Dealing With The His, Hers And Ours Funds In A Marriage

Love, Self

How to handle finances in marriage

THE HAPPY COUPLE is about to be joined in holy matrimony but that may not mean they should also merge all their money and assets. Studies reveal that in couples both men and women identify money as the biggest cause of marital strife for those at all income levels. Money is often a major issue in marriages: who controls what, who earns the most in a two-income household, how does each partner view money. While new couples often avoid talking about money, it calls for some practical sense and serious conversations early in the relationship to avoid the pitfalls later.

If a married couple decides to merge finances, ground rules need to be set and compromises made that align with their individual values.

The spender who marries a saver will need to create and stick to a monthly budget and set goals for saving. The saver might need to occasionally indulge the spouse with a little extra spending. Consider whether or not the purchase would bring greater long-term satisfaction and if it aligns with the couples’ personal values.

If one spouse receives an inheritance, they may have full control over how that money will be handled—sharing it with the partner or keeping it in a separate account. If the money is kept separate, its typically not subject to division. The only exception could be when a couple divorces or if the inheritance funds were shared or used to jointly purchase property or other assets during the marriage.

If the recipient does not want to divide the inheritance upon divorce, the money should be kept entirely separate from marital property. However, if a married person shares even a portion of the inheritance, it is generally presumed that the intention was to share all of it. It may require legal action to prove actual intent and the burden of proof is on the spouse who initially received it.

In almost 1/3 of two income households, women are the breadwinners. The cultural pressure for men to be head of household can create an uneasy dynamic for both spouses that can lead to stress and marital discontent. It’s helpful for each spouse to have defined roles and honor each other’s contribution. 

If you marry someone with minor children, you are taking on a financial responsibility. Both parties need to be open about their own financial situations, credit history, assets and retirement funds. This is especially true if there are any financial obligations from the previous marriage—like alimony or child support.

Legally, marriage is a financial partnership. Discussions around money management are part of what makes the partnership work. All money doesn’t have to be shared. Many couples set up accounts that are joint and some separate. The "Put and Take" account concept is where the couple takes a portion of the money set aside for discretionary spending and divides it; let’s say 10%, for each spouse. Each manages their own discretionary spending with no questions asked by the other.

In all of these situations, communication is key, as are regularly scheduled conversations around financial planning. McGee Wealth Management can help guide conversations around important decisions. For more information or free consultation, visit or call (503) 597-2222.

Judith A. McGee is the chair and chief executive officer of McGee Wealth Management, Inc., an independent registered investment advisor. She is a co-branch manager of, and offers securities through, Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. (Member FINRA/SIPC) in Portland.

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision. Any opinions are those of Judith A. McGee and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.


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