I’m no Gloria Steinem, but I do believe in taking care of yourself financially … being independent of your spouse or S.O. (and certainly someone you’ve just met)! But how do you do that?

Back when our grandmothers were running the households, most likely they weren’t earning an income. So their jobs may have been to budget the earnings the husband made, and if they were lucky, they received an allowance to get their own things, such as a lipstick or some fabric. (Yes, fabric! Lol). Nowadays, if we’re booed up via vows, we’ve got double incomes to manage. But do you consider this money as “What’s Mine is Yours” or settle on “His and Hers”?

Whether you’ll share or split financial responsibilities—groceries, gas for the car(s), rent/mortgage, the cleaning lady, the light bill, etc.—largely depends on your budget. Your household budget and your personal one. Maybe you have student loans to pay, and the majority of your income is going towards that, ‘cause, you know, it’s your debt. And you’re not expecting him to pitch in on that anymore than he expects you to pay his car note. (Even though truth be told, you drive his car waaay more than he does.) You probably wouldn’t pool all bills and split them down the middle if this were the case.

Maybe you all have a joint account where you both contribute the same amount for the house bills like cable, water, and electric, but then you each have your own personal account to take care of your needs, like dry cleaning, Girl’s Night Out, or car maintenance. Another option is one spouse handles all things food (groceries and eating out) and the other handles all things domicile (utilities and maintenance).

There are plenty of options to choose from, but you must choose one if you want to stay in like (let alone stay in love) because fighting over money is one of the fastest ways to fall out with your guy!

I’ve talked to a lot of friends about how they manage their finances when in coupledom. What seems to work best is that there is a ton of communication and understanding about money, AT THE BEGINNING! This means you make your “who’s gonna pay what” plan before you shack up, get engaged, and definitely before “I Do” gets done.

Now, I say that, but Al and I have been married for almost a year and a half. Before, and right after, we jumped the broom, we talked and talked and talked about splitting the utilities and groceries down the middle. We discussed opening a joint checking account, and we committed to keeping our personal spending habits … well, personal. As two grown, successful adults, we were used to spending our money in our respective and independent ways. After my first marriage ended sixteen years ago, I vowed to nevah sneak another shopping bag into the house or have to explain why I spent $1,000 on a pair of shoes if my hard-earning heart so desired. And while my spending choices may give his heart palpitations, Al gets this about me. (That’s why I love him so.)

My spending isn’t impacting his wallet. So, although he may roll his eyes whenever the guy from our condo’s receiving room calls to say I have another ten packages that need to be picked up, that’s where the drama/trauma stops! We haven’t yet opened that joint account. Some weeks, I buy groceries. Some weeks, he does. (Mostly, our refrigerator assumes there is some surrogate fridge elsewhere hosting our food delicacies because ours is pretty barren.) But we try to be fair about how we split things up.

BTW, Al wants all you ladies to know, “Men take note of women who aren’t fair in a relationship.” He says one of the things that most attracted him to me was my fairness, which was “even finer than your beauty.” (I’m still blushing).

If you’re having troubles figuring it all out, don’t fret. Talk it out. What does fair look like to you? How does he define it? If talking doesn’t work, get help. Meet with your pastor. (They usually give great advice!) Dial up a financial planner or even a pretty good financial friend. He or she can give you some advice on when you should pull out your wallet and when your honey bun should. But for the sake of love, avoid having family members all up in your fiscal affairs. No point in adding drama on top of drama.

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