Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? – Engaged Marriage

Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts?

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Should Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts?Do you and your spouse use a single, joint checking account?

Or do you choose to keep separate bank accounts?

Have you considered the alternatives?

I was frankly surprised at the responses I’ve heard to these questions over the past week or so.

And I was really shocked at the emotional reaction that many have in defending the structure of their family finances.

It started in the responses I received where everyone seemingly ignored my main points in the “7 Simple Steps to Financial Success in Your Marriage” and focused in on my statement that a joint checking account was the way to go.

Curious, I then posed the question on the Engaged Marriage Facebook page and received some incredible responses.

For instance, the pro joint account crowd provided comments like this:

Mary: We have a joint checking account. Always have and always will. We’re married and share everything – nothing is his and nothing is mine. We agree on finances and how we spend OUR money.

Erica: We have joint everything…we discuss all major purchases/goals/bills, but gas, food, etc. just comes out of our joint account as needed. It works very well for us and I couldn’t imagine having it separate. All the figuring out who has paid for which thing and how much and trying to make it “even” etc. has never made sense to me. It’s US, and OURS. 🙂

And some readers love their separate checking accounts:

Sam: We have separate accounts. I cover most of the bills and the majority of his money is used for discretionary costs (gas, food, etc). We both have access to each others accounts, so it’s not like my money is strictly my money (and vice-versa). Works for us!  Honestly, I think a joint account would cause some stress for us.

Jennifer: We have separate accounts. I pay mortgage and living costs (groceries, fun, etc.) and he pays all other bills and savings. We find it much easier to manage money that way.

Don’t Tread on My Financial Life

I don’t think my suggestion of trying a single joint checking account was too radical or really all that forceful in the way it was presented.

Nevertheless, pretty much every comment on my Couple’s Financial Success post was related to that issue.  I was even accused of making broad generalizations, and it was clear that I offended some folks with my recommendation.

It turns out that people can be pretty passionate about their choice of bank accounts!  I loved the conversations, and as I have taken some time to think about the issue a little more, I’ve even opened my mind a bit.

I thought it would be useful to outline the main reasons why a married couple may choose a single joint account vs. separate accounts.  And then, for the really important part of this exercise, we’ll take a look at why this decision should matter to you and your spouse.

Reasons Why a Joint Bank Account is Best

  • Encourages regular communication about finances
  • Built-in accountability partner on spending matters
  • Fosters unity in money matters
  • Strong sense of working together to meet financial goals
  • Clear that all household income is treated as “our” money
  • No conflict or administrative work in “splitting up the bills”
  • Dave Ramsey says this is best, and we all love Dave, right?

Reasons Why Separate or “Yours, Mine and Ours” Bank Accounts Rule

  • Duties of financial bookkeeping not solely on one person
  • Clear boundaries set up-front for individual spending
  • May be easier to track specific savings goals
  • Easy to surprise your spouse with gifts
  • No need to talk about finances regularly
  • Each spouse can keep “their proportionate amount” of household income
  • Ability to maintain privacy about what you spend money on
  • More independence and autonomy to spend as desired without seeking concurrence

So, who is really right?

After reading a lot about this issue and reflecting upon it, I have divined the one, true and infallible answer to this age-old question:

It depends.

You will notice that the reasons I listed in support of separate accounts are broken into two groups.  In my opinion, the “black” group are legitimate and healthy reasons for having multiple accounts.  However, the “red” group spells trouble.

The reasons listed in red are centered in a mentality of not just separate accounts, but separate finances within the marriage.

I feel strongly that this is a dangerous and unhealthy foundation for money management for a married couple.  These reasons come from a spirit of selfishness, and they do not reflect the fact that marriage is a partnership.  And they certainly do not support open communication and trust.

The Key is Intent

Personally, Bethany and I use a single, joint checking account and feel that is absolutely perfect for us.  And before I gave this much thought, I would have prescribed this same arrangement for every married couple.

Actually, I still think this is the way to go, but I can see where other approaches can work fine, too.

The main reason that we choose to keep a joint bank account is our belief in unity.  We believe that when you get married, you become one, and money is a key area where this is lived out.

There is no “yours, mine and ours” but only “ours.”

When you handle your money together, you are agreeing on your hopes, dreams and goals together.

The use of a single joint account also encourages (requires, really) open communication about your finances, which is absolutely critical to a successful marriage.

As long as the right intent is there, I think you also operate in full unity with multiple accounts.

I don’t think it provides as accommodating of environment for unity and open communication, but I fully believe many couples lead happy, healthy and successful financial lives together under this arrangement.

Plus, we feel it is just easier to manage when everything goes into one account and out of the same account.  For us, it’s the simpler solution to maintain a single checking account.

I realize that some couples find the simplicity of their money management to actually be enhanced by using multiple accounts.  And, while that’s not our deal, I can certainly understand and respect that.

In fact, we have several different savings accounts for this same reason.

The Bottom Line

In my opinion, the real question to ask here is not how many accounts you have, the types of savings accounts, or what you call them.  The key is to operate your finances in a unified way with open communication at all times.

You can do that with one account or twenty. However, if you do operate with multiple accounts, they should all be “joint” accounts that you both can access, and there should be absolutely no secrets about how money is being earned or spent.

And remember that your motivation should be one of unity.  That will keep you in the black and out of the red in more ways than one.

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step with Your Money & Your Marriage?

The question of joint vs. separate checking accounts is important, but it’s only scratching the surface of the money goals and problems you’re dealing with as a couple.

Lucky for you, we’ve teamed up Ann Arceo, an awesome couples financial planner from The Savvy Duo to create an easy-to-follow plan called “How to Get Control of Your Money & Create the Future You Desire Together

We walk you through 5 key money moves and show you exactly how to make them happen in your marriage.

Plus, you’ll have the help you need to overcome the other money frustrations you’ve probably encountered…

…from trouble getting started (or staying on track) to a reluctant spouse.  And we’re giving you all the cool tools you need to make it as easy as possible!

Click Here to Start Your Money Makeover!

How to Get Control of Your Money and Create the Future You DesireTogether (1)

So, I just have to know:

Do you and your spouse use a single joint checking account or do you choose to keep separate accounts?  Why?

Share in the comments!

Follow

About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

Leave a Comment:

(164) comments

Aslaug

I’ve done both. I was married for 10 years and we both pretty much owned nothing going in, so sharing the finances made sense. We actually had separate accounts, but all household finances were shared, if one account was low the other one moved money to that one, no problem.

Now I’m living with someone who owns and rents out his apartment (with a big mortgage on that apartment) and I owned the house we live in (also with a mortgage) before he moved in. For those reasons and several others it makes sense for us to keep our finances separate. We agreed that he would pay a part of the housing cost, sort of as rent, and share all household bills such as utilities, phone and of course food and such. It’s been working out fine for over 2 years.

Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Aslaug! Generally speaking, I would agree it’s best to keep finances separate when you are not married.

    Reply
Beckey

My ex boyfriend and I never had joint accounts, and I hated it. I felt like I was covering most things because he never wanted to discuss finances. My current boyfriend and I have had a joint account pretty much from the time we moved in together. We both have direct deposit into the account, automatic weekly transfer to the savings account, bill pay is setup for all of our bills in the one location, and we discuss finances on a weekly basis. I think if we both had owned a house coming into the relationship, we may have had a joint account and maintained a separate account to pay for the prior mortgages, but who knows.

I know many people who get heated about this conversation, I say it’s entirely up to the couple involved to find what works for them. I would never push something on anyone because who knows whether or not it would work. It is definitely up to the couple and their preference on how to handle their finances.

Reply

    Thanks for the great comment, Beckey! As I noted above, it seems like joining your financial accounts could be an issue outside of marriage, although I have to admit that I haven’t given it as much thought. Since you have experience with both joint and separate under that arrangement, what your experiences been with both (legally, emotionally, relationally, etc.)?

    Reply
      Beckey

      Personally, I prefer the joint account. The difference with this relationship is we have already discussed getting married we just don’t have the money available to get engaged and then plan a small wedding. We are going to become debt free first so we aren’t bringing that mess into our marriage. Also, it’s not like one of us makes more money than the other, we make pretty close to the same amount so we pay off both of our debts equally. We are both very open and discuss finances often, so we don’t argue about it at all. I can understand having a individual account for special purchases for him and vice versa but our work around is to buy a AmEx gift card or use cash, then whomever can go out and buy that gift they want and neither sees the store name in the online banking.

      Reply
Marie

We have separate accounts mostly because we’re lazy. He had bills automatically coming out of his, I had bills automatically coming out of mine and we just didn’t feel like hassling with changing it. That said, within the first month of married life we found Mint.com and you can upload as many accounts as you want and see them all at the same time which is a perfect solution for us. We can see how much we have combined, how much we’re spending combined and what the other one is spending stuff on. Even though our accounts aren’t technically joint, we have pretty much all the luxury of joint without having to do the effort.

I think the intent behind either system is important. Is is separate because you really do think it’s mine/yours? Is it joint because one person wants all the control? Both sides can have malice intent behind them.

Reply

    Thanks, Marie! I LOVE your point about how a joint account could have bad intentions as well. I actually have a co-worker who controls all of their money and relegates his wife to what amounts to a small allowance at his discretion…NOT good!

    Reply

      we were talking about this with some friends the other day. Apparently my friend’s grandfather would bring home his pay check unopened, hand it to his wife, and she would give him enough money to go get a shave at the barber shop that week. He grew up with that attitude to family finances, so he does that with his wife (except its direct deposited into her account, rather than her tucking it into her apron pocket) and she gives him an allowance based on what she thinks he needs that week. She hated the idea at first, but it seems to work with them, and he couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. it seems different things work for different people
      .-= Mary´s last blog ..Comic Book Confidential =-.

      Reply

Money Funk had a post on this subject this past week and it’s had a lot of comment activity as well. I agree with your summation that it depends on what works best for the couple.

My husband and I have had separate accounts since we married 15 years ago. I think it worked for us because I was bringing two kids into it with their own expenses, etc. Now the kids are grown and we’ll bring the accounts together soon as we start preparing for retirement.

P.S. I love Dave Ramsey, but I don’t think because he said so is a valid reason to have one account:)
.-= Bucksome´s last blog ..Customer Service Story: Lee Jeans =-.

Reply

    Thanks for commenting, Bucksome. I threw in the Dave Ramsey note to be a little sarcastic. 🙂 I love Dave too, but a lot of his advice is (necessarily in his position) a bit too generic sometimes. I’ve always felt that way about his investment advice in particular.

    Reply

I definitely agree that regardless of which route you choose, there should never be any secrets. Both partners should always be fully aware of what the other is spending on — in fact, all major decisions should absolutely be made together.

My husband and I have a joint account to foster that sense of togetherness. All money is shared 100%. But I agree that it can be done other ways as well, as long as money is always handled in a united fashion.

Reply

    You are too wise, Kathleen! Thanks for backing me up on this one. 😉

    Reply
    Naomi

    Wise statement Kathleen….
    Thank You Dustin for touching on this subject, as it hits home. “Joint Account” is what I prefer, but with in the last year, my husband now has his own account and I don’t have access to it at all. This has cause much friction in our marriage. I currently pay 100% of the Rent, Utilities, My and our childrens phone bill, Food and Debt in my name. He pays debt in his name and the rest remains unknown.

    Reply
Kristin Gentry

When my husband and I were going through premarital counseling, we were asked whether or not we’d combine finances. My answer was, of course not! We’ll each put a proportionate amount of money into a joint account to pay all our bills and whatever is left we get to keep to spend however we want. That seemed reasonable to me…

But then they asked me this question: What happens if you (the mom) decide to stay home with your kids (when you have them) and are no longer contributing to the family income? Do you get nothing? Does your husband then have complete control over the finances?

Well, I never planning on being a stay-at-home mom, but it did get me thinking. I changed my mind and we combined our finances. And boy was that a good decision when I was laid off from my job last year! Which, consequently, led us to understand that we couldn’t afford to live off one income if we had to and so we began a Total Money Makeover to change that.

I’m happy to report that we’re on track to pay off about $29,000 in CREDIT CARD DEBT (not cars, we still owe about 35k on those) by April ’10 (we started in October ’09). There is NO WAY we could have made that kind of progress if we weren’t totally committed to working together to make it happen.

Great question, Dustin! This really is an important decision for couples to make…
.-= Kristin Gentry´s last blog ..What are some ways that you verbalize your love to your spouse? (Week 15) =-.

Reply

    Awesome job on the debt payments, Kristin! It sounds like you guys have found the incredible value in working together in your marriage!

    Reply
Mary

Like I said before, we have a joint account. We joined our accounts before we were even officially married. Brad is by far the breadwinner of the family, so if we had separate accounts, he would definitely have more money in his. So then it comes to trying to figure out who pays for what…which I could see in some relationships leading to some arguments. Well we’ve cut all that out and have a joint account!

Reply

    Amen, Mary! You have summarized our approach to our finances as well, and it has been a real blessing in our marriage.

    Reply
Kate

We’ve done it both ways. When we first got married we had separate accounts but very open communication about who was doing what. We went along for quite awhile like that and it worked out pretty well, possibly because our incomes were very even so it was easy to divide things up the middle. However, after awhile it became clear that “my” bills were getting paid with more regularity than “his” bills so the decision to combine became more of a division of labor issue. I was more skilled at managing the money so I inherited the job.

As someone who has done it both ways I can say I’m glad we made the switch to a joint account. The bills started getting paid with regularity. (He once forgot an Ameren bill and we came home to no electricity – that was pretty much the impetus behind appointing me as money manager and it also remains the maddest Micah has ever seen me). In addition to keeping the electricity on I also gained better Big Picture Perspective and as a result have been able to drastically improve our savings and investments to include more than just his and hers 401K accounts at our jobs. By combining our money into the same pot it gives me greater simplicity in household financial management and greater visibility of our progress on our long term money goals.

But even though the joint account system is superior for us, I do believe that the decision on how to handle finances is not a black and white issue and that there is no single dominant strategy that is the catch-all answer for everyone. Each couple needs to define their goals and identify the processes that work best for them and these processes are naturally going to vary because every couple is different. In this relationship I am better skilled at handling the finances and Micah values my abilities and trusts me to do what’s best for the family, and for me a the joint account is the best tool to achieve our common goals. While our individual characteristics lend well to the single account method, another couple’s individual characteristics may lend just as well to a multiple account approach.

Reply

    Thanks for the great comment, Kate! I have to be honest and say that when I originally wrote the articles/Facebook questions that started this whole thing, I was 99% convinced that a single joint account was the only way to go.

    However, after giving it some serious thought and reading more on the subject, I now believe as you do that some couples can have more success with separate accounts. But I won’t back down on the fact that they need to all be “joint” in their access and there can be absolutely no secrets!

    Reply

I have done it both ways with my current fiance. We waited a while to combine finances, so for the first year and a half we lived together, we had separate accounts. We split joint bills down the middle, and I thought it was a pain in the butt. Also, it was harder to save money that way – partly because I didn’t have any accountability for what I was spending.

A couple of months ago, we took the plunge and got a joint checking account. We put the vast majority of our income into that account, and pay for almost everything from it. It allows one of us to take the lead on handling the bills, but we still do have very regular discussions of where we are, what we’re looking to achieve, and why or why not X purchase is a good or bad idea.

However, we also each kept our own personal accounts. In this account we give ourselves a relatively small “allowance” to purchase things without scrutiny. It’s not about keeping secrets; we both just wanted to fund from which to buy things the other doesn’t think we “need” – his cigarettes, my clothes/shoes/makeup, our lunches out or Starbucks-breaks when we’re at work. For us, this works so well.

I’m fiercely independent and very accustomed to making my own money and spending it whichever way I please. So it feels good to have a specified amount of money that is ABSOLUTELY MINE that I can use to treat myself. However, it’s awesome to be able to put a limit on it as well. Before, if I had the money, there was no reason I couldn’t spend it. It’s the same now, only the amount of money I have is much less – the bulk of our leftover money from bills is being saved or put to good use (we’re currently saving for our wedding, and after that we’ll be saving up for a down payment).

I don’t think there’s any way to say what’s best for other people. Everyone has a different relationship with money and handles it a different way. A couple can only decide what works for THEM.

Reply

    Thanks, Vee! To clarify, even though we have only a single account, we each have our own “free spending” money or what Dave Ramsey would call “Blow Money”. Each month, we each have a certain amount budgeted to spend however we want, no strings attached. I think we all need some freedom like that, but I don’t think it needs to require a totally separate account either.

    By the way, I checked out your blog. Great stuff!

    Reply

great post.

We have a joint bank account. I could never see us having a separate/single. Its OUR money, we are married.

How would you divide up the money when one person makes all the money in the family? DIvide it 50/50? Then what about the bills? It doesn’t make any sense to me and I don’t understand the point in it. It’s actually sort of confusing to me- I just don’t get how it would even work?!

We each have our own spending money, but everything is joint.

I will say the ONE “disadvantage” to a joint account, if you will, is that one time I saw that my hubby took out $25.00 at the flower shop BEFORE I got the flowers so I knew what was coming instead of being surprised.. but if he would have taken cash out and paid with cash I wouldn’t have known. 🙂

Its our money. If one of us makes a stupid mistake and buys something dumb, its OUR stupid mistake. If one of us makes all the money, WE make all the money. You get what I’m saying… 🙂

Good post dustin.
.-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..Ask the Moms: Do Your Boys Play with Toy Guns? =-.

Reply

    I totally get what you are saying, Samantha! In fact, I agree completely with your philosophy on the household money belonging equally to both spouses, regardless of who earned it. By the way, I think you stay-at-home moms have the toughest job of all, even if there is no paycheck at the end of the week. 🙂

    Reply

I think that anyone who gets annoyed or angry at a simple suggestion has an issue that they’re not facing! ..Seriously people don’t take it out on the nice blogger man! …You have some work to do!!!

Reply

    Thanks for having my back, Cory! My readers are actually very cordial, though. It’s those darn Simple Marriage folks that tried to roast me! 😉

    Reply

      I got you!

      Dustin! Congrats on the facilitator position! Something tells me you’re gonna inspire a lot of people! Very important topic with tons of interesting and helpful points of view!

      btw:I love how you responded to everyones comments! Great way to engage :o)

      Reply

        Thanks, Cory! I try to respond to all of them because I really do value the community we’re building here. I got behind because we were gone all weekend helping to host a marriage retreat. It was exhausting but incredibly fulfilling for us.

        And I guess it went well because that’s where I was asked to facilitate FPU! 🙂

        Reply
Roundup and Link Love: Ice Storm January 2010 Edition

[…] stirred things up a bit with an article on whether couples should have joint or separate bank accounts. Join in the […]

Reply
Amanda (Garibay Soup)

JOINT! Always have, always will ~ we’re married and in my opinion that means there’s nothing separate. We’ve never had a financial fight… not even once!
.-= Amanda (Garibay Soup)´s last blog ..WFMW ~ A Life Tip =-.

Reply

    Thanks, Amanda! When something is simply right, you don’t need many words to make your point. And we never fight about money either…maybe there really is something to this simple and unified thing. 🙂

    Reply

[…] Dustin at Engaged Marriage debates whether married couples should have joint or separate bank accounts […]

Reply

[…] Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? from Dustin @ Engaged Marriage and Separate Bank Accounts @ Money Funk both have good discussions going on the pros and cons of couples having separate accounts.  What do you think? […]

Reply

We have seperate accounts at the moment. We have started to open a joint account, with the plan to move everything over for that one, but it hasn’t really happened yet. I’m meant to go down with my ID and stuff to get my name on it, and find the bank’s hours very limiting and it doesn’t work well with my work hours. We’ll just have to make the time for it.

I do worry about changing the account over is that i’ll miss some sort of direct debit payment that i haven’t thought of. I have so much stuff coming straight out my account from Church Planned Giving, to gym membership, health insurance, etc. I suppose its just a matter of being organised.

If you have a joint account, how do you get around buying gifts. I often order things online for my husband’s birthday, and if that came up on the bank account, he’ll know where i’ve been buying things and what he might be getting. How do you keep the surprise in a case like that?
.-= Mary´s last blog ..Comic Book Confidential =-.

Reply

    Thanks, Mary! I’d love to hear from some of the other readers about how they keep gifts a surprise.

    In my house, my wife rarely looks at our online bank accounts so it’s no big issue for me. She also buys most of my gifts with cash, so again I don’t find out. Really though, unless it was a very specialized store, just knowing that something was purchased there wouldn’t necessarily give away what the gift is…

    Reply

      The gift issue has never been a problem for us, because I keep the books and my wife generally uses cash for gifts – isn’t much of an online shopper. There are a few ways around the problem that I can think of. Set up a separate paypal account and agree to a designated amount to be deposited for surprises. Not everyone takes paypal, so an alternative might be a Amex or Visa gift card in the designated amount that can be used anywhere a credit card is used.
      .-= Scott´s last blog ..Perfection and Paradigms =-.

      Reply
Brian Cordell

I recommend joint accounts because this is a matter of two becoming one. However, I also recommend special purpose accounts to drive various goals. Its easier to keep special purpose funds separate if you do. I know that some firms offer “do it all accounts”, but its too easy to get off track. Possible categories include: emergency fund, sinking funds for vacations and future big purchases, gift funds. You can break bad habits by limiting your activities in these categories, with the possible exception of real emergencies, to the dollar present in the account.

Reply

    Thanks, Brian! Like I mentioned in the post, we actually have several different savings accounts that we’ve created for different sinking funds or special goals. We also keep some emergency funds local (for super quick access) and some online through ING. For the most part, these funds are pretty static though. Most of our transactions come out of our joint checking account.

    Reply
Carrie Burgan

We have a joint savings/checking/money market account with the credit union and a separate joint “emergency fund” account. I have a small business account (my name only for liability reasons) and he has his credit union bank account from college, but we divert his check into our account, saving a bit to cover his student loans out of the other. We went through Financial Peace University ten months before we were married and this helped us lay a solid foundation, considering we both had a lot of debt. We argue about many things, but very rarely do we argue about money. That’s a rarity in our families! We budget each month and look over the family finances. We have equal access to the check book and our online passwords are stored via a super-encrypted program called Passerby. We have one main access password and both of us can get into the other person’s accounts. We feel that hiding parts of our goings-on breeds distrust!
.-= Carrie Burgan´s last blog ..Winner & Wrap-Up: Living In the Trenches Giveaway =-.

Reply

    Awesome, Carrie! It sounds like you are guys are right on track with your finances and your personal money management system. We did the Dave Ramsey plan through self-teaching since no classes were available in our area. However, our Diocese is bringing Financial Peace University to our area, and it sounds like I may be a facilitator! 🙂

    Reply

In our Marriage Prep 101 workshops, many of our couples ask our opinions about joint or separate finances. Unfortunately, there is no good research about which way is better. We believe that sharing money may be the most intimate, trusting act that couples embark on. We have shared money since we got engaged, and I came to the marriage with $120,000 PhD Student Loan Debt! We have had our share of financial arguments, but have certainly grown from them. We recommend that couples check out “Money Habitudes” and consider seeing a financial advisor together.
.-= Michelle Gannon´s last blog ..“The Happiness Project” Book Review =-.

Reply

    Great advice as always, Michelle! Thanks for sharing it! And, I think I’m glad my wife only brought around $12,000 in student loan debt to our marriage…we didn’t need that extra “0”. 🙂

    Reply

I believe pretty strongly in the joint everything approach. It does require trust and communication, but it also builds them, which in and of itself might be an argument for doing it that way.
.-= Scott´s last blog ..Perfection and Paradigms =-.

Reply

    Thanks, Scott. In our relationship, I would definitely agree that the trust and communication aspects of our money management have had a huge positive impact on our marriage overall.

    Reply

I’ve also done it both ways. In my first marriage, my instinct was to have separate accounts, but my ex-husband believed that all things should be combined and shared and, though hesitant, I went along with this. Unfortunately, it turned out that he had horrible spending habits and with him constantly drawing out of the pot, I was bouncing checks left and right! He still didn’t want separate accounts, so I just paid for everything with money orders and that worked fine.

In my current marriage, we kept our accounts and banks separate until we were married. Once we got married, we moved all our accounts to the same bank and set up separate checking and savings, but a shared household account – all of which are accessible under the same log in.

I agree with “no secrets” in the money arena – and in every arena. Gary and I have a policy of transparency in our marriage because we know how hard it is to earn trust once lost/damaged/bruised and that should doubts/fears/questions/hesitations arise, the fewer excuses/lies/explanations/confessions the better. Control/privacy of money isn’t worth the risk to us. There are bigger things to worry about and we want to be free to focus on those.
.-= Newlywed & Unemployed´s last blog ..Guest Posting Day! =-.

Reply

    Thanks for the great comment, Kate! I think your last paragraph does an excellent job of summarizing why openness and “no secrets” are so vital to a healthy marriage.

    Reply
Richard

My wife and I were discussing this issue last night with some friends. The way we currently operate our finances is that we have one joint account, and also a separate account each. Money to cover joint expenses (household bills, food, rent etc) is automatically transferred at the beginning of each month, and the amounts are proportional to our respective incomes. Whatever is left over is ours to do with as we see fit, although we are always open with each other about any big purchases we are making. We also have a savings account for big ticket items, future plans etc.

I think that a dual system is the best because, no matter what anyone says, two people do not automatically become one person when they get married. To say this is to essentially say ‘you now have no individuality’, in which case why would you want to be married to them? With a joint account plus a separate account you are acknowledging and, indeed, respecting that person’s individuality (which is reflected in their spending habits, amongst other things).

Respect for each others’ individuality, however this might be manifested, is in my view the key to a healthy relationship. Furthermore, having open communication in a relationship is not predicated on needing to know what each other is spending over and above that which has been mutually agreed upon. That ‘need to know’ suggests an unhealthy controlling element in the relationship, in my opinion.

Reply

    Thanks for your great comment, Richard. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on your general opinion regarding “oneness” in marriage. I understand your viewpoint that “two people do not become one” when they get married, and I obviously agree with that from a physical standpoint. We still remain two different persons with our own individual personalities.

    However, spiritually and emotionally, I actually do believe that we become one. We form a wholly new family unit and we pledge unity for life. In religious terms, we enter a Sacrament and become one flesh that can never be separated in the eyes of God. Heavy stuff, yes, but relevant to the formation of my viewpoint.

    Religion and spirituality aside, I believe that the unity that husband and wife share is very important, including in their financial life. I understand that you feel you only need to “disclose” your expenditures to your wife up to a certain amount, and beyond that it is your individual business what you do with your money. If that creates harmony in your relationship, I’m happy to hear it.

    I happen to have a fundamentally different perspective where that sort of “arrangement” doesn’t make sense. WE have money in OUR household, so there is no individual accounting or disclosure agreements. It’s all our money and we communicate openly about how we plan to spend, save and invest it for the good of our marriage and our family.

    Again, thank you for your thought-provoking comment and for being a reader!

    Reply

[…] presents Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? posted at Engaged Marriage.  I know how important this choice is because my wife and I had a […]

Reply
NA

We do both. Our combined expenses are paid out of a joint account that we both contribute to (about 50/50) and we have a few joint savings accounts for various things (new car in the future, a place to put our income tax refund, etc_. But the rest of it is separate and we love it that way.

We have never argued about money in the year and a half that we’ve been married. Not once. If money is the #1 argument among married couples I’d say that’s pretty good.

We’re not rolling in dough either. We have a limit on what we can spend on the joint account without conversation with the other, and so far our system has been great. I never begrudge my husband anything that he buys for himself with his money, and he never lifts an eyebrow when I come home shopping.

Reply

    I’m glad this is working for you, NA. This seems to be a pretty popular approach, especially among newlyweds who bring two accounts to the marriage.

    Reply
Marc

Separate. While we both generally agree on money, we would fight about the small stuff that doesn’t matter. We both have our responsibilities to pay certain bills, and are free to spend/save/invest what is left over. This works mainly because in the big picture – we both have similar values.

Reply

    Thanks for your thoughts, Marc. Certainly more important than the structure of your accounts is the consistency of your values.

    Reply
BOM Carnival #37 | Finance Blog

[…] The latest Best of Money Carnival is up now with the winning post being Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? […]

Reply

My fiance and I will ALWAYS have a joint and a separate account. We are contributing a set amount into our joint account every month, and then the rest of the money is used how we please. As a woman, I have to protect myself financially should (heaven forbid) anything happen in our marriage.

Reply

    Thank you for your thoughts, Kelsey. I understand that you have a mix of accounts like many others in the comments. However, your last sentence concerned me a bit when I read it. It seems like there could be some underlying fear or trust stuff going on regarding your finances. Hopefully, that’s not the case at all, but I’d be interested to hear more on your perspective if you feel comfortable sharing it.

    Reply
joe

My wife and I have a joint account. She handles all the bill payments, and everything and I have to ask permission every time I want to make a purchase. She is of the everything is OURS ilk. I think there should be certain personal off limit things, including money, so long as all the mutual expenses, i.e mortgage, rent, food utilities, etc. are shared and covered. My wife is so tight and a save savvy that it irritates me. Add to that, she is a credit counselor by occupation and I can barely squeeze a penny out of her. It’s so bad she has actually gone through the storage compartment in my truck looking for loose change and taken it because it’s “OUR” money. My fault in all of this is I knew that’s how she was before we got married and we argued about it, but since I knew I wouldn’t win the argument I gave in and said okay, have it your way, and we have joint a account. Since we married, any personal purchase, on my end, especially major ones like a new computer or truck, has been a major uphill battle to get her to submit. Anyway, I think you should absolutely have separate money for personal thing that the other can’t dictate how it’s spent. I men you work hard for your paycheck, you should be able to use a little of it for yourself. Separate allowances or accounts will avoid hopefully arguments. But the most important part of my story is to know how you each feel before marriage, and never yield on it if you disagree like I did. Your better off not getting married at all. Trust me.

Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Joe. I have to say that your comment was both insightful and quite upsetting. I really feel for you and it’s clear that you have some bigger issues going on in your marriage that are being reflected in the controlling manner that the finances are being handled. I fear that control would be there whether you had separate or joint accounts, and I think it would manifest itself in other ways (if it isn’t already). Your last two sentences are quite telling.

    I’d strongly suggest you and your wife seek some counseling and try to get back to a healthy place in your marriage, man. Please let me know if there is some way that I can help.

    Reply
Roundup and Link Love: Please No More Snow Edition 2010

[…] Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? […]

Reply
Female Minister

I believe and embrace the oneness philosophy; and my husband and I added each other’s names on each other’s banking/saving accounts at the onset of marriage 13 plus years ago. However, my husband feels like he needs freedom to spend without having to communicate or seek concensus for smaller purchases ($500 below). Also, we occassionally disagree about expenditures (whether small or large) regarding family members, including his adult daughter. To reduce agruments and stress in the marriage, I’m considering separating our finances. However, spiritually, I feel like we’re fiscally divorcinng; and I understand that long-term, we will be accountable for each other’s fiscal fruits or debts, which may compromise the quality of life for our child, who is currently a minor, or life after the surviving spouse. I want to be a crown unto my husband as opposed to a disease that eats at the autonomy of his manhood. I want to act in accordance to the Word of God. Please advise.

Reply

    Thanks for your open and insightful comment, Female Minister. Given your name, I feel like I should be asking you for advice on this one. 🙂

    In your case, it really does sound like separating your finances is in a way demonstrating a lack of trust and a breakdown in your communication. You even used the words “fiscally divorcing” which is a pretty powerful statement of how this is making you feel.

    All I can offer is opinions, but it really sounds like you guys need to open up on the real issues in play here. In many ways your money squabbles seem like symptoms of some other concerns regarding his daughter and his feeling that he is somehow losing some of his independence by have to get consensus before spending anything less than $500. From my perspective, $500 is a LOT of money, and that seems like an extremely high ceiling for what one spouse could spend without discussing it with their partner.

    It also sounds like you guys would greatly benefit from a budget, so you could have regular communication and agree to the financial plan up front rather than fighting about it either as it comes up or after the fact when one of you feels a bit betrayed that the other spent unplanned money.

    Again, I only have opinions based on very limited information, but I strongly stand by the “oneness” philosophy that you have lived by for more than 13 years. I don’t think splitting up your finances at this point is going to accomplish anything other than delaying dealing with the issues you need to deal with.

    Thank you for visiting the site, and I hope you guys are able to face these issues and get back to enjoying the God-given marriage that you have been blessed with.

    Reply
Female Minister

Thank you. I appreciate your service.

Reply

[…] you spend money.  While there may be value in doing so, you can build your budget to accommodate joint or separate bank accounts, cash or credit card spending, and frugal or extravagant spending […]

Reply
Anon

What about bankruptcy, or financial difficulties? Having family members who are self-employed, I know that separate bank accounts have saved married couples from a lot of financial hardships when one spouse hit a rough spot in business. Lawsuits, bankruptcy, poor credit ratings, etc… not that you want to plan to get in those situations, but if something goes wrong, sometimes a separate account can help a couple better stay afloat by containing a problem.

Reply

    Thanks for the great questions, Anon. I am NOT a lawyer, and I certainly don’t know the specific legal circumstances where different account set-ups are beneficial.

    That said, it seems to me that any business should have a business banking account that is totally separate from the household anyway. And the business should be separated as much as possible from personal assets (through an LLC or other legal protection). If that is the case, I don’t see where having separate accounts on the personal side helps much.

    However, if there are legal benefits to separate personal accounts (and there very well may be, then that’s okay. You can certainly have separate accounts but still work *together* with your money. And that’s the real key.

    Reply
      Anon

      Yeah, that makes sense. I’m getting married this summer, just looking into these sorts of things. Planning to go with a combination of personal accounts (I’m largely self-employed too), and a joint account, but that makes sense—the important part is working together with finances.

      Reply

[…] Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? […]

Reply

I think whatever works best for the couple is all that matters. That said, for me it’s a hybrid. I think that a certain amount should go into each partner’s separate account, although the majority should go into a main account. This allows spouses to spend some of their own money — allowance or whatever you call it — without the partners breathing down their necks. A little fun money should be spent as the person wants, without fear of admonition from the other.
.-= Abigail´s last blog ..Getting the most from rewards programs =-.

Reply

    Thanks, Abigail! I definitely agree that what actually *works* best for the couple is the right way to go, although sometimes we don’t realize how much better we could be doing until we try something different.

    I agree with your general suggestion, but we do it a bit differently. We don’t see the need for separate accounts because we just allocate a certain amount of “personal fun” money each month that we each spend however we want. It is part of the budget, and it does come from our single account, but it’s ours to spend however we’d like individually. If we don’t spend it, we can “donate” it back to our larger goals or just pocket it until next month.

    That works for us. 😉

    Reply

[…] get married and in the early years after their vows.  Our interview was focused on the issue of Joint vs. Separate Bank Accounts.  However, as we spoke for nearly an hour, a few additional themes came […]

Reply
Margo

We have separate accounts and my husband is making way more then I do. It always bothered me that I didn’t have any access to HIS or OUR money. He deposed once dissent amount on my account, but then every time I asked him for money he started to list all things he is paying for. Things got worse when I became a mom, it took me a while to get a credit card from him, which he would be responsible for, but I didn’t feel comfortable charging my personal shopping items on it, so I was using my parent’s money for that. Now when I’m back to work I’m glad to be making money and hoped to have it all to myself, but he is asking me now to pay the bills!!! I’m coming from Russia and Man is always supposed to take financial care of his woman and all her needs. Maybe that’s why it’s difficult for me to cope with the notion that I have to pay some bills, when he is making much more, not giving me access to his money. all my Russian friends have same issues, I guess we want our money to ourselves plus man’s financial care, but it doesn’t seem to work here.

Reply
    Dustin

    Margo, thank you so much for sharing your insights. I really feel for you in your situation, as I would definitely NOT consider this a healthy way to handle finances in a marriage.

    Of course, I am not attune to your cultural differences, but it sure sounds to me like your husband is being awfully controlling in the finances. It’s one thing to provide for or even “take care” of your wife, but it’s a different matter when you have to “ask permission for a credit card” or get money from your parents in order to go shopping. This is not the way that I recommend a relationship be handled, and this is also not the “American Way” when it come to money in marriage.

    I really think you both would benefit greatly by working together with your money. I don’t know the extent of your issues, but if the control issues are really serious, you may want to consider sitting down together with a marriage counselor to help you guys find a healthier balance.

    Reply
Julie

My husband started off with joint accounts – which was fine at first, til he had a breakdown six months into our marriage and completely screwed his life up – after that unfortunately all it meant is I’d go to pay the rent and bills and buy food on payday and find he’d blown all our pay on drugs.

So we moved to one joint account and an account in my name only. Which worked when I was the one doing the majority of the paid work, but when our daughter was born, I quit work (and he got fired). We still maintained the old system, but my parenting payment didn’t cover the bills and his unemployment payment was all going on drugs.

When he finally started working, thankfully there was usually enough left after his drug splurge on payday for the rent and some bills to be paid.

In the end though, when he finally got full time work (meaning my parenting payment was cut off altogether), it was a disaster that even separate bank accounts couldn’t fix. When he went on drug binges, there was no income of my own to ensure our little girl had food and local charities basically all have a policy they will only help people twice within 12 months.

In addition to this, many things like the electricity, gas, phones, credit cards, etc were in my name only as he had a history of debt defaults before we got married and no company or bank would allow him to apply for anything. Which meant we seperated, he had run up $3000 on my credit card (a lot of it by sneaking it out of my purse and getting cash advances to buy drugs), $1000 in unpaid bills in my name, and $80,000 in debts in both of our names (even though he got all the money) which he then stopped paying as soon as he took off.

Thankfully I was able to negotiate with one bank because they realised with me on a disability pension due to injuries from my ex husband I could never pay back the $10,000 he owed them and it was a very simple matter proving he had received all the money and I had got none of it, but the rest of the debt, I’m still paying off (and probably will for life).

Of course the ideal is joint bank accounts, but not all marriages stay ideal and sometimes too late you find out you’re married to a selfish person who would let your baby starve to feed their drug habit. Even in cases where there is no abuse, sometimes people are simply no good with money – obviously it would be best for them to learn how to be responsible, but while they are working it out, it would make sense to have seperate accounts.

It all comes down to intent – what would help the marriage and what would hurt it?

Reply
    Dustin

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Julie. You and your daughter have been through so much, it hurts me to hear it. I grew in a home full of abuse and an alcoholic father, so needless to say my parents’ money situation was similarly terrible. My parents eventually divorced and remarried later after the alcohol problem was addressed.

    I think the main lesson I take from hearing your experiences is that no amount of planning or good intentions will fix a marriage when a serious addiction is involved. Given your ex husband’s drug problem, you simply could not thrive (and would be fortunate to simply survive) under any system, which to me makes the discussion regarding separate vs. joint accounts meaningless under those circumstances.

    Thanks again for sharing your very personal and painful story.

    Reply

Dustin wrote, “Thanks for the great questions, Anon. I am NOT a lawyer, and I certainly don’t know the specific legal circumstances where different account set-ups are beneficial.

That said, it seems to me that any business should have a business banking account that is totally separate from the household anyway. And the business should be separated as much as possible from personal assets (through an LLC or other legal protection). If that is the case, I don’t see where having separate accounts on the personal side helps much.

However, if there are legal benefits to separate personal accounts (and there very well may be, then that’s okay. You can certainly have separate accounts but still work *together* with your money. And that’s the real key.”

Dustin, while reading this article and comments all I could do was chuckle quite a bit considering the questions and strategies many of my readers/clients drag to my doormat.

If you think the question about a joint versus separate checking account is a big issue just imagine dealing with this hypothetical.

Two self-made entrepreneurs, both from middle to upper middle class families, in their late twenties decide to get married. The male comes with about $3m of on balance sheet debt with a ‘viewable’ net worth of about nothing and a doctoral degree. His monthly cash-flow from passive sources is about $100k per month. The female comes to the table with about $20m of assets, most of it ‘viewable’, no debt and is currently in finishing her MBA. The male, because of several business and legal arrangements, is required to have a prenuptial while the female has no such entanglements; although she should probably want a prenuptial (which I recommend in almost all cases as all they really are is modifications to boilerplate terms of the marriage contract and can always be used to provide greater financial and legal protections to both parties).

Or better yet, how about a couple which has been married for about 30 years. By ‘getting separated’ and properly documenting and arranging their affairs, in addition to a few other things and actions, they may be able to legally decrease some of their expenses by about $300-500k per year. Separate checking accounts would be extremely useful in this instance.

CONCLUSION
So, I think your final statement hits on the critical issue. If two people are going to be crazy enough to engage in a merger then it only makes sense to align their foci to use all the financial and legal tools available to legally provide the level of financial and legal protection they desire while at the same time minimizing their individual risk. The question of a joint or shared bank account is only a leaf on a branch of the tree and nowhere near the root. And one of the things that is really sad is the State’s involvement at all in this sacred institution that such materialistic considerations become so seemingly important.
.-= How To Vanish´s last blog ..Keep Your Home Address To Yourself =-.

Reply
    Dustin

    How to Vanish, those are some fascinating case studies! While I’d like to have some of their financial “problems” it seems to me that the issue of joint or separate accounts in those cases is relegated to quite a minor consideration. I like your last line most of all…I couldn’t agree more with you there!

    By the way, you should check out my post on prenuptial agreements…I’m sure you’ll have something to add there. 🙂

    Thanks for your contributions to this discussion!

    Reply

[…] Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? […]

Reply
How I Built an Engaged Community Around My Blog | From Online Marketing to SEO

[…] recently wrote a post called “Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts?” and the reaction was incredible.  Not only has it received 68 awesome comments, but it is […]

Reply
TXMom2B

My husband and I have a joint account and we each have a separate checking account. We have all income automatically put into the joint account. We use that account for all family expenses. Then, each month, I deposit a set amount of money into each of our separate accounts, like an allowance. That is what I use if I want to buy something for myself, like clothes, music, etc. The amount is small, less than $100, and it allows me to buy frivolous things without feeling like I have to ask permission–and my husband can, too, with his own money. As a SAHM, that helps me feel like I have some money of my own even though I don’t earn an income. As for gifts, I deposit a set amount into our accounts. For example, with Mother’s Day coming up, I’ll deposit some money into my husband’s separate account. This way, he can buy me a gift and keep it a surprise. This approach allows us to stay within our budget, work together on our family goals, and still have some autonomy on the fun little things we each want.
.-= TXMom2B´s last blog ..Andrew’s New Room! =-.

Reply
    Dustin

    Thanks TXMom2B! I actually really like the system you have going with your financial management. Thanks so much for sharing your approach with our community!

    Reply
Nena

We actually have both. We have a joint account for almost everything and separate accounts for an “allowance.” The allowance can be used for whatever we want – he buys comic books, I buy running clothes, and we can transfer money from the joint account into our personal accounts for gifts. I actually remember putting the note on one of these transfers as “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, ANDREW.”

It was for a birthday present for him. 🙂

Reply
    Dustin

    Awesome, Nena! It sounds like you take a similar approach to TXMom2B above, and it seems like a great system that works well in your marriage. And nice work on keeping the birthday present a surprise! 😉

    Reply

Great discussion! When my husband and I married 13 years ago, we saw joint accounts as the only option. We had no assets, only liabilities. School loans, and his credit card debt. 😉 I’ve always been in charge of the finances, and paid off his debt quickly, and this made us both happy. We’ve both worked, except when I was in school and during my maternity leaves.

However — there is an interesting “side-effect” of joint accounts. When we got married, I knew that my credit scores were *way* better than his (after all, he had credit card debt, as well as other minor issues like bounced checks). After being married for a few years, we had our scores ran when we were getting our first mortgage. His was *significantly* better than mine! How was this possible? We shared everything financially! Our scores should be the SAME!

I then learned of a paternalistic standard from “times of yore” that is still be in play in the financial world: if you jointly apply for something (like a credit card or mortgage), the male is placed as the “primary” and the female is the “secondary.” Our joint accounts were his first, then mine — at least according to the bank and the credit score number crunchers.

This lead me to make a slight change in my manner for managing the finances. I applied for a credit card in my name ONLY. Then added my husband’s name as a secondary after it was approved. My credit score improved quickly. Strange, huh?

Reply
    Dustin

    Thanks for your great insight, Kristen! I wasn’t aware of the “paternalistic standard” and that’s really interesting. I see how that could effect your credit scores for debt accounts like a credit card, but I don’t believe your bank accounts have any effect on your FICO scores.

    Reply

      Hi again! Yep, FICO scores are not dependent on your assets, but they do account for bounced checks. Also, I consider (and I think most Americans do) credit cards and mortgages a big of the “family finances”, not just bank accounts.

      I wasn’t aware of the “standard” either until it affect me. I think the mortgage professional explained it to me because I was so miffed at the different scores!

      Reply

In general, i believe joint accounts are the way to go, that way the finances are about us and not each individual. But, i do think each partner should have an account dedicated for personal spending money. It shouldnt be a lot, but everyone should have access to some cash that they know is theirs and that they can use however they want. If this can be done with a joint account, maybe by giving each partner some cash every month, then thats even better.

Reply
    Dustin

    I’m with you, Stephan! I think any healthy budget needs to have some “free money” that each spouse can spend however they choose. I don’t think this should be based on a percentage of “their” individual income, though, but rather should be an equal amount to support a unified approach to their money.

    Reply

      o ya definitely dustin, it has to be equal, if its not, the marriage will certainly suffer as one will feel superior and the other will feel like a lesser part of the marriage

      Reply

[…] invite you to read the most popular post on my site called “Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts?” and consider the variety of intelligent (and very passionate!) opinions in the post and […]

Reply
Katie

This is a great article, with insightful comments!

My fiance and I have a similar approach to many of the commenters above. We figured out what our monthly bills (rent, food, insurance, gas, etc.) were and deposit enough into a joint checking account to cover them. With the rest of our paychecks, we transfer certain percentages into various ING savings accounts (for down payment, vacation, etc.) and our retirement accounts. What’s left we get to spend on ourselves/gifts/charity/etc. (we’re still discussing whether we will keep separate accounts for this – I’d like to). He is doing a combination of freelance and part-time work right now, so his income is uneven, while I’m fortunate(especially in Michigan!) to have a fulfilling salaried job with benefits. Because my income is higher, I contribute about twice as much to the joint checking and savings. I’m fine with it, since he is doing what he loves and setting himself up for future success and fulfillment in his career. I expect that we will take turns as the higher earner over the course of our marriage, and I want us to contribute proportionally to our incomes with no judgement or guilt, since we make career decisions together and want the best for each other spiritually and intellectually as well as financially.

Some commenters mentioned that they give their partner an allowance (or receive one) from a joint account or the the other person’s account, but I think I would feel uncomfortable doing this. I’d rather keep some of the money I bring in, or have him keep his, than transfer from one of us to the other. I’m not sure why.

Reply
    Dustin

    Thanks for sharing your plan, Katie! It sounds like you guys are on the same page and working together, which is vital. I think the reason you’d feel uncomfortable giving your spouse an allowance is because that would be treating them like a child, which is the wrong approach of course. It’s all about making decisions together and working in unity with your money.

    Reply
marriage saving

If you’ve found a system that works for you…stick with it. Otherwise, experiment with other things until you find one that you are both happy with. Read through the comments to this blog…you’ll find plenty of suggestions for you to consider.

The key is for the both of you to agree before implementing the system, so that you both have ownership.

Reply
Hope

My husband and I have been happily married for 25 years. In the past 25 years, we have many joint accounts as well as many separate checking accounts. Each account has its own purpose.

For example, if my husband and I own a rental property together, we’d set up a joint account that mainly takes care of all the bills related to that rental property.

My husband collect stamps on a regular basis, so he has his own checking account that only for stamp-related purchase. It makes a lot easier to see how much he has spent on his stamps.

We also have a joint account that only takes care of the household expenses, such as mortgage payments, utility bills, food, insurance, car payments and any household related expenses. This account basically handles all our “fixed” expenses, so we have a good idea on how much our monthly fixed expense is.

Besides “fixed” expense account, we also have our “vacation” joint account. Every month we put aside some money and deposit it to this account. Vacation is very important to our family. Knowing how much we can afford a vacation gives us the ability to plan ahead and enjoy our vacation even more!

So, should you and your spouse use a single joint checking account or should you choose to keep separate accounts? Well, it all depends on how you use these accounts for.

Reply

All of our accounts are joint. I cannot imagine not having a joint account. We want everything to be ours together; everything is shared. Nothing is just “mine.”

Reply
Gwenrule62

I’ve done both also. When my husband and I were first married we were unsure of each other and ourselves. After a year or so we reached a healthier state in our relationship and we did feel as if we were one. I lost my husband 3 years ago today. Its been kind of a tough day but I encourage all of you out there no matter what kind of checking account you have, please cherish one another. I lost my best friend and I just cringe when I see people getting upset with their partner over trivial stuff. So love and cherish each other.

Reply
Gwenrule62

Forgot my web site on last comment. Guess I got a little emotional.

Reply
Pete

Great post! Really good insight. It’s always difficult to discuss finances and share money in relationships. Thanks for your advice. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I stumbled upon yours. I think they offer some good points and laughter about the topic: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/dolla-dolla-bill-yall/

Thanks for the post! I’d like to see more like it.

Reply
MB

We had seperate account for 19 years to which led to an unexpected cost of approx. $62K of deception. We now have a joint account but it may be too late.

From my experience, seperate accounts is bad for marriage but if a young couple wants to try this, I’d have to encourage each to be prepared to let the other sink if he/she isn’t able to manage it. I’ve learned the hard way that to step in and bail the spouse out of a jam will only suggest that they don’t have to be responsible and will eventually drain every cent from the family savings, will prevent early payoff of the home mortgage, prevent savings for childrens college and result in a disorganized clutter of worthless posessions that further creates an environment of disunity and discontent. Not to mention the adverse emotional reactions of the in-laws.

I now believe that if your not ready to share your financial accounts & responsibility’s, then your not ready for marriage.

Reply
Casey

My partner and I have just discussed doing this. We are not married, but at 20 and 21, neither one of us really has any big assets the other could take if things got nasty. We have been together five years, and the first time we lived together we had one joint account which our rent, electricity etc came out of, and we had seperate accounts which we used to pay groceries (we just split it 50/50) and our own bills (car, mobile, etc). He moved interstate for work and I stayed to finish uni and I’m moving down next month (!!!). This time we have decided to have all our accounts joint, we earn about the same & have the same sort of expenses, and its just annoying trying to divide everything. The only thing we may do is have most our money/accounts joint and then have one account each which is ours, where we might give ourselves a small allowance for personal expenses (i.e. expenses dresses and shopping for me, DVDs for him) but he said he is comfortable having everything joint. I’m not too sure if I would feel comfortable spending $100 on a dress out of our account though, so that one’s still up for debate.

Reply
Pam

Thanks for this post … I found your blog and just got engaged, and we should be married very soon! (my state makes it difficult, alas) It’ll still be a while before we’re ceremoniall-y married but this issue often gets me … there are lots of great arguments on here for joint accounts, and I’d love to go that way … but my fiance has thousands of dollars in debt while I have 0. So when we’re married, I need to help him pay it off? I know it’s selfish, but I do fear doing that would cause resentment later! What do you think? Should I just go to grad school and rake up my own debt? (only partially kidding…)

Reply
    Dustin

    Thanks for sharing, Pam! Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming marriage, and I’m glad you are giving these issues thought at this point and not after it becomes a major issue in your marriage.

    My advice to you is that when you get married, your finances should become unified. That means taking the good with the bad, which in your case means you’ll need to stop considering it “his” debt and realize that it becomes “our” debt. You should work together to pay it off and get your financial life moving in a positive direction so you can meet your new family’s goals. I speak from experience on this one as I “inherited” a lot of debt from my wife when we got married!

    And no, I wouldn’t recommend racking up more debt. 😉

    Reply
      Travis

      HELP!
      Ok, I need advice here. My wife wants to put everything in to one account. I like the idea of one joint account and two separate ones for our own spending cash. She agreed to that after we discussed it before the marriage, but changed her mind after we married.
      Let me give you some insight. I have about 17K in liquid assets. I own my car outright. I have 12K in student debt.
      She has 5k in credit card debt, a car payment for a new 2009 vehicle, horse and board payments of around $250 a month and many medical bills.
      Am I just being really selfish by not wanting to assume her debt and new car payments? I don’t buy new cars so that I don’t have to pay every month. I buy mine used and w/ one lump sum.
      She feels that I should take on her debt, help her pay for her horse and help her w/ her car payments as well. I guess I just really value my financial autonomy. frankly I see her go shopping often and spend money on frivolous things. I guess when you’re in debt, that is the last thing I feel you should be doing. I know that if we combined our accounts it would lead to more fighting when she spent my life savings on new clothing. W/ money, I really value my independence.
      I guess I’m so anal b/c I have saved my entire life to have what I do. My wife has frankly made many poor financial decisions that have left her owing more than she has in assets. The funniest part is SHE MAKES MUCH MORE THAN ME!
      Am I being too pig headed? Do I have to start paying for her car now even tho I never touch it?
      -Exasperated in NY
      Side note: before the marriage, my now wife had problems w/ debt. I agreed to loan her 2k to help her out. When I began asking her to pay it back (which was agreed to before hand, contract drawn up and signed) she said she thought once we were married I would just forgive it!!!!!!! Why would I draw up a contract then?! Anyway, she’s angry that I’m just not giving her the money. I feel that sets a dangerous precedent that I’m just a bank that loans $ which doesn’t have to be paid back. It’s not like I’m a millionaire here. Most of my savings will go toward the down payment on our house anyway. Is it wrong to expect to be paid back my own money?

      Reply
Jason

My wife, and I have been getting into heated debates about our seprate account. She was made aware of my beliefs before we were even engaged regarding this topic. All of the “house hold” bills get split down the middle then paid by our incomes. The fear I have in joining both of our account into one is that I will no longer get a say in where the money is spent.

I do make more money than my wife, and I have less debt than her. I don’t want to know what she makes or what she spends the remainder of her pay check on. I have asked her “you want to join the accounts so you have access to any remaining funds from both accounts!” and everytime I ask this she changes the subject, and get real nice.

Reply
    Julie

    The answer to this comment is in the original article”

    “The reasons listed in red [and your’s is one of them] are centered in a mentality of not just separate accounts, but separate finances within the marriage. I feel strongly that this is a dangerous and unhealthy foundation for money management for a married couple. These reasons come from a spirit of selfishness, and they do not reflect the fact that marriage is a partnership. And they certainly do not support open communication and trust. ”

    You obviously don’t trust your wife. You don’t trust her to let you decide where themoney is spent and you don’t trust her to spend money wisely. If she has done something to have a GENUINE fear she is not trustworthy, then you need to go to counselling together to sort out this issue – you need to help her and support her become a trustworthy person.

    However, in saying that, whether she is trustworthy or not, YOU definitely have issues you need to address. Why did you marry a woman you don’t trust? Why is the money “yours” and “hers” and not “ours”. Why don’t you want your wife to access to “your” money? Don’t you love her? If she has more debt than you and less income, why are you not being the responsible head of the household and helping her pay it off?

    If she were to suddenly lose her job, or get pregnant and have to take time off, or even worse, what if she got sick or permanently injured and could never work again – what would you do then? still insist she pay half of everything? have her borrow money and get deeper into debt to pay “her half” of the bills when you earn enough to pay the whole lot? Or would you be one of those guys who pays the bills, but refuses to give your wife any money for things like clothes, gifts etc, and make her beg for grocery money – or refuse to let her have any at all and not let her even buy groceries with “your” money???

    I’ve helped a lot of abuse victims, and while I’m sure you mean well and wouldn’t become abusiv, I have seen a LOT of relationships become abusive with men starting with comments like yours. Their wife/partner get made redundant/pregnant/disabled, and have no source of income of their own. The man then constantly makes his wife feel like a burden, directly or indirectly making her feel like a second rate person because she’s not paying “her half” of the expenses. He either then doesn’t give her money for personal expenses like phone calls, clothes and “personal products”, or makes her beg for them, or gives her money for them but makes her feel like a total leech for needing the money.

    And then it just goes downhill from there. Financial abuse can be one of the most crushing forms of emotional abuse and every single guy I’ve met who has financially abused a woman, started off with an opinion just like yours.

    Not every guy with your opinion becomes an abuser. I’m not saying you would ever be an abuser. But it shows a lack of respect for the oneness of marriage. You’re not a couple or a family – you are two single people who are married to each other.

    Even if you act like a couple in every other way, you are still holding back part of your life from your marriage and your wife. You are publicly saying “hey I want to keep living like a single person financiallly”. Being married is about sharing EVERYTHING. the good and the bad. If you don’t want to share every part of your life, then you shouldn’t have got married.

    Regardless of what genuine problems your wife has, YOU have a serious problem with not putting yourself into your marriage fully. If your wife has a problem with managing money, get her help – help her yourself to become responsible. Holding back part of you isn’t the solution. It’s just ignoring the problem.

    Reply
      Lynn

      I believe in a joint account based on the percentage people make to pay bills at least. She shouldn’t be paying 50/50 when she makes less and has loans to pay. That’s not unity, hence, that’s not marriage.

      Reply
TG

Hi, I’m getting married later this year. The problem is I’m a single parent with a couple of kids, including one who is disabled (and a lowlife ex who dodged child support for years and now only pays the bare minimum and I’m in Australia where they don’t do anything about people who many thousands in unpaid child support – except seize assets which is useless if your deadbeat dad has no assets to seize). I have a lot of debts from a combination of debts my ex husband ran up in my name which he declared bankruptcy against, leaving me solely legally responsible despite him having got all the money (because I believed everything should be joint so I signed for everything he borrowed while we were married) as well as debts I’ve run up just supporting the kids (sole parent payments here aren’t enough to support kids on with no child support), particularly medical expenses. I also can’t work because I have to look after the kids.

My husband to be on the other hand, has a really good job, his own house, etc.

Despite having massive trust issues because my first husband took huge advantage of me (when we first got married, I was the one in a good job, earning a lot more money than him, and going to college to have a great career – only gave it up to care for the kids because he wouldn’t even look after them a few hours half a day a week despite him being unemployed at that time so I could finish my studies), I want my second marriage to be a real marriage where we work together in everything… BUT

I don’t want my husband-to-be to be effected by my debts. He’s a very hard working guy who has sacrificed a lot to get to the good financial position he’s in. I feel bad enough marrying him knowing that not only will he have to support me, but he’s stuck also financially supporting my kids because their father won’t, but it’s not at all fair he should also get stuck with debts another man (my ex husband) ran up because I got stuck with the debts.

I know my husband to be loves me, and will take me as I am and love me anyway, but I’m the one who doesn’t want to do that to him. I love him too much to saddle him with someone else’s debts.

I have no way of paying off the debts. I plan to get a part time job when the kids are old enough, but even then, that wouldn’t even cover the kid’s expenses (which I don’t think husband to be should have to pay for, and my whole purpose of getting a job is to pay for the kids so he doesn’t have to), and there is no chance of paying off the debts.

I know in marriage, everything should be “ours”, but kids are an exception – they are not his, and even though he loves them far more than their own father does, I don’t think it’s at all fair he should have to pay for them.

I’m kind of stuck – because even though he says he’s happy to support us all, firstly one day I worry he’ll get sick of it – he’s too nice to ever complain even if he did, but I know if our situations were reversed, I’d have the occasional not happy thought about it, and secondly, even if he never ever feels negatively about it, I feel incredibly guilty and burdened by it.

Any suggestions?

Reply
    Dustin

    Wow TG, you have faced some real hardships in life, and it sounds like you’ve done everything you can to keep your children cared for in spite of it all. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but all I have are my own opinions and what I would do if faced with your difficult situation (or your husband to be’s). I agree with your husband to be that he is marrying all of you, including your debts and your children. He knows this now (up-front), and he is a very good man who is willing to support his new family.

    Besides my own belief that this is right and is part of marriage, you really don’t have any good alternatives. It would do you no good to attempt to separate out your debts or your kids’ expenses within your new marriage. You don’t have any means to address them anyhow, so it would only cause more stress and lack of unity within your relationship and family.

    Practically speaking, perhaps having a father in the home will give you some more flexibility to earn some income since he will be there with them. Maybe there will be a time during the day or evening or night where you can work part-time to start paying off the family debts and accelerate your path to getting debt free and getting back on solid financial footing.

    Thanks for sharing your story and thank you to your husband to be for being a real man.

    Reply
donna mowery

i have never had the priveledge of sharing a bank account with my spouse. He likes controlling everything and so we have always had seperate bank accounts. Sometimes women do not even have a choice it is his way or no way. Not every marriage is healthy and so for those of you who might be in my situation i say do what you have to do to maintain the feeling of being an adult who can make decisions for me that has been my own seperate bank account.

Reply
Pat

My husband and I started off our marriage with joint bank accounts, cause thats how my parents did it (they have been happily married for 28 years now). I figured that was the right way, I have been a witness of a loving and successful marriage my entire childhood, so when I got married I thought my marriage would be the same, but, it hasn’t turned out to be my best decision (which is a whole other story) and basically my husband just doesn’t give a damn about anything, especially when it comes to money. We were both un-employed at one point (I got married unemployed) and eventually he got unemployed, long story short I finally started working and so did he. He quit his job for the dumbest reason ever, and the only check he received he decided to spend it on him. Among other stupid decisions that he has made and also Im not even on the title of “our” home, so Im working to pay for the mortgage when if things hit the fan I would not get a penny out of that property. So separate bank accounts was my best way of keeping my sanity.

Reply
ME

All I have to say today is: sharing a joint account with someone who has total different financial values than you are is very difficult, stressful and frustrating. My spouse is a spender. I am the one who thinks saving, preparing for the future, avoiding unnecessary debt is important. When we got married, we both agreed I was going to handle our joint account. You know, make sure that bills are paid on time, that we are paying whatever little debts we have off, etc. I thought it was such a great idea and my spouse liked it to. I thought it’d be much easier, but it is very, very challenging. We sit down and have conversations in which we both agree about how to use the money, but my spouse lives in the present, and our conversation means nothing once a new object or activity becomes the desired “necessity”. And there the money goes… I’m tired. It’s killing our marriage and I’m the only one who sees it. Would I do it again from the altar, I’d marry my spouse, but boy, oh boy… separate accounts. Definitely!

Reply
Lala

We got married. We agreed to have a joint checking and a joint savings. Soon into our marriage, we started having problems with the way we spent our money. He felt that I controlled all the money; I felt he spent too much. So we decided to open two more accounts – a personal checking account for each one of us. We decided that our paychecks would continue to be deposited in our joint checking and the bills would be deducted from this account too. However, every month, each one of us would have an “allowance” transferred into our personal account that we could use for whatever we individually decided to. That worked for some time…. Until he decided to buy something on a credit card, and use his monthly personal allowance to pay the minimum payment. Fine. It worked for some time. Until, he felt like he was not “living”, only working, and “ not benefiting from his own work”, because he didn’t have money for anything he wanted to do!

To make a long story short, he now has his personal money every month, but he also takes money out of our joint checking to pay for his music lessons and for whatever other music investment he makes, or any “necessity” he has – including a kindle, a treatment for his hands (that cost more than $150,00), and so forth. His explanation is that I knew from the beginning that he was a musician and music is his life!

(Romantically enough, on Valentine’s day, he bought me a small box of chocolate and said that he was going to buy me flowers, but when he saw that they would cost $70, he decided not to buy it, because they were very expensive and he knew I would be proud of him for not spending that much money!)

We sit down and make plans to manage our money, and give it not even two months, the plans are gone.

I have to say that we were able to pay off cars and have only his school loan left. (and he has his personal credit card loan to pay – which, by paying only the minimum, it’ll get paid in approximately 20 years. But whatever, it’s not my debt. Not ours. HIS and HIS only)

Conclusion: I entered this marriage with no debt. I now help my husband pay for his student loan, which I agreed to , and I’m not complaining. I think it is fair. He now has a credit card debt that I won’t mention anymore. I get paid very well. He also gets paid very well. We don’t save pretty much anything, because he spends on little things here and there without being accountable for it. I am tired of managing our finances. And even worst, I’m tired of working a full time job and not being able to save much! I’m frustrated sharing an account with the man I love! I feel it is of great benefit for him and a great frustration to me…. I know that I can save money. I have done it before and I know I can do it again. But I feel like we don’t save much because of him! Would he follow what we both agree on, then we’d have the money for a good down payment for a house in one year max! But I’m tired of being the one who talks about money and living a life we can afford, bla bla bla, all the time! It’s making me sick and even worst, it’s making me lose admiration for him, as I think a man should handle his finances more wisely…

Reply
Query

A couple should have both joint accounts and personal separate accounts.
If both spouses work, both paychecks should be deposited into the joint checkings account.
The common bills, like mortgage, electricity, etc, should be deducted from the joint checking account.
A specific amount that you both agree on should be deposited into the joint savings account.
The rest of the money for that pay period, should be divided into equal parts and deposited into each one’s personal checking account.
With each personal checking account, each spouse does whatever he/she wants.
Neither spouse can take money from the joint checking without consulting with the other and agreeing on it.
Neither spouse can take money from the joint savings for any reason other than the one they both agreed to save money for.
If both follow these simple rules, financial disagreements are going to be minimal and easy to solve.

Reply
    Kelly

    My husband and I have been married for 15 years and we still have separate bank accounts. We paid our house off 9 years ago by selling the house I had before we got married that we had kept as an investment property as I decided I wanted to have a baby and new I couldnt afford to pay the mortgage if I had a baby. For the first 7 years of our marriage I had always paid the morgtage and he the utility and food bills. Now that we dont have a mortgage he still pays for the bills out of his account and deposits an amount of money in my account each fortnight for the grocery shopping. I am a nurse and only work a couple of shifts a week. This is mainly because it is impossible for me to drop and pick up my son from school doing nursing shifts and also because I know that even if I was to work full time he wouldnt do any more work around the house and I would be working full time and doing everything at home and I dont believe that would be fair for me or my child. Out of the small income I do get I would say 90% of it is used up on my sons private school fees, a loan for a camper trailer I bought so we could go on family vacations, clothes for my son, outings and presents for my son, petrol for my car and home improvements. We do go on some nice overseas holidays that my husband pays for but once we are there I use my own money for spending. I am quite nosy and a while ago I opened my husbands bank statement and discovered that he had spent $4000.00 on paypal purchases over several months on items that I never even saw or new what they were. I have bought up having joint bank accounts to my husband before and he always says it would be to much trouble reorganising the direct debits that come out of the account. I also worry that if anything were to happen to my husband I wouldnt have any money to pay the bills ect or even for his funeral as I dont have any access to his accounts. I really want to have a joint account where both our pays are deposited and money for bills, food, outings, my sons school feels and clothes come out, another account for savings for holidays and home improvements and then maybe our own separate accounts where an agreed set amount each pay is deposited into for pesonal spending. I am feeling a bit resentful about this and recently have decided that I am worthy of more. Now I just have to figure out how to force the issue with my husband so he understands that this is something that is really important to me.

    Reply
    Cheryl

    Great idea Query! We are happy to have joint accounts, but I like the idea of each of us having a personal account as well. We wouldn’t have a lot to put in the personal accounts, but I like the idea!

    Reply

I love your website, and wish this sort of information would have been here when I was a young married couple. 30 years later, and a widow, I have forwarded this website to my two adult children in hopes that they can glean some good advice. thanks for all you do.

Reply
Lissahakala hakala

My husband and I have separate but linked main checking/savings accounts. Basically, the same as a joint account, we have access to one another’s accounts, they are just individual. We each have our own separate savings accounts as well simply because we never closed them when we married. We have one another’s account info as a precaution should one of us become incapacitated or simply need access. My husband is in the military and primary wage earner, often deployed or on travel so joint access is necessary. When we married we simply joined accounts as neither of us wanted to change financial info, direct deposit, etc. We both contribute to the finances, have an ongoing spreadsheet for monthly bills. Bills are usually paid online through my husbands account. Who physically performs the payment depends on wether or not he’s home. We discuss any unusual spending that comes up (birthdays/holidays) and decide on vacation spending together. Kind of a hybrid of joint-individual accounts which works well for us. I would agree the most important part of financial health is communication.

Reply

Adding this link to our community board :). Thanks!

Reply
gem

me and my husband maried for almost a year but he never put my name on his account.he never give me a money.and i don’t have a job because am pregnant am just stay at the house doing housework.do i need to be afraid one day?

Reply
    kim

    yes be very afraid..I got screwed 2xs by 2 husbands. If anything happens you wont see a dime. Im telling you through experience. To top it off. Im now living with a 3rd guy and I refuse to marry again.. and had 2 babies with him..now 2 and 1. He just pulled the same crap. He wouldnt put me on his account but did open a joint. we got into a huge fight this past week. He went and closed the joint acct and opened another. kept his acct and changed the password. Im penniless once again. Im trapped. I have nothing and no where to go. dont screw yourself like I did. I just got a job at home for 11.00/hr..woopie..yet he makes almost 40.00/hr. so now i have to work at home 40hrs/day with 2 toddlers, feed them, keep them occupied, change them, etc. so I just applied for child care subsidy to put them there all day even though my man will hate it. now he wants to give me an allowance. how embarrassing. I have no choice but to take it..and thats if he’ll give it to me now that ill be starting a shitty paying job.

    Reply
      kim

      p.s…I also got screwed out of half the income tax which I think I deserve. He shut down the joint account and is now paying for a 2000.00 boat slip. after he bought a 6000.00 boat. I wont see a dime unless I apply for child support which i just filled out the papers for. cover your ass. Im 40 yrs old and have nothing. dont be like me. luckily in this day and age we can work from computers. please do something and make money. get your own bank acct and stash. sell stuff on ebay, amazon and consignment shops, get on craigs list and apply for jobs like crazy. Im going back to college now p/t online as well as working from home 40hrs week. Im thinking of writing a cookbook and taking classes at michaels craft shop for desserts for sales at farmers markets and such. who knows maybe ill end up on cupcake wars loll hee hee.
      stash any money you find or he gives you in an account of your own. stash stash stash!!

      Reply
      Erica

      wow ur a piece of s**t, what a trashy woman

      Reply
        rick

        @kim: Good Lord! It sounds like you have made some bad decisions in the man department of life. Don’t blame these 3 men for your bad decisions (after all, you are the common denominator!) and DO NOT advise others seeking help to “stash, stash. stash” because that is deceitful and a one way street to divorce. The answer to your problems is communication, not deceit.

        Reply
Nathan

What a way to break it down. There is no template for this and I think that is exactly why marriages fail. They feel the template they were given goes for every situation. I feel we need to become Chameleons and change with what isn’t working and enlighten what is. Thanks Dustin!!

Reply
    Dustin

    Thanks Nathan! I love your perspective.

    Dustin

    Reply
Emma

Having a joint account is easier said than done.

I’m married for over an year now. I had a joint account with my spouse till a month back but during this time I realised that spouse would send a lot of money to his family. We were like a money tree to his mother. My in laws came to visit us and stayed with us for a couple of months. I found out that my MIL is a spend thrift. She would keep on spending a lot of our money buying gifts for her friends and relatives and to my surprise my husband did not stop her at all. I had a tiff with him on this matter and then I decided to have my own separate account for my paycheck.

I had not wanted to do this but I had no control over his mother and he would also turn a blind eye to this habbit of his mother. I did not have control over my own hard earned money so I had to take this step.

Reply
    Dustin

    Emma,

    It can be difficult, but i think your story actually highlights a major benefit of having a joint account. It was only through that account that you knew there was an issue with your money (in this case with your husband’s spending), while separate accounts would never bring this to light or give you the opportunity to work through it.

    My own opinion is that you guys need to work through this spending issue together and come to terms on it. By separating your money, you’re ignoring what is clearly a hurtful problem for you, and I’m afraid this is going to set you up for more problems rather than less.

    All my best,

    Dustin

    Reply
      Rachel

      I have been married for 8 years. When we got married my husband wanted separate bank accounts, he believed what money he earned was his and what I earned was mine. He also believes that I since I do not make as much money as he(He makes in month what I make in a year) that I don’t know what hard work is all about and I came from nothing. Unfortunately I didn’t know he felt that way before we married. Well, 8 years later things are the same. He pays the bills and has plenty left over while my earnings go towards daycare, gas, clothing, ect. Needless to say I usually have no money what so ever. I have tried to ask my husband in the past for money, 20.00 at the most and he told me to learn how to budget better. So, I never ask anymore and pray that I make it until next the next pay check. I usually have to ask my daughter to borrow money. So, what do I do? It has caused so many angry, resentful feelings toward my husband but he just doesnt see it. It has never been “us” only his and mine. I want to go to counseling but am afraid to even bring it up. I don’t want “his”money but I I just want to have something in case I need it for gas, groceries etc. He is always making remarks that he always has to pay for things, which I know are directed towards me. I could work 7 days a week and it wouldn’t be enough, nothing every will.

      Reply
        Dana

        Hi Rachael, your reading your message I can see your frustration. I think the way your husband is treating you is wrong. My husband and I have a joint account and make all financial decisions together. We have plans and goals together, and it makes sense for us to reach them together, not who ever makes the most money gets there first. Marriage is about giving and sacrificing and putting your partner before yourself. To me, it sounds like your husband puts himself before you and possibly your family, if you can’t afford things like groceries and things for your family. Doesn’t sound right to me.

        Reply
      Jason

      My wife of 5 years demands control of everything. I make over 100k-200k a year. Quarter million dollar house paid for in 2 years. 25k car paid off. 100k in the bank.

      She walks everywhere. Wont drive – gas costs too much. Everything we eat is something she finds on deep discount or for free somewhere. We have 2 kids. Pushes them in a stroller all day. Needs to get in her 15 miles of walking a day.

      Gets mad if a light is on in the house because electricity costs money.

      We have now had a water heater go bad because it is never used. So now we don’t have hot water in our quarter of a million dollar house. We sleep on the floor in the house instead of beds. Beds cost money.

      Family budget? That’s a joke, all money is hers and if anyone thinks about touching a penny she goes off the wall ballistic. Saving all this money for? Dunno…

      I AM GOING OUT OF MY MIND!!!! ALL I CAN THINK OF IS DIVORCE DIVORCE DIVORCE I HATE HER!!!!!!

      SHE DOES NOT WORK! THIS IS ALL OFF OF ME! I HAVE NOTHING!

      Before her, I had a corvette and truck. Top of the line computer system. LOTS of cool and fun stuff. Go out to movies EVERY week. I don’t remember the last one I have seen now…. I don’t even know what is out there either, TV USES ELECTRICITY!!! THIS MEANS MONEY!!! SO WE CANT USE IT!!! AHHHHH

      You all try to sound all nice and happy with your little joint accounts and happy marriage. I AM IN HELL.

      I HAVE LOST 80 POUNDS SINCE GETTING MARRIED.

      I RIDE A BICYCLE 10 MILES TO WORK EVERYDAY, RAIN / SHINE / SNOW / Whatever.

      I HATE MY LIFE.

      OH AND I HAVE KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
        Jay

        Can I ask… if you’re making the money, why do you let her control it? She can’t make you. She can’t even use the threat of if she doesnt’ have control, then she’ll leave and get custody of the kids – because a magistrate would look at the appalling condition she is keeping the kids in (not even a bed!) and give you majority or sole custody.

        What she is doing to you and the kids is abuse and you need to step up and take responsibility and stand up to her. It’s your pay, you earn plenty – you have every right to spend your hard earned money on a decent life for you and the kids.

        Going out to the movies every week is perhaps a little irresponsible, especially when you have kids, but everything else you want is reasonable – a car to get to work in the rain, a tv to relax at home (for you and the kids too), hot water, heating … you need those and she has no right to abuse you by stopping you from having those when you’re on such a good wage.

        Tell her you’re taking control of at least some of the finances!

        Reply
          Jason

          Jay, all due respect, but, you do not know how the judicial system works in this country. She roughed me up a bit back a while ago, i got photos and audio of it in action. I called the police. They saw marks. She ran. She got arrested. The cops tried twice of accusing ME of lieing about saying a woman would never do such a thing. We moved to a different state. The physical abuse stopped. Just the verbal abuse and control continues. the judges in the country ALWAYS WITHOUT FAIL WILL ALWAYS SIDE WITH THE MOTHER EVEN IN THE FACE OF EXTREME EVIDENCE OTHERWISE. that is just the way it is. some part of me loves her too. i dont know why i would have stayed with her this long otherwise. and always hoping that things somehow get better. her constant refusal to go to marriage counseling. …. i guess it is up to me to just say enough is enough. tear the family apart. … to hopefully build a better future……………………. life sucks. shouldnt have to be this hard.

          Reply
          Jay

          I’m guessing you’re from the US? I’m in Australia where it’s the total opposite. Cops and the courts take the man’s side. Even with me having horrific injuries, the cops I dealt with just insisted it must have been a “mutual fight” and my exhusband got off time and again. And even after he savagely beat our 5 year old child, he got shared custody – and even after someone molested her at his place, he continued to get shared custody.

          I’m sorry to hear things are the same but for men, where you are. But the point still remains – you have to stand up for yourself. Document every single abusive thing she does in a journal with days and times, and with specific information.

          She can’t forcibly take your pay, not even legally. Negotiate with her. Work out how much your mortgage is (I assume it’s a mortgage and not paid off?) and work out the cost of the basic bills like electricity, gas (if you have gas) and phone and either pay them or get them direct debited from your pay and then (so she can’t use it against you) offer to give her half the rest, and you keep the other half and tell her that she can do as she pleases with her half and you will manage your half.

          I know you love her (I loved my exhusband with all my heart) but you know what she’s doing is abuse and I can bet you anything deep down she knows it is too. If you can’t stand up to her for your own sake – do it for your kids. It damages kids to see one parent abuse the other.

          Please go see a domestic violence counsellor and explain to them the situation. They can give you the best advice on what your legal options are where you live and help you get the strength to stand up to the abuse.

          No one, male or female, should have to go through domestic violence – but only you can make the next move to do something about it. Your wife never will when she has so much control.

          Cops might be useless, but domestic violence centres are aware that men can be victims too and can be a great source of advice and support. Please talk to one.

          Praying for you mate.

          Reply
          anonymous

          Three months ago, I was in the same situation. Circumstances changed when the legal system got involved. Now there I cannot even legally be around my wife, nor can she do anything to make things better. It was a painful first week, but things got better, and I have gotten stronger since. Personally, I think my wife has expectations that is humanly impossible to obtain, and it sounds like that is true for you too. I’d start seeking help. My church was what ensured that we stayed apart, and they’re strengthening us individually. They also suggested that I speak with attorneys to ensure my legal problems will get straightened out. I have no intent of divorcing, but until I know that I won’t be punched, cut with a knife / beer bottles, accused of being aggressive when I’m just yawning, I have no problem staying away. Miss my wife and children terribly, but my sanity is important too.

          Wanted to share to let you know that you’re not alone. Frankly doing anything is better than doing nothing. You already know what doing nothing is going to bring – nothing different. But doing anything will get you out of that rut.

          Reply
      tina

      My husband has a joint account with his mom & he has no idea where his money is being spent. Its impossible for me to plan anything financial with him. What do I do?

      Reply
      tina

      My husband has a joint account with his mum & he has no idea where his money is being spent. Its impossible for me to plan anything financial with him. He thinks he’ll hurt her feelings if hr separates his account & when i ask him about his savings he tries to avoid the topic. What do I do? Im confused & in trouble

      Reply
Achou38

We been marriage for a year at the beginning we was using the same bank account so all the pay checks went there so she was in charge of dealing with the bills and everything all i was doing is check the account sometimes to see how she doing with the spending,and when I feel like she was not supposed to spend that much money shopping or some unnecessary when we even didn’t pay the bills she got mad and since 2 months she asked me to have separate account and one together where 70% of our pay go because she feel like I am treating her like a little girl and controlling her by checking the account sometime and giving my opinion or asking her to discuss it before we spend more than 50 dollars…..I don’t understand it to me it don’t make no sense because we married and being married to me is became one so we should have everything together I mean almost everything…so do u think I got to just let it that way or talk to her… And look we got more than 5000 a month but we don’t have nothing save…..

Reply
Kandice

Why making sure your on the same page before you get married and a joint account is so important.

We have separate everything and not by my choice. Everything in our marriage is decided by my husband. i have no say in anything. I have 2 children before we got married and I am responsible for everything except the mortgage, gas, and electric (although I still end up paying these utilities about half the time). We do not make any financial decisions together and we are not allowed to talk about it. I have a degree and could get a really good paying job, however I decided that being home for my kids while they are little is more important so I work as a nanny where I take them with me and make cakes and sew items to sell on the side. I barely have enough money to pay the bills, put food on the table, and allow my kids to play one activity, so I am forced to use my CC till I can pay it off. My husband didn’t even have a job the past year so we supported him almost entirely.

I feel like we are roommate nothing more! I feel like he could care less about me or the kids. This month for example I thought I had extra money to pay towards bills and forgot about the car insurance that auto deducts so i bounced my account the first week of the month and it remained that way till I got paid again at the beginning of this month. When I talked to him about it, he yelled and got angry and asked “what the hell do you do with all your money?…You need to stop spending money…” Honestly I was better off financially as a single parent, the year he was without of a job killed me in CC debt of which I had none before. When I told him I dont spend any extra money his response was well maybe you need to watch how much food your buying and the kids dont need an activity.

Ironically, he states that he wants me to be able to stay home and not work at all, when he makes enough money. So I asked him how I was going to pay my share of everything and for the kids and food if I don’t work? His response was I would have to figure that out and quit spending so much money or that it is a ridiculous question and he doesn’t need this “bull sh***.” I have no idea what I am supposed to do, think, or say half the time.

As a mom who cooks, cleans, works, and almost 100% takes care of the kids it is demeaning that I dont get to see any share of the money he makes or how he spends it. I worry about how to buy the groceries and pay for my kids schooling, while he goes out to eat everyday for lunch and golfing as often as he can. i am not allowed to see his accounts in fact if I walk by him while they are pulled up on the computer he hurries and switches pages. He keeps all his info hidden so I never see it (statements, accounts, cash, etc…).

Talking about upgrades to the house well that money should come half from me and if I don’t have it I get the wrath and get asked again what I do with all my money.

My kids always ask why he doesn’t pay for things or buy them things too. My oldest (5) asks when is dad going to get a better job so we can do more fun things. It is heart breaking to myself and them.

He wants me to get a second job by the way….

Reply

[…] 15 Reasons Why You Should Have a Joint or Separate Checking Account […]

Reply

[…] money.  While there may certainly be value in doing so, you can build your budget to accommodate joint or separate bank accounts, cash or credit card spending, and frugal or extravagant spending […]

Reply
Vannesa

My husband and I have seperate accounts. Which in the beginning was okay. But now it’s just irratating and frustrating. He by any means does not let me even know what is in his bank account. His excuse for not going for joint accounts is because we both have spending habbits. Which I agree with but what I was trying to get him to understand we would be able to budget better and save waaaay better then we do now. I make more money then he does. He pays rent and utilities but my bills are just as much as his so I thought just put 75% of our income into the joint account and have our own account to do what we please with it. Still no budge. He also does it with his phone. His “only privacy” in our marriage. Getting a bit fed up with it. Especially our finances being the fact that he makes more then enough to cover his bills yet he sometimes asks me for my help and Im baffled at the fact that he doesn’t have enough. Like, where did all your money go? HELP

Reply
Andy

I appreciate your perspective. I really do. I used to share it, at least before I got married. But my experience has really changed my mind, and here’s why.

When it comes to our philosophies on money, my spouse and I aren’t that different. We both avoid debt like the plague (except on big purchases where it is all but necessary, like a house and car), we both believe in the need to save, and we have a meticulously crafted budget using Mint that we frequently monitor. We also share many similar ‘big ticket’ hobbies like travel, so spending money on those things is never a problem.

But at the same time, we both recognized, even before we got married, that our philosophy towards money is also different in some significant ways. At the end of the day, I believe that money is simply a means to an end, and so as long as our bills are being paid, we remain debt free, and we are saving to achieve longer goals, there is no reason to worry over every extra cent. My spouse, on the other hand, worries constantly with every single purchase. We frequently have a surplus of several thousand dollars in our joint checking account (after paying all bills and saving), yet we can’t treat her mother to a nice dinner without constant hand wringing that ‘we don’t have the money’.

We both realized this before we got married, but we opted for the joint-everything approach for the main reasons stated in this article and elsewhere. And for the first 3 years of our marriage, money has been the source of countless arguments despite the fact that our financial situation is probably better than 80% of couples out there.

So while we are aligned in most important ways, we are still two different people in others. She doesn’t spend money on herself, and questions every purchase she doesn’t deem essential in some way. I don’t see a problem in spending extra money on something either one of us might enjoy, no matter how frivolous or ‘non-essential’ it might seem. And for 3 years, we have both tempered our impulses in the direction of the other, for the benefit of the other, and yet I still get upset whenever she questions a small purchase I made for myself, and she still gets upset whenever I spend money on something she doesn’t see the value in.

I believe our marriage is fundamentally sound, as are our finances, but I can’t help but think that this joint-everything arrangement is causing more problems than anything else. We’ve talked it through to death, and the bottom line is that our basic philosophies on that extra money are fundamentally different. One isn’t right or wrong – just different. I believe that loving someone is loving them completely, for who he/she is, so I can’t expect her to change and just accept my philosophy any more than she could expect the same of me. We could continue this joint everything situation and have this same point of friction until death do us part, but to what end? For the sake of our marriage and our sanity, I think we need some kind of separate account scenario.

I say all this to illustrate a larger point. I think that in all marriages spouses have a list of things they wish were different about their partner (like approach to money). But I think that love, and marriage, is about understanding and accepting another in all his/her glorious shortcomings, and working together to come up with solutions to the problems a couple faces. Just like every person is different, every couple is different. As such, I don’t believe there are even general solutions (like joint accounts) that can be recommended. I think the best idea is to treat the relationship with your spouse like an experiment, trying out different things and seeing what works, accepting you and your spouse’s differences/shortcomings and figuring out what best works for your marriage.

Reply
    Travis

    We were the exact same way except I am the penny pincher. My wife opted to simply clear everything with me before purchases and I make sure we save enough to have fun. We have three savings pools. One is just to never touch until absolutely necessary, one we try to put $25 a day into for vacations and trips (although we usually find a way to save up for the planned vacations separately and leave it for a spur of the moment) and a 3rd that is used to go out to dinner or go shopping that we put just a little every week into depending on how much we have left over from groceries and gas. I keep track of them and keep them healthy, but we both stay up to date and make decisions on what to do with it. (The emergency savings was formerly used to kill our credit cards while we fixed the financial problems we brought to the alter) We have disagreements, but we never fight over paper with ink on it.

    Reply

hey monicaspell@hotmail.com … spells are fake. spells do not work. spells are of the devil. The bible says all witches are bad, even ones that say they are good, no they are actually bad. JESUS is KING, JESUS IS GOD, dont fall trap to believing in false idols. Humble yourself. Know that JESUS IS REAL AND IS ALWAYS LISTENING TO YOU.

Reply
Travis

My wife and I have a joint accout. I manage the finances, and ensure the bills are up to date; but she has full access to the account. We try to keep a set amount of cash for groceries and gas as needed, but if she needs something on the fly she just calls and asks how much excess is in the account, and what bills are coming up. It works for us because I have a good memory for numbers and dates and she’s focused on making sure we live more than we work; which I have a tendency to forget to do. We spend most of our free time together, we talk a lot and she asks questions that I patiently answer for her. We learned early on money can go from stressful to emotionally damaging if you forget that it’s paper, so we conquer the game together. It just makes sense when she says “Let’s go do this” and I can tell her we can or we can’t aford it now, but we could in two weeks; then we make a game plan with our combined finances and budget on the spot.

Reply
dien thoai iphone 123vn

Phone book SIM cards can be obtained at any major electronics retailer, including Radio Shack.

i – Phone has if truth be told modified the means that of communication and with
increased net speed; varied applications enable the users to calculate tasks whereas
situated thousands of miles removed from wherever the info
is found. They create the exact application according to your specifications.

Reply

Definitely having both joint and separate account for us. Joint account for buying household and children stuff. Personal account for our own hobby stuff…

Reply

Great Post, I can see how effective it was to separate the benefits and the drawbacks behind the separate account lifestyle. I see it as the communication is the key driving factor if you are in either situation. Do what works well for your situation.

Reply

[…] fund be saved in a high-interest (i.e. not your local back), easy-to-access (i.e. not a CD or bond) savings account.  Personally, we use and highly recommended an online “Orange Savings” account with […]

Reply

[…] [Note from Dustin: I've shared my thoughts on this issue and heard loudly from the community to the tune of over 100 comments on this post about bank accounts.] […]

Reply
Nick

Me and my wife have separate savings and checking,…….oh, she is on my savings. Why you ask? Because she wants it that way. I hate it. I despise it. She is right when I use my debit card and never record it. That’s the only real issue. I am going to make a change.

Reply
D

My fiancé and I were planning to marry in 2015, (together 3 plus years) we decided to keep separate bank accounts and open a joint one, we also decided to put each others names on our separate accounts (because we are in “it” together). I want to have “our” home at some point, not live in “his home” for years…

In full trust my man said he was in agreement to purchase a life insurance policy with me as beneficiary in the case of anything happing to him, I currently have one and would do the same when we marry.

He has significantly more to risk financially than I: his house, his business, his retirement…I get that he has worked hard and lost a lot in his divorce 10 years ago. I understand and respect that.

He and I have adult children from previous marriage and want to feel safe that they will be treated fairly. He said he trusted me to do the right thing with our adult children’s inheritance, ( I want to put both our desires into a Will so its not on my shoulders). I was so happy when he proposed this to me, I felt so trusted and just wanted us both to feel safe. He even said he wanted to put me as having life rights to “his” house.

Apparently he felt the need to discuss this with his mother…He says he does what ever she says to do because she is just trying to protect him…Im not sure what she said…however, he now has changed his mind about putting my name on his bank accounts. Also, due to my financial status which he and she are aware of (I was injured and lost my job, (we were broken up at that time) I cashed my retirement in order to keep my rent and bills paid. I am collecting unemployment while job searching and working on other money making projects, and keep house for us. I can pay my bills and buy food (not much else right now)…I have a masters degree, lol).

I wish he could make these decisions based on trust…and what works for us, not based on what his mother says.

Again, He says, “I do what ever she says to do because she is just trying to protect me”… It makes me wonder if he i with me because she likes me?
He also says, his heart and his finances are two different things, and he now needs a “life raft”. Basically Im now feeling like the only “it” we are “in” together is the bed…

Reply
tina

My husband has a joint account with his mum & he has no idea where his money is being spent. Its impossible for me to plan anything financial with him. He thinks he’ll hurt her feelings if hr separates his account & when i ask him about his savings he tries to avoid the topic. What do I do? Im confused & in trouble. How do I convince him without hurting anybody’s feelings?

Reply
Stephanie Rosa

What happens when you are the only one putting money in the account. Your partner keeps his income to spend as he wishes. Helps you out only after you harp and nag… And when you do let him have access to your acct all you ask for is let me know what you are purchasing beforehand bc I am managing finances and need to know what is there bc you don’t know what bills I have lined up to autodraft and that doesn’t happen either?!? Separate accounts and making him responsible for his part is the only logical way to handle this problem.

Reply
Moira

Judging by the comments it just seems to me like joint bank accounts is a bad idea. Why within a marrage is it acceptable to steal someone elses income as your own? or a Joint finance – our income? Why would you be entitled to it? There is no way I would have a joint bank account. I would have my account with my money and then agree to have a bank account to pay a direct debit in for bills etc. It seems to cause problems. Its up to me if I want to spend MY money on soapmaking equipment, shoes, organic clothes etc and I shouldn’t have to discuss this with a spouse and I don’t buy anything on credit so there would not be a problem with debt.

Reply
Cheryl

We have joint accounts. It never occurred to us to do it any other way. It works for us. I think for all the reasons you listed newly married couples should do joint accounts. However, if a happily married couple has separate accounts (that both can access) & this is working well for them, I don’t see a reason for them to change what works.

Reply

The issue of joint or separate bank account is what I don’t like to give a direct answer. The reason is that there are couples that are using a joint bank account and it is working perfectly for them, while there are those that have separate bank accounts and they are living happily as it is working perfectly for them.

I know a couple that has a joint bank account and one person went and cleared all the money in the account when they have a marital problem. I also know a couple that maintained a separate bank account, one of them died suddenly and the living spouse found it difficult to withdraw money from the late husband’s bank accounts without parting with a substantial amounts.
In other words, a joint bank account is working for some couples while it is separate bank account that is working for others. My counsel to couples is that they should choose an option that is best suited for them. Couples should choose an option based on their love and trust for each other as well as how each manages finance.

Finally, the use of ATM Card has brought a meeting point between the two options and that is what I use myself. That is having a separate bank accounts, but the ATM Card Pin Number is known by each of the couples. In other words, I know my wife’s ATM Card pin number and she knows mine. For instance, there was a financial need in the family recently and I gave her my ATM Card and she went and withdrew money from my accounts for family use.

Reply

[…] that can cause financial stress if proper communication is not kept. There are pros and cons to sharing a joint bank account, and the decisions involved in partner finances is a personal one. But if you already share a joint […]

Reply
What Happens When Your Partner Loses A Job?

[…] that can cause financial stress if proper communication is not kept. There are pros and cons to sharing a joint bank account, and the decisions involved in partner finances is a personal one. But if you already share a joint […]

Reply
JH

My wife and I were in our 30’s when we got hitched – independent and established in our lives. Married for 8 years now, my wife and I have a combination of everything: Joint checking, joint savings, joint investment, individual checking, individual savings, individual retirement, and separate business checking accounts for our ventures (we are both signers on each of these). Our payroll deposits are split between the joint checking and our personal accounts. Our joint bills (mortgage, cable, house phone, lawncare, projects, etc.) are paid out of our joint checking account, while our individual cell phones, etc. are paid individually. She generally handles the bills, while I am responsible for our investments. In some ways, it’s more complicated than having single joint accounts for everything, but it works for us.

Reply
jade

My husband has got more money than me before we got married. First he only opened a separate acct for me and put a small allowance monthly for me as i wasnt working and pregnant. Took a while before he put my name in his savings acct as a joint act holder due to the advice of his taxman. When we bought a house, he only put it in his name but made a will. When i got a job, his new idea was to get rid of my own act and just use our joint act. I didnt like it coz i felt he just want to be in control and why didnt he do it in the first place when i didnt have a job and money? Though we have joint act i never touch it. I can transfer to our isaver acct but i cant transfer money out from our isaver to my personal act. I tried it when im saving money but when i tried to take it back it wouldnt let me thru phone banking, not sure why. So i ended up opening own savings as i dont feel secure and he is questioning me. I cant tell it straight to his face these things: our house not both in our names. Joint saving? Whats the use? Cant touch it., bills in the house are not both in our names? Does it matter? Someone said yes as it proves u live in that house. He also said when he retires ( hubbys older than me) we will live in my salary. Means everything will come from my salary and nothing will left for me to spend personally? I dont want to be in control but i dont feel secure..Am i being selfish? I love my husband but i just have all negative thoughts bec of those things that i mentioned.

Reply
Rich

We have been married for 24 years and have 4 great children. My wife makes about 2/3 of my salary. When she got this new job 5 years ago, she opened her own checking account. My salary of a full time and part time job goes into our joint account. Her salary goes into her account and I don’t have access. She gives me/us a portion of her salary and I pay essentially all the bills. Lately it has been tough with college and bigger bills. I don’t buy anything for myself. She spends a lot on clothes for herself, opened a few credit card accounts and has racked up some debt. Every time I want to discuss, she says she is always short on money and can’t pay for something. I just started doing our tax return, and with the extra she keeps, she could pay for our mortgage twice a month. How do I communicate with her? She hides stuff from me, buys clothes just to spend because she can. I am fed up. I have requested more hours from my part time job and just got a second part time job. I am trying to get us out of a hole. I need help!

Reply
Now You’re Married, What About Your Career? | Engaged Marriage

[…] of course, always make financial decisions as a pair, especially if your marriage included joining your bank […]

Reply

[…] the two of you will be paying bills jointly, it is ideal that you are both aware of the income coming into the house and the money that’s […]

Reply

[…] Another big fight that newlyweds have is deciding on bank account options. […]

Reply
Add Your Reply

Leave a Comment: