About a year ago we decided to combine all our income, assets and debts. This was because we were moving in together for the first time, and it seemed it would be impossible to fairly divide all the shared expenses. Not wanting a big hassle, we held our breath and jumped into the pool of joint finances. One year later, I have to say it was a great decision. All our income (salaries, bonuses, tax refunds, eBay profits, rebates, etc) goes directly into the joint account. We each divert $75 per paycheck into our own “allowance” checking accounts, so we each get $150 per month to use toward our individual wants. Individual gifts (from birthdays etc) gets divided up so that $100 goes into the allowance account and the remainder goes into the joint savings account.
All our joint expenses are paid from the joint checking account. Every Saturday we sit down toegther, gather up the bills, decide how to allocate the funds available (which credit card gets an extra payment etc) and pay bills. We leave around $100 in the joint account to cover any additonal expenses during the week, and put any leftover money directly into our online savings account. We do this knowing we can always get the extra cash out of savings if we need it, however just having it out of sight has always prevented us from going over budget.
Other joint account expenses include things we can both use, such as dinners out, date nights, household items. groceries, etc. We also sometimes use the joint account to pay for some new clothes if we both need to stock up on necessities and are out shopping together.
Expenses that come out of our allowances include personal indilgences such as trendy clothing, lunches out, happy hour with coworkers, hobby supplies, etc.
This arrangement has worked out so well that the only time we argue is when we miscommunicate about our intentions. For example, a few times I have been trying to decide whether or not I should splurge on an expensive item with my allowance. I ask him what he thinks, and he assumes I’m asking because I want it to come from the joint account. That has happened a few times, so now I’m better at being clear about where the money will come from.