In the personal finance world, you may hear the term SINK (Single Income No Kids), or DINK (Dual Income No Kids). My wife and I are what I call DBSINK (Dual But Separate Income No Kids). We both have jobs, and no plans to have children. Maybe a dog once we get a house and some land. Besides the obvious cost of having children financially, We both have medical conditions which could make the birthing process extremely dangerous or we’ll pass on some less than stellar medical and mental issues. Maybe we’ll adopt some day, but right now, that’s not in the plan.
In our relationship, she is more conservative with money, and I am a bit more bullish. She has had a very high average savings rate (we haven’t actually ran the numbers yet), probably north of 30%. I had a spending and debt problem before we started dating and have been aggressively tackling that mistake. I’ve been putting 7% into my SIMPLE IRA with a 3% employer match since the plan’s inception. My wife has finally just started a job that offers a Roth 401k, and she has opened a Roth IRA. Nothing is maxing out at the moment. For her the stock market is gambling. Nobody ever taught her how the finance world works. She was just told to save.
Because of this divide in financial opinions, we have elected to keep our finances separate. As long as we both can pay our bills, we don’t try to control each other’s finances. I love gadgets and tinkering. I’m working on learning how to program arduino for a lighting project. She likes clothes and a few other fashion luxuries. The only time one of us confronts the other is when someone is going to make a big purchase. When I wanted to the tech school to get a 1 semester Technical diploma to learn Bookkeeping, my wife literally asked me, “Can you afford this?”. When my wife wanted to buy a new phone, I asked the same thing. We are the angel and devil on each other’s shoulders for the big decisions.
We will combine some finances once we buy our first property to make paying bills and creating an emergency fund easier. Now that I am back to my pre-covid job, I travel a lot, so it would just be easier to pay for emergencies like a new water heater, or air conditioner while I’m travelling for work.
For the most part, we are on the same goal financially. I would like the have the option to “retire” (I’ll probably never stop working in some regard) by 45. A couple weeks ago, my wife had the limiting belief of “You are crazy, we’ll never be able to retire.” What changed that was having to help an elderly coworker after a fall. The guy fell in the grocery store and she was the one of 2 people in the store besides this guy. She found him trying to get up. She hollered for her boss and they couldn’t get him up. for reference, my wife is just under 5′ and maybe 120lbs and her boss is only slightly taller. They asked the fallen coworker if he wanted an ambulance and he said, ” I can’t afford one”. When I picked her up for work, I asked her how her morning was, and she said, “So how do I open a retirement account at that Vanguard place. As we opened her account, she did some quick math and realized that if she can only put $6,000 a year (+ adjusted contribution rates going forward), she won’t be able to retire. SO as someone in the FI community, I pulled out my Financial Independence Spreadsheet. I added her Roth IRA to my file and showed her that even if we assume a 5% return, she would have $646,586.12. Which is well over half of our FI number. Then I showed her the 7% average everyone uses as a standard for an average return. Her eyes snapped open wide when she saw $1,061,502.07. In her eyes, even though we aren’t. We are millionaires. Just in the future. Then I showed her what would happen if we both max out our IRAs and just kept doing the match at our employers. We would hit our FI number in 12 years.
She isn’t deep in the FI rabbit hole, but at least she knows that we can actually retire.
So for us, we have found a healthy way to keep our finances separate, but our long term and short term goals together. I keep hearing that it is wrong or stupid to keep finances separate in marriage. But for us this works. It keeps us from judging each others spending and helps keeps us independent so we don’t feel like one of us is doing all of the work while the other enjoys the money. Everything we have, we’ve earned. And she has no interest in using my 3d printer, and I have no interest in her shoes, they wouldn’t fit. So it makes sense to lets us do our own thing. As long as we both are on the same journey.