Monday, May 30, 2011

Money of a Non-Wedding Variety

I have often said that nothing is really going to change once we're married, and for the most part, that's true.  However, there is one really big thing that will be different once we're married, and that is the sharing of funds.

I'm pretty sensitive about money.  Part of this is just that I don't have much of it, but I can also get obsessively thrifty sometimes.  Not something I'm proud of, but it's better than the alternative, the alternative being my parents.

My parents are pretty much the opposite of savings.  Whenever they acquire money, it is spent quickly and effectively, and when they don't have money, things aren't much different.  They cannot save.  Don't get me wrong, they spend money on cool stuff like vacations and my brother and I, but they do have a tendency to spend money they don't have.  Now that they're getting older, this is becoming more and more of a problem, and they know it.

I'm pretty much the opposite of them.  I'm thrifty, I save, and I hate the idea of being in debt.  You know how when children's parents have problems (say, alcoholism), the children often emulate them or overcompensate?  I'm the latter.  I admit it freely.  I care too much about money (or rather, the lack thereof).  Which is especially stupid because I always thought my dad was an idiot for stressing out constantly about money (read:  my mother's spending habits).  Oh look, I emulate them AND go too far in the opposite direction!  Awesome!

Anyway, the idea of sharing everything monetary with someone else, even someone responsible like Daniel, terrifies me.  Legally, we will share earned income, debts, payments--everything.  And since neither of us has much money at the moment, and my husband-to-be has over $200,000 in student loans to pay off, I think my worries are legit.

But I am starting to be less concerned.  We've had lots of conversations about money and problems with shared money, and I think Daniel understands my concerns, and I understand why he doesn't share them.  The thing that really helped me realize how much this wouldn't change though is that we basically share funds already.  Not like we will when we're married--we have a very exact expense sheet, and we balance out how much each of us has paid for shared items every month, something we will not do when married--but when it comes to the big things, like one of us needing a little help or making decisions based on what we can afford, we already think of money collectively.  We based our ability to move the last few times on how much we could afford together, we haven't bought a second car because neither of us can afford it, and we based our rent options on what both of us could afford.  We've been making financial decisions as a couple for years.

I'm still a little nervous about sharing everything, but at least getting married will not make me legally responsible for Daniel's student loans.  And in all likelihood, the biggest change will be that we don't make sure everything is balanced out 100% equally, which really isn't that big of a deal.

And if I'm perfectly honest, I stand to gain more from shared funds in the long run anyway.  Marrying a lawyer does have its perks (btw, Daniel passed the bar!).

So I'm feeling better about it, but it's still an area where we'll have to tread carefully at first.  We'll fight about it and we'll try things out and figure out a system that works.

And hey, that's what marriage is all about, right?  I supposed there had to be something life-changing about it.

Were/are you worried about changes getting married will make to your finances?  Would you consider a pre-nup?  I thought about it, but, eh, I don't really feel the need.

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