Wednesday, January 23, 2013

cash flow

The other weekend Bunny and I took a little bit of an impromptu roadtrip into Newmarket. He'd been trying to pick up some paints for his model car that he's building for awhile, and for the last three weekends the hobby shop in town had been out of every single colour he needed. Finally one of the associates recommended we drive down to Newmarket and we found out that no problem, they had everything.

On the car ride down we had a few talks though about money and priorities and life. Bunny's bank account doesn't really have much in the way of buffer between his income and his share of regular expenses. On top of that there have been extra expenses lately (he had another dentist visit this weekend that kind of cleaned him out) and he's been stressed.

Part of it's my fault. We view all of our money as "our" money, whether it's in my account or his account, but his accounts look pretty sad lately. I've been procrastinating pretty hardcore on the budget and on getting all of our figures to him. I mean, I know where the money goes, I know what savings to be expecting but everything's all over the place with our money right now and I need to start untangling and simplifying.

We've been putting off joining the accounts until my name change is complete legally as an attempt to simplify. It's a little unfair though, because I bring in more money on a regular basis than he does and the expenses that have traditionally been his are way higher than mine. Essentially his regular income just covers the bills and his spending with a tiny bit to spare, whereas my paycheque covers my loans, my fun money, our joint entertainment with significant savings every cheque.

The big stuff is all in place: we have the money to cover our fixed expenses, we have freedom with our money and we save pretty aggressively. What we don't have right now is a plan for exactly what we should be expecting in savings and expenses. I know pretty well what we spend on ourselves but it's been a long time since we've taken a critical eye to it. We also have all our savings lumped into two catagories one account where we put aside money for the taxes on Bunny's freelance, and my account that is combination emergency fund, house savings and short term savings goals. We need to tease out little spots to, say, save for the vacation we've both been craving for years, even if it's just a jar on the dresser that we each stash some personal money in every other week.

So the next week or two I'm trying to dedicate some extra time into putting the numbers together and presenting things to him. We're in good financial shape, really, it's just that our different bank accounts give two very different views of things and don't actually reflect our financial philosophies.

How do you handle family money? Are accounts together, separate or a bit of both? Are you living up to your ideals?


  1. We have separate accounts... But we consider our finances to be fully joint. Until last September we transferred my full salary to our common savings' account, while all of our expenses come from the boy's account.
    We have been planning to join accounts for a long time, since our finances are joint anyway, we just haven't come around to it.
    It is hard not to be providing any income, feeling like I'm not really giving anything, then I have to remind myself that I am, and that I am still looking for a way to get employed soon in one way or another.

    1. Sounds like your bank accounts are pretty similar to ours! I get a fair bit of a laugh out of how long we've put off joining our accounts compared to how long we've shared our finances equally.

      I so feel you about feeling like less of a financial contributor. I had a lot of guilt when I was laid off last year while Bunny was in school. There are more ways than just bringing in income to contribute to a relationship, even financially. In the midst of things it can be very hard to feel that way though. :(

  2. It sounds like you could do with an overhaul. Who knows, maybe some hidden funds appear that could give your vacation-plan a little jumpstart. It will probably be very nice for Bunny to actually see the financial breathing room you have reflected in a number on his bankaccount.

    We have a bit of both. We each have a personal account, and then we also share one.

    Before I quit my job, we would each put a certain amount of money in the joint account every month. For the mortgage and the bills and the bills. We would also put gifts in there that people gave to both of us (such as the wedding money from my parents). Beloved makes about three times as much as I did, but because he's a frugal person, I could pay approximately 40% of the mortgage + bills and still pay less than when I lived alone, so that's what we agreed on as fair payment. I think I could have negotiated to pay less, but my pride did not let me :)

    We don't really keep tabs on what happens with the money in the private accounts, although we have a general idea on where and how we save and spend. Most of his saved money goes into mutual funds and IRAs and such. Previously most of my saved money went into paying off my student loans (at an accelerated rate, because I didn't have that much debt and I saved much more than the minimal payments). When those were paid off, I kept the money as a cash reserve (about six months of total household expenses).

    Now that I don't work for a few months, I 'live' off that cash, while Beloved takes care of the mortgage and the major bills, while I still pay things like my phone bill, health insurance and other insirances. Beloved has a cash emergency fund too, so even if I manage to deplete all of my saved cash, the household won't be at risk.

    The construction as it is right now, does not quite reflect the legal realities of the situation. We've agreed that pre-marriage assets and debts remain separate, while income made after the date of marriage is shared. So, technically, I paid off private debt with shared money. Technically, all investments Beloved has made since the wedding date are ours, not his. Because of the tremendous complications of having a non-US resident's name attached to US investment accounts, we keep those in his name. We do have a pre-nup set up that makes completely traceable what invested money is private and which is joint.

    I figure that after the big move to the US, we'll only keep the joint bank account here and find a new strategy to go with our situation in the US.

    I think this somewhat complicated and not always entirely transparant situation works for us because we have very similar financial strategies. We're both frugal and we're both avid savers. If one of us had been more spendy than the other, I think we would have been less lenient with managing the finances.

    1. We are in need of an overhaul (next week there's a little update planned about the situation, though we still have a long way to go). Really beyond re-evaluating the budget and finding places to save one of the biggest things we need to do is get into the one account system - which is what we both want to be on.

      It certainly sounds like a lot of people have somewhat complicated joint finances! You guys definitely have a lot of extra complications to deal with when it comes to everything related to immigration and citizenship and the financial hurdles there. Sounds like you have a very thought out plan there though!

  3. David and I went joint before we were married - just in the lead up. Switching things over to my married name was stupid easy. Like, fax over copy of marriage license and new driver's license. They might have emailed me a document I had to sign and fax back, but I don't remember.

    If you're hesitant to switch to joint, that's fine, but don't worry too much about the name change. It was really, really easy. (I'm with Scotia.) Actually, changing every single thing was that easy, once I got the marriage license sent to me. Don't let the process intimidate you too much - it's pretty easy in English speaking Canada, at least compared to what I hear it's like in the States.

    1. I think part of the whole issue with the joint bank accounts for me is I want to do it all under the married name, and while I've completely switched over socially there's a part of me that's not quite ready to switch it officially. It's a hesitancy I didn't expect, and it's strange because I've so embraced using his last name on everything other than my ID and banking information anyhow.

      Either way, I think I've got to untie the two issues (joint accounts/name change) in my mind and just get ready to dive into whatever decision I feel right about.