bride groom cake toppers cashWhen you're a bride-to-be, fun, fluttery, bubbly pre-wedding talk seems to fall into one of two categories: "OMG, tell me about the wedding!" or "Ooh, what a fairy tale!" (Things like the proposal, the dress, the future spouse in general can all fall into the latter.) No wonder that after tying the knot, some couples experience a total freakout/reality check. Like it or not, there's a lot more to marriage than happily ever after. Like paying the bills.

Then again, lots of couples live together and pay the bills together for a long time before getting married. My now-fiance and I lived together for five years before getting engaged. So what could really be all that different once we say "I do"? As I'm learning, nothing necessarily, but there are a bevy of financial possibilities and responsibilities -- both positive and negative -- associated with becoming Mr. and Mrs.  

For instance, we're going to open a joint checking and savings account FINALLY. But then we have to discuss what -- after the wedding gifts, of course -- goes in there. A percentage of our paychecks? A particular amount every month no matter what? Is it necessary to get a credit card in both our names, or should we just continue to use our own individual cards? One thing's for sure: I'm not going to want to be writing my husband a check for half the rent or cable bill.

At the same time, I completely expect that we'll have separate individual accounts to do with as we please. As independent-minded, hardworking people who are used to managing our own money, there's no reason we shouldn't maintain our own personal accounts in addition to the joint one. I'm not sure I could ever imagine pooling all of our assets -- seems so old school. Though I'm sure it's right for some couples with a different outlook and/or situation, it's not right for us. At least not right now.

And yet, I'm sure there are people out there who would say what's the point of getting married if you aren't marrying your money? Or that it's selfish or unnecessary to keep individual accounts. To that I'd say my future husband and I happen to have our own preferences. We're both more comfortable with the idea of sharing with a bit of space. The financial equivalent of twin beds in a guest room we can nap in, and sharing a queen-size bed in our bedroom at night.

Maybe our attitudes will evolve as we settle into being married, but in the meantime, this is what works for us. All newlyweds should do what works for them and not necessarily what's been done by anyone else.

How did/will you handle joint and individual finances with your spouse?