How Sharing a Car Has Helped Our Joint Finances

Kyle and I have completely joint finances – no allowances or “blow money” or anything similar – because 1) we agree on most everything anyway, 2) I don’t think we have a high enough income to spend on things we can’t both agree to, and 3) we don’t know how to halt the creep of separate finances that starts with designating any money as “mine” and “yours” instead of “ours.”


whispering coupleNot only do we have joint finances that we both monitor, but we don’t spend any money without consulting the other person.  I know other couples have a spending limit over which they have to check in with each other before making the transaction, but for us that is $0.  To be honest, this doesn’t take a lot of extra communication because we don’t make many purchases, but another factor that has helped a lot is sharing a car.


Last March, my car needed some repairs and we decided that we didn’t really need the second vehicle given that we work at the same place and do most of our socializing together.  So we’ve been operating as a one-car household since that point, which means that our communication about our schedules and the errands that need to be run has really increased.  One of us can’t leave the house without telling the other where we’re going and for how long because we don’t want to leave the other stranded!


Because we have this high level of reporting our whereabouts to each other, it’s made communicating about future spending very easy.  First, we do most of our errands together, particularly the spontaneous ones that would be the most difficult to remember to communicate with one another.  Second, we have to tell each other anyway when we’re going somewhere so it’s straightforward to mention all the retailers we plan to visit and the money we plan to spend.


Of course, if we spent a lot of money without leaving our home, for instance through online purchases, sharing a car wouldn’t help our joint finances at all, but that isn’t the case for us.  So while dropping our second car hasn’t helped our bottom line financial much at all, it is definitely supporting our joint money lifestyle and making communication a breeze.


What circumstances in your life have helped or hindered communication around money or your finances generally?  What is your system for communicating with your spouse about your joint money?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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33 Responses to "How Sharing a Car Has Helped Our Joint Finances"

  1. AverageJoe says:

    I found that we didn’t have communication issues around money until the kids arrived. At that point our already-hectic lifestyle went into overdrive and we began sometimes missing our weekly financial meetings (we’ll do it later…) or began buying stuff on the way home that we needed and totally forgot to tell the other person.
    AverageJoe recently posted..Hiring a Financial Advisor: Clues from the Receptionist

    1. Emily says:

      I can see that being a major disturbance in communication.

  2. Daisy says:

    Ah! I couldn’t imagine having to share a car. I value my freedom far too much and it would be horrible for our relationship if I (or he) felt like I had to ask permission to run out to the gym for an hour. I can see that working for some people but definitely not for us. We are pretty good on the communicating about financials stand point.
    Daisy recently posted..The Many Inspections Needed When Buying an Older Home

    1. Emily says:

      It was way better for us to consolidate our schedules by commuting together, and since we drove nearly everywhere else together anyway, the second car really became superfluous! We’ve definitely become better at grouping errands together so we don’t have to go home and run back out, which I think is a time-saver.

  3. The wife and I only really talk about our joint money. We have personal accounts and that works for us really well. We know how much has to go into the joint account and if we are spending too much from that account, then we sit down and figure it out. We have good communication because my wife is easy going and is not a big spender.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Two Common Debt Reduction Options

    1. Emily says:

      What expenses are you responsible for out of your personal account?

  4. We really, thankfully, don’t have any real communication issues with money and it helps that we’re on the same page as well. We each get our own allowance and are free to spend that as we wish, but it’s funny how even we talk about that spending as well.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Reader Question: Should I Invest in Mutual Funds or ETFs?

    1. Emily says:

      Do you still seek approval/confirmation from one another regarding how you spent your allowances, even thoufh it’s not required? Or is it more just relaying the drtails of your day?

  5. Retire By 40 says:

    We share one car as well and now that I’m not working anymore, we only drive about once a week. Our location is very walkable and has great public transportation options though. It would be hard to share one car if we live in the suburb or rural area. It’s great that you are communicating about finance. It’s a hard subject for many couple.
    Retire By 40 recently posted..The Money Code book & $25 Giveaway

    1. Emily says:

      Where we live isn’t walkable but we just drive everywhere together! I wish we lived in a city with better public transport.

  6. We have thought about going down to one car since we car pool a lot anyway. However, at this time, we haven’t because they are both paid off. Like you though, we are totally combined finances and promote that as the way for married couples to go!
    Greg@ClubThrifty recently posted..How to Save Money in College: The Benefit of Hindsight

    1. Emily says:

      Both our cars are paid off, too, which is part of the reason we haven’t experienced much savings. We still have the second car because we’ll start using it again when Kyle graduates. I have enjoyed the non-monetary benefits of sharing though!

  7. My wife handles most of the joint finances, and I just take a look every no and again to see how we stand. That seems to work best for us. But generally speaking, anything larger than lunch is going to be mentioned before it’s purchased.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..How to Save Money Shaving

    1. Emily says:

      That’s unusual that you’re the PF blogger but your wife handles the finances more! Kyle and I have sort of specialized roles but I definitely look more.

      1. It comes largely from me having difficulty saying no to her. By letting her keep track of the finances, she can determine for herself if we can afford something.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..How to Save Money Shaving

        1. Emily says:

          Better money management and fewer fights – sounds like a good decision all around!

  8. I don’t think we could get by with just one car right now because of our jobs. That being said, it would be nice not to have to drive in this horrendous city traffic! 🙂
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..Renovate and Organize Your Home Office on a Budget

    1. Emily says:

      Lack of traffic is one reason I love Durham! When I worked in the DC area I Metroed eveeywhere because I hated dealing with traffic.

  9. Pauline says:

    We always talk a lot about money but are very independent people and not married so joint finances wouldn’t work. We own a property together which has brought the communication to a new level, but I don’t think we would ever get to the point where you guys are. Congrats on making it work though!
    Pauline recently posted..13 money resolutions for 2013: #9 max it out!

    1. Emily says:

      We are all-or-nothing types of people I guess – when we weren’t married we had nothing legally or financially tying us, but when we got married we jumped into joint everything with both feet. I’ll really miss the time with Kyle when we go back to having two cars!

  10. We only have one car and we barely use it (well technically we don’t have a car at all right now because ours was flooded in Sandy), but when we did have a car we only drove on weekends. Luckily public transport here is some of the best in the nation, so it’s not really a huge deal. If we lived in the suburbs we’d probably need two cars.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Being “On Call” On Holidays: An Epiphany

    1. Emily says:

      I’m jealous! I wish I could live car-free again, or with only one that we rarely use. Kyle loves having a car and driving, though, so I think “he’ll” always want to have a car. Well, I don’t think you’re lucky to have a flooded car, though.

  11. SWR says:

    At the risk of sounding overly dependent, getting to and from school is really the only time that I travel alone, and we live near enough to a train station for me to get into town that way. Other than for groceries (which we’ve always done together) and long-distance travel, I don’t go anywhere directly from my house, because everyone I’m friends with here lives in our school town. So a single car is a nonissue for us.

    Liam realizes he doesn’t have great attention to detail, so he handed complete control over his finances to me. We check in the night before each paycheck deposits, while I’m writing the budget for the following two weeks and scheduling payments out of the account. It’s the perfect amount of control for each of us.
    SWR recently posted..Hello, again

    1. Emily says:

      It doesn’t sound codependent to me – just that you have transportation options and enjoy each other’s company!

  12. I would love having just one car. Alas, we work in completely opposite directions so it’s not workable for us.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..How We Fought Our Real Estate Tax Appraisal And Won – Part 1

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah, I don’t think we would have tried the one-car thing if we didn’t work at the same place. Any chance of carpooling with others going in the same direction?

  13. […] Evolving PF – How Sharing a Car Has Helped Our Joint Finances […]

  14. […] Kyle and I have shared one car for nearly a year now!  We made the decision to become a one-car family after we realized that we didn’t truly need our second vehicle and that it was expensive to maintain two cars for little reason.  Now we have all the kinks worked out, like how to get to two different activities at once and how the bus system works in our city.  I have been surprised by how much sharing one car has improved our relationship (I’m a quality time girl!) and our communication around money. […]

  15. […] how Emily and Kyle have helped their finances by sharing a car at Evolving Personal […]

  16. eemusings says:

    We also share a car ( and quite frankly there is no way we could afford to run two cars! It definitely forces us to communicate about our schedules, though T now has a motorbike which also helps.

    I basically handle all our finances and check in with him weekly about any transactions he’s made that I’m not sure what they’re for (for tracking purposes).
    eemusings recently posted..Link love (Powered by bare naturals and email drama)

    1. Emily says:

      Sounds like you’ve settled into a good system! I think a motorbike would help us a lot, too, for the few times we have conflicts and need to be in different places.

  17. […] from iHeartBudgets listed How Sharing a Car Has Helped Our Joint Finances in his weekly good […]

  18. […] We reached our retirement savings milestone in August, more or less.  As an update to the post, our net worth is actually over $80,000 as of yesterday (thank you market run-up from last week), which is pretty darn good given that we’re nearing the end of the month (i.e. getting low in our checking account in advance of our next paycheck)!  Over the last year we’ve built up a ton of cash without meaning to.  We’ve been keeping our noses to the grindstones so hard trying to finish up that we have barely taken any time off this year.  I didn’t realize how taxing not having a summer vacation would be!  In addition to not traveling like we normally would have, we’ve also been saving up to repair my car.  In spring 2012 it broke down and we realized we didn’t actually need two cars, so we stopped driving it.  We didn’t want to sell it because we’re anticipating living apart for a while between our graduations and we’ll likely need two cars then.  While going down to one car hasn’t saved us much money, it surprisingly has improved our marriage! […]

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