A recent article stated that having separate bank accounts can save your marriage.
In some cases, I believe this. For instance, if one person has previously filed bankruptcy and the other has a good credit record and score, separate accounts are probably a necessity, not only for the marriage, but for their financial well-being. That couple may not be able to buy a house unless the spouse with the good credit alone applies for a mortgage.
Likewise, if one person has an issue such as a gambling addiction or substance abuse issue, keeping accounts separate makes sense. At least you can limit the amount of financial damage the other person can do.
However, the vast majority of the time, keeping finances joint, even if doing so is a struggle to get used to, is best for the marriage.
Joint finances provide the following benefits:
1. A system of checks and balances
When you share an account, you are each accountable to one another. One of you can’t sneak off and buy something expensive, and you can’t keep lifestyle choices hidden from one another.
I had a friend, Natalie, whose mother and father kept separate accounts. That’s how her father was able to have an affair that resulted in an illegitimate child. Natalie’s father made child support payments every month, and her mom was none the wiser because she didn’t know how much Natalie’s father made (he owned his own business) or how he spent his money.
Granted, this is an extreme example, but separate accounts do make it easier to hide financial expenses from your spouse.
2. Seeing The Same Financial Picture
While one person may be the financial geek as Dave Ramsey puts it, and the other person may not want to know much about the finances, when finances are joint, you see the same financial picture.
You both know how much is in the savings account and how much is in the checking account. You see the same financial picture and know how much money you have.
3. Talking About Money With One Another
If you have joint accounts, you may think it’s better because you avoid fighting about money.
True, you may fight more about money if you have to share the same account, but you’ll also talk more about money. You’ll discuss what you can and cannot afford to buy. You may agree on a set limit for purchases ($20 or $50 or perhaps $100) that you can’t go above without discussing it with your spouse first.
Sharon O’Neill, author of ” A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage” states that joint finances are “‘less complicated and force you to discuss how you want to spend money. You don’t have to agree on everything.’ But with a joint account, there’s no way to sweep financial disagreements under the rug” (Business Insider).
4. Evenly Distributing The Wealth
Too often, when couples make disparate incomes and have separate accounts, they split the expenses 50/50. John may make $100,000 while his wife, Kelly, makes $40,000. Still, John pays $2,500 worth of monthly expense as does Kelly. Of course, Kelly is carrying an unfair burden by paying more of the household expenses relative to her income. Yet this happens time and time again.
When finances are separate, you can feel like you have to battle your spouse to each pay your fair share. By contrast, when your finances are joint, you can work together to achieve the same financial goals. What each of you makes is put in the same communal account, so there is less of a sense of resentment.
What’s your take? Is have joint finances or separate ones better for a marriage?