Fresh Start or Add to Existing?
I'm looking for suggestions or people with past experience. On Jan 1, DH and I will be combining budgets. I'm a YNAB devotee, he's used it in the past but not now.
I have an existing nYNAB budget that spans the last two years. We've been together 7 years, but because he was military, we had fairly separate lives because he was overseas so much, or stationed away from here. He's now retired, and we're merging our lives, including money. I expect we will both keep our existing bank accounts, and just combine our money in one budget.
I've considered just adding his accounts to my existing budget, which preserves all the work I've previously done. I have also considered doing a Fresh Start. Has anyone else done this? Which method did you use? Pros and cons you found to either method?
I would base it on how much you expect your categories to change. If you find that you'll just be adding some new categories or rearranging the grouping, continue to use the existing budget. But if you expect that the entire budget will be turned on its head and the current categories are of little value, it will be easier to Fresh Start.
YNAB has a guide on budgeting together, which might be helpful (though probably not specifically applicable to your question above): https://www.youneedabudget.com/guides/join-forces/
Personally, I'd also consider this question from a relationship point of view. I'm not sure who will be the primary person between the two of you who will be handling finances, or if you're trying to do it jointly, but it may be worth it to do a fresh start to emphasize that you're starting fresh with potentially new goals and priorities. A fresh start and a budget meeting to discuss categories and financial plans might be worth it to get your partner on board?
I'm not sure input is still relevant, but I'll give some thoughts anyway.
My husband and I had a similar situation. I rented an apartment and had my own budget before I met him. A while after we met, he moved in with me. At the same time, we purchased a house and started remodeling it. We kept our separate budgets and bank accounts but both contributed to apartment and house. When we finally moved to the house, we merged everything. Now we have a joint account and joint budget. When making the new joint budget, we had the old budgets on the table beside us as source material. So we started a brand new one, but it still had a lot from the old budgets incorporated. And I kept the old budgets around for reference. Since then it evolved a lot. Because it was also an opportunity to evaluate each category again. For example, we saved on the energy expenses by changing supplier. I liked doing the exercise. Although I have to say we still have to change things regularly to our budget (adding and re-evaluating categories) due to our growing family.
In your case, it sounds like you run the main family household on your budget and your husband has his on-the-move budget. Just for information, I'll describe the way families in our area deal with this.
In our area, there are two major ways to structure a new family financially. Either you join everything like we did. Or both partners keep separate accounts but add a "household" account for living and housing expenses. This additional account is a checking account which exists for the family as a whole for costs like food, clothing for the children, mortgage, medical, etc. Both partners contribute (an agreed percentage or all of their) paycheck to the account. In that case, I would make 3 separate budgets. One for each partner and one for the household. To me, it makes sense to have an overview of the living expenses in one budget. The separate, individual budgets are usually for luxury items like a special car, additional clothing money, etc.
I hope you found a smooth way to transition to your new situation.