Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Failure of the Day: You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With

After over 7 years of coupledom and almost 4 years of marriage, Chris and I did something for the first time this weekend—we opened a joint checking account.

Up until now, we’ve been perfectly content keeping our finances entirely separate. It’s occasionally slightly more time consuming than it might otherwise be—each of us writing a check for half the rent, paying for groceries on two debit cards, etc.—but it strikes me that separate accounts is a nice vote for both financial independence and trust. He works hard for his money as I do mine; no one should tell him or me what we can or can’t do with it. Sometimes he wants a genuine replica light saber (or three); sometimes I want a spectacular pair of eyeglasses.

Given that we spend our cash as we see fit, separate accounts also entails a certain level of trust. He has no control over my account, so he needs to know that I’m not going to do something irresponsible or poorly thought out that would put him in some sort of financial jeopardy. We of course discuss all major (and almost all minor) purchases before making them, and I can’t imagine one us buying something that other was uncomfortable with, but nevertheless, only I have final say over what I do with my money and only he has final say over what he does with his.

And yet, we walked right into the bank today and opened a joint account. Not as a replacement to our individual accounts, but as an addition to them. We did it for several reasons, not least of which is that my accounts are based in San Francisco, his accounts are based in Seattle, and we live in neither of those places, so we thought it might be nice to have a local account. And also because it actually is kind of a hassle to write two rent checks. Now we’ll each just transfer money to the joint account each month and write a single check. I think that’s probably all we’ll use the account for.

Still, though, it feels like we’ve crossed some sort of final relationship threshold. We’ve shared everything for a good long while already; today we took a little step into co-mingling. I suspect this will be as far as it goes—and I’m damn sure he’ll never let my ragged, marked-up, used paperbacks on the same shelves with his pristine hardbacks.


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