Need Help Trying to Save our Marriage with Separate Accounts and YNAB
I have read all the guides, participated in the workshops, and searched the forums, and I still need some help. In an effort to prevent Divorce, my husband and I are separating our finances. We now have separate checking, saving, and credit cards, in addition to a joint credit card (which we use to get cash back because we pay for most of our expenses jointly), checking, and saving. We also have our separate retirement and investment accounts and joint kids college saving accounts.
The plan is we will pay for all joint expenses (which is most of our expenses including rent, groceries, family outings etc.) with the joint credit card or checking account, and we want to split those expenses 50/50. There will be things we save for jointly such as the down payment on a house, family vacation, gifts, annual memberships, etc.
My husband wants the rest of his money, that's not needed for joint expenses, to be "off the books" and is not linking his personal accounts or credit card to YNAB. That's fine with me as long as our joint expenses and savings are being addressed, but I would like to link my accounts so I can keep track of my own spending and make sure my personal savings are allocated appropriately (like for a dream trip).
We each get paid biweekly on alternating weeks. We have a young child and an infant and I work 80 hour weeks, so we can't depend on our ability to assign a job to dollars the minute it lands in our accounts (to ensure that we're splitting things equally) or the system will fail. Realistically that just isn't going to happen.
We're both invested in the budget and want to make it work but I'm really struggling with finding the best way to ensure we're splitting the joint expenses 50/50, when many of those expenses are variable every month, and we are paid biweekly rather than monthly or semi-monthly, and on alternating weeks. Thank you so much for any and all advice you may have, or how you made this work for you.
We split the management of our finances but still make joint decisions. We had used YNAB together for several years so I had plenty of data to go on. Rather than setting up a joint account or credit card, we decided which categories were joint and split them equally. I don't mean that we each pay 50% of each expenses. Instead we each took responsibility for different categories but the total we each pay to joint expenses is equal. Any remaining money is ours to do what we want with. This stopped a lot of arguments about updating YNAB, what was this expense for and the like. It also lets me choose to work a day less a week if I want to because it's only my personal funds that are affected by that decision. It also has stopped either of us judging what the other person spends money on. If they have it in their budget, that's fine. We do have a rule that if either of us want to take on any debt, even just float, we discuss it with the other first. The other rule, in my budget at least, is that I can don't WAM between joint and personal categories. I used emojis, category groups and ordering to identify which are joint categories and which are personal and, as I have variable income, I always fund the joint categories to the agreed amount before anything goes in personal.
We had always kept separate bank accounts so this was relatively simple to do. My husband kept most of the regular expenses which were direct debited out of his bank account anyway for historical reasons and I mainly do the true expenses because I'm the YNAB nerd. Initially, we thought that only I would continue with YNAB. My husband could simply pay his direct debits and then manage the rest as he saw fit. Yes we'd lose the YNAB data on utilities, rent/mortgage, etc but it wouldn't have been hard for me to compile a few DDs into useful data if I'd needed to.
The irony is my husband now uses YNAB almost as avidly as I do. We maintain separate budgets (with the same login though so we can both see each budget and do discuss them) but all we need to do is occasionally transfer money to each other to cover something from the other's budget. I tend to move money immediately to him because he doesn't have as much float because I have the true expenses building up. I just let him know at month end if he owes me for anything. It is a bit more palaver BUT it has rescued the way we talk about money.
This might sound draconian to some people but for us its just a management issue. I may need to have surgery soon and he wouldn't leave me hanging because I couldn't work for a month or anything like that.
Bearing in mind I do not share my finances, here's what I would do if I were you:
Create two budgets. One is joint, one is your own.
Link your personal accounts to your personal budget. Create your categories and then create a line "joint expenses" where you put money towards those.
Link the joint accounts to the joint budget. Create goals for every category on there - overestimate where needed - and then see how much you should each allocate every month (e.g. joint expenses are 2k/mo based on your goals so you each need to fund the joint expenses with 1k/mo). That's now your goal for your personal "joint expenses" line.
When you do your personal budget, fund your own categories and don't forget to fund the "joint expenses" category. Then monthly or bi-monthly transfer the money to the joint account. On your personal budget, that would be an "expense" categorized as "joint expenses", and on the joint account that would be "income" categorized as TBB and your name as Payee.
Does this make sense?
Hi everyone! I just wanted to post an update to say thank you for everyone's help.
We've been rolling with a joint budget for a few weeks now and it's going very well. We took the advice to create 3 separate budgets (one for his account, one for our joint account, and one for my account) and then when he gets paid we both contribute equal amounts into the joint budget and assign the dollars jobs from there.
Before this one person was responsible for handling all the bills (my partner) because of my busy work schedule although I don't think either of us really knew where money was going. Now I'm paying the bills but YNAB makes it much less overwhelming as I know whether or not we're going to have enough money to cover them. I feel amazingly more in control and I think we both feel like neither of us is being taken advantage of with this system with separate accounts.
I'm sure the marriage counseling isn't hurting either 😉
So thank you so much for the advice and trouble shooting. You (hopefully) saved a marriage ❤️