money management relationships

Combining Finances: Losing Independence

I just broke a pretty huge net worth milestone.  When I mentioned the milestone to G, he thought about it for a second and said, “I think I’ve reached that milestone, too.”  As a planner, I immediately started thinking about how long it would take to reach the next big milestone.   Then, I realized, the next big milestone will probably be reached together … with combined finances.

Losing your individual net worth
After we combine finances, they’ll be combined FOREVER.

That’s great and all, but they’ll be our finances:

G’s Net Worth + Amber’s Net Worth = Our Net Worth

I’ll no longer be able to track just my net worth.  I won’t be able to pride myself on increasing just my net worth every month.

I won’t be able to take all the credit anymore.  G will have a hand in increasing our net worth every month now, too.

Combing success and progress
Okay, this is the sort of stuff that brings out my inner control freak.  I like to be responsible for my success and my progress and my increasing net worth.  And, so far, I’d say I’ve done a pretty good job of it on my own.

I can look at my net worth and say, “I did that!”  But when we’re looking at a combined net worth, it won’t just be me.  I won’t be able to break down exactly how much I contributed to the equation (I could, but I don’t really want to … more on that later).

After we’re married, each time our net worth rises, it will be a joint celebration (okay, so G probably won’t be stoked on a monthly basis, so I might be celebrating, uh, alone on most occasions, but that’s okay).  From here on out, when our wealth increases, it will be a team effort, not an Amber effort.

Accepting the team
There’s nothing wrong with a joint celebration, right?  I mean, I’ve done a lot in my 27 years of life.  I’d rattle all of my accomplishments off for you right now if you wanted me to, but I don’t really have time for that (but, really, let me know if you’re interested … 😉 ).

I know I’ll be okay with combining finances and becoming a team, but it will definitely be a transition and this latest realization of combined success in wealth is kinda hard to accept.

Yes, I realize that I could very well track my own net worth for the rest of my life.  I could spend hours every month pulling out MY income and MY assets and MY liabilities and determine just how much I’ve accomplished on my own over the years.  But you know what, that’d be a little crazy, and it would totally defeat the purpose of a combined finance marriage.

I know that I’ll still be my own person.  I’ll still have individual successes.  When I get a raise, it will be my doing.  If I make extra side income, it will be because of my efforts.

But guess who is there cheering me on through everything?  That hottie G, of course.

And I guess that’s where I can find closure in this partial loss of independence.  I may be losing my individual net worth, but I’m gaining a lot more – a lifelong partner who will support me in my future successes, but will also contribute success of his own (and money, of course … that’s all I’m really after, you know. 😉 ).

Did you feel (or do you think you would feel) a slight loss of independence when (if) you combined finances?


  • I have thought about the effects of combing my finances with my girlfriend, and its nice to see others feeling the same way. I think it all comes down to you and your significant other and how much the two of you talk about your financial, life, & personal goals. When you are both aiming for the same goal it is easier, and the same goes for an individual goal as well. If you have the support of another, even though its not their goal, the goal is that much easier to obtain.

  • I definitely think I would. I’ve become so independent and have been making so many accomplishments that I really hope that whoever I choose to allow to invade my world will help to make the statement “two is better than one” true.

  • I think as long as you and your fiancée communicate and don’t get hung up or pick on each other when one of you wants to buy something then it can work out. Combining finances does work for some people. My bf knows all my passwords and everything, but we keep finances separate. I don’t mean to be a total downer, but we have to be realistic.

    So many people break up (marriages, couples in long-term relationships, etc.) that we decided that we’d rather keep them separate. I don’t think its as complicated as people say it is, finances are pretty simple to me. I don’t spend hours on my own net worth, I keep things simple so its pretty easy for me.

    Because of my bf I’ve gotten better at saving, he’s always been a saver, so its nice to have him helping me. I don’t like it when people think its strange or the relationship is less secure just because a couple, married or not, keep finances separate. We live in the 21st century, couples come and go. We take our relationship seriously and work through our issues when they come up as they do in any relationship.

    No one wants to think about their relationships or marriages ending, but its a reality of life, I’d rather have them separate. We don’t even buy stuff together. One of us will buy something, we share it with each other, but things belong either to one or the other, that way if we ever want to go our separate ways we won’t fight over stuff, we know which stuff is ours.

    In addition, I plan on buying my own house and he wants to buy land on his own. We’ve heard plenty of horror stories of couples screwing each other, that we don’t want that to happen to us. I need to have my own safety cushion. I don’t think this makes me a bad person, I don’t think it makes my relationship bad, I think it makes me logical for the realities of this world. If anything happens I don’t want to struggle, and I don’t want to fight with him over materialistic things.

    We also like to split our bills. I realize this makes us very unconventional but I don’t care, you have to do what is right for you and your relationship. Well that is my take on my life, I think you need to do what works for you and how can I judge you for doing what works for you? I can’t because I’m not you. People need to be happy with the choices they make. After all no one else walks in our shoes right?


    P.S. Again I don’t mean to be a downer or anything. So please don’t think that, this is just my own opinion and what I decided was best for my life. Obviously, you and G have chosen to do what is best for your lives. Neither is better than the other. Just different. 😉

    • Wow, great question. We’ve never thought about it, but how about this broad answer: after we’re married, not only will our finances combine, but so will our family, in a sense. They’ll no longer be yours and mine, they’ll be ours. So, if a family member needed a great deal of assistance after we’re married, and we decided together that we wanted to help them financially, it wouldn’t be a matter of who’s pot it came out of (since it will all be ours). It will be more of a decision of how much, when and how. Awesome question though and I might elaborate further in a post.

  • I think I went a little crazy after my husband and I first combine finances, about 9 months ago. I had been so used to handling my own money and knowing exactly how it should be spent–learning to share was really hard. I liked having his extra income, but I didn’t like it when he spent it! It’s been a huge adjustment, but now that we’ve paid off our credit cards, everything is much better when it comes to finances : )

  • Hi 🙂 I just wandered over here via the working out post, but I thought this was an interesting topic! I thought I’d share my experience so far (married about 6 months, living together about 3 years).

    My husband and I still have our own checking and savings accounts, as well as investment accounts. I pay my student loans from the account where my paycheck is automatically deposited, and he pays his student loans from his checking account. We have a joint checking account at ING where we transfer money every month to cover joint expenses – mainly rent and other large purchases. We also have a joint savings account where we save all the money people give us as gifts as a couple.

    But in day to day life, we have vastly different habits when it comes to finances. I prefer my bills (car payment, student loans, etc) to be automated with the minimum payments (I pay an extra amount above the minimum in a separate transaction), so I never miss a deadline. My husband hates that – he wants to be in complete control of his finances, including when he pays his student loans or his cell phone. If we tried to combine these two methods, one of us would get very, very frustrated.

    We do work together as a team though, we take turns paying rent, and we are each responsible for one utility bill (internet and electric). We look at the total amount of debt and cash as our combined responsibility, but we divvy up the bill paying. As far as retirement account go, we each have them in our own names with the other person named as a beneficiary.

    • I’m so glad I read this! I’m getting married next week (*squeal*)…but my future husband and I have yet to figure out how we plan to handle our finances, and specifically, whether or not to combine everything.

      We’ve been living together for over 2 years so we have a (admittedly somewhat haphazard) system worked out. I would like us, together as a team, to get more control over our finances, stop paying off credit card debt only to run it up again, save more, etc.

      Our gross incomes are the same, and our debt load and expenses are similar…so it seems that it’d be simpler in a lot of ways to combine everything. One bank account, one budget, all expenses become shared expenses.

      BUT, as with Jen, my future husband and I have very different financial habits and preferences. I think that the system she describes, with primarily separate finances, but a joint account to cover joint expenses (like rent) will be what we will probably ultimately end up doing.

Leave a Comment