Personal Finance

Sharing finances with my spouse and find it hard to manage

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 16th, 2017 12:40 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 30, 2017
127 posts
52 upvotes

Sharing finances with my spouse and find it hard to manage

My spouse and I got married about 2 years ago, and we just started using the same bank account. Combining our finances is new for us and I am not sure how to properly manage it. For the 3rd time this month, our bank account was overdrawn when a recurring bill was withdrawn from our account. We desperately need some tools to help keep track of when a recurring bill is due, something that can alert us when our account is low.

Also, any tips on how to share finances with a spouse will be greatly appreciated. Currently we have a shared chequing account, and we each have our own savings account for personal expenses. Our pay cheques go into the chequing, and bills and other necessary expenses like groceries/gas come out of the chequing account. We have also set up recurring deposits from our chequing into our savings account to help us save money.

How do other couples do it?
56 replies
Deal Guru
Dec 11, 2008
10012 posts
1488 upvotes
Some questions and tips:

1) Do you have a budget? Do you keep track of the spending? I have a budget and it's DAILY. I log everything that is spent - hence I know when recurring bills come out of our account.
2) How much do you have in your chequing account regularly? Maybe you need to have a minimum X amount as a buffer.
3) If you have credit card bills that also come out of that account, you nee to ensure there is more than enough to cover that (transfer funds from savings equal to the amount of the credit card bill?)
4) How much do you contribute to the shared account? For us we have all of our money in there. We have our own accounts but the balance is minimal.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 30, 2017
127 posts
52 upvotes
speedyforme wrote: Some questions and tips:

1) Do you have a budget? Do you keep track of the spending? I have a budget and it's DAILY. I log everything that is spent - hence I know when recurring bills come out of our account.
2) How much do you have in your chequing account regularly? Maybe you need to have a minimum X amount as a buffer.
3) If you have credit card bills that also come out of that account, you nee to ensure there is more than enough to cover that (transfer funds from savings equal to the amount of the credit card bill?)
4) How much do you contribute to the shared account? For us we have all of our money in there. We have our own accounts but the balance is minimal.
We currently do not have a budget. Our thoughts were that we will track our spending patterns for a few months before we establish a set budget for each category. But these few months have been somewhat of a disaster. I feel like I am losing control and am more clueless about our financial status since we have merged our accounts. It was way easier to keep track of everything when we were each responsible for our own bills and when my pay cheque was mine alone.

How do you log your daily expenses? Do you do it through some mobile application, if so, which one?

Our pay cheques go directly into the shared account and all of our bills come out of that account, except for personal spending. We have our own savings from pre-marriage in our separate savings account that we have no intention of merging.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Oct 19, 2016
650 posts
203 upvotes
Toronto
If you both have regular income, then why not keep separate bank accounts.

Makes things simpler to understand..and less blaming to go around when things get bad.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
33644 posts
19453 upvotes
Ottawa
Married now for nearly a decade and we kept everything separate, with the exception of a joint account strictly for mortgage payments only.
Being the responsible one (husband here), I manage all utility bills, car/home insurance, daycare etc... and she takes care of groceries and restaurants.
We're not going to count and split everything up, as I'm not going broke and have the freedom to spend as I please.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 30, 2017
127 posts
52 upvotes
mrtrump wrote: If you both have regular income, then why not keep separate bank accounts.

Makes things simpler to understand..and less blaming to go around when things get bad.
And then we split all the bills up based on our salary ratio? It will make things easier but I also feel that we need to be more transparent with our finances now that we are married.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 30, 2017
127 posts
52 upvotes
vkizzle wrote: Married now for nearly a decade and we kept everything separate, with the exception of a joint account strictly for mortgage payments only.
Being the responsible one (husband here), I manage all utility bills, car/home insurance, daycare etc... and she takes care of groceries and restaurants.
We're not going to count and split everything up, as I'm not going broke and have the freedom to spend as I please.
How do you handle big expenses like home renovations or travel?

Also, does each of you contribute a certain amount of money into that joint bank account every month?
Sr. Member
Nov 8, 2006
745 posts
249 upvotes
Toronto
Me and wife share everything into 1 checking acct. Everything comes out of this account, bills, mortgage, insurance, etc...
Dont really care about ratio, fairness, etc....just trust that each will not spend like crazy.
Also, discuss about big purchases....i've made a lawn mower purchase of $500 without asking and didnt stop hearing from it.

Some couples will keep 3-4 accts, 1 for house stuff, and each have their own spending account. So, have your paychecks deposit into the family account, they each pay themselves an amount or contribute fairly and generously into the family account.

If you ran out of funds from the family account, then each of you just contribute more into it with each paycheck. Stop thinking about being fair since if you ever split, you share everything equally anyways.
Deal Addict
Dec 21, 2011
3425 posts
636 upvotes
London
I recommend you write down a list (on paper the old fashioned tool) of every payment that is pre auth debit and the date it comes out.
Also write down the days each of your pays go in, and the amount (for us mine is less than my husbands and we are alternate weeks, so those are leaner weeks)

Then go through month by month how much needs to be in the account from which pay to cover the pre auths - you may need to leave more in from the higher cheque to cover any difference the lower cheque doesn't cover. I opened a second joint account when I got the hang of it and now move over every pay however much needs to come from the pay cheque to cover the months pre auths (i basically divide that months expenses by however many pay weeks there are in the month and just transfer that amount to the expense account each pay date. Then whatever is left in the deposit account goes to sundry bills and groceries etc. but it means the basics are covered.

Now I divide up the approx hydro, gas, internet for the year by the amount of pays and have that scheduled to make partial payments on every pay morning so I don't even have to pay when the bill comes in, sometimes in the year we are a good bit ahead and that covers for higher gas usage in the winter for example. Every month or two I reconcile to make sure we are still on track.

Sounds complicated but once I set it all up now it's just so easy and low maintenance.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
11498 posts
6023 upvotes
Brampton
Long answer (to break down the process) but here goes:

We got started on this process before we even got "married" and had joint finances. We wanted to move in to a house together.

This was all Prior to things like Mint.
We used a simple spread sheet.
Started with a balance sheet. To know where we both stood and the gap to our goal.

Grabbed one of the many budgeting spread sheets available online.
Started the first of the following month to record and start classifying expenditures. Takes a while then you'll see a pattern, once you have the pattern you can then start to set & adjust your budget.

How we manage bills is actually ridiculously simple. We don't use auto recurring bill payments that withdraw from the account.
We have board for bills in and bill paid. We pay them using PayTM (Sweet CC Cashback) mark the day it was paid and move it over to the bills paid. Bills then get sorted at the end of the month in to an "office in a box" under certain headings (Insurance, warranty, water, hydro, land, etc). Tho recently I've started to scan them so the box might go away.

We have a joint account and personal accounts. All pay cheques in to the joint, pay the bills any money left is moved to the personal accounts. The personal accounts act as savings account (well they are, canceled the chequing) for saving for short term expenditures: repairs. large purchases, vacations etc

There's also no such thing as "personal expenses" as long as you've got a mortgage you're all living on borrowed money. The name of the game is optimizing the use of your assets and resources. Eg: Everyone using 1 CC to optimize rewards, have a shared investment strategy to maximize tax efficiency and returns. Every major purchase you make or she makes is going to impact the other. The old saying is "easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" but I am also reminded of "Happy wife, happy life"
Deal Guru
Dec 11, 2008
10012 posts
1488 upvotes
Sharpies wrote: We currently do not have a budget. Our thoughts were that we will track our spending patterns for a few months before we establish a set budget for each category. But these few months have been somewhat of a disaster. I feel like I am losing control and am more clueless about our financial status since we have merged our accounts. It was way easier to keep track of everything when we were each responsible for our own bills and when my pay cheque was mine alone.

How do you log your daily expenses? Do you do it through some mobile application, if so, which one?

Our pay cheques go directly into the shared account and all of our bills come out of that account, except for personal spending. We have our own savings from pre-marriage in our separate savings account that we have no intention of merging.
Unfortunately I am old fashioned and log everything manually in Excel. The key thing is to keep all receipts and go through your bills so you don't miss any spending. I log stuff in when I have time. Sit in front of computer, empty my wallet and plug away. All receipts, both spending from both people.

We share everything so there is no ratio, percentage, yours/mine etc. So all major decisions are joint.

If your current incomes are all thrown into the joint account and you are having issues, does it mean you are spending more than you both make now? Do you guys look at each other's credit card bills and review? If you know how much the credit card bills are, then you can plan to ensure there is more than enough to cover them. You should both try to use credit card instead of cash or debit since you have buffer and overdrawn funds should not happen.

Always have enough in your checking account for all monthly expenses as minimum - mortgage, utilities, property tax, condo fees. Anything that gets withdrawn from the account, account for it's monthly cost and ensure your checkingaccount has that as a minimum.
Deal Addict
Mar 11, 2007
3768 posts
1080 upvotes
QC
I got everything in an excel spreadsheet. It took me a couple hours, but so much easier to track everything. I got personal and common revenue listed and personal and common spending.

We both have personal account and a joint account with Tangerine. I calculated for 12 months what was our monthly spending (mortgage, insurance, cable, internet, etc.) and we both contribute 50% to that. We also have a joint credit card for everything else (grocery mostly) and when we receive the bill, it's 50/50 also and we pay from our personal account. Still working great for more than 10 years.
Banned
User avatar
Jun 8, 2008
3977 posts
1407 upvotes
Toronto
For a long while, our pay cheques would go into our individual accounts and I'd transfer enough money to cover our monthly bills to a joint account. You should be able to track what your regular bills are pretty easily and so anticipate those costs. You should also be able to set up alerts on your account that email you when your account balance drops below a certain amount. Now, all our money goes into one account. We have adjusted our billing dates so that 90% of our bills are paid at the start of each month and our savings comes out at the same time. Its pretty easy to track that way since I know that once I get past the first week of each month, we don't need nearly as much money in there anymore. Try to adjust your billing dates so that they all converge around the same time (assuming you can have money in your accounts then).
Sr. Member
Sep 2, 2009
948 posts
659 upvotes
Ottawa
speedyforme wrote: Unfortunately I am old fashioned and log everything manually in Excel. The key thing is to keep all receipts and go through your bills so you don't miss any spending. I log stuff in when I have time. Sit in front of computer, empty my wallet and plug away. All receipts, both spending from both people.
I use to do the same thing until I got the handle of things on a daily basis and now use the "download" transactions feature of my online banking every week or two - simply drop the downloaded data (ensuring no duplicates from last download), add the category to each expense, and then there is the sumif statement for each category. It takes 5 minutes to log in and download, and then 5 minutes to add the categories to each line item.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
33644 posts
19453 upvotes
Ottawa
Sharpies wrote: How do you handle big expenses like home renovations or travel?

Also, does each of you contribute a certain amount of money into that joint bank account every month?
In our joint account, we maintain a min of 3 months of mortgage payments and is "topped" off every month 50/50!

For home renovations and as an example when we put up the fence; I paid the first half as a deposit and the balance through her when the invoice was received; as I was the one initially dealing with the fence company.
For vacations, it's based on who's turn it is to decide on where we are going,

As previously mentioned, things will never be evenly split and we're ok with that.

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