Category Archives: Money Stories

Our Decision To Join Our Finances

When Lauren and I got engaged last year, we had an important decision to make: did we want to combine finances or keep them separate?

We are on the same page financially, we have similar goals, and are equally frugal. We buy what we want but also have things we want to save for in the future.

There are couples who keep their finances separate and there are others that combine their finances. It can work either way, so every couple needs to find out what works for them.

Advantages of Keeping Our Finances Separate

Since we have the same goals, why combine finances? Lauren doesn’t need me looking at each of her purchases and questioning the little things. We’re focused on the big picture, so why worry about individual transactions? She should be able to spend money guilt-free without me looking over her shoulder.

As we began to talk through it, we realized one thing: we didn’t want to have an allowance.

Since I am working full time and Lauren is in school full time, keeping our finances separate meant that I would be transferring money from my account to hers. We thought that would have the potential to create a rift where I would want to reduce the amount she gets each month. This was definitely something that wouldn’t work for us.

So, we thought about joining our finances and what that would mean for us.

Advantages of Combining Our Finances

We’re about to get married, and we love thinking about how everything will be shared. “Ours” is our new favorite word. We’ll be able to consolidate accounts, which I like. Lauren won’t feel like I control how much she spends.

Lauren has some student loan debt and by combining finances, we can pay down the debt together. With separate finances, Lauren would be responsible for her student loan debt. It would cost us a lot of money if we had to wait until she finished school to stay paying off her loans.

However, when we combine our money, she’ll have my help paying down “our” loans. This is especially true since she has some loans at a high interest rate that I would love to pay off in the near future. Now, we’ll be able to tackle them together.

Both emotionally and financially, it makes sense for us to combine our finances.

Readers, do you have separate or joint finances with your spouse? What do you think of our decision?

The Frugal Engagement Ring

The Frugal Engagement Ring

This is a guest post by Elizabeth, who writes for Confessions from a Work at Home Mom. Her engagement ring story is awesome (is her engagement story as good as mine? We’ll have to wait for that post).

This April 9th will mark eight years since the love of my life slipped the perfect engagement ring on my finger, asking me to do him the honor of becoming his wife. Today, for the first time, I’m going to share a secret about that ring known only to my now-husband of almost seven years and our parents.

It all started when my then-boyfriend’s brother proposed to his long-time girlfriend. When she joyfully showed me the new bling on her left hand, I threw up in my own mouth a little. It was hideous. Knowing she liked unique jewelry, my boyfriend’s brother had decided to build a ring on his own, without consulting a professional jeweler first. First of all, no diamond smaller than half a carat should ever be cut into a pear shape. Ever. And while vintage-inspired jewelry is a lovely trend, combining that diamond dust with an ornate band made the ring look mismatched, not antique.

Knowing the kind of taste my boyfriend’s family had in engagement rings, I vowed that – when the time came – I would take the decision out of my boyfriend’s hands entirely. That’s when I began the slow process of orchestrating my entire engagement.

I started my engagement ring shopping – where else? – at Jared. Yes, the Galleria of Jewelers had it all – except a ring my boyfriend could afford. At the time, he was on football scholarship at a major East Coast university, and while his monthly stipend for living expenses supplied him with a lot of hamburgers, beer, and ice cream, it didn’t exactly cover the standard two-months salary of an average engagement ring. I tried visiting smaller jewelers, but continued to find nothing but disappointment behind those glass display cases.

“You don’t need an engagement ring to get engaged,” I told myself and anybody who would listen to my plight. I started urging my boyfriend to propose without a ring; I’d be ok with it, I promised him, and said we could buy a ring for an anniversary down the road, once we were on more stable financial ground.

One day, I meandered into my mother’s favorite jewelry store. The locally-owned small business was way out of my price range – perfect for window shopping and little else. As I lamented my situation to the owner, he said something that would change everything:

“You know,” he started, “You don’t have to buy an actual diamond engagement ring.” Blasphemy! Seeing the obvious shock on my face, the jeweler quickly continued. “There are plenty of diamond substitutes these days that look just like the real thing; we’re not talking about the cheap cubic zirconia of a generation ago.”

From behind the counter, he quickly produced a stunning engagement ring. “How much do you think this ring costs?” he asked me. I knew from the size of the stone alone – easily a carat and a half – that the ring must cost at least $10,000. “Go lower,” he encouraged me. I slashed my estimate in half. “Lower,” he repeated. I continued to cut my guesses until I came to $1,500.

“Bingo,” he said.

I was floored.

And two weeks later, I was engaged.

That’s right, folks. If you’ve read between the lines, you’ve already figured it out: my engagement ring is a fraud. A fake. A faux.

While it looks like a carat and a half, grade E (meaning it’s virtually colorless), flawless princess cut diamond is actually Moissanite, a naturally occurring gemstone first discovered by Dr. Henri Moissan more than a century ago. Today, just about all Moissanite jewelry is man-made in a laboratory. It looks just like a diamond; in fact, because of how it is engineered, it looks better than most diamonds – especially the diamonds my husband could have afforded at the time.

Although I’ve worn my engagement proudly every day in the eight years since, taking it off during the final days of my two pregnancies when my ring finger grew too swollen for it to fit, I’ve never come clean about exactly what it is. When people gush over the brilliance of my ring – with good reason, since a Moissanite has 2.4 times the fire of a diamond – I let them think it was the real thing. When people asked me how much it cost, I coyly replied, “A real lady never tells!” In some ways, I was ashamed that my husband and I were too thrifty to buy an actual diamond.

Over the past year, however, as I’ve become increasingly frugal – and proud of it – I’ve come to embrace my ring’s unique story. I’ve realized that my decision to go with Moissanite wasn’t me being cheap; it was me being frugal, and there’s a crucial difference. I was able to get a ring that looks exactly like I’d always dreamed for exactly the price my husband could afford back in his younger days; how many couples can say that?

So guess what? My ring is not a real diamond. And I don’t care who knows it.

What Happened to Envaulted?

I’ve discussed Envaulted just once before on this site, when my brother asked if he should sign up for a service that gives 1% cash back on all credit card purchases just for giving them access to your purchase information on certain credit cards.

At the time, I said no because I thought there were a few actions that would have a much bigger effect on his finances. Why try and make about $2 a month when you can make changes that will make you $50 or more?

After signing up for Lending Club and opening an IRA account, he decided to try out Envaulted. Why turn down free money? It’s hard to argue with that logic.

My brother received a cool $100 from Envaulted over the past year, which is pretty sweet. But this past week, the site went down. I won’t even link to because the site doesn’t even load.

There is no way to request payment anymore, let alone log in. People have connected their bank information, and there is no way to delete it. If I were a customer, I’d be worried. There’s no response from customer service, either. The only public communication was a single tweet from the Envaulted Twitter account, which has elicited plenty of responses, such as this one:


There is also this forum about Envaulted on FatWallet that discusses the issue. Alex, the COO, mentions that information is safe, but doesn’t say anything else to help people out. The mystery continues.

People want to know what happened, if their information is safe, and if there’s any way to get the payments they deserve.

This is just another reminder to choose the companies you do business with wisely, especially when it comes to secure financial information. I think the smart thing to do now is to change the passwords to any financial institutions that you had connected to Envaulted.