Home > Personal Finance > We’ve Been Married 13 Years & Still Keep Most of Our Money Separate

Comments 0 Comments

Lou Altman, 50, describes himself as a spender. His wife, though, is a saver, in his words, “a bit of a money monk.”

And yet the New Hampshire couple have been married for 13½ years without a single fight about money. How? Amy Pruszenski, 47, who is married to Lou, said a big part of it is that they agreed before they married that neither would try to change the other, and “we are completely opposite.” Both had been married before, and before they tied the knot they talked about what a successful union would look like.

Before they married, it never occurred to either of them that they even might merge finances. Lou owns a satellite communications business, and Amy is an optometrist. It did occur to them to get a prenuptial agreement. “It was like, ‘I adore you, but let’s do this just in case,'” recalls Lou. It is modifiable and can be adjusted to changing circumstances.

How to handle finances after marriage can be a minefield — and it’s one many couples do not discuss beforehand. Differing habits and priorities can come as a shock. Couples can and do successfully combine their finances, but no single way works for everyone. It may be worth exploring the options rather than assuming what your parents did or what a friend does is the system that will work for you.

In Lou and Amy’s case, they did not exchange credit reports or any other credit information. (Many financial advisers recommend that couples do so. You can take a look at your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) Lou and Amy also didn’t share much information about their debt. Lou knew Amy had college and graduate school debt but it was her debt, just as his credit card bills and truck loan belonged to him.

Although Lou and Amy have not had money fights, there have been discussions about how to spend on shared expenses. Their incomes are different, and Lou has children. A little more than 10 years ago, they bought a house — mainly because they needed larger quarters for Lou’s children — and expenses are not shared 50-50. Amy said she’d had “a perfect little beach apartment,” and “I kinda felt like I wouldn’t be buying [the house] if there were no kids,” she said. House expenses are paid from their single joint account, funded by both of them. They discuss things like whether the washer and dryer need to be replaced just yet, or if they should refinance. But everyday expenses are covered with funds in their joint account.

Among the advantages of keeping much of their finances separate, they say, are not having to justify financial priorities for “our” money. Amy travels to Maryland to visit her 92-year-old mother once a month, and she attends educational conferences. And Lou recently came home from a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland with a bass guitar signed by newly inducted RUSH, his favorite band. He paid $5,000 for it, but it was his money, and it did not result in Amy having any less to spend or leave them unable to pay basic bills. Amy was unfazed — or, more accurately, glad Lou was happy.

They also spend money on travel. Amy took Lou on a cruise for his birthday. And when they plan travel together, it does matter that incomes and money personalities are different. “I contribute what I can,” Amy says. Lou said he doesn’t mind paying for most of, if not an entire, trip; he says traveling with Amy is his favorite thing to do. “Since we always have an adventure, it is money well spent,’ he says.

Savings and retirement accounts are separate as well, but plans are joint. They recently made lists of places they wanted to go in the next 10 years, and matched on seven out of 10. Now, to agree on when and for how long.

And although they have separate accounts, they do not have secret accounts. “To me, it’s a respect issue,” says Amy. Nobody needs to lie or hide purchases (and many married couples have some unhealthy money secrets), Lou says, then qualifies it. “We only lie about birthday, anniversary or Christmas gifts.”

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image courtesy Lou Altman & Amy Pruszenski

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team