What about the money, honey?

I just had a really weird conversation with one of my friends.

This Christmas it has become more clear to SB and I that with our combined life, having a combined bank account would be really handy. My work is more flexible and I'm often able to run more errands - a large amount of the Christmas presents we've bought have been discussed by us and then bought by me. Not to mention the pain-in-the-rear it is with his weekly budgeting and my fortnightly pay and the inevitable 2nd Tuesday night discussion of how much I need to transfer to his account to cover bills. It might work for others but for us, we've decided that when we decide to combine our lives officially, we may as well combine finances.

SB is in a considerably better financial position than I am (I know, on the web it often seems like things are the other way around) - he left school and went straight into employment, he lived rent-free (only paying expenses) until we moved in together. He has no debt from car purchases or student loans. I on the other hand... was pretty much in the financial pooh when we got together. All up, five and a half years of study had drained the well dry. My credit card was maxed out and my car (which cost me at least the purchase price in repairs in the four years after I got it) had ensured that I had stayed in overdraft pretty much as far as they will allow a student to go. A year later, the credit card is paid off and I'm attacking the overdraft... slowly.

Which leads me to the conversation I had today. Facebook chatting with a friend, she told me she was getting Subway today. I returned with I was eating what we had at home because we're trying to save money. She asked why and I returned with the fact that we are planning on merging our accounts but that I want to pay off my overdraft first. I did not expect the reaction I received. I got told that it was too soon (even though we will have been together over two years when we finally do merge the accounts), that it hadn't worked for her other friends (we don't even know their situation) and what if we broke up (uh, not planning on it)?

I was a bit stunned at the reaction - this isn't something that we've taken lightly. It's not even something that we're doing right now and we're still working on the fine tuning of when it will actually happen. I don't expect his investments to be counted in the pool of "our money" until we're married. As we get closer to the actual merge I have no doubt that there will be many more conversations about what will come from the "ours" account and what will come from the "his and hers" accounts.

I understand she's concerned... I understand for every positive experience that people have had, there's probably someone who has had a negative experience too. What is getting my goat the most is that she didn't even give me the chance to explain all of this.

Scribblettes, what's your experiences with money mergers? Have you had strong reactions from people too?


  1. I, myself, wouldn't do it, to protect him as much as me. We both have different assets of substantial values and these are our own (and will remain this way). No-one ever wants to think about the worst case scenario and I'm sure you've both considered this yourselves. Where's that crystal ball when you need one?

  2. I think people sometimes forget that relationships tend to move faster as we get older. Some of my friends moved in together after about a year, but in our late twenties that seemed pretty normal when five years ago it would have seemed way too soon.

    Owen & I got a joint bank account when we bought the house together but before then we unofficially merged finances, which made everything a lot easier.

    There were times Owen was the main income earner, and times I was and overall it seems to have balanced out with who was paying for what.

    We still have separate accounts for spending money & get an allowance each week to spend on frivolous things without having to justify the purchase to each other, and that's working well too.

  3. I hear ya. We have been together for 3 years, living together for 1 and only just doing the "joint account" thing. We have a separate eftpos card for that account and while both our pay's still go into our separate accounts - we each deposit an agreed for sum into that account to cover bills, food, petrol etc. We also have a savings account for our holidays (while still having individual savings as well) - this means that when we go away at new years it is already in an account and we spend out of there. The rest of the time we just constantly "pay each other back" - but that is what works for us. I don't think I would want EVERYTHING merged (a girls gotta be able to shop without the buy seeing every purchase! Doesnt help that I date an accountant too!) but the majority of our purchases are joint now. Good luck with it all - i think whatever works for you!!

  4. Wow! I wouldn't have expected a reaction like that! Mr and I have been together for just over 10 months and as soon as we moved in together we used one of my old accounts for all 'our' bills. Rent, water, gas, electricity, food. It's SO handy! He gets paid weekly, I get paid fortnightly, and we both just put in our 'half' of the costs and let it sit there until the bill comes. My job isn't so demanding, so I'll usually pay them. It's a great thing to have. I think you should go for it.

  5. David and I haven't merged accounts yet - I finally paid off my student loan at the beginning of the year, which means I have zero savings (but slowly slowly I am building them back up) where as David's father paid off his loan for him.

    Currently I am earning more than he is on his scholarship, but he still has savings left unlike me.

    I can't see us merging accounts until we are at least both working full time and what we are contributing is relatively equal.

    I already add more money into our shared account (for bills, rent etc) but at the moment, we are keeping things seperate.

  6. @Cafe Chick - completely understand where you are coming from in your situation! What blew me away is while it might not be the best solution for her and her partner (together for a similar amount of time), it is for us.
    @Bridey - I think that may be part of the issue. She's been with her partner for a slightly shorter period of time and I guess they just aren't in the same place as us.
    @Leah - we'll certainly have our own accounts. SB is a basketball and music fiend and I'm a total mani/pedi girl - those expenses will come out of our own accounts!
    @Liv - LOL I forgot to add that for every couple who never merges, there are some couples who merge straight away! Whatever works for the relationship YOU'RE in, right?

  7. Good on you, if thats whats going to work for you then let it work!

    I have a joint a/c with the b/f for food but other than that we have our own accounts and do the pay each other back thing, well generally he pays me back since he doesn't have the $$ in his account. It works since I am on the internet all the time so can transfer the $$ back easily.

    So long as you keep something in your own accounts for your mani/pedi etc (like your going to ) then it shouldn't really be an issue at all no matter how long you've been together!

  8. Wow ladies! A lot of different types of merging or non-merging coming out!
    @PLP - definitely understand where you are coming from with the different financial backgrounds thing
    @Amanda - joint for food is an awesome idea! And of course coffees with you when you are up for race day is an important part of the "hers" account too!

  9. I find the best arrangement is usually the one that feels the most natural to you both.

    For the boy and I, marriage, kids, house, growing old together were all pretty inevitable by the time we moved in together. We started with a joint account for bills etc, then joint savings, then we bought our house and combined everything.

    Though we still have separate credit cards for our "me" purchases.

  10. I want a card with access to my partners funds. I'm not working (mummy-to-be) and the boy usually leaves me $100 cash a week but often he forgets and often that's not enough things come up and it's actually more that he forgets then it's not enough I'm quite good with living off fuck all. Anyway, I'm all for merging accounts. Just keep a runaway fund for yourself ;-P not saying you'd break-up at all it just gives you that sense of freedom I don't know I've always had our money and then a little of my money even from the $100 a week I save a little incase, who knows, it's a habit..... x

  11. I wouldn't completely merge bank accounts with my boyfriend i.e. have both our salaries (mine substantially less!) paid into the same account - perhaps that is what your friend thought you were suggesting? As opposed to having your own accounts/savings PLUS a joint account for joint expenditures like bills/food and 'date night' activities. That's just plain common sense and being practical when you live together. My boyfriend and I have been together over 2 years and at the moment we (he) has to keep paying the other (me) back and it's a headache keeping track of it all! Just keep your own account with your own fun money/savings as well!

  12. This is such a polarising argument! I'm a big fan of combined, but what works for us doesn't work for everyone.

    On the surface, seeing as we're not married I can understand why some would be sceptical. TBH, I'm the one who generally holds the purse strings so if we broke up (which we're not planning to) I'd be in the position of power.

    Totally separate finances would drive me up the wall - a), he's more of a natural spender and b) splitting the bill or paying each other back all the time would be irritating as hell.

    Also, he's been unemployed for the large part of the past two years and wasn't making much, if anything anyway.