Tuesday, October 16, 2012

married money

As I've already mentioned, I don't really feel like my relationship with Bunny has changed much, other than just being altogether more awesome. So many things are exactly the same. Still, some things do have to shift slightly and coalesce into a more unified front.

One of those things? Our finances. And honestly, it's a strange one. Bunny and I have always been very clear on the general definition of how we'd handle our money when we got married, and we have pretty clear guidelines. What we knew going into the wedding was this:
  • We're of the "one pot" completely joint money philosophy
  • We both want and need the freedom of personal spending money, and so we will both get monthly spending allowances
  • I will be nominally in charge of our money (balancing the budget and checkbook, handing out both of our allowances, tracking and paying the bills) but Bunny is to have an absolutely equal voice in how we manage our money and is to be kept 100% in the loop of our financial status
  • This means we'll probably have monthly budget meetings to review where we stand and make sure I've updated Bunny on what's gone on in a clear form (not just "oh, we spent too much on groceries" in passing)
  • We both have large financial expenses (my student loans, Bunny's final apprenticeship classes upcoming, Bunny's work supplies which can get super expensive but are tax deductible) that we will work at together
Going into marriage we were both very in the know about each other's finances. He knows what my debts and savings are, I know what his assets and credit cards look like, we both know how much the other makes on any given paycheck and we made decisions about how our expenses worked as a team. Still, our bank accounts have been (and at this point still are) completely separate.

Those accounts? They won't be merged until mid November at the earliest, because we're doing our damnedest to make sure we have a solid picture of our finances before we get going on this. So October is Track Our Spending Month. We're each jotting down every purchase we make, even if it's only bus fare or a couple dollars on coffee. We'll keep track of the cash flow and at the end of the month I'll play with the numbers and, and put together a budget to suggest to Bunny. He'll take a look at things, see how he feels and if there are any tweaks he'd like to make, things I'd forgotten, or inequalities that I'd missed and then we'll update it until we reach something we both feel good about.

We've done this before, though less intensely, when Bunny quit the design firm to go back to school. What we hadn't done that time is completely merge the money. So it's just a step past from what we've already done with our finances. But it's still different.

Even ahead of that, though, I can already tell that on an emotional level how I approach our finances has changed. What gives? Well, Bunny's been in some significant tooth pain for about a month now and I finally got him to go see the dentist. Turns out the poor man needs a two-part root canal. Which is clearly not so cheap and we will be saying goodbye to almost a thousand dollars at the end of the month in consideration for his health.

Why is Bunny getting a root canal a big deal? Because I pushed him into it a little bit, despite his financial concerns. He was going on about the fact that "he can't afford it" and doesn't have the money and wanted to wait. My response?

"We have X thousand dollars in emergency savings. You needing a root canal is an emergency. We'll take the money out of the fund and pay ourselves back. Your health is important."

Those emergency savings? They're technically in "my" bank account. This is literally the equivalent of my life's savings, the money that I have scrimped and scrounged for since having adult jobs and responsibilities. A year ago, in this situation? I would have without hesitation offered the money to Bunny for his health, no strings attached. What I wouldn't have done is framed it as his money. It feels amazing though, that my financial care and planning has enabled us (me?) to take care of Bunny's needs.

It feels a little odd, because I definitely do have a sneaky emotional attachment to those savings as "my money", but I also completely see it as our money as well. It's an interesting contrast inside me that I'm still working out. Clearly there is a shift, and it's certainly significant, but it's also subtle. I'm pretty emotional about money: having it makes me feel good, not having it makes me feel pretty crappy. So this joint money thing? May be a bit of an emotional ride.

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