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Equal shares based on salary to individual investment accounts.
Equal dollar values to individual investment accounts.
Everything in joint accounts.
Spouse and I don't agree on saving, saving for myself only.
My spouse is in my pants. (first poll so forgive me)

Click here to see results so far.

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so obviously you don't have to put "POLL:" in the subject.

Lesson learned.
96hokies
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Actually, it's slightly more complicated than that.

We have separate IRAs. Mine contains the rollovers from my 401(k) plan, and hers contains rollovers from a defined-benefit plan that got paid out as a lump sum when she changed jobs. She also has TIAA-CREF stuff from earlier positions.

We don't contribute to our IRAs at this point, but we do contribute regularly to a taxable joint brokerage account.

- Gus
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obviously you don't have to put "POLL:" in the subject.

ROFLMAO! you never know 'till you try...

I answered that we have everything in joint accounts, but I wanted to answer that my spouse is in my pants! He has Friday's off and he's driving me up a wall!

Tried to vote twice, but couldn't.

SS
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96Hokies:How are the married couples investing?

Here's how we do it:
10% of each person's salary goes to each 401k
25% of each person's salary goes to taxable investment account
Each January I shuffle $6k from the taxable account and invest it in both Roth IRA's (one each).

Since my direct deposit is a lot easier to change than DW's her salary actually goes more to daily expenses and ST savings and my salary almost exclusively fills the taxable account. It's all the same, though.

I really don't understand married couples who maintain totally seperate finances. That blows my mind. Once I was for sure about getting engaged I went ahead and joined our checking account and made my investment account a joint account. So, 6 months before we were even married we had joint finances...

st
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I really don't understand married couples who maintain totally seperate finances. That blows my mind.

That's me.

My wife works at a non-profit. She loves what she does. She gets paid correspondingly less.

I work at a job that pays a lot more, but I don't love what I do nearly as much as she does. While I've thought about retiring early for a long time, she's not so sure about the idea - she likes to work, and giving up her work wouldn't really make sense for her.

The easiest way to keep everything fair is to keep things separate, and then negotiate how to share common expenses. Then we don't have to resent each other for what we decide to spend money on, because it doesn't affect the other's savings.

Believe me - I've done it the other way, and getting irritated when somebody goes off-plan with their spending is not the way to a happy marriage.

But whatever works for you.... :)

dan
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The easiest way to keep everything fair is to keep things separate, and then negotiate how to share common expenses. Then we don't have to resent each other for what we decide to spend money on, because it doesn't affect the other's savings.


This has worked very well for us, as well. DH tends to like to spend on the fun stuff, and since he's making more than I do, he gets to spend on fun. He's been pretty good about saving a big chunk, too.

We split up the necessities. So, he pays for roughly 1/2 the necessities and a few fun things. I finance the other half of the necessities, and save as much as I want.

Anyhow, when he wants to splurge on something, he can, and he's not using my money.
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Chooey:This has worked very well for us, as well. DH tends to like to spend on the fun stuff, and since he's making more than I do, he gets to spend on fun....Anyhow, when he wants to splurge on something, he can, and he's not using my money.

See, this is my problem with the whole thing. I guess it's easy for me because DW and I make almost exactly the same amount of money. But we both agree on what we are going to splurge on and when I am going to spend money on something that I won't use or isn't worth it then she talks me out of it and when she wants to buy a BMW X5 and we can't afford one I talk her out of that.

It requires a lot of cooperation and understanding what is important to the other person but I think if we did it any other way we wouldn't be able to save as much. We have to communicate about what we really want but she knows, for example, how excited I am about NCAA Football 2004 and totally supports me when I buy it. However, when I decide on a whim that I want a new video game she talks me out of it.

In a few years DW will likely quit working to make babies. I don't imagine that she will feel the least bit guilty about earning an income, and it won't bother me in the slightest for her to control the finances. By communicating with each other there are few hurt feelings or control issues and we save a lot.

st
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96Hokies:How are the married couples investing?

SloanT:
Here's how we do it:
10% of each person's salary goes to each 401k
25% of each person's salary goes to taxable investment account
Each January I shuffle $6k from the taxable account and invest it in both Roth IRA's (one each).
----------------------------

I like your approach for funding the ROTH. I was considering putting that money to ING for safe keeping but letting it earn (hopefully) in another investment account seems interesting. I'll have to ponder the invest and shuffle concept vs. saving monthly in a interest bearing acct vs. direct to an IRA account monthly.

Thanks!
96hokies
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The Redneck way is as follows:

$500/month to each of our IRA.
$700/month to S&P 500 index in taxable account
$500/month to Small Cap index in taxable account
$350/month to European stock index in taxable account
$500/month to ING Direct
8% of each of our base pay into TSP
28% of my bonuses and special pays into TSP

Next year the IRA contribution will drop to $250/month and we will place the other $250 into the taxable account. With the exception of the money that comes out of her paycheck for her TSP, all of the investment come out of my paycheck but the taxable account and the ING are joint.

We used to wait and lump sum invest into our IRAs. But we missed our contribution for 2002 due to a family emergency and my very short notice deployment, so now it will be automatic only.
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I didn't vote because none of the choices fit us.

DH makes about 15k more but he only started saving 4yrs ago. We both max out our 401k and ROTHs and that's it for DH. No pension for DH, but I'll get the max & free medical (so far) if I hang in till age 53. 4% goes to my union-sponsored pension plan. I split an additional 10% between my brokerage account & my personal savings. DH is an attorney and plans to work until he drops.


Crazyinlovefool

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We put in equal percentages of our income - it's not equal dollar amounts so couldn't answer your poll.

Just to employer sponsored plans it's 15% - we also invest in ROTHS and non-retirement brokerage accounts.

C.
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The easiest way to keep everything fair is to keep things separate, and then negotiate how to share common expenses. Then we don't have to resent each other for what we decide to spend money on, because it doesn't affect the other's savings.

We the joint fund - then each of us gets an allowance to spend as we please.

It's too complicated to negotiate everyday expenses (in our case).

C.
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The easiest way to keep everything fair is to keep things separate, and then negotiate how to share common expenses.

This statement boggles my mind. I did this with my roommate, but not with my husband.

I'm not saying you're wrong and if this works for you, great. I also noticed that a few others here share your perspective.

To me, feeling the need to keep things "fair" between married partners implies a lack of trust on one or both their parts. It implies that one party may to try to unjustly benefit at the expense of the other, and things need to be spelled out as "his" "hers" and "ours" in order to prevent that from happening.

I can see that this might be the case if the two of you have very different goals and spending habits. For instance, if one of you wants to save for a cushy retirement and the other one wants to spend it all now because "you can't take it with you," then there would be a definite need for some ground rules and separate assets might be in order.

However, if two people are so far apart as that in their goals and attitudes, I don't see how the marriage can work over the long term. In the example I just gave, what would happen when the couple reaches retirement age? Would the partner who had scrimped and saved for their retirement tell their spouse "I'm off to Aruba, too bad you don't have any money and have to continue working, I'll miss you!"

I think maybe a better way to deal with financial issues would be to see if you can reach some common ground. If one is a spender and one is a saver, maybe they can agree to consult each other for any purchases over $50. Or maybe the saver can explain his/her point of view to the spender to help the spender see how NOT spending money actually benefits BOTH of them much more than the current clothing fad or a brand new car. It's possible that the spender just doesn't understand the "why" behind the attitude, and can learn. And maybe the saver can learn to splurge a little, on occasion, because it doesn't make sense to put off all your fun until you retire.

The argument that one partner makes more than the other, so the partner who earns more should get to spend more doesn't work for me AT ALL. They both knew who the other one was and what their earning potential was when they got married, and they accepted them for better or worse. If the high earner were to suddenly find themself unemployed, would that mean that he/she should not spend any money because he/she isn't earning any income?

It may be that I simply can't understand these types of relationships because they aren't the type of relationship I have. So I'll tell you about mine and what works for us.

Until I met my DH, I had never intended to marry. I changed my mind after we'd been dating for a while because he was different from anyone I'd ever known. And we are direct opposites in a lot of ways:

He has an easygoing, kind, outgoing nature and I'm an introvert and tend to be pretty self-centered. He's blue collar and I'm white collar. When I apply myself, I can earn at least 4 times what he can. He can't stand the way I do laundry and I hate that he doesn't notice when the garage needs to be cleaned out. I'm constantly learning new things and he's content to plunk himself in front of Sports Channel.

But on the really important things, the big things, the things that matter, we agree completely. Our children and their futures are extremely important to us. We both would rather put a dollar into savings than spend it on something that will be gone tomorrow. We love the woods and natural things. We like to camp on our vacations rather than lie on the beach doing nothing. We don't mind staying home on weekends. We're OK with not having trendy clothes or brand new cars.

When I married him, I knew he wasn't good at fixing things and didn't have a big earning potential. I worried that it might be a problem for me to accept that I earn more than him, that I might feel he isn't "pulling his weight." I gave that careful consideration before we got married, because once I made that commitment, I intended to see it through, "till death do us part." And I decided I could live with it. If I wanted more money, I'd just have to earn it myself. It really wasn't any different than when I was single - the same held true then, too.

Since we've been married, things have changed considerably. I've had two children, I've taken time off from work, we've made a conscious decision for me to stay home while he works. Granted, I do continue to work at home, and I earn a very nice hourly rate - but with kids underfoot, I don't work nearly as many hours as I would if I had a "real job." In the last 2-3 years he has actually earned more than me, first because I was pregnant with our second child, then because that child had medical needs that took me away from work for weeks at a time, and then because having a toddler around can be quite distracting!

But regardless of which one of us is out-earning the other at any given moment, it's always been "our" money. Just like it's "our" house, "our" kids, "our" retirement, and "our" decisions. IMO, if that's not the way it is, what's the point of being married?

I handle the finances. Every 6 months or so I show him where everything is, tell him where we're at, we talk about where we're going and how we're going to get there. And then he forgets it until the next time. He doesn't worry that I might be robbing him blind, he just trusts me to either make the decisions that will most likely benefit us as a family, or ask for his input if I'm unsure. He can do this because he knows that our core goals and outlooks are the same.

When I decided to invest in real estate, I said "We're going to buy a rental property," and we talked about it. He understood that I had a good idea of how to go about it and I was pretty confident that it would benefit us. He trusted my decision. I handled everything - I learned what I needed to know, I did the looking, the negotiating, the fixing and the renting. The only thing he did was sign on the dotted line to secure the financing (since I'm self-employed, his job is handy for things like that). It takes a lot of trust to make a commitment for many thousands of dollars to buy a property, sight unseen.

It may sound like I do everything, but I don't. He takes care of the day-to-day mundane necessities of life, like laundry, groceries, meals, etc. because I can't be counted on to remember. I'm always engrossed in some project or playing with the kids or out in the garden or over at the rental or busy learning something new. He's the dependable rock and I'm the flighty dreamer.

The only thing that is actually separate is our retirement money, but the only reason it's separate is because the government says it must be so. In fact, all our retirement money is in his name - 2 401ks and an IRA. Way back before he had the 401ks, I started the IRA for him, but I never got around to setting one up for myself. I'm not worried about it - I count that money as "our" retirement money, because I have every confidence that we'll either still be together when retirement time comes, or one of us will be dead (in which case, the other one gets all the assets). If both of us happen to die it all goes to the kids - all three of them equally, including my stepson. He's "ours," too.

OK, so now you understand why I think the way I do and why its difficult for me to understand keeping things separate. In our marriage, there really is no "mine" or "his," there's only "ours." So it doesn't matter who earned it or who benefits from it or who works harder or what is fair. As long as we continue to do things for "our" benefit, we both benefit.

Our 11th anniversary is coming up soon, and I'm just as sure that we made the right decision as I was then. I can't imagine either one of us changing so drastically that our core values shift enough to change that.

SS
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However, if two people are so far apart as that in their goals and attitudes, I don't see how the marriage can work over the long term.

You've just described my DH and me. So far we've been together 18yrs. The first 11 we weren't married and we didn't live together until 2yrs after our marriage yet here we are. It can work. It just takes work. We happen to think our relationship is worth it.

In the example I just gave, what would happen when the couple reaches retirement age? Would the partner who had scrimped and saved for their retirement tell their spouse "I'm off to Aruba, too bad you don't have any money and have to continue working, I'll miss you!"

Sometimes yes. When we were dating MY DH never wanted to take a vacation. Whenever the subject can up he would say…
I have no money.
I have no time.
I have no desire.
repeat

Because I didn't want to go without him we never went anywhere, even though the only thing I've ever wanted to do with my life is travel. After a few years I took a cruise with 6 of my co-workers. I came back and declared my intentions to resume traveling with or without him. The next year he let me plan a 4 day trip. Since then the way we've handled things is that I pick the spot (he gets a veto). I handle all the plans. Our household budget includes funds for a modest vacation I pay for anything over that. He covers his expenses when we get where we're going and has a good time. So far we taken several cruise, travel to Mexico and went to Tahiti for our honeymoon. I even surprised him at the airport with tickets to Paris for our 2nd anniversary.

It works for us because we agreed on a joint budget that includes all our needs, joint savings and some wants. I wanted a big wedding & exotic honeymoon so I paid for them. I wanted the house; I saved the down payment & closing costs. DH agreed to the increased housing costs. We wanted a child, so DH agreed to cover the budget as long as I stay home. I saved my own money to cover a monthly cleaning service and childcare 1 day a week. If DH decides to stay home with our daughter when I return to work I'll cover the budget and we'll rent out the upstairs apt for extras. As I said…it works for us.
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so obviously you don't have to put "POLL:" in the subject.

Lesson learned.


At least you were able to inspire some Animaniacs-derived silliness! :)

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=19438148&sort=whole

¤ Daniel ¤
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This statement [about separate finances] boggles my mind. I did this with my roommate, but not with my husband.

I'm not saying you're wrong and if this works for you, great. I also noticed that a few others here share your perspective.


SS -

Excellent post. I appreciate your sensitivity and want to make it clear that I'm not being critical of you either. Each relationship is different, and I was only trying to make the point that even if you fall short of the ideal of sharing your expenses and income as a unit, you can still reach the same happy goal of financial independence.

Much of my caution results from the fact that during my first marriage, I had the same perspective that you do now. Suffice to say that my ex did not share the same thoughts about money that I did, and our complete failure to avoid spending both my earnings and a small inheritance left me feeling used and taken advantage of. So the respect that you can take for granted with your husband is something that I've been burned on before, and the ways my wife and I have found to deal with money have the advantage of avoiding that emotional baggage.

Let me respond to a few of the points you made.

To me, feeling the need to keep things "fair" between married partners implies a lack of trust on one or both their parts. It implies that one party may to try to unjustly benefit at the expense of the other, and things need to be spelled out as "his" "hers" and "ours" in order to prevent that from happening.

I see where you're coming from here. I guess to me, fairness is something inherent in a relationship. If I notice my wife has done the cooking three or four times in a row, then I'll make a special effort to make sure I'm the one to cook this time. If I'm mowing the lawn and taking the garbage out, then she'll set up the sprinklers. Splitting common expenses 50-50 is just part of this idea of fairness for us. But I can understand why other people handle money issues differently.

However, if two people are so far apart as that in their goals and attitudes, I don't see how the marriage can work over the long term. In the example I just gave, what would happen when the couple reaches retirement age? Would the partner who had scrimped and saved for their retirement tell their spouse "I'm off to Aruba, too bad you don't have any money and have to continue working, I'll miss you!"

I guess I think that two people can love each other even if they have very different goals, and as long as everyone has an understanding of each other's ideas and wishes, you can work through the differences. I know people who would shrivel up and die if they stopped working - working is their life. In some cases, their spouses have retired. I don't think the spouse should give up traveling and a happy retirement just because they can't travel as a couple. If each person respects the other, both will want the other to do what they love.

Obviously a marriage where someone says "ha ha! I get to play and you don't!" won't work.

The argument that one partner makes more than the other, so the partner who earns more should get to spend more doesn't work for me AT ALL. They both knew who the other one was and what their earning potential was when they got married, and they accepted them for better or worse. If the high earner were to suddenly find themself unemployed, would that mean that he/she should not spend any money because he/she isn't earning any income?

True, I knew my wife before we married, and true, I knew she chose to work at a non-profit. But that was and continues to be a conscious decision on her part. She could make far more money if she worked for a private sector company. She chooses not to. This makes her happier. For that matter, I could probably be happier if I stopped working for a private sector company and went into the non-profit world - but I've made the decision to maximize my wealth as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of my lifetime I have to work. Even if I retire early, she wouldn't trade places with me. She's happy her way, and I respect that.

I take issue with the idea, however, that I should be expected to subsidize her decision. I choose to defer happiness now in the hope of greater happiness later. She chooses to get more happiness now. I can see your point that finding common ground on this difference of opinion on deferring happiness might lead to a more harmonious relationship, but I don't want to change her, and she doesn't want to change me. We are who we are, and trying to change each other just to find middle ground in a relationship would destroy the whole point.

We've each taken turns being unemployed from time to time, and we each cover our expenses from our savings. I doubt that either of us will ever be in a position where we have to depend on each other financially. If it comes to that, I know we will take care of each other. But I wouldn't want to put her through that, and I doubt she would want to put me through that.

it's always been "our" money. Just like it's "our" house, "our" kids, "our" retirement, and "our" decisions. IMO, if that's not the way it is, what's the point of being married?

When some people get married, they seem to lose their individuality and fall into a collective "we." This has always been unattractive to me. There are many things that my wife does that I have no interest in, except to the extent that it makes her happy. Sure, its "our" house - we each paid for half of it - but its "her" quilting and "my" coin collecting. When I married her, I never thought that gave me the right to have any say whatsoever in whether she wanted to spend her hard-earned money on her hobbies - as long as she had enough to help pay our common expenses, that's her business. It doesn't mean I don't love my wife - I do, very much. I love her individuality. I don't want to take that away from her.

I understand the counterargument that by keeping things separate, we lose the ability to help each other reach goals that neither of us could reach by ourselves. That may be true. I'd like to think that we find that synergy regardless.

I handle the finances.

I'm a more aggressive investor than my wife is. My wife procrastinates investing decisions and spent two years with money in a money-market fund before starting a balanced index fund. (As it turned out, that was a smart move, but she'd admit it was wholly by chance.) When she asks for advice, I give it to her, but the decisions for her money are hers alone. I don't want the responsibility for her money. If I were to invest "our" money in something and it turned sour, I'd feel terrible, because part of the money I'd have lost would have been hers.

If both of us happen to die it all goes to the kids - all three of them equally, including my stepson. He's "ours," too.

You're lucky to have a strong family. As an estate planning attorney, I've seen plenty of weaker families who decided to fight about this sort of disposition.

As an aside, you might want to check with your parents to make sure that if they have estate planning documents, they also treat your stepson the same way as your own natural kids. Standard legalese definitions of "issue", "descendants", or "grandchildren" might exclude your stepson - unless you have legally adopted him.
--

I guess what this all comes down to is that any arrangement between loving people can work if each person is okay with it. I'm glad you've found someone who works so well with you - and that I have too!

dan
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I guess what this all comes down to is that any arrangement between loving people can work if each person is okay with it. I'm glad you've found someone who works so well with you - and that I have too!

It sounds like you do. I suppose if the arrangement is agreeable to both of you, then it could probably work. And just because you do things a certain way now doesn't necessarily mean that the two of you will never change the way you do things. Relationships, good or bad, evolve over time, I've learned.

When you mentioned your ex, that explained a lot, too. Way back when, I suddenly flip-flopped, going from the point of view of "I never want to get married" to "I want to marry THIS particular guy." It surprised the heck out of both of us - to the extent that we actually stopped seeing each other for a while because he had had a bad experience with his ex and never wanted to marry again. Eventually, though, he found me impossible to resist. <BG> We've been pretty much on the same page about the big stuff ever since.

When some people get married, they seem to lose their individuality and fall into a collective "we."

I know the type of relationship that you're talking about, and like you, I would find that stifling at best - where they have to do everything as a couple, and if one wants to do something the other isn't interested in a big fight ensues.

But that's not the same thing as sharing the finances and financial decisions. DH and I have actually had separate vacations (before the little ones came along and made being away from the family something neither one of us is keen on). He likes fishing, I like hanggliding. We also occasionally go out separately - for instance, he loves sports and I can't stand them. It wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for me to go to a baseball game and be bored out of my gourd, so he goes with his friends. I have the occasional "girls' night out," too. It's actually easier to do these things separately because it gives us a built-in baby-sitter. The things we both enjoy, like music, hanging with friends, etc., we generally do together. Like I said, we're total opposites on a lot of the small things, but that works for us. I like to think we "complement" each other well.

As an aside, you might want to check with your parents to make sure that if they have estate planning documents, they also treat your stepson the same way as your own natural kids.

Thanks for the tip. As it happens, I know that my mom does NOT include my stepson in her estate plan. I'm fine with that - it's her money and she's free to do what she pleases with it. If I die before she does, stepson is SOL on that score. If it goes the other way, he "wins" and the other two inherit less. It's just the luck of the draw. For all I know, it's possible that by the time she/we die, there won't be anything left to inherit, anyway. IMO, it never makes sense to count on an inheritance until it actually comes your way. Hopefully the kids will feel the same way.

You're lucky to have a strong family. As an estate planning attorney, I've seen plenty of weaker families who decided to fight about this sort of disposition.

He's been with me since he was little, and his mother never made him much of a priority. So for all intents and purposes, I consider him my son (even if my mom does not). But I'll agree with you - we may not have had good luck on all fronts, but on the relationship end of things we most certainly have. I've learned that that's more important to our happiness than money, anyway. :)

SS
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I voted for:

Spouse and I don't agree on saving, saving for myself only!

However, that is not entirely accurate. A more accurate response would be:

Spouse and I don't agree on saving, saving for both of us!

ON average for the past 3 years, I have done the following for both my wife and I annually:
- max my 401k at 15%.
- max out both of our Roth IRA's
- contribute another $6000 to taxable accounts
- contribute another $12,000 ($1000 per month) to my E-fund. About half of that contribution typically gets spent each year so it has been growing anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 each year
- do what I can to keep my wife from wrecking the budget each day. If I gave her the go-ahead she would deplete everything within a year if I unleashed the flood gates.

My wife has been a SAHM for most of the 20 years we have been married. Now that my youngest is nearly 9, I desperately want her to work. However, in a sense, she is already FIRED while I'm the wannabee so she does not have much incentive.

decath


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