I am getting married soon and my fiancé and I need to come up with a plan for our money. I own a house and he pays me rent. What else should we merge? — Molly

I love that you already own a house and are willing to share it with your love, yet have set a clear boundary by asking him for rent.

As for the rest of expenses, I suggest the following ideas:

  • Create a joint checking account. I believe for a couple to become a strong team (especially if they are planning to have children someday and one parent chooses to stay home with the kids) combining expenses and responsibility helps with financial sustainability.
  • Have both of you deposit all of your income into this account. It’s not all going to stay in there, but it simplifies things to have a starting point for joint financial decisions.
  • Calculate all of your fixed expenses and decide how much each person should contribute to them. This will require a fair discussion and may change as your fixed expenses change.
  • Determine how much you would like to set aside for savings and investments from your joint account. I suggest this be a weekly amount and be transferred to a separate savings or investment account automatically. Once the money accrues in the account, you can jointly agree how to invest it. You should ideally have separate medical, retirement, investment, and saving accounts.
  • Determine how much joint money you would like to keep in your account for variable expenses that may come up. This one will differ for all couples. For instance, my husband and I have enough money padding our account so we both use our joint checking for expenses like gas and dining out. Others may want to determine an allowance for each.
  • Transfer both allowances into individual personal checking accounts for “fun money” spending. You both work hard for your money and should be able to spend it any way you wish. I found that it works best if each person has their own weekly “purse” which is not controlled by the other.

I hope this helps!

YOUR TURN: I would love to hear how other couples manage their money. Share your stories in the comments below!