At some point we plan on having children, and my wife wants to be able to stay at home with them. That means our budget has to be able to work with just one salary. So we decided instead of just having one joint checking account, would create separate accounts. My check is direct deposited into one of the accounts and her check is direct deposited into the other. We cover all of our monthly bills and living expenses out of my account, and with her check we have paid off debt.
We keep our emergency fund from baby step 1 in my account for convenience. For example, we needed to make some car repairs in January so we just got it fixed and used my debit card to pay it. We went below a $1000 for a little bit and then worked back up.
Each month we make a $0 based budget and plan to start and end each month around $1000. If we have extra left at the end of the month, we can then transfer it to the other checking account to be used for paying off debt. Then we take that money and apply it straight to her student loans, which is the only debt we have left other than our mortgage at this point.
It’s so simple and easy but it really works. I can promise you that if we put all the money in the same account we would have spent more and paid down less debt. This way we budget and spend as if her money doesn’t exist. When we finish off her loans in a few months that money is going to go towards topping off our 3-6 month emergency fund.