I am writing this post 60 days after the fact, but it’s time to come clean: As of June 1st, A and I have combined all our bank accounts. You heard me – every single bank account. We now share all our money, and our checking, savings, credit card, and “fun money” accounts.
Why did I wait so long to write about such a big money / love life decision, given that this blog is about money and love?!
I was terrified.
For a few days (read: weeks), I was sure this whole share-our-money thing was going to be a complete shit-show. And while I knew – in a bone marrow kind of way – that it was the right step, I found myself intimidated to explain it to the world.
A little background:
Sharing a bank account with my significant other has never crossed my mind. Even as a 10-year-old-feminist-in-training, I understood that money is a weapon in a war of power that women have been fighting (and often losing) since the beginning of time. And I wasn’t about to turn my back on the cause.
In all of my previous relationships, we did not share our money. It wasn’t even a question. The idea of someone seeing my paycheck or having a say over how I spend my money sounded like some form of medieval torture.
Then I met A.
I’ve been very honest about the huge roadblocks A and I faced early in our relationship when we started to deal with money. And I’ve been honest that most of them were caused by my inability to flex, and my fear of losing control of my finances. Combine a frugality obsessed militant money maniac with a laid-back suburban boy with a car loan and multiple watches…sparks are gonna’ fly, people.
It seemed obvious that we would never share money. In fact, for the first two years of our relationship, I was convinced that the ONLY way we would survive is if we never, ever, ever, shared bank accounts.
So what happened?
A question of teamwork
It’s the thing you feel when you’re lying in bed and you realize you forgot to put food in the cat bowl which means she’ll be yowling for her breakfast snack at 5am. You’re so damn tired, but you start to swing your legs out from under the covers. And your significant other says, “I’ll do it.”
It’s called Teamwork, people.
The longer we’ve been together, the more I’ve come to see that the North was right: Together, you stand. Divided, you fall.
The more we act and think like we’re an indivisible team, the more we feel like it.
Money is power
Financial stability is the most tangible form of power. It protects you from illness, unemployment, family emergencies, and being forced to rely on other people.
That’s why I want to be financially independent from my partner. And that’s why it makes sense for couples to keep separate bank accounts; it destroys the power dynamic.
What I don’t want (and what happened with us) is that instead of destroying the power dynamic, we just shifted all the power…to me. I had named myself the official Feminist Boss of Money and was running around giving A advice, deciding all the rules and handing myself hall passes…all the time.
Finally, we realized that we want to handle our money the way we want to handle our relationship: like equals, with total transparency and shared power.
We are not our parents
My parents have separate bank accounts. I was raised thinking that was the correct way, and I think for a lot of people, it is. I’ve seen the good sides (independence, autonomy, clarity), but I’ve seen the bad sides too (dishonesty, lack of transparency, no shared vision).
Sometimes I get so blinded by what I grew up with that I resist trying anything else.
It’s funny because I’m from such a liberal, open-minded family…but I can be really close-minded about anything that smells “traditional.”
Vulnerability is fun stuff
The first time my paycheck landed into our joint account, I wanted to barf all over my shoes. It was the most helpless feeling – seeing my money (MY MONEY!!) and knowing that it wasn’t mine anymore. I instantly wanted it back.
And the first time I made a big purchase and got a text, “OMG was our credit card stolen or did you just spend $139 at Nordstrom Rack?!” (two words: fun money sucka. wait, that’s three words).
This level of sharing is SO new for me, and I can feel how uncomfortable it is, but also how exciting. I’m not talking about financial vulnerability (I’ll explain how we dealt with that in a future post), I’m talking about the vulnerability of laying all your numbers out there and saying, “this is what I’m working with.” Of letting your partner have a say…even when you don’t agree with what they’re saying.
An extra set of eyes never hurts
“Honey, why did you spend $80 at a Safeway in Arizona?”
When your credit card gets stolen and you’re too busy to notice, you start to see the benefit of sharing accounts. ‘nuf said.
We are prepared for failure
Our first 2 months has not gone as smoothly as I had hoped. There was a dental bill, a brake job on the car and a $200 Verizon bill because somebody (you know who…) forgot to check his data usage (Republic Wireless, you saved the day).
It took a lot of willpower (and eye-rolling, and teeth-gritting, and at one point pretending to have bad cell reception so I wouldn’t lost my shit) but I remained calm through it all.
We want to give it a year, but both of us have the right to pull the plug at any time.
OMG, the savings adds up fast
I know this is just an optical illusion, but DAMMNNNNNN, two people save money So Freaking Fast.
Our savings account is like that turbo snail – it cannot be stopped!
That’s all for now, folks
In the coming weeks, I’m going to share some posts on how we are making this work: our budgets, our flowchart, our fun money accounts, and of course, our savings goals. Stay tuned.