• How We Do It

    August 25, 2010

    Good morning! :mrgreen:

    It’s still raining here, but at least I had a little something to brighten up my day. Fresh flowers always put a smile on my face! :-D



    I was starving when I woke up, so I immediately went to the kitchen to make breakfast. I wanted something fast and filling, so I grabbed a whole wheat tortilla and started adding ingredients.


    In the mix:

    • Teddie peanut butter
    • Banana slices
    • Raisins
    • Chia seeds


    I need to make this breakfast more often. I forgot how delicious and satisfying it is.



    How We Do It: Finances

    I get a lot of questions about how Mal and I manage our finances as a couple. We have our own little system that includes multiple personal and joint bank accounts. We never fight about money, so it definitely works for us. Our system may not work for everyone; this is just our experience.

    Our Bank Accounts

    Between the two of us, we have six different bank accounts. It sounds ridiculous, but it works for us. Mal and I each have our own personal checking and savings accounts. We also have a joint checking and savings account. It sounds like a lot of accounts to keep track of, but it’s really not.

    Mal and I manage our own personal bank accounts, which also means we decide how to spend our own money. This is nice because I can spend my money on flights to the West coast and he can buy video games and neither of us gets upset. We also make sure to add money to our personal savings accounts for “Oh Sh*t” moments, like when one of our cars breaks down.

    When it comes to our joint checking and savings accounts, we both contribute the same amount of money to them each week. We both set up an automatic withdrawal from our checking accounts to our joint checking and savings accounts, so we don’t have to think about every week and there’s always money in our joint bank accounts.

    Who Pays for What

    When it comes to “major” life expenses, Mal and I split them 50/50. We’re each responsible for our own half of the rent each month, which comes out of our personal checking accounts. We both write separate checks to our landlord. We’ll likely do this for our mortgage too.

    When it comes to groceries and other bills (utilities, cell phones, car insurance, etc.), we still split everything 50/50, but we pay for these items from our joint checking account. We determined what amount is needed to cover all of our expenses and contribute that amount each week from our personal checking accounts.

    Ok, all of this probably sounds a little confusing. A brief summary of our bank accounts might help explain our system a little bit better. Here’s what each of them pays for:

    • Tina’s checking: Rent, my student loans, prescriptions, beauty products, clothing
    • Mal’s checking: Rent, his student loans, his car payment, video games, J.Crew clothing
    • Tina’s savings: Taxes, house down payment, car repairs
    • Mal’s savings: Summer classes, car repairs
    • Joint checking: Groceries, utility bills, car insurance, cell phone, gym membership, gifts for family, dining out
    • Joint savings: House down payment, trips/vacations

    Wow, that was a lot more than I planned to write! Let me know if you have any specific questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Again, this system works for us, but it might not be for everyone.

    TNT Raffle Winner

    THANK YOU to everyone who entered our TNT raffle to win a Breville Juicer. Mal and I are so thankful for your support and your donations help get us closer to finding a cure for these horrible blood cancers.

    To pick the winner, I listed everyone’s name in an Excel spreadsheet (one entry for $5, two entries for $10, fifteen entries for $50, etc.) and then Mal picked the winner using the Random Integer Generator. So, here’s your winner: Holly Bigness!

    Congrats, Holly!!!! Please email me at tina@carrotsncake.com with your mailing address and we’ll send out your new juicer this week.

    Question of the Day

    When it comes to finances, do you consider yourself a spender or a saver?

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    { 145 comments… read them below or add one }

    Erin D.! August 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for sharing the information about how you and Mal manage finances. I’m always looking for advice on this, especially when student loans are part of the mix…I don’t want my boyfriend to be responsible for mine and I sure don’t want to be responsible for his! Great info!


    Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 25, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I really love your new layout, especially the font. It’s very fun to go through.

    I’m such a saver. I’m making good money nannying this summer and I don’t want to spend it all on clothes. I’m very lucky where right now I don’t have to pay for my rent, school, books or food so I’ve put almost 3/4 of it into savings.


    Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers August 25, 2010 at 11:53 am

    i am definitely a saver. fortunately my fiance is as well. we’re frugal folks! :)


    Tina August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

    @Kelly: It’s our individual responsibility to cover our half of the rent each month, so it comes out of our personal accounts. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of when it’s in our own accounts.


    Ashley C August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I’m a saver. I am worried about joining accounts when I marry my boyfriend because he’s a spender, this is a cool idea and I’m glad it works for you guys, maybe I’ll suggest it when the time arrives :-)


    Rae August 25, 2010 at 11:58 am

    We also have a joint account that we contribute equally to – from which comes out our mortgage, utilities, groceries, dining out, and gifts as well! We also have our own personal checking and savings… and we never fight either because we can buy whatever our own finances can handle. I LOVE this system because he can buy his electronics and I can get pedicures and no one’s upset :) Great system we share!


    Kara @ MyWellnest August 25, 2010 at 11:59 am

    We have multiple accounts as well, it just works better for us that way!

    Fresh flowers always brighten up a room!


    Emily @ The Happy Home August 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    right now, i’m a horrible spender. i don’t make enough money to cover all of my bills, so every last cent goes to rent/utilities, student loans, and car stuff (insurance, gas). if i didn’t have my boyfriend, i’d have to put EVERYTHING else on my credit card (even food!). the only reason he’s ok with this is because when we moved in together, he insisted on living in a neighborhood that was more expensive than what i could afford. as long as i paid my half of rent/utilities, he’d support me in other ways. i still feel guilty, though!


    Amber K August 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I think the best way to do finances is whatever works for you! I enjoyed reading about the way you both do it. I know that it wouldn’t work for me, but there are some aspects that are the same.

    Personally, I would transfer the money for rent into the joint account and just write one check, but that’s because that’s what my husband and I do! It isn’t going to be the same for everyone.


    Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) August 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Sounds like you’ve got a good system. The hubby and I have a joint account which can be a little frustrating at times. Sometimes I think it would be better if we each had our own account!


    Sarah B August 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for this mornings post! Since I’m on the west coast, I usually read your blog first thing when I get to work ;) But this morning I was at a loss for breakfast ideas so I turned to your page for some inspiration. I made almost the same thing for breakfast (I added blueberries instead of raisins and flax seeds instead of chia) and it was sooo yummy!


    Heather August 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Big time spender here! I’m really trying to work on it though and start saving a bit more, need to be more budget minded with my money.


    nickee August 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Hmm…it may be confusing but i actually like your system! it seems workable and both of you have your own fun money to play with without the other one getting upset! :) Heck i may use this too :-D


    Kelly August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    i love the “yours, mine, and ours” mentality of bank accounts. My husband and I do the same thing, and it works like a charm! kudos!


    Maria @ Kale and Cupcakes August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Definitely a spender at heart, but I’ve gotten very good at saving! The hubby and I do something similar to your’s and Mal’s finances and it works!


    suki August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I spend more than I save these days, but I am about to start some sort of system with the boyfriend.


    Allison August 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    You system seems like the perfect compromise. Your bills get covered and you can spend your personal money any way you want. But what will you do when you have kids? Basically it now seems like you would have to continue to work full time whether you wanted to or not. Obviously you all would make changes but still it seems like it will be a big adjustment.


    Anne August 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    That is similar to how we plan on doing things after we get married. Although I think our rent will be taken out of a joint account. It’s funny that you write separate checks! For now I pay all the bills, and then give my fiance the remaining balance on my half of the rent (minus his half of the bills) at the end of the month.

    Do you guys also split Murphy costs? We split April (our dog) costs, but also just alternate who buys her things each time we go out.


    Tina August 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    @Allison: We’re not having kids for a long time, but I assume we’ll contribute more money to our joint checking account for kid expenses.


    Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat August 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I am definitely more of a spender, but I don’t often impulse buy. Often I find something I really want, and then I wait a couple days to see if I still want it. If I do (and buying it wouldn’t break the bank), then I go ahead and spend.

    I like the finance system you two have going on!


    Tina August 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    @Anne: We pay for Murphy stuff out of our joint checking account.


    alison August 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    @Jamie: That’s how it works in my house, too!


    alison August 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I’m a saver and have slowly turned my husband in to one, as well. We have both a long term (aka don’t touch it!) savings account and one that we can play with, if necessary. I’m a stay at home mom and my husband is the sole breadwinner. Even when I did work, I didn’t make much money, so what I made we saved. Our bills have always been paid from my husband’s paycheck.


    Jaime Fong August 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Wow! Great system!

    I am such a saver and bargarin shopper! Its hard for me to spend full price on something until I justify it. haha However I will spend/splurge on something that I need if I find that it will be worth it such as tires for my car. Everything in moderation :-)


    Cara August 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Me and my husband do it the same way, although we pay the mortgage with the joint. I prefer it this way definitely.


    Arlene @ Adventures in Weight Loss August 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I’m a spender, but I’d love to become a saver. Tell me how! ;)


    Cynthia (It All Changes) August 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I’m definitely in the middle. My mom was a big saver and my dad was a big spender. I spend money on thing we find important and we save for everything else.

    But I love your tips and have been putting them in place. Especially the think a few days before you purchase something. I has saved me from many impulse purchases in the last week.


    Kara August 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Wow, 6 accounts seems like a lot! My husband and I just have the joint savings and checking. We live as a unit and spend as a unit. We also have never fought over money. If the system works for you guys, that’s awesome!

    Who pays for Murphy? :)


    Madeleine @ Notes On A Page August 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    We just opened a joint checking/savings in addition to our personal checking and savings accounts, too. The only difference is we pay rent from the joint savings every month, so it’s only one check! I find sharing money makes me a little more aware of how much I spend, which is a good thing! I like being able to pay for a date on one card, but I also like having the freedom to buy myself new shoes with my own money :)


    Jaclyn August 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Wow seems like you guys really have a great system down, making it work! Good for you!


    Honey August 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Interesting system… you’ve got it down! :-)
    But why not add your rent money to the joint and just write 1 check from the joint?
    I love that you are so open and honest… people love to be able to relate to other people.
    Great job!


    Grapeful August 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I grew up in a household with a single mom and my boyfriend’s mother was a stay at home mother so I never knew how people broke down the finances. And people are always uncomfortable to talk about this kind of stuff too. Anyway, I love the way you guys split things. It seems really fair and allows each of you to still be your own person. I’ll definitely be emulating this once I hit marriage-ville. ;) Loooved this post. Sooo interesting and informative.


    Kate D August 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I’m a spender and my husband in a saver. We definitively get into fights. (Especially since we are trying to build a house and our mortgage will be more than what we are paying now.)

    We eventually came up with a system that will help us meet our saving goals. We developed a budget, and are using mint.com to help us track our spending. We also decided to budget an “allowance” for each of us each month that we can spend on more frivolous items. That way we’ll stay under budget, but I won’t feel deprived if I want to buy something more fun–like a video game or a new cookbook.

    I also really like all the information you provide on saving Tina, its helpful for me while I’m learning to turn into a saver.


    Jillian August 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    @allison @ livingoneday: I used to work for Renew Life, which is a cleansing company that also sells chia seeds. The nutritional content is pretty much the same, but Salba uses only the white seeds for marketing reasons- to make their product seem different, basically.


    Heather August 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    we have everything as joint…my husband was in law school for three years of our marriage and not working so if he only had his own money he would have none lol! and now, I work PT from home so I would have no money! we discuss big purchases together before we buy, but never have any issues (so far!)


    Val @ Balancing Val August 26, 2010 at 9:12 am

    My boyfriend and I do the same exact thing. The only thing we do different is deposit half of our rent in our joint account and write one check.

    We always talk about what to do once we get married as if that would or should change things. Truthfully, I wouldn’t like having someone support me or even supporting someone fully financially as horrible as that sounds. Id like to do things 50/50 for as long as possible. This to me gives each of us control and responsibility and keeps money arguements to a minimum.

    Of course things may be different if children are in the picture but its going to be a LOOOOONG time before that bridge gets crossed, if ever. For now I think . . . why fix whats not broken!

    Love your blog Tina! I have a pug too. Ill post some pictures of him in the future.


    Chelsea (Chelsea's Chew and Run Fun) August 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Since I’m still getting back on my feet after a brief stint of unemployment, I’m not currently saving due to playing bill catch-up. However, once things even out I’ll do what I’ve always done, have 5-10% of each paycheck automatically withdrawn from my checking and deposited into my savings.


    Deborah August 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I’m glad to see that you both keep most of your finances separate. People are so surprised when I tell them my boyfriend and I keep our finances separate. I can buy shoes and he can buy video games without getting in a fight. Our setup is that my boyfriend pays the mortgage and I pay all the other utilities (since he makes more than me). We each make our own car payments, loan payments, etc… It’s so nice for him to not have to worry about a bunch of bills since he knows I will take care of it.


    Lauren @ 40Apples August 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Tina – I just wanted to say that this is SO helpful to see how you guys manage your expenses together!! Couples’ finance management has always been one of those mysteries to my single self, because I know (I’ve seen!) how complicated and stressful it can be. But your and Mal’s system looks so fair and balanced I can see why you never fight about it. You go, Lady!! I’m going to file your post away for “future reference” ;)


    Jessica @ Black Cat Kitchen August 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Love your rundown on finances. That’s definitely how I’m going to do it the next time I’m in a long-term relationship. And I’m going to add that I’m going to have separate credit cards too. My ex-husband and I fought over money SO much – mostly because I wanted to pay off our credit cards more and he didn’t. It was so frustrating. Glad to hear keeping it separate – for the most part – works!


    shelly@campinggirlchronicals August 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

    My husband and I organize our finances the same way you do. I like having my own account with my own money, it helps me to feel more independent.
    I am a spender but my husband is a saver. I am lucky enough to have a pension so I don’t have to worry about my retirement as much as he does.


    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite December 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    My husband and I have a similar system – we both have check/savings and then joint accounts and then divvy up billing beyond joint checking since he makes more money than I do. However, I love having my own money that I can spend on what I want and vice versa! We never argue about money :)


    Jaime December 31, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Interesting! My husband and I agreed when we married to have a joint checking and savings. The rule is that “fun money” is spent equally per person per month. For example, I play World of Warcraft and he plays Magic: The Gathering (yes, we are nerds). We are allotted that much per month each ($15 per). We only eat out together and, if something happens that one of us “cheats” that rule, the other person is allowed to eat out alone. As for student loans, we both went back to school a year ago so, since student loans from both of us are making the bills, we agreed to share the burden of them once we graduate. We do fight about money some but we try really hard to be fair and that works well for us.


    suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic] February 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Good to see this addressed as I just posted an entry on my blog asking readers about this. :) I’m curious to what other couples are doing! I’m sure it’s different depending on what works, but I think we’re taking a similar route as you and Mal with joint accounts.


    Electra @ vanillabeanlean.com July 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I LOVE this post! My boyfriend and I have lived together for over 3 years and still utilize our own checking & savings accounts as well. We do not have a joint checking or savings, but have talked about it. I believe this would DEFINITELY be a possible “how we do it” to consider. I love how you laid it all out.

    And I don’t know if it was in this post or one of the other billion posts of yours I read yesterday – because I LOVE your blog – but I love that “sex and money” are what is really important to get right. I never thought of it that way, but now that I did, it makes PERFECT sense :)


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