In the almost three years since we've been married, we have maintained the separate accounts, but I will say that we are leaning heavier than ever on the joint account. So much of what we do is for us as a couple, for our home, for Drake, for Baby Girl, or for experiences that we have together.
Our joint account covers all of the typical expenses:
- Utilities (gas, cable, internet, cell phone, water, etc)
- House projects/repairs
- Home decor
- Twice-monthly cleaning service
- Lawncare service (a new addition)
- Security system bills
- Drake expenses ... from rawhides to vet bills
- Meals we eat together
- Vacation expenses
- Gas, if we are on a road trip together
In regards to our pregnancy, anything that is associated with our daughter gets put on our joint card -- from clothes to her closet renovation to the bills that are (lawdamercy) already coming in regularly.
Our joint credit card ran a promotion for the first quarter of this year where all gas purchases earn 5 points per dollar (versus the typical 1 point per dollar), so, since January, we've been putting all gas on our joint card, even though Ian drives much more than I do. He also puts in a much larger monthly contribution to our joint savings account, and we use that account to pay the joint credit card bill.
We have tossed around the idea of combining all of our expenses, and we are not totally opposed to that idea, but as for now I'm still content having a small account I keep for myself that I use for little things like haircuts, lunches with girlfriends, payment of my personal credit card (shopping trips, girls vacations, gifts, et cetera).
Ian has also urged me during this pregnancy to treat myself as I'd like using the joint card -- within reason, of course. I'm a frugal person by nature, so I truly don't go crazy with this. But, if I have a prenatal massage or pedicure planned, or if I need a small dose of retail therapy, he sometimes tells me to put it on the joint card. It is a nice gesture and an easy way of him thanking me for carrying this bambina of ours. :)
The biggest change within the past year is that we hired a financial advisor through our bank who has really helped us increase our investments. The returns have easily outweighed the small fee we pay him, and I would highly suggest seeing if your bank offers advising services that can help you maximize your dollars. I'm ashamed that I also went about five years at my company without ever starting my 401(k) investing (lazy!), so our advisor really urged me to take advantage of that, and stat. The small amount of matching they offer was free money just waiting to be earned!
So there's the update. While we do maintain separate accounts, the bulk of our spending has been shifted to our joint account, with just the "fluff" items being covered by our own solo accounts. We are extremely transparent with each other about our spending habits and what we have in our personal savings accounts. I think as long as we are both satisfied and content with this set-up, we will keep it.
What works best for you?