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New Money Rules for Couples

Postnups, financial three-ways, paying your spouse for doing laundry…. More and more couples are devising their own, sometimes wacky money systems. How does yours compare?
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Liz, 30, and Donald Thurston, 34, Centreville, VA

They've come up with their own equation

THEIR MONEY SYSTEM: Because Donald, a manager for a rental-car chain, earns roughly 40 percent more than his wife, Liz, a nonprofit director, he pays 40 percent more of their shared expenses. "When we first got married, we split all the bills evenly, but I could barely come up with my half every month," says Liz. Now, Donald covers the mortgage, the phone bill, and the couple's gym memberships, while Liz handles the utilities, garbage collection, and groceries. "It adds up when you're feeding a 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound man!" says Liz. They pay for everything out of their individual checking accounts, but they keep one shared savings account for tax refunds and any bonus income they bring in throughout the year. "That's our nest egg, and we try to put some cash in that account regularly," she says. "When we have kids, I think we'll simply shift the balance. More of each of our earnings will go into our shared 'family' savings, but we'll always keep our own personal accounts too."

WHY IT WORKS: "Having separate accounts makes us communicate even more about money, because we're always keeping each other in the loop about things," says Donald. And they both appreciate the financial freedom afforded by the two-pot plan: "I like that I can go shopping at the mall and I don't have to worry that he's going to analyze my every purchase," Liz adds. "It feels very fair to us because we both spend pretty reasonably. So there's no worry that one of us is going to take advantage of the system."

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