the major portion of our money goes with bills, etc., but we don’t have to ask each other if we want to buy something frivolous either. Plus it means I don’t have to freak out about the fact that my husband is a spender not a saver because I know at least we’re saving from our joint account!

  10. Mint is the JAM! Togetherness really aids in the smoothness of budget stick-to-it-ivness ;) y’all will be pros in no time! Hope the transition is carefree! xo

  11. Hubby and I are the same way as you now, I write him a check for half of the mortgage and expenses. I seriously don’t know if combining everything would work well for us, I do everything online and he won’t even log into his bank’s website ’cause he’s a bit paranoid about putting his info out there on the world wide interwebs.

  12. I’m blushing. Is it weird to blush because you are someone’s budgeting hero? Anywho, we share all the money except $300 each. I don’t ask questions and neither does he.

    We signed up for mint shortly after I put up that post. We like it but we can’t figure out how to divide up charges. Sometimes we buy things in different categories at the same store.

  13. I thought before I got married that having a joint account was just about the last thing I would ever agree upon, but honestly for us having a joint account is just so much easier. You would think that having an MBA would mean that I would have my spreadsheet all set up to track our spending, but honestly, I like efficiency. Mint has been really great at keeping track of everything, categorizing it, and making it easy to compare spending over different months. I do find that I have to go in and check the spending in each category extra carefully to double check the automatic categories it places on purchases (to make sure my drinks with the ladies at The Continental don’t end up in my travel expense category!).

    @Catherine, you can actually split transactions into different categories, and allocate ATM withdrawals to certain added purchases too, if that helps. Plus, you can flag and categorize transactions for certain merchants. I actually just added my student loans today, which is a really great feature! I just get annoyed with the text messages, so make sure your limits are set perfectly or your notifications are turned off to avoid any annoyances. Happy transaction tracking :)

  14. It’s so funny you post of this, because my husband and I have been working on this exact same thing for the past 2 weeks! We have been married for a year and had yet to figure out how we were going to combine our finances when we finally sat down recently to figure it out.

    Prior to our marriage I assumed we’d keep our finances separate, and he would write me a check every two weeks to pay his share of the rent/bills. But it was making it insanely difficult to save money. We finally decided to set up a joint account. We’ve decided to deposit both our checks into our joint account and then transfer a specific amount into each of our separate accounts for our own use based on our budget. I think it’s going to work out so much better and allow us to save up for our goals.

  15. I really need to be better about using Mint. I think I need to set up goals and budgets. I used the excuse that I was letting it track our spending for a few months, so I could see our usual habits, but a few months have gone by and nothing yet. Oops!

    As to your other question, we have a joint account that our paychecks go into, and we each have a percentage of our income distributed to our individual accounts for personal spending and saving. So far, it’s worked, but I’m thinking the percentages might need to change again soon.

  16. We love mint. My DH is our CFO so he takes charge of the finances but we discuss everything first. We have a joint account but both kept individual accounts that have just a little bit of $$ in them. We’re on a weekly cash allowance (in addition to our saving and investing plans) and it’s working great for us, though I miss tracking each purchase through mint. Now I have an app on my iPhone that I use to record all my spending – just because I’m controlling. But mostly when the $ for the week is gone so is the spending!

  17. I write my husband a check every month, too! Everything is separate. How do you guys plan to go from having it separate to together while still keeping personal accounts? That is where it gets confusing for me. Do you have your paycheck automatically split between two accounts?

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