This week’s topic is on “Couple’s Finances.” Whenever this topic is presented, the discussion usually drifts to the pros and cons of Joint Finances vs. Separate Finances. There are some pretty intense feelings on both sides, which almost always leads into interesting articles and ensuing comments. For me…
I just can’t wrap my head around ‘separate finances’!
Neither my wife, nor I can imagine having separate accounts. In fact, I would go as far as claiming that I lose a piece of respect for some people when I hear that they have separate finances. I’m not proud of this. On an intellectual level, I believe people should do whatever system works for them. But on a practical level, my stomach turns when I hear or read people talking about this issue. I’m often annoyed at several of the comments on sites who’ve tackled this subject in the past. I just don’t get it…
My biggest beefs with separate finances in marriage:
- It seems like many couples settle for separate finances because they desire avoiding “tough” conversations up front. In my life, ignoring or avoiding any issue has very rarely led to a positive resolution. In fact, the majority of times I’ve neglected an issue it has become far worse, before finally coming back to bite me in the butt. On the surface it can seem like separating accounts is a way to avoid money fights, however I believe many people use this as an excuse to delay working through the real issues behind the fighting.
- His and Hers, rather than Ours. How in the world can people have separate finances and still avoid slipping into his bills, her bills, his debt, her debt, his spending, her retirement? I find it hard to find how this system promotes unity and communication. I entered the marriage with more credit card debt and my wife entered it with much more student loan debt. Once we were married though it was our debt. Our income is our income. Our bills are our bills. Our financial goals are our financial goals. I love the fact that we have one shared plan and are constantly working together to implement it.
- There are many ways to budget “his/her” money, without separating finances. Whether you call it “blow money,” “personal spending,” or “his and her cash,” it is an essential part of budgeting. There’s nothing wrong with having money that each spouse can spend on whatever they fancy, but it seems akward to separate your finances just to accomplish this. I mean, is budgeting this category really that much harder than working out the details of splitting household bills and percentages of income?
- I feel like one spouse “paying” another by writing a check or transferring money is degrading. Every time I read someone talk about how they “pay” money to their stay at home spouse every two weeks, I actually want to scream. When my wife was pregnant she worked part-time in our business and had very little side income for a short amount of time. After my daughter was born, we sold our business so that I could stay home with her for the first 8-9 months, while my wife went back to work as a teacher. In either case, I would have felt horrible receiving/giving “pay” to/from my wife. Our money is our money, period.
- I don’t want a roommate, I want a spouse. During and directly after college, I lived with multiple roommates. In each situation we all had separate accounts. We all talked about how to split each bill and about whom would be responsible. Once a month, I would pay my portion of the joint bills and spend the rest of my money on whatever I wanted. Marriage is suppose to be the most intense form of intimacy and trust. I can’t imagine using the same system with my wife as I did with my roommates (as fun as they were).
- Separate accounts encourages secret accounts. Obviously, simply having separate finances doesn’t mean either party is being dishonest or untrustworthy. However, it is much easier to hide finances or get into “trouble” with separate finances. Everyone has their own weaknesses and temptation is always present in one form or another. Having struggled with addiction before, I’ve had the best success with systems which help me avoid temptation rather than encourage it.
- Both have access in case of an emergency. In the event something were to happen to me, even for a short amount of time, my wife would never have to worry about lack of access to any or all of our resources. Sure, either one of us could go to the bank tomorrow and withdraw all the money and put it on 18 red. If you can’t trust your spouse enough to have them on all of your accounts, should you really be getting married?
I guess I just can’t think of any negatives of joint finances!
There are only two cases where I would even find it convenient to have separate finances:
- I wanted to make a major purchase not in our budget, selfishly, without my wife knowing. Any purchase that would fall into this category is one that I would regret 24 hours later. Those of you who are regular readers know I’m a huge fan of putting as many obstacles as you can between yourself and habits that can destroy your financial goals. Having joint accounts is yet another layer of protection to help fight our impulses.
- I got divorced. Why anyone would use this as justification for separate finances I’m not sure. My wife and I do our very best to eliminate the possibility of divorce completely. Our theory is that if we never allow it to be an option, even for a second, than no matter how intense our problems become we will have no choice but to overcome them together.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had the same struggles in our young marriage that everyone works through. Our first couple years have been full of up and downs. Luckily, our handling of finances has been a constant source of strength. We feel as though having every account joint (even business) has brought us closer, increased our communication, and solidified our long-term goals.
I have an immense amount of respect for people who are able to achieve lasting, long-term relationships. I know for a fact that fantastic, mutually-beneficial marriages built on love, respect, and trust can include separate finances. I would never argue the opposite. I simply wonder if these relationship might even be further improved with increased financial unity. Maybe… maybe not.
Either way, I’m always interested in hearing from people who’ve been successful with separate finances. I really enjoy intelligent discussions that challenge my current belief systems. It is for this reason that I’m super excited for this week’s Personal Finance Hour (come join me in the chat room). And as always, I would love to hear your perspective on this issue.
Am I being narrow-minded? Do you have any information that can help open up my perspective? What do you choose in your marriage… joint or separate finances? Let me know below!
205 thoughts on “Married With Separate Finances: I Just Don’t Get It”
On the whole I do agree with you and 6 months ago I would have been right there with you. However I have recently learned about some very happily married couples that have always had sep accounts. I also have several examples of joint account holders in very bad shape. I still think all the income should go into one big pot first, but I am doing a lot of research to discover if there are any benefits to sep accounts. We shall see.
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I have some very good reason for keeping finances separate. If you are remarried and have children from a previous marriage. For estate planning you’ll want to keep your accounts separate. Not joint or the money legally is 50/50 owned. Separate accounts you can then create a trust for your children to inherritance the money in this account. You’d also create a trust for your sponce and name your children as benificiaries so you can help your sponce and keep the money in the blood line down the road.
Another reason is if one person comes into the marriage with lots of debt and the other has lots of assets. You need to protect yourself from creditors. There’s no reason you couldn’t have a new joint savings or checking and agree upon a financial plan for the future.
I am in total agreement. This has worked quite well for 15 years with my current spouse.
I’m with you on joint finances for married couples. I am paid through direct deposit from my employer, and have the capability to have different amounts deposited to multiple accounts. My wife and I decided to keep individual daily expense accounts, into which $100 per paycheck (a total of $200 per month) is deposited from my pay. The remainder of my check goes into our joint account, and all of my wife’s pay goes into our joint account since she is paid by paper check. All of our bills are paid out of the joint account. We set up the separate accounts for daily individual use, like gas and food, as safeguard against overdrawing our joint account at any point.
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Why can she not keep $200 from her own check for her individual daily expenses instead of it coming from yours? This alone seems strange to me.
He’s not saying it goes to her. He’s saying it goes to a seperate account for miscellaneous spending outside the bills. From what I gather they both have access to it. The reason it comes from his is because of his option with direct deposit to be able to deposit into seperate accounts. Whereas hers is a paper check so it all goes into one account.
@ Weakonomist – I am also intrigued at the potential benefits of separate accounts. I’ve yet to bump into any information that helped persuade me (as you have in the last 6 months), but am interested to hear people’s take tonight. Let me know if your research turns up any insights!
@ Adam – I can definitely understand people having separate accounts for their “blow” money. For us, though, we find no reason to do it. It just complicates our overall financial picture and we have no problems just budgeting the amount and each spending it out of the joint account.
I have never livd in a situation where the seperate account method is used. I do have a few friends who have always done things in this way. Admittedly, I haven’t thought about this issue a lot but now you have me thinking! I can see some pros and cons to each approach. I need to think on it more and perhaps quiz some of my friends as to why they do things the way they do and what is working and what isn’t.
Thanks for the thought provoking article..Keep’em coming!
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I don’t see anything wrong with both joint and separate accounts. Both will have their pros and cons. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no one is better than the other. It’s just individual preference. Why bother yourself with or get upset over how other couples manage their finances?
Personally, if I were married, I’d prefer a combination of joint and separate accounts. This is just my preference.
That’s an awesome photo–crazy!
My husband and I have tried every combination of sep and combined and both when it comes to finances. The worst was when they were completely seperate. We treat money differently and I think it’s working best now that the stronger financier (me) takes control, but not too tightly.
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@ Keith – You make a good point about not living in a situation with separate finances. I didn’t grow up with influences whom used separate accounts, so maybe that’s one of the reasons I struggle to grasp any benefits from it.
@ Mark – I hope I didn’t come across as upset! I was more trying to outline my struggles with understanding a system that has clearly worked for some people. I do think the discussion is an important one though. Both sides of the coin can learn from the other, which is why I’m trying to open up my perspective on the issue. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
@ Celeste – I’m glad you enjoyed the photo. I couldn’t believe it when I found it… it just seemed so awesome! Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I think it’s important to make sure you don’t take control too tightly (as you pointed out), but rather be a great example for your spouse!
My wife and I have separate accounts and a joint account. We don’t really have separate finances though. Our separate checking accounts are for our personal spending like gas for our cars, blow money, and eating out for lunch. It is essentially just a budget item which gets moved into two separate accounts. All bills and household expenses are OUR expenses and are handled through the main account. The separate accounts makes it easier for us to keep up with our blow money and keep play separate from the business end of our joint finances.
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Glad you found me through Twitter! I enjoy discussions about personal finances, and find those related to how couples handle their finances to be especially interesting. First of all, I can appreciate and applaud your “no exits” approach to staying married, however, I would like to point out that this can only work when both parties have the same belief system. My husband and I had a separate plus joint account system when we were first married (second marriage for us both), having had joint finances with our previous spouses. I think the reason for that was the lack of trust that had developed as a result of having been severely hurt financially by our ex-spouses and our not wanting to give up control of what “belonged” to us. Since my husband made more money than I did, I had difficulties with this system and after trying to explain to him to no avail, I ended up with a secret credit card. Eventually, I was found out, which led to a real “heart to heart” (I recommend the beach for this type of talk, it’s a calming environment) where we hammered out a new joint plan that worked for both of us. Several years later, all of our finances are now entwined and I actually manage the finances for both of us. I think that an inability or unwillingness to merge finances for common purposes and goals has probably deeper meaning for both parties and should be explored, but as long as these goals are being accomplished to the satisfaction of both, they should do what works for them.
Never quite understood it myself. Life is two busy to have to track everything twice. That being said, I do think it is important for everyone to have a “slush fund” so they feel free and flexible to have some fun spending when the time arrives!
Great post Baker!
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I think the issue starts when its too late. What I mean is couples get married and only find out that they are not compatible with each other because they either don’t have the same money habits, financial goals, hidden financial history and now its a disaster.
They did not take the time to discuss money prior to getting married for whatever reason and now they can’t trust one another. Or one can’t trust the other and the rope gets pulled both ways.
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I can definitely agree with this. My husband and I got married very young. I was only 19 and he was 24 but I was the more responsible one when it came to money. There was a lotttt of fighting. Two years later, we are forced to have separate accounts. We tried combining our income but he took advantage and spent most of my hard earned savings. I really resented him for it. Now he keeps his paychecks and I keep mine. Since we both use my car he contributes to the car note and insurance and he pays rent. I usually pay for gas and food plus my phone bill.
It gets hard when he has a kid with someone else and she’s constantly draining him of his money. Plus he has no idea what “saving” is. He gets very possessive about his money since he’s the one who worked for it.
@ Kyle – I like that even though you technically have accounts that aren’t joint, that you still handle all the bills like “OUR”-bills. It seems like you are able to play the middle ground pretty well.
@ Karen – Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience. You definitely have insightboth sides of this equation and your comment helps reinforce some of my existing beliefs. I’m glad to see you and your spouse have found a working solution. I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing so openly!
@ Brandon – Yeah, it’s always been much simpler for us just to do it once!
@ tom – You bring up an excellent point about the importance of discussing these matter before marriage. I read and hear about way too many people that get into the exact cycle of problems you outlined.
I’m going to go ahead and agree with you. I also don’t “get” why a married couple would keep separate finances. Then again, I’ve never been divorced, had money troubles when I was younger, or as a kid, been burned before, etc. It probably, as a number of comments have already alluded to, has something to do with a deeper sense of fear or mistrust.
For my fiance and I, we have already talked a lot about our finances, and how we are going to go about combining them. We’re not married yet, but we’re already starting the shift towards talking about “our” money and “our” expenses, even though we have separate accounts and separate incomes. Its a very interesting process, and a very emotional one, but one that definitely needed to be dealt with BEFORE the wedding.
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Completely, 100% agree with you.
Last time I checked marriage was supposed to be about unity and joint-ness rather than just living together. Just goes to show how far our society has gotten from God’s design of life. “Yea, I just live with my wife. I don’t know what she does with her money.” (palm-face-smack image here)
@ Alan – Thank for dropping by! I think you are way ahead of the game in dealing with your financial issues up front. My wife and I were on the ball about discussing pre-martial finances, as well, however it’s hard to cover everything that will come up in the first few years. I think think sort of discussion is absolutely essential in the society we live in!
@ No Debt Plan – Kevin, thanks for getting my back :-)!
Yes, discussing finances before marriage is always a good idea, but I’d like to point out that the true test of financial harmony comes during the marriage when major decisions need to be made. Then how couples communicate about their finances becomes the determining factor. The ability to be able to respect each other’s position and communicate to a compromise or mutually beneficial outcome becomes the goal.
My boyfriend and I have separate and joint accounts. We have a joint account that we put a proportion of our checks into. We pay rent, food, gas, dining out, and fun from the joint account. Our personal accounts are ours. Even after we are married, I’m sure we will keep this arrangement to some degree, though our joint pool will probably be bigger. At that time, I will add him as a beneficiary on my retirement, and vice versa.
We’re both very independent people, and really cringe at the idea of having to ask ‘permission’ to buy something. Of course, if we’re buying something like furniture or a washer and dryer, that’s a joint decision and joint money. But if I want to buy shoes, I’m going to buy shoes. It also helps we’re on the same page financially. We both frugal savers, and there’s no risk of one of us raiding the joint fund because we overdrew our personal accounts.
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@ Karen – You bring up another excellent point. I feel like our ability to discuss a major decision and come to a mutual resolution (in regards to finances) has been a major strength in our young marriage. We definitely try to leverage it in the other areas of our life, as well.
@ Cathy – Thanks for taking the time to add your perspective. I can understand where you are coming from. My wife and I have overcome the “permission” obstacles by sitting down and doing a joint budget. In your example, we would budget at least some money for shoes (or that would be spent out of the “blow” money) and then when the purchase was made there wouldn’t be any need for permission. The only time “permission” becomes and issue is when we want to make a purchase not in the budget and that’s more money than we each have to “blow.” In those cases, I’m extremely glad I feel negative pressure, because that is often times a purchase I would regret shortly after.
That’s great that you’ve found a way to keep each other on track, Baker. 🙂 Thanks for the response. I’m glad you found something that works for you!
I hear you Baker, on the topic of separate finances. There is one thing you fail to consider . . . the notion that some people need separate checkbooks to keep from killing each other. To wit; I am a law student who will be facing the board of bar examiners in roughly 9 months. The one thing we have been told, literally since the day we began law school, was keep our noses clean and do nothing you would have to report as a negative to the board. Fair enough. I have been fairly successful staying out of jail and not running afoul of the folks in charge. My wife, however, can not keep a checkbook out of the red. God knows, I love her dearly, and would never consider leaving her or kicking her out. She cannot, however, avoid an old habit she picked up in college years ago and never quite shook … She will write a check today knowing that money will come in in time to beat the check to the bank.
I have begged, pleaded, even given her a bumper fund to put at the bottom of her checking account balance to keep her from approaching negative numbers. Nothing helps. Eventually, she is in the red, often really in the red. It is an expensive habit, and these days you run the risk of dinging your credit report when you do it repeatedly.
I can’t share her bank account, because I do not want to have to be an apologist for her in front of the board of bar examiners. After I get my license to practice, maybe. Now? No.
Mort, being a student of psychology (not law), I would have to say that there is something at the bottom of why your wife will not play by the rules. She knows where the bottom is, but steadfastly refuses to honor it. It reminds me of an old friend of mine who was married to a man who neglected to take the videos back in a timely manner incurring all sorts of late fees, yet she refused to do it because “it was his job.” Meanwhile, their little power play cost them plenty in money that could have gone to a much better cause. This is a great argument for separate accounts, but still the bad money habits end up affecting both.
I think that having separate finances is great. It works very well for my wife and I, as linked above.
We discuss our finances openly, but never fight about money because we are individually responsible for our own money. If she wants to splurge on shoes, its no skin off my back and vice versus if I want to buy power tools. It ultimately allows us to become closer.
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The way we do it is a slight variation. We both have separate checking accounts which accept our direct deposit pay. On payday, we both send most of our check to the Joint account.
Both of our sets of parents worked from one check book and we observed that they were frustrated and bouncing checks as they’d forget to tell the other they wrote one or not know the amount they wrote earlier.
I’m sure this isn’t the “separate finances” you mean. Ours has worked well for us, and avoided that bounced check issue our parents enjoyed.
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It sounds like you have a great financial partnership and you should be thankful.
However, not everyone is so fortunate. You should keep in mind all of the challenges of having an irresponsible spouse. When this happens, all of the talking in the world doesn’t work, because they really don’t care about the finances. They just want to buy whatever they want, even of it hurts the rest of the family. They consider excessive spending to be a right, not a problem.
I personally know many couples who have gone through financial nightmares because of irresponsible spending by one of the spouses. For the responsible spouse it’s the most helpless feeling in the world. Separating finances is one of the few things that may work in this situation. It can be the single thing that saves a marriage.
The reason you can’t list any negatives of joint finances is because you probably haven’t experienced any of them. It’s like saying you don’t understand alcoholism, when you don’t have a drinking problem. When joint finances go wrong, bankruptcy and divorce are the two biggest negatives. They are also very common right now.
Try talking to someone who has been there and then you will know what it’s like. It’s an awful feeling when you go to pay the bills one day and find out all of the money is gone. Imagine you have a single income for a family of four, the bills are due, the refrigerator is empty, it’s two weeks until payday and all the money has been squandered on junk.
Having said all of that, I can now say something a little more positive. We are still married after 18 years, our finances are in pretty good shape and Yes, we still have separate bank accounts. We have both become more responsible and we rarely fight about money any more. Many other couples I know aren’t nearly as fortunate.
This picture brings back some old memories. 😉
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I’m not married yet, but we’ve been together 6 years and have gotten to the point where we stop correcting people when they call the other person our husband or wife. We also have no intention of changing from our separate finances after we do get married.
First of all, I’m glad you admit that you CAN have a healthy relationship while maintaining separate finances, many people don’t. The attitude that there’s something wrong with people who have separate finances is ridiculous. I also have to point out that joint finances can be just as unhealthy when people try to control or ignore money, or just don’t talk about it.
RE: Your biggest beefs.
– Very true, but not always.
– People get very hung up on a couple sharing everything, but everyone has things that are strictly their own, unless you like cross dressing anyway. Just like I have MY socks, and MY cell phone, I have MY money. At the same time, we have OUR apartment, and OUR bills and OUR long term plan. Separate finances doesn’t have to mean you’re working alone, sometimes you divide and conquer instead.
– No argument there.
– In the case of a single income household, yes. In the case of dual incomes, no. For two people with separate finances and two incomes, it’s nothing more than balancing the checkbook. Or like an investment portfolio where one stock or fund is overbalanced. It just evens things out again. In my case, it’s generally a very small amount once a month that is transferred for the sake of keeping the bookkeeping neat.
– This is nothing more than a personal view and hangup.
– Nope. Growing up, my parent’s had joint finances. My dad maintained at least one secret account pretty much throughout. He simply didn’t deposit his entire paycheck into their main account, a small part went into his private account. It’s just as easy to have a secret account either way. In a way, having separate finances is trusting the other person not to do that.
– Although I have not yet, when we marry, I will likely add my fiance to all my accounts for just this reason. They’ll still be “mine”, but he’ll have access in case something happens to me, just like he’s already my primary beneficiary and I his.
3 big Negatives of joint finances off the top of my head
– Coming in over budget
– Gifting and taking the other out ends up pretty meaningless. “Well dear, you have $100 to spend on my birthday gift, don’t go over budget!”
Most people have a common view about separate finances. They think it means we are acting alone. Where separate finances works, that’s very far from the case. We’re still working together in every way. My fiance and I probably talk more about our finances than joint couples. Even though we have separate finances, there’s an implicit understanding that if help is needed, it’s there. We’ve discussed where we want to go in life and how we’re going to get there. It’s not me working towards my goals, and him towards his. We’re both working according to an agreed on long term plan, just like most joint couples. Our plan is probably less detailed since we delegate things between us, but it’s just as valid a way of doing things.
It also doesn’t mean that you’re working with a black box where the other person is concerned. I know how much debt, savings, investments, etc. my fiance has. In fact, I track his investments and helped him set his asset allocation and everything. We’ve contemplated pooling resources to help pay off debt sooner, but in our case it never made a lot of sense. Our budgets are also collaborative, since we discuss and agree on mutual expenses like groceries and eating out. So we both know where each other stands, and what we’re working on besides our mutual goals.
We also really like the divide and conquer method of our system. Most of the work in managing money is in the day to day transactions and keeping track of a budget. In our case, I only have to worry about what I spent. I never have to track him down and wait while he digs in his wallet to figure out what that $14.77 charge from walmart was for. We also never have to worry about how much of the food budget the other has spent, since we both maintain our own budget.
That’s part of why we have separate finances. We’re both budget nerds of the every cent needs to match kind. The problem is that we’ve both developed our own methods of budgeting and it would be tough to merge. Unlike most couples, we’d be arguing over whether to budget monthly or biweekly instead of how much the food budget should be (since those things have already been agreed on.) Our budgeting methods are pretty diametrically opposed, and sure, we could compromise and come up with a joint method…but it wouldn’t be fun anymore! (I know, we’re weird.)
A big key towards making separate finances work, is to not keep score. Sure, you split everything 50/50 or whatever, but don’t be anal retentive about it. For us, some of the enjoyment is the ability to give gifts and treat each other. Sometimes we’ll go out to eat at a little nicer restaurant than usual, and he’ll tell me, “My treat. I’m taking you out tonight,” and that makes it extra special for us both.
Personally, I’m of the opinion that a couple with a good relationship should be able to use either joint or separate finances or even switch between the two without it making any difference. These are just two methods of keeping the books. The rest of it comes down to your relationship and talking about things. Most money issues aren’t money issues – they’re relationship or personal issues. Finances is just where you see that issue come into play whether it’s irresponsible spending or arguing over priorities.
I’d be glad to discuss more about how we handle things separately if you like. Just shoot me an email.
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I agree with you! We have a credit card for joint purchases that we pay off in full each month. This way we rack up airline points that we use for vacations during the year. Anything individually is purchased separately; him using a debit card and me using my personal credit card.
You state: “In fact, I would go as far as claiming that I lose a piece of respect for some people when I hear that they have separate finances. ”
Well, I would say that I lose respect for people who judge other folks by how they do their financial accounting. As long as the couple is happy, how is it anybody else’s business? You can’t use that as a yardstick for how the couple gets along or feels about each other. That’s like saying you don’t respect couples who don’t want to have kids- it’s really none of your business.
Yes. Thank you. I was thinking this was JUST like the not having kids issue. People think my husband and I are selfish because we don’t have or want kids and that we are not “really a couple” because we don’t mix our money. Lots of judgmental assholes out there.
We’ve been married over a decade and are happy and have more closeness and intimacy than most people I know with kids and joint checking accounts so maybe they could spend a little less time judging and a little more time focused on making their own relationships work.
I agree with you. But what this article and all the comments does for me is help me to get an idea of what we need to do. My husband keeps his finances separate from mind
I also believe it is the attitude behind the separate accounts. My husband makes a whole lot more than me. And he buys himself expensive clothes and shoes, a new car. And I have to budget what I make and pay utilities and take care of my own personal needs. He said I just need to make more money.
“I’m not proud of this. On an intellectual level, I believe people should do whatever system works for them. ”
“I know for a fact that fantastic, mutually-beneficial marriages built on love, respect, and trust can include separate finances. I would never argue the opposite.”
That last one was in bold. I’m not sure if you didn’t read the article or you just missed the point. The title is “I just don’t get it,” not “people who do this are idiots.” I was being open an honest about my struggles accepting a way of handling financial aspects of married life. I and other readers enjoy opening our minds to other methods, so that we can learn and grow. Several people with separate finances have commented and contributed real substance and value to the post. If you need inspiration on how to do this, read some of the longer comments above.
I completely agree with you on this one. I do a fair bit of financial counseling and the couples that are most willing to implement my advice are those with a single account. The idea of my money and your money or my bill and your bill seems to lend itself to problems. Not saying that split finances can’t work, but when my wife and I got married we agreed to become ‘one’.
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My wife and I treat this the same way. We agreed to become “one,” as well.
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Some reasons you missed in the reasons to keep finances separate:
1. Finances are already separate. You don’t enter a marriage with combined finances… The process of combining them can be extensive. You say “it seems akward to separate your finances just to accomplish [personal spending]”, but it’s the default state. It’s awkward for me to think about switching to shared finances to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Easier solution… one joint account for “our” expenses. Both spouses contribute an agreed amount to the joint account. You don’t have the issue of one spouse writing the other checks, you don’t have one roommate being responsible for one bill.
2. Getting divorced. Though you mention it, you brush it aside, saying “My wife and I do our very best to eliminate the possibility of divorce completely.” Every other happily married couple felt the same way at some point. Yet a large percentage of them get divorced.
3. Spending. It would be psychologically damaging to know how much my wife spends on her hair. She mentioned it in passing once, and I’m still trying to forget it. On the flip side, I upgrade my new cell phone every now and again, even though my old cell phone works perfectly fine. She understandably can’t understand that. However, each of us are still frugal and save thousands of dollars each month. It’s better for both parties to simply keep things separate and have a once a month money meeting to make sure we are still on track to reach our goals.
We still talk about things as “our” money. We don’t avoid any “tough” conversations (though having good personal finance instincts helps that.)
I wrote about this once myself and found that I got a lot of comments as well. It’s a tough topic, and I’m not sure there are any right or wrong answers. It’s one that depends on probably dozens of personal details between the couple and their financial situation.
Thanks for the awesome comment.
1) I can see your point here. I think it’s just a different way of thinking than mine, which is interesting to be exposed to. When my wife and I combined finances, we didn’t view it as fixing a problem. We just both had the expectation that we’d do it and it was easy for us.
2) I know the statistics well. We just choose to try to put everything we can between us and that as a possibility.
3) Again, this comes down to just a difference in comfort levels. I would be uncomfortable the other way. I would make me feel uneasy to spend a bunch of money if it hadn’t been agreed on before hand. Just like I would feel uneasy if my wife spent a large quantity of money that we hadn’t talked about either. Obviously there isn’t a right or a wrong, it’s a matter of comfort level.
I really appreciate you adding some constructive feedback from a different perspective. It’s neat to see how other people feel about the issue.
Just a different perspective regarding number 3 – For us, I honestly can’t remember any significant purchases that weren’t discussed beforehand or at least mentioned, with the exception of gifts for each other and a vacuum cleaner…and the vacuum was extenuating circumstances relating to asthma. Even the gifts usually get talked about one way or another. That’s the thing with all this. It works the way you want it to work.
And I’m going to stop while I can still restrain myself from going off on tangents. 🙂
Slinky’s last blog post..Status Report #3
This is a great post and never out of date. I am all for joint finances, but there was a time when I was a bit unsure. My previous message was messy and my ex did go to the bank and clean out OUR money. It made me very uneasy once I got a new little nest egg going to go ahead and share that with my new husband. We talked it over, he understood my feelings and we got through it together. In hindsight, I didn’t have anything to fear and almost feel a bit silly for my initial concern (note to self: revisit this with husband).
Now, when it comes to birthday gifts etc, we simply say to one another, “Don’t look at the on-line banking this month”. You know they’ve got something going on, but hey, it’s your birthday, so it’s to be expected!
As mentioned in the post – we’re in this for the long haul and although we don’t share EVERYTHING (don’t touch my toothbrush!) it would seem odd to me to not have joint finances.
We always discuss big purchases and neither of us has any secret fetishes that cost money 😉
To each their own, but for me, I’m glad we talked it over back in the beginning and haven’t looked back since.
Oh, I couldn’t agree more. One time I was at a friend’s house when her husband came in, said something like “I bought the concert tickets, you owe me $56 bucks.” He was making easily 5 times as much as his wife, maybe 10 times. I thought to myself, “She’s a lot nicer than me.”
I’d probably have responded “Go find someone else who wants to pay to go out with you!”
PS – They are divorced now – FWIW
I once knew a couple where the man made 5 times as much as the wife also. They had joint finances and the husband dictated absolutely everything she spent any money on…..down to what kind of tampons she was allowed to buy(store brand only)……they are no longer married either…….Neither one of these marriages ended because of finances………It’s cause dude was a jerk.
I cannot disagree with you in any part. I’ve been married for over a year and every time I bring this subject up it’s an argument. My husband makes more money (+15k) than I do and he feels he is entitle to all his money. He feels I need to live within my limits and not ask him for money, because he doesn’t ask me for money. I had to hear it when I asked him for 20 bucks to help pay for the pet’s vaccination. If one of the pets get sick, he expects me to pay for the bill as I came to this marriage with the pets, so they are mine. We had plans to have children but I got that totally off the book. There is no way we can raise a child under these system. I’m looking for a second job besides my full time job and part time school to help me pay for all my expenses. We have a joint checking that we put a certain amount of money to cover bill and groceries. That was another fight over 4 months to get done. He would go to the store, pick his junk and separate them at the cashier. I ended up paying for all the groceries that I cooked and both of us ate. I had no money for groceries and I had relatives from outside of the country over. I asked him for money and he limited me 50 bucks for grocery. Next day he shows up with an Opus One and I found his bank statement showing 1,600 available for over 3 months in his checking account. I cried so much and I decided it had to end. That’s when I finally won the joint account for bills only. Oh did I mention he wanted to file separate with IRS and I had to speak up? What do I do? I’m starting counseling, will try to bring him to couple’s therapy but I’m seriously giving up and thinking seriously of divorce. I feel he is selfish and maybe he is hiding things from me.
I feel your pain! My new husband and I have seperate accounts. He makes quite a bit more than I do, but fortunately he also pays more of OUR bills than I do. The problems we have are with the personal spending. We share in all the bills so that we are paying proportionately to what we earn and we split major expenses, etc. However, he tries to be in complete control of what I spend personal money on, when he blows his money and can’t even account for it! We have literally only been married for a little over a month, and within that time period my financial trust in him has withered away. How do you get past an issue like this? I know it’s just money, but it’s MY financial security too. Just like you mentioned, I think he is hiding something from me too, I just haven’t found out what it is yet… 🙁
@Priscila – your man sounds like a jerk. If he can’t share finances and groceries with you then he definitely can’t share his heart or his entire life. Cut your losses and save some tears: get out!
One divorce will convince you.
Let’s hope not
Hi Katy – I realize this post is several years old, but wanted to say I agree with you 100%. My mom has been married 5 times and after watching her endure hell (and cause her share too) I will NEVER, EVER share finances. EVER.
I was married and we had completely separate finances. Not because my x-husband wanted it that way it was because I had no desire to combine our finances. I was young when I got married and I was in love and I was foolish. I married a man that had lots of fun and had no perceived consequences for anything, spending money was the major one. There was always another credit card to use or money to shift to cover things. I had never had debit before getting married, I had graduated a year before from college and come out with no credit card debit and little student loan debit.
I had major credit card debit (that was all mine) by the time I got divorced four years later. The major take home message. (It took me several years to actually understand my deep sub-conscious survival mode) I married a man I did not trust financially. I was attracted to his liaise faire attitude about everything, the no consequences approach intrigued me I had never let myself go like that before. (but unfortunately I learned too)
Now I know that I was protecting myself, even though I didn’t know it at the time. If I can’t trust someone financially then there are some other major issues I need to account for.
Wow, thanks for the deep and intimate comment. While this situation could happen regardless of the status of financial accounts, it’s a great reflection on the importance of financial trust (whichever method you use). Thanks a ton.
The title of your post reminds me of how harshly judged we are for keeping finances separate. People think that our marriage must be inferior; that we must be planning to divorce; we must not really love each other or want to share our lives.
The only reason to keep joint finances, or separate finances, or mixed finances, is because that’s what works for you. Kindly keep your opinion of my choices to yourself.
If you really want to know you can read a little further, and I will tell you our own reasons for keeping our finances apart.
The #1 biggest reason is his past difficulty with the IRS. If you’ve ever tried to clean up an old tax disaster, you know how ugly and time-consuming that can be; we were not willing to put our lives together on hold for some bureaucratic foot-dragging. We had planned to keep a joint account for shared expenses, such as our home, but were advised that until the taxman is happy any account with his name on it is at risk of seizure.
The other main reason, possibly more important to us, is that we have completely opposite and incompatible views about money. Over the course of our relationship – over 10 years together, almost 1 year married – we have both moved toward center: I have stopped agonizing over every tiny outlay, and he has started paying bills on time and thinking before spending. Neither of us will ever be perfect but we don’t let that stop us from being happy together.
Finally, we may be married but we are not one person. We came to marriage later in life, with established households of our own and no particular need or desire to marry anyone ever. We ultimately married because we felt it was right for us, at this time, to honor our partnership legally and in the eyes of our aging parents. We are not the joined-at-the-hip type; our individuality is important to us. Not more important than our partnership, but not less important either. Can you understand that?
Sharing money as a couple is challenging, whoever you are and however you handle it. Joint or separate, it requires honesty, commitment, and communication. No one method works for everyone, or works for each adherent the same way. Maybe you’re “lucky” and agree on everything; maybe you’re constantly challenging and being challenged by each other’s views. One is not “better” than the other.
Do what works for you, and kindly allow me to do the same. Unjudged.
“I’m not proud of this. On an intellectual level, I believe people should do whatever system works for them… ”
“I know for a fact that fantastic, mutually-beneficial marriages built on love, respect, and trust can include separate finances. I would never argue the opposite.”
This post was both a journey for me to understand separate finances and an invitation to open up the discussion. Let me reflect on a couple of the issues you brought up:
1) Obviously, if you’ve been “advised” to keep accounts separates because of haunting IRS issues, it would be intelligent to do so. This type of situation is not really the focus of the discussion, though.
2) Don’t be so quick to assume that we “agree on everything” or that we aren’t “challenged by each other”. We’ve just decided to tackle this issue together with combined accounts. Overcoming “incompatible” views on money seems to be a necessity for marriage (one you’ve seem to find a great balance with). I’m not sure how separate accounts is better for overcoming this than joint accounts.
3) We are not one person either. But we do have ONE financial life. I think the key difference here is the reasons for marriage. You’ve outlined that it’s more of a legal issue and one influenced by family. That’s cool. I respect that, but it’s very different motivation. Individuality seems like another area that’s important to all marriages. But OUR individuality is not more important than our partnership.
Ultimately, I love the fact that you’ve taken the time to write such a passionate comment. Opening up the discussion was my goal and as you can see above there has been a lot of intelligent and respectful commentary on both sides.
Also, I won’t be keeping my opinions to myself, unfortunately. In fact, I sincerely hope you DON’T keep yours to yourself, either. There’s no fun or growth in that.
Great topic. We are a 1 income household so needless to say we share our finances. That said we both have our own checking accounts/credit cards. It’s more of a holdover from before we got married (3 years ago) but it seems to work well enough.
One point I’d like to make is that just because a couple says they have separate finances doesn’t mean that they are 100% separate. In my mind – “separate finances” would mean that they wouldn’t share how much they are making or how much money they have or anything. They would just agree to get things paid. I don’t see how this would work in a marriage.
It seems like in a lot of cases, spouses with separate finances do know a lot about the spouse’s finances and they manage their money accordingly. It’s not how I would do it but it’s not necessarily that much different than putting the money in a pot at the outset.
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My husband of just over a year (but about 9 years together total) keep separate checking accounts. We did this before we were married and lived together and it worked just fine, so why change? However, once we did get married we
a) opened up a joint savings where we save for a downpayment (almost there!)
b) we became fully transparent about our finances. We both now know how much is in each others’ retirement funds and other investment accounts,
c) we also opened up joint credit cards – more like i added him to my credit cards. I have stellar credit history having had a credit card since 17 and student loans. He thought it was prudent not to have a credit card to avoid debt..but his family never taught him the importance of building a credit history and he had no other loans. Now he has the same credit score as me and having a high score for both of us will be very important when getting a mortgage.
We share our rent and other expenses. I pay a bit more because I earn more for now. This system works perfect for us. We spend our money as we please without agonizing over me buying shoes or him buying fancy scotch, but we maintain trust by being completely open and we have shared goals.
We agreed that if one of us were to stay home if we ever chose to reproduce, then we would prob just keep everything joint. However, I just do not see us being able to live on one income. Kids may change things but we do not need to think about that for at least 3-5 years, if ever.
Four pillars is spot on with their being many degrees of separation. I usually apply the term “separate finances” to any system that doesn’t involve joint accounts. I consider our finances separate, but I still know how much he makes, what he’s saving for, how much he has saved, what debts he has and how much, etc. And yes, if you work together, there isn’t that much of a difference from putting it all in one pot. It’s just a different way to balance the books. The important thing is the working together part.
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wow! you’ve given me that push that i needed!
i’ve always liked the idea of sharing finances with my bf but sometimes i’d get worried cos we both have different ideas about how to spend our money. He chooses to ignore bills while i am obsessive compulsive about money and have to know where every cent is going. I have a mortgage, i bought my first house when i was 22 years old and i guess when you hear stories about people breaking up and taking half of the house when it didn’t really belong to them, you get a bit scared. I’ve gotten over that fear cos even though the mortgage is in my name for our current house, i feel like it is our home. We both chose it and he contributes a great deal to renovations and bills and lets face it, he isn’t going to get himself into the housing market anytime soon with his money habits and if i can’t share this with him and give him a leg up, who will?
Plus we have a child on the way, our first, only five weeks to go. I guess your blog made me realize that if i’m committed to this relationship enough to have a child, then i should be committed enough to work our finances together, particularly since i’ve gotten over my fear of losing the house, i hate the idea of him feeling like he is boarding with me anyway, what kind of relationship would it be if he didn’t feel like our house was his home too?
So we have started the ball rolling by setting up a joint account for income and expenditure and we are planning on opening a joint savings account for us to start contributing to. But we need tips and advice on how you manage things like personal expenditure. We are both happy so far with the joint thing and can see that it has more advantages than disadvantages but we can also see that it has potential to cause conflict because of our different attitudes to money.
First piece of advice – do not have a child out of wedlock. If you feel comfortable enough in a relationship to have a child, you should feel comfortable enough to get married. This way if anything happens to your relationship you both have to support the child.
this is a discussion about finances, not about my marital status.
Agreed- what a silly thing to advise. What would be more stupid, would be to run and get married just because you’re having a child with someone!! Sure- sometimes that turns out well… but its for all the wrong reasons! The way it sounds to me- you’re doing just fine on the path you’re on…. get married WHEN THE TIMING IS RIGHT BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR BF….NOT so that you can wear a pretty diamond while youre pushin your baby out!
People are so unrealistic these days…….. times have changed ppl.
My spouse and I both make about the same amount of money so we share the bills equally. The way we handle our finances is this. We both have separate checking accounts where our paychecks get deposited into every two weeks. Immediately after pay day all the money we need to pay our bills, and put into savings for that period is automatically deposited into our joint account. That is the same amount every paycheck.
Whatever is left in our separate accounts is left for us to spend freely on entertainment, eating out, clothing, toys. We sit down every few months and decide how much we want to save and for what purpose: vacation, big purchases, retirement, etc.. That way we can adjust the automatic transfer amount that goes into our joint account.
This allows us to work together easily to pay bills and save towards our joint goals. It also allows us to not feel guilty if we occasionally splurge on something for ourselves. It works for us!
I think everyone is different and you need to work out what will work for your relationship. There is no one best way, although I enjoy reading about different approaches to get ideas. Thanks for this post!
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My spouse and I choose to have separate accounts. We’re both fairly high income earners, and we both have different approaches to handling money. I’ve been self-employed for almost my entire career (so, long before I met my hubby) so I’ve been working on a system for managing my money for years. Since my income fluctuates greatly from month to month, it’s taken a lot of work to learn how to manage it properly. I would feel like I was throwing all that down the drain if we suddenly pooled accounts.
Secondly, when we bought our house together, it was under that assumption that all expenses would be split down the middle. This means that if we want to do any work on the house, we discuss what we each can afford. Since he usually earns more than I do, and has a better cash cushion than I, I (usually) can’t afford any spur-of-the-moment renos or major maintenance work. I have to take the time to save, or else he covers my share, and I will eventually pay him back my half of the reno cost. I *prefer* knowing that our house is 50% the results of my own hard work! I wouldn’t want him to pay my share for me.
Lastly, I don’t want to let my career slide. It’s important to me. Because I’m self employed, I could easily slow down, rely on my hubby’s income to support me, if we were to blur the lines between our accounts. We don’t have kids, so I would probably become a housewife, dependent on my husband’s income. Now, I have friends who have fallen into this route, and of course that is their choice (and they’re happy with it!), but I don’t want to go down that road. It’s taken me so long to build my career, and I don’t want to give it up or allow it to taper off. If I’m responsible for 50% of a fairly high cost of living, then I’d better get my butt in gear and keep working! If I lose that responsibility, then I might lose my independence, and my career drive.
Hope that allows for another viewpoint on this issue… I enjoyed reading the debate! I believe for us, if our circumstances were different, we might be more willing to have joint accounts. But for now, having separate finances works really well for us.
Great post. Agree 101% with you.
neat ideas and bullet points.
I read this post after specifically doing a search on this topic. My new husband and I have seperate finances. I hate it but that is where we are right now. When we moved in together two years ago, we split the bills according to what was most reasonable and convenient based on our paydays and income (just like the roommate situation you mentioned, LOL!). BUT – When we got married we had discussed our finances and decided we would get a joint account and get rid of our seperate ones.
Sadly, issues have arisen that have caused me to re-think this issue. First of all, I have been divorced before and spent several years as a single mother. My ex drained our accounts and then ran off leaving me wih a child to raise and no financial help at all. The past for me, makes it very difficult to trust someone else with my financial well-being, especially when I was left high and dry with my ex. Having said that, I know that has nothing to do with my new husband, and is merely a trust/security issue for me.
The next issue is that right after my new husband and I got married, I found out about him spending almost $4,000 over the past year that he can’t seem to account for. I was furious! When I asked him about it he said that he had spent it “here and there” or on “this and that”. What does that mean exactly? I could spend $10,000 tomorrow and account for every penny of it! Then he has the nerve to get mad at me when I tell him that I don’t want a joint account with someone who is that careless with money. This issue really added fuel to my trust/security concerns over our finances.
The other thing is that he is constantly asking me about the balances in my accounts. He has always done that and I used to think it was because he was just concerned about us being responsible with our finances, but lately I’m not so sure. He wants me to show him my pay stubs and things like that and gets really mad when I dip into savings for something, yet it’s okay when it’s for something that he wanted… I don’t spend money that he isn’t aware of. He knows when I spend money and what it is spent on, yet he still feels the need to try and control my spending.
I know how much he makes and what bills he pays, and I never made inquiries into his finances in the past, like his paychecks or withdrawls, because I trusted him and didn’t feel the need to check up on him. All of that has changed now. I know something is going on behind the scenes with him, I just haven’t found out what it is yet. I hate that we are going through this, and wish I could trust him and that we could have joint finances. Has anyone dealt with this type of thing before that could shed some light on my situation?
It would be nice if the world was rainbows and sunshine, but sadly it is not and for many legal and tax reasons, joint accounts are not smart.
1) Divorce: Saying its not going happen is an naive answer. You’re better off planning to take away any financial motivations for divorce by smart planning.
– In a divorce joint accounts are split equally no matter who is depositing or who is spending. That amount spent or withdrawn is not credited in alimony or child care requirements.
– It does not matter if one party was spending more during separation, giving gifts to related family members or friends, as the joint account gives them full authority to funds. Often a MAJOR issue in bad divorces. (The burden for proving its not a gift, but actually hiding of funds, is on the accuser, making it EXTREMELY hard to prove.)
– Any trust payments (i.e. investments), either for dependents, elderly parents (with restrictions) and immediate family (nephews/nieces/etc) made from the joint account may be subject to recourse. i.e. the trust fund for your son or nephew set up from your joint account may be pulled into the divorce settlement.
– Similarly, any payments from the joint account towards ownership of property, can make that property a “co-mingled asset” subject to determination of the courts. i.e. payments on your parents home if they are retired and cannot maintain the payments on their income. This is obviously an extreme case, but can be a factor for alimony as it can be determined using value of assets owned, not just income/ability to pay.
2) Taxes, savings, investments: Though there are certain “marriage credits” that may be effective in lower to middle class income brackets, a major downside of joint accounts and married filling jointly is that you lose the benefits a lower earning member may have under tax law.
– Partners earning over $110k ($105k roth) Individually/$190 ($160K roth) combined generally will not qualify for Coverdale ESAs and Roth IRAs. Payments made from joint accounts have been deemed an illegal loophole by IRS. Separate account payments, however, are not illegal.
– Joint accounts in combination with Tenancy-in-Common (instead of Joint Tenancy) can lead to significant tax liability payable in current year dollars should one spouse die or in case of divorce. Often forces sale of the home.
– Credit score: Equal Credit Opportunity Act will shield the impact of one spouses credit score on the other until they open joint accounts.
– Should one spouse incur medical expenses in excess of insurance coverage, joint accounts are available for the payment of those expenses in full, including investments from that joint account, i.e. retirement investments, etc.
I know all of this stuff seems random and “it won’t happen to me”, but when it does you’re screwed, so why bother? There are other ways to handle joint finances that are MUCH simpler. You can open a credit card (say an AmEx with a $25K limit) and add your spouse as a cardholder, and if need by vice versa. You have the same benefits of access to each other funds with no co-mingling of assets, no shared liabilities, only one person has control of the account, so it can be shut off any time. All you need to do is pay off the account monthly. It doesn’t mean you won’t talk about your spending habits or set up goals for your finances, but don’t let the “fuzzy” issues mentioned above overshadow the concrete issues I’ve listed.
If you fail to research and weigh the advantages and disadvantages you are only hurting yourself.
I only felt the need to comment as this page pops up in nearly every search for info on separate finances, and the topic needs to include some factual consideration.
all great comments and good reading….
I am getting married in 3 months and we have decided on separate finances.
This will be her 2nd and my 1st marriage. She has a child from her first marriage, I have a child from a previous relationship. I’m the type that can account for every penny spent (and catogerized on paper) over the last 10 years whereas she is type that can account for maybe the last 30 days. We both are home owners with her house being slightly larger. My income is more than 2x her income. I am the investment type(stock, currencies, futures, IRAs, etc) whereas her investments consist of her job’s 401k.
We have agreed that all existing debt is that person’s responsibility (credit cards, car note, home mortgage, etc). Our short term goals include renting each house out (so they can pay for themselves).
I currently pay 90% food/grocery, 75% family entertaiment, and 100% cable bill across both homes as we mainly spend the most time at her house. While this wasnt anything that was discussed prior, its always been that way.
While I always thought finances would be separate, she suggested we keep finances separate and I agreed so no problem there.
At some point, a 3rd house will come into the picture at which time we will open a joint account to maintain expenses for the new house. We will contribute some percentage of income to that account. We agreed that when unforseen financial circumstances occur that we would be there for each other.
I don’t see separate finances as bad thing or something that means there is no trust or unity. I’m sure most here are excellent drivers like myself but we still buy car insurance.
That $3,000 home entertainment center is a quality product but we still buy the service protection plan just in case.
Plan for the worst and hope for the best.
I think it all boils down to doing what works best for you and your situation.
So i commented on this topic earlier about making a change to sharing finances with my partner. we made the change over a couple of months ago and i think it is brilliant. We share our debts and our income. we don’t have equal amounts of debt and income by any means but it all seems to even out really. you just have to get past the “this is mine and that is yours” mentality. Technically the house is mine but now that i am a stay at home mum only getting baby bonus and a bit of parenting payments, my partner has to pay for the mortgage, he has a home that he can say is his though and he gets equal say in how he wants it decorated/renovated etc, he basically gets to own half a home even though he has a bad credit rating. We are also both contributing to paying off his debts and i have been trying to contribute as much as i can by selling stuff on ebay to pay for our everyday living stuff. I really think it has been brilliant, we have nearly knocked our combined debt on the head, give us four more weeks and we should be completely debt free (touch wood). We could never have achieved this if we kept our finances separate. We both know exactly how much money we have coming and going, we are both accountable for what we spend the money on, we can’t hide any secret spending from each other. I mostly look after everything financial because i’m better with money than my partner is, he wants me to look after the money, he would rather bury his head in the sand when it comes to money and paperwork, but then again, every now and again he has shown some interest and he will help me decide where the money will get spent when pay day comes around. And I always make sure i consult him about what he wants paid off next, i don’t want to be controlling. We are both feeling this wonderful light feeling as all our debt melts away! I highly recommend combining finances.
I cannot agree with you more! I feel the same about my lowered level of respsect for people in the ‘seperate accounts’ marriages. I think they are just leaving room for seperation and making it convenient in the event that it happens, which totally defeats the purpose of being married in the first place. I always feel that those people are making a mockery out of marriage when they don’t have that level of trust. Thank you for being honest about this topic
@Kasy – Trust is an interesting thing. You can easily make the argument that it’s people with joint finances who don’t trust each other. After all….they’re the one’s that have the ability to check up on every cent the other spends. On the other hand, with separate finances, I trust my guy to stay on track to meet our mutual goals, I trust him to manage his resources responsibly, I trust him to be there to back me up or support me if I really need it. Separate or joint finances can be a symptom of a lack of trust, but it’s not at all indicative of it.
If a couples’s purpose to combine their finances is to have the ability to view and track one another’s spending etc, then yes I’d agree that they have trust issues, however, my argument for advocating combined finances isn’t so that you can see what your partner is spending on. The contract of marriage has bounded you together legally so why not financially as well?
Two people meet, each handling their own money, they get married and then combine finances. As this is generally how it goes, I think the more valid question is why combine? For what reason do people abandon their existing system and move to a new one? Why did you? What’s the benefit to doing so? Where is the advantage? It’s not that I think combining finances is horrible or anything like that, I just don’t see why we should go to all the bother when what we do works fine. So, the answer to “why not?” is “why should I?”
We’ve been together for 7 years. We both have our own system for budgeting, expense tracking, etc. We often work on our finances at the same time and discuss our progress and mutual goals while we work. We ask each others advice and make big decisions together. He needs a new car. We discussed whether or not we should go on trying to fix his existing car or get a new one, the impact on our current goals, what sort of car and new vs. used and how to pay for it and how much down payment and what sort of loan term he should get. When his credit card rate was raised, he asked my opinion on what we should do. We agreed to close it and get a new card. We then discussed the different kinds of cards we could get and what we wanted. We made a plan together. That same conversation that you and your spouse would have had….we have that same conversation. We have separate finances, but we still discuss these things together because they affect both of us.
In your initial comment you said, “I feel the same about my lowered level of respsect for people in the ’seperate accounts’ marriages.” Why is that? Is it because you think they have less of a marriage or that’s they haven’t truly committed to each other? It’s not true. Yes, some people with separate finances are like that, just like some people have joint accounts so that they can check up on each other. Your relationship isn’t like that, and mine isn’t either.
I talked about this with my guy over lunch and he had a couple of interesting points. He pointed out that we don’t have “separate finances” so much as “separate accounts”. That’s pretty true. Our accounts are completely separate, but our finances aren’t really separate at all. In support of this, he pointed out the very first thing he said when the car conversation I mentioned came up. He didn’t come home and say, “I’m buying a new car.” He came home and said, “I think we need to reevaluate our priorities.”
True, we have separate finances and my husband spends $800 on cologne and our kids needed beds to sleep in. I only knew cause I found the receipt. Joint finances means he would have to share some of his money with me. And he said its his money cause he made it. Get your own money you property sticken woman who shops at Goodwill.
To answer you questions:
Why combine? Well my approach to this response would be the same question as why get married? If two people truly believe that their existing system works and there is no need to move into a new one, then why go from being single to being married? I don’t think there is a reason to get so technical about finances in a marraige… I know couples who actually write a check to his/her spouse for half the mortgage, it is absolutely silly to me that this is how a married couple would handle their finances. Why did I do it? Well, when all the money goes into the same pot, in our situation, we are both more reluctant to spend frivolously on meaningless things. Not to say that we should feel guity about splurging once in a while, we do splurge to the level of our financial comfort and trust that neither of us would not exercise indiscretion. I’ve had friends that argued, ‘well, I don’t want to feel guilty about spending $400 on a pair of shoes’, my response is, if you were with the right partner, you wouldn’t, and secondly, for your own purpose; be honest and admit to your financial means and think twice about whether you are spending within those means (most people are in denial about this). So to really answer your question, the advantage is that together you are more inclined to save towards a common goal that will benefit you as a family. We have decided to do this mainly because I knew that I would want to stop working once we start a family. Before I hear any judgement, yes, I realize that we are in the 20th century, but we still feel that the best for our children when we have then would be for their mother to be home. Mind you I have I will be giving up a good paying professional job in southern California, so this is not something that I have thought of lightly. So the bigger question becomes, what if one spouse stays at home, how do you divide up finances then?
You and your partner seem to have a good open communication, however, think about this: regarding your topic on whether he should get a new car or fix the existing one, the discussion should be how can we redirect our finances to spend on what would be a more reliable car. He might have discussed that issue with you but at the end of the day, it’s coming out of his own pocket, and the decision may rest on a more limited financial resource rather than what would make most sense.
You both absolutely have to be in sync when it comes to financial goals and be honest and realistic about them. Our immediate goal right now is to pay down our home loan so that by the time I stop working, we will refinance a smaller balance for a smaller payment, that way we will still be comfortable with one income. So when I decide whether I’ll need those extra pair of Jimmy Choo’s, I’m thinking ahead and seeing the whole picture.
We live a very comfortable life and we worked together to achieve that and it is a lot easier when you have two people working towards the same goals as opposed to you having an agenda individually.
It’s been a while, but this post popped up in my email with the recent comments and I remembered I’d never replied.
I would say that getting married is an emotional decision, where how to handle finances is a logical decision. But I take your point. If I wouldn’t change finances without a reason, why get married without a logical reason? To that it’s easy to point out that there are legal and social benefits to being married which are fairly obvious.
To address your concerns on frivolous spending, living within your means, and commitment to saving goals – we both stick to an “allowance” system. Our regular expenses, including ‘frivolous spending’ tends to be half to two-thirds of our income, so we’re doing more than fine. We both direct anything left over towards whatever goals we have at the time. When you do it that way, it’s very easy to see that spending an extra $200 on something now, means taking $200 away from a goal. With our system each of us is “in charge of” coming up with a certain amount for our goals. It’s usually half of the total, but not always. Each of us trusts the other to come up with that amount and not leave the other hanging. Not keeping your part of the deal is seriously taking advantage of the other person and really almost like stealing. Which is HORRIBLE when applied to your spouse. That’s why we don’t ever have that problem.
Recently, he’s been wanting an iPad. He talked about using some extra money like part of the tax return for it, but felt like he should be working on paying down some debt we’d planned to get rid of before buying a house. So instead, he’s saving his allowance money. When all your extra money is what you use for goals, it’s really easy to remember that anything extra you spend now, means you’re putting off whatever goal.
Now, for a one income family, I admit that it makes no sense to maintain separate accounts. I would probably argue for a day to day spending account for the stay at home spouse, but otherwise, it simply doesn’t make sense. I will never say that everyone should have separate finances. I just argue that it’s an equally viable and ACCEPTABLE way of handling things. Also, I totally advocate staying home with the kids. I would personally stay home full time until they’re school age and then work part time while they’re in school if I were to have kids.
Your comments on the car conversation imply that we wouldn’t step up and help the other where its needed. That is an erroneous conclusion. When my car died a week after graduating college, and 2 weeks before even starting my new job, he offered to help me put together a down payment. When he lost his job a few years ago, we figured out how long WE could survive without his pay. When he was thinking about quitting his job because of a hostile work environment, we figured out how to handle our expenses just on my income and both of our savings.
This is exactly my point. We DON’T have a separate agenda. We got married last year and paid for it entirely ourselves, except the flowers which were a gift from my mother (who IS a florist). This year we are paying off certain debts and will then increase retirement savings (my roth, his 403b). He will buy snow tires for his car. We are going camping rather than on an expensive vacation. Next year we will begin saving for our house. We will either go camping again or go on an inexpensive vacation to visit his mother. Once we purchase our house, my husband will set up shop and start working on a business on the side. During this time, we will work on paying off all other debts, saving a larger emergency fund and paying down the mortgage. He will gradually transition over to his new business full time. If needed, I will handle all our personal expenses from my income as long as his business is at least breaking even (not because I wouldn’t help, but because it’s too much of a stretch for my income). The cars we currently have should be fine at least until after we have the house, likely longer. We will reevaluate at that point and work the purchase (cash this time) into the plan if necessary.
This is what I don’t get: Why does having a checking account with my name on it mean we AREN’T working together?
I’d like to chime in on the side of separate and a joint account. My boyfriend and I live together, at one point with a roommate also, and we have a house account set up for bills, date night, and groceries. I’m a banker and very good with finances, he chronicly forgets to pay bills on time. We each contribute the same amount to the house account every month, extra from month to month we allow to build up for a trip or something and pay out shared expenses like food, utilities, and rent.
We also each maintain our own accounts to save and spend from. My debt is my debt and ring or not I would never expect anyone else to pay it. It may be good for some people to sit down and have a conversation about each others spending if it impacts their ability to make the joint expenses but I trust we trust each other to know the best thing to do with our own money. Besides, we work hard for each of our paychecks and as long as the joint account is keeping up with our joint goals there’s nothing wrong with keeping my own money for my own projects and saving for my own independent activities.
The hardest thing for my to get about this debate is why most people see mairrage as a complete loss of self to form this new joint whole. I’m sure as time goes on in a relationship more money will need to be put toward joint expenses/goals but I don’t think that means you need completely joint finances.
Maybe joint finances work when you get married at 20 or 21.
I was 40 and my wife was 32 when we got married. I had debt and she hadn’t had any for the nine years previous to our marriage.
She bought the house and made the payments. She owned the only good working car, too.
Why would any intelligent woman want to join completely her finances with mine, given my history of car repos, debt collectors and apartment evictions?
“Joint/Separate” are simply two states of mind that require each other to co-exist ~ What is joint if there is no separate?
We weren’t two people who fell in love to become one unit. We orbited in love – to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller. Perhaps it’s age or cynicism but joining everything just made no sense for us and where we were at in our life cycles.
I understand that joint finances work best for you, but you cannot know categorically that what is true for you is true for all.
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I agree with Jay.
Forgive my previously sent sentiment. This is actually the first time I have ever replied to a blog.
I am in a very similar situation to what Jay describes. I have lived in a fiscally responsible way for the first half of my life an have managed to collect a few assests along the way. I also have two adult children who I am very close to.
Opposites attract sometimes and I have fallen in love with a younger man who lives almost in a completely opposite way to me financially. He is very much in the moment, has always earnt a good income and always spent it. When unexpected expenses arise he is quite happy to be broke for a while. He has a system in a sense just like me but if i tried to live that way I’d be a nervous wreck. Hell, I saved my pocket money in grade four. I enjoy the accumulation, the choices “what could I buy with this money” rather than actually spending it – although I am not miserly with myself.
The solution at the moment is not living together although we have talked about it a lot. I think if we did live together the financial arrangement would be him paying an agreed upon amount to me and me still taking responsibility for maintaining my house.
It’s a real pity because at the moment I am asset rich but income poor due to my commitments to my aging parents and chronically ill sister. I am struggling. He is renting a house too. Two three bedroom houses for two people. Overkill I know. Yet our differing financial styles would create strain in the relationship and would probably depolarise us sexually.
What to do? Our answer at the moment is to stay where we are as wasteful as that is. I’d have a nervous break down though if we were ever to combine our finances. It would also be cheating my children I think.
I totally agree to the blog !!!
Opposites attract sometimes and I have fallen in love with a younger man who lives almost in a completely opposite way to me financially.
I understand the finances worth best for you ..
Thanks for sharing 🙂
My hub and I have been married for a year. We still have separate accounts and never even thought about combining vs not. Your discussion has really got me thinking. Although I would love to combine, respect and prudence make me hesitate. We’ve both been very self-sufficient with our finances and got married with good habits in our mid-30s. Although he makes quite a bit less than me, he’s saved much more than I have (for the first time in my life I have credit card debt from a large dental bill when a roommate stiffed me several months of rent just before our marriage). In addition, when my husband came to live at my condo (which I own with my father), my husband went from renting a modest 2 bedroom to my 2 bedroom costing several hundred more per month (he would have voted against this price range had he been involved when I purchased). Out of respect, I won’t ask him to take on a large increase in rent that he prudently avoided, or a dental bill from my past and roommate woes. While I would love to combine our accounts, instead I am paying off my debt slowly (~6 months to go). I made that decision because he is saving for a down payment on a new house that will give us room to start a family. More than that, because he has a knack for saving, me covering monthly essentials on a tighter personal budget while paying off debt can be uncomfortable but lets him continue doing what he does best, saving for our future. He also steps in to purchase essentials, like when our washer and dryer broke within a few months of each other. There is a real ebb and flow to our arrangement, each of us has our role in a sense based on our strengths and situations we brought into the marriage. I am also very organized with errands and bills that this is a natural fit for me. The one downside is that money is sometimes a stressor for me because I have much less wiggle room for non-necessities and it feels overly restrictive…. but let’s face it, I would spend too much otherwise. In our case, personal situations have determined combining finances more than philosophy. (Coming from a person who would prefer to combine finances… I would if I could do so in a way that accounts for these considerations I’ve mentioned.) “Becoming one” takes place over a lifetime and I have thought better of forcing the when and how. Selling the current condo and buying a new place that we choose together will be important. In short, combining lives, philosophies, and bank accounts seems to me will happen with time, but I would love some feedback if you can think of any that works with our situation. I am tired of being stressed over money but if we combined I might be stressed about spending “too much.” Thanks!
we both work but we like to keep our accounts separate and its not hard for me to keep track of my finances, I’m 27 and he’s 30, and I like having separate accounts, no we’re not married but even if I were married to him or anyone else I want to keep my money separate from my S.O.
-I think its sad that people feel they can’t respect others just because we choose to have separate bank accounts. I don’t look down on others for choosing joint finances, in fact I don’t care what other people do with their money. I just care what I do with mine.
given that the divorce rate is close to 50%, yea I want to keep my money separate. I really don’t want to have to talk things over with someone if I want to go shoe shopping, buy a magazine, or choose to get an IRA. I like having my own freedom and independence in regards to my money.
It doesn’t make me bad, it doesn’t make me cold, and we have a good relationship. =)
I have to say that in a normal marriage, combining finances is the best way to go, if you can indeed trust your spouse financially, and you have the same goals. I married a man who had custody of his child, and although I was more than willing to help provide for her, since the mother wasn’t paying any child support, I noticed little by little finding myself taking on more of the financial responsibility as he began to make plans for my income as well, making financial decisions, such as private schools and such that he could not afford on his income, relying on my income to pick up the slack without consulting me. I was thankful that we had kept our finances separate, in order that I may set the necessary boundaries as to how I would allow him to affect my financial well-being without my knowledge. When you work together as a team, you talk things out, and make joint decisions regarding finances, whereby you both accept the responsibility if your plans don’t work out. However, in our case, he was making some very unwise decisions, expecting me to go along, which placed us in a position of living hand to mouth so to speak, and I had no choice but to draw the line and put a stop to it. I now have set boundaries with my personal finances, let him know what I would and would not do, and what responsibility I was willing to take. He needed to live up to his responsibility, and if he chose to spend money he couldn’t afford, then he needed to take responsibility for that decision.
So those of us with separate accounts are in an “abnormal marriage”. Good to know. You know… having different accounts does NOT mean we are not a team. It DOES mean we each respect the other person’s money and don’t assume we have the right to stick our grubby paws in it without asking.
I love you to death. Stay away from my money.
Seriously, I can’t imagine SHARING my finances with someone else. Money is like water. You have it, you give it. You need it, you take it! But a joint bank account? No, thank you. My boyfriend (I wince at the term boyfriend, we’re both professionals in our 30’s with a two year old) and I are talking about getting a quickie marriage license, to have a nice fam unit for our daughter.
But I don’t agree with half the things he buys, he shudders at half the stuff I buy. So what? We’re working adults and we can do what we want with OUR OWN MONEY. We would strangle each other with a joint bank account. Does that mean we don’t love each other and want to be a family? I don’t think so. We’re also very generous with each other. I’ve helped him out with medical bills before. He bought me a HD video camera when my little digital video camera broke. But we have separate finances.
The only reason we’re considering skipping marriage is because we don’t want to file our taxes together. I’m a big girl and I can handle filing my own taxes. but I’m penalized for it because i’d be married. Argh!
Can’t I have my own financial identity AND get married?
You got it in one. Generosity. My husband and I (of over a decade) are the same way. Separate accounts but both generous with our money with the other. You can be loving or hateful toward a partner with either separate or joint accounts. I’ve seen way too many horror stories of joint accounts where one partner controlled the other to such a degree that that other person was literally their prisoner! But we assume that most couples with joint accounts are not living as prisoners with their spouse. So why, then, would it be assumed that couples with separate accounts have major character flaws just by virtue of having separate accounts. Stereotype much?
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.
Thanks for the open-ended and quality discussion of this key question. I myself have been sorting through this question with my partner and it’s valuable to hear the different opinions on the topic. I think that how a person relates to money (what motivates their purchases, how they choose what to buy or not) is a big determining factor in whether a joint financial arrangement works. My partner has a confidence and justified attitude in purchasing high quality (& sometimes new or expensive) items, where I am more likely to try to get used or go to absurd lengths when I’m trying to get the best deal that I can or delay purchasing something new. I believe that already we have both had a balancing effect on each other’s financial habits; I can more easily see the valuable in purchasing something of high quality that will positively impact my day to day experience and I think he has more awareness around choosing less/no stuff as a principle. We are not married and we don’t currently have joint accounts, but we are already thinking in terms of diversifying our respective investments to have a balanced joint portfolio in the future and we share food, fun together activities, and incidentals. I guess what I’m saying is, if your partner is as good or better at stable and healthy financial habits, then I think a joint account is a positive decision over time. It’s hard to separate out the individual traits from the discussion of the net result.
I’m considering separating my finances from my husband. We have always had a joint account, but I think separate is best so long as our bills are paid. We both have children from previous relationships. I get child support for my son, he doesn’t for his daughter. And I think it would be easier on us if our money wasn’t combined. I should not have to explain to my husband why I purchase something for my son that he needed when his dad pays to help support him. Plus I think him being more responsible for his own money and knowing he had bills to pay would make him less likely to spend. that is my hope anyways. Since I handle everything sometimes he forgets to ask before making purchases because he has no idea what due when etc. We have joint, its not working…So next we are going to try separate. Guess we will see what works for us.
My husband and I are on second marriages being in our 50s. I have a good job and he is an executive making 8 times more than me. We made the huge mistake of not discussing finances before marriage. I had no idea what he made until I was signing the pre-nup. We’ve been married a year, have a wonderful relationship except when it comes to finances. It is very difficult to discuss. I have my own bank account that I pay my condo mortgage payment. We put his name on the account. He has a separate account (my name is on that one as joint holder as well). But he pays our mortgage payment and all expenses of our home with that one. He also pays for dinners and vacations, etc. My issue is that I’d prefer to have a huge pot and have more awareness of how much we are saving. He doesn’t keep the information from me, but I don’t know how to access it and it feels like I’m prying if I ask. I know we have a lot of money in savings, but I have no idea if that is enough for retirement. I also don’t know what will happen if he dies and how much of it would go to his grown daughters and what would go to me. He said we will go see an attorney and a financial planner to get our retirement plans in order (that was after the honeymoon but it still hasn’t happened).
I love him like crazy and he is very good to me. But I don’t feel married financially – just in the church.
How would you combine money in the following situation:
person #1 saved up enough money for (say, early) retirement and is either already retired or will retire soon.
person #2 does not have that much money and would have to work for 10-20 years longer
If they combine the money, when can person #1 say – ok, I am retiring now and will spend my days doing my hobbies, etc? Or should such marriage imply that person #1 should work for another 10 years to be able to support both spouses’ retirement?
What if person #1 is already retired? Once you combine the money, it may not be enough to sustain both people not working but then would again person #1 need to find a new job to now start working because their spouse did not have as much? With separate money, it’s clear how much person #1 is bringing in. With combined money, person #2 would have no idea why they are working and person #1 can just relax and enjoy their days…. ?
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I guess the weird part for me is that my boyfriend and I STARTED as roommates with a few other friends. So, before we got together, we of course split expenses evenly. Now that we’re together, we still split “roommate” bills along with our other roommates (we’re in the same place) like rent, cable, utilities. But he and I now trade off on who pays for groceries and dates/restaurants.
Right now, this makes sense for one big reason: we’re not married. I’m not sure if this would change if/when we get married. Because I honestly don’t like the idea of having someone else pay for my debts. I owe a lot more on student loans than my boyfriend does, and I don’t think it would be fair to make him pay. At the same time, I understand that if we were to combine our finances, we might be able to increase our total net worth a lot faster if we combine our liquid assets and work towards paying off the loans in the most mathematically logical way.
We’ll see how things change….
I think it’s great if you marry someone and find that your values and life experiences are so complementary that you can share finances. However, there are many of us who married a man (or woman) from a different cultural perspective that makes it difficult to have joint finances and property. My husband was raised in a single parent household and never learned to be open with financial matters. He loves me tremendously, and I him, but he is not always honest when it comes to finances (and probably other things too). What to do? Divorce him? Separate from him? I think it best to work out our differences in a way that makes us (me) least financially vulnerable – separate finances.
Suppose the issue wasn’t finances; suppose it was intimacy? Suppose my husband had an affair or two that resulted in my getting an STD? I wouldn’t divorce him – we would work it out with counseling and all, but I would always insist on his wearing a condom as we try to improve our marriage. Does the fact that he was unfaithful mean we can’t build a life together – not necessarily. Does it mean I would always require he a condom? Probably so. BTW – as far as I know my husband as not had an affair.
Work with the strengths and minizmize the effects of the weaknesses is my view.
I am about to get married to the man that I love. He has been divorced before and has two small kids. I will be making more money than him (about 2 times more). He gives child support to his ex-wife, pays for the smaller child’s daycare, pays for all of the extra things that the kids need, and he has them about as much time as she does. In addition, he also has a college fund that he set up for them (with no contribution from her). I respect and admire him for being an excellent and responsible father. I always thought that when I got married I would have a joint account, however, I want to revise this view and see how other people handle this situation. Separate or joint accounts?
I would suggest you do what I did when we got married. Keep your separate accounts, but turn them into joint accounts with both your names, and keep complete transparency in all your financial transactions. My husband uses Quicken and sees all of my expenditures and I can see all his expenditures on all bank accounts. Works so far and we’ve been married over a year. Since my last post, we’ve gotten much better at communicating about finances (I spoke up to him about my feelings of being financially alienated) and we are seeing both a financial planner and a lawyer about wills and trusts in a month. Good luck!
My husband and split our finances over 10 years ago by his request. I don’t recommend it for a happy, successful marriage. We are constantly battling on who is or isn’t paying their fair share. But for the record, it can’t be decided what each of our fair share is since he makes three times more than I do yet thinks the pay out should be 50/50.
And someone else could say their husband controls her completely by keeping a tight reign on all the money in a joint account and so she doesn’t recommend that. Someone being an asshole is the issue, not that they have joint or separate finances. My husband and I have had separate accounts for over 10 years… and we HAVE a happy, successful marriage. We don’t fight over who is paying fairly or unfairly because we are both generous with each other. And 50/50 isn’t fair if he makes 3 times more than you do. I make the most money in my marriage and I pay the largest percentage. THAT is what is fair. If things flip in the other direction, we will adjust accordingly.
Thank you for writing this. My husband (of 3 years) and I have separate accounts–because he refuses to get joint accounts. It has not worked. We fight about finances all the time, and I am miserable. I don’t feel like I have a partner. He makes more than I do, and I have trouble paying “my” bills. He actually writes me checks to transfer to my account. (In fact, we don’t even go to the same bank. His bank is in a different TOWN!) I honestly feel like he’s more of a roommate than a spouse. I should’ve have to owe my husband money!!
Anyway, this article really sums up the thoughts I’m having right now… and it actually makes it a little easier to explain to my husband why I feel so strongly about getting joint accounts. Thanks.
Hi. I am a 4-month newly married woman to a wonderful man, whom I had dated seriously for 3 1/2 years. He went through a very ugly divorce over finances several years ago. We have a great relationship, he does the finances, and it works great. The problem is that he refused to combine our accounts, or even to create a joint account. I have to write him checks, and he does this with me. It is very degrading and demoralizing in our new marriage because I married him with a covenant in my heart that EVERYTHING would be shared, his large debt became mine and I make more, so therefore, I am paying most of it while paying most of the household bills. (His reason is that he wants to increase his credit score before we combine accounts) I don’t mind, because I see it as OURS, not his/mine. We have talked about this and though I disagree with him, I honor him because I believe that God honors this in me, even though it hurts me very much. What I can’t understand is that he refuses also to even bring his checkbook to our home. He has a lot of ‘reasons’ but all of them seem lame, I mean, we are MARRIED, and live under one roof, not his parents, so he can’t understand why I am hurting over this. It is like he is drawing a line in the sand. Please provide me with your opinion, even though, he is my husband, and lack of understand or hurt aside, I will honor what he says.
I as well take the approach of honoring my husband, and our financial arrangement is similar to yours, check writing, disparity in contribution, me making a little more, etc. When I read your story, your husband’s past pain, anxiety, and deep wounds related to finances have caused him strong convictions in this area that pre-existed your relationship and are not a reflection on you at all. I am sure he feels determination to never allow that to happen again, and I can say I have made “unfortunate” changes in convictions at times in response to pain in relationships – it is nothing personal when spouses do this to each other, but human nature. I am sure we could all make our relationships stronger if we identify and try to move past these things, and completely agree with you. Maybe you could tackle this conversation in terms of “trust,” i.e. explain how much you would appreciate and need the opportunity to highlight that you are worthy of trust. Ask him to identify a small thing you can do to show your trustworthiness, then do it. Maybe you can gain some ground this way, hopefully in things that he identifies to ensure it’s a bearable amount of pressure for him while he “tries this on.” I don’t know if you’re ok with jumping through hoops to gain trust, but this is not about whether you’re trustworthy, it’s about being part of rehabilitating someone who’s been traumatized. Try to always have this conversation in terms of the positive, i.e. keep reminding him that in the long run he will see you are 100% trustworthy, and ask him for one thing you can do to help him start to see that now? You could approach this from a savings standpoint too. If you were to create a new account that you could each put some money in with the understanding it would never be touched, would he view that as a bearable first step? If not, what about a can of money in the house that $20 from each goes in each week or $100 a month etc, which he can keep an eye on and is an even more tempting test to pass? Remind him how important it will be to eventually get both your names on all accounts, because if either of you were to pass away, the other would have no access to the others’ funds and would get tied up in probate. In other words, there may be a lot of vulnerability that comes with trust, but there are also nightmares that come with keeping everything separate.
Once upon a time…I too was dead against “separate finances” and was even more dead set against divorce ever being an “option”. That was once upon a time when i was young, newly married, was cavalier and thought “i knew better” than those who had been married for years and certainly more than those who had been “divorced”.
Flash forward 16 years of marriage and i found myself BROKE as my now ex-husband cleaned out our joint accounts, cashed in IRAs, even cleaning out our sons college account and maxed out our “joint” credit cards– all so he can fund his much younger mistress’s every whim and desire. Further, unbeknown to me, he also had separate secret accounts in addition to our joint ones. I found out about the affair thanks to the credit card trail, which included using my identity to book airline tickets for his mistress.
I am now older and WISER and yes DIVORCED from a man who betrayed our family physically, emotionally, mentally and financially, all for the sake of a vagina half his age.
At the age of 43 i found myself starting all over again in life with my beautiful children in tow. You see my ex also managed to wiggle himself out of paying full child support for two children. His objection–“If i pay x amount of child support there wont be enough for my girlfriend”.
He was no longer the man i married. Something dark happens to men when “another woman” enters their life.
They lose the ability to think rationally, and become willing to give up everything for the “other woman”. Who in the end turned out to be nothing more than a gold-digger arriving as suddenly, destroying everything in her path and leaving as swiftly as a tornado. And yes it wasn’t until 2 years post divorce(and after he had moved her into our home) that my EX finally saw her for what she was when she left him for yet another married man with more “assets”. Everything we had built TOGETHER was gone just like that! The damage was already done by BOTH OF THEM.
Worse yet– I was left to pick up the pieces of my children’s broken hearts & feelings of betrayal all while sitting dead broke in an apartment in the not so nice part of town (The spouse and mistress got the house since i didn’t have the cash reserves for a long drawn out battle in court thanks to him cleaning out our “joint accounts”.
To celebrate they took a little trip to Hawaii with the money from, you guessed it, our JOINT ACCOUNTS.
Thank God i at least received physical custody of the most precious things in life to me–my children. Flash forward 5 years later and i am finally back on my feet–well almost.
For those of you who brush this little tale off with the attitude “she just married a creep” think again. He wasn’t always this way. He changed- quite suddenly- when snow white entered the picture. I call her snow white because that’s how she presented herself to him–as innocent and virginal as fresh fallen snow.
The moral of my tale? NEVER EVER EVER have a JOINT account with ANYONE. Especially if you have children. For their sake just say NO. You see the only BEHAVIOR and ACTIONS you can control are your own.
The danger of a spouse going “renegade” years down the road, for whatever reason, is very real in today’s day and age, where sex and affairs can be had anywhere by the click of a mouse and major purchases are as simple as handing over a check.
Here i sit 5 years post divorce typing this. I now have my self esteem back, a new career, no debt, a new home (in a nice part of town) and a wonderful man in my life. More importantly, my kids have adjusted well and attend wonderful schools in an upscale district. I got lucky. Things could have turned out much much worse for me and my boys. My faith in God and in myself and wanting better for my boys motivated me to bust my butt working crazy hours and crawl out of the hole we were in.
I warned my fiancée early on in our relationship that i will never have joint bank accounts or joint credit cards with anyone– ever again. I no longer believed it to be a an important factor of a happy marriage. In fact, if anything, it’s more of a detriment and a risk to financial security or each spouse.
Since he knows about my past circumstances- he was very understanding about it and his reply was simply “I don’t blame you one bit for not wanting a joint account!”
I have no problems assigning beneficiaries to my account and a Will–in the event of my death or incapacitation. But i WILL NEVER HAVE JOINT ACCOUNTS.
My husband’s first wife ruined him financially. And early on in our marriage I didn’t make any money but didn’t know how to manage it. So he reasonably said we weren’t having a joint account. I totally understood why. Now, years later with me making the most money we still have separate accounts and I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to “give back” to him for all he did to fully support me early on.
And you’re right… you just don’t know about people. I trust my husband with my life, and I don’t think there is any possibility he could ever go “renegade” on me… but you just never know. It’s foolish to not even consider the possibility of things going badly and needing to be able to survive.
Like the blog, completely agree that married couples who refuse to have a joint account. Didn’t take the minister seriously when he said “one”. The sayings “your money” “my money” “you pay for that” “I pay what I want” removes any sense of being “one” and promotes separation.
Here’s a riddle for you:
Sometimes we both use mine or both use his, sometimes we each use our own, and sometimes only one of us needs it at all. What is it?
The answer could be money. But it could also be a car or computer or blanket or a whole lot of other kinds of “stuff”. The things I share with my spouse are love and life and hopes and dreams and all those really important, completely intangible things. I refuse to elevate money to that same level.
Money is just abstract stuff. You can use it to buy stuff or give it to someone to do something for you and then they can use it to buy stuff. In my mind, that just makes money a substitute for any kind of possession. Once you start thinking that way, it becomes really hard to take people seriously when they start implying that you are “less married” than they are because you don’t have a shared checking account. It’s like commenting on my marriage based on whether we share a computer or each have separate ones. For the record, I also own my own socks, shoes, and formal dresses. Is that enough to completely negate my marriage or shall I go on?
Separate finances work well for me and my partner – I like to maintain my independence and so does he. We do have a joint account for house expenses but our salaries are treated separately and we dont have to have the approval of the other partner to spend our money in the way we wish. It works for us – the thought of having to justify every little piece of expenditure sends me into a cold sweat!
I completely 100% agree with this article. I am so dead set against separate finances. I get the whole separate thing for small personal items such as obviously lunches out for work, gas, snacks that kind of stuff. But what I don’t agree with is keeping separate finances when it comes to BILLS and major PAYMENTS!! That makes me furious when I hear couples say they have all their accounts separate, one pays this bill the other pays that bill etc. Common that is complete BS, Keep you damn (major) fiances together and it makes it a million times easier to pays those damn bills. I’ve known couples that this whole keep separate finances all separate then when it comes to the he pays that bill, she pays that bill and then the big oops she or he can’t pay one of their bills cause one doesn’t have enough money in that account. NO absolutely NOT PERIOD!!!! keep the major big finance account all in one, when bills come you have that account that is specifically for BILLS and with the combined income you know then you that account always has the money for the bills. It then eliminates the constant bickering of you pay this bill, I pay that, you (with combined accounts) don’t have the confusion of I paid this bill, did she pay that one!!, also when it comes time for bills you simply write checks (or auto pay) from one account and it’s simply done in like 10 min. It takes a huge, huge pressure off of each other cause you have that ONE combined account to pay everything. Plus also if one suddenly with this economy loses their job or laid off they have that one account that you know is their, complete safety net and you can lean on the wife, husband for awhile with that combined account until you get going again. It takes so much stress away with the combined accounts.
I loved the philosophy you put into your decision about joint vs. separate finances! Too often, it seems, marriage is viewed as a roommate situation, although I doubt many would admit this. However, its obvious that this type of mentality is a subconscious motive behind many couples decisions. This is apparent by the way many couples live- my car, my money, my goals, etc. rather than our this, our that. Really, what is the point of getting married then? It is true, having a joint life, including finances, makes one vulnerable. But as you noted, what is the point of being in a marriage in which there is no trust? If we live in such a way that we take every possible precaution to prevent others from taking advantage of us, including our spouse, we are living somewhat of a paranoid life telling our spouse that we don’t trust them. Yes, we have protected our finances but is safeguarding things really the best way to unite two souls, to develop trust, to foster intimacy, and to truly develop a life together rather than just living two separate ones supposedly side by side? I live with a spouse who is dealing with addictions as well and he had considerable amount of consumer debt when we got married whereas I had none. However, we decided to join our finances for the sake of working as one. It has been frustrating at times trying to talk through his spending habits with him, especially when I have always made a point of staying out of debt and saving money. Yet if we had not had a joint account, we really would not have to work together and he would still be heavily involved in his addiction. He would have gone along with his poor spending habits and lack of a saving commitment. The joining of two to become one is what we should strive for in marriage and yes, it takes sacrifice, without a doubt, but it is so worth the sacrifice.
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I completely agree with your column on joint/separate finances. My problem is my spouse insists on separate finances. She makes most of the money, I make very little but stay home to take care of the house, etc. I feel degraded having to ‘ask’ for money and never having a dime. She has a sizable bank account that I do not have access too. She leaves money for me in a ‘house fund’ but it is not to pay for “my bills” like healthcare, etc. It’s a terrible way to handle finances in a relationship. I thought “together” meant “together” boy was I wrong. Best thing for me is get a high paying job & pay my own way.
I’m in the Grey. As it is many people don’t understand why I have seperate banking, and some seperate bills.
It first started going into the marriage. I had a chequing account with one bank, and he had another account at a different bank. I Just kept my account. He supported me through babies, and when I went back to work – I did attempt to put “our” money together. But then we encountered spending issues. ( just being honest – as combined income looked like we had more “blow money” ( This is back in the 90’s -and dialup)
so I moved my pay over, and I took over “certain bills” including day care. He was added as a Joint person on my account, and vice versa. He has a bank card to where my money is deposited, and vice versa.
When We went to go financing for our “First” Loan – His bank said No, but mine said Yes. So then we began borrowing from “the bank I used”.
Years went on, and the system still works well. I get my pay cheques separate from his dates, and different bills just come out of different accounts. We both have awesome “CREDIT”
Our 1 Visa is Joint. & All ownership is joint.
So No we don’t put our money together, and we do a bit of “hers & His” but it’s technically ours, We just take on chewing away debt separately is all.
Example He has a company truck – with personal access. He pays the mortgage, I pay the vehicle payment – It’s our Jeep – but I am the one that drives it 90% of the time, so sometimes I say it’s “Mine”, but it’s ours.
If he ends up short – he can get cash out of mine and vice versa. But we do separate payments and work on debt paying together but separate.
So I’m not sure if this fits into “Separate finances” in your head, but it’s how ours works.
I can see a lot of technicalities getting in the way of full joint finances in some people’s cases. But I think the biggest part to take away from this is the idea of full transparency between spouses.
In my case however, whether we have money in other accounts for different reasons, both me and my wife have full access to all of our funds. There’s nothing that I make/spend that she doesn’t know about or vice versa. It just helps us reinforce that we’re working as a team, and not as roommates as Adam put it.
Beyond finances, I just think the strongest force between couples should be honesty and trust. Without these no marriage can work! So however the banking situation works out for different homes, as long as there’s honesty and trust in the relationship, I think it can work.
Wow. I found this article looking for information about keeping finances separate while married and instead of getting facts, the author starts out by insulting me. Separate finances make your stomach turn? What a dick.
I’ve just been married for the 2nd time. His credit is bad, mine is excellent. My job requires squeaky clean finances. I would lose my job if our finances were co-mingled because of his bad credit score. GREAT reason to keep finances separate. It’s very easy to combine finances when you’re first starting out as a young couple. When you remarry in midlife, there are other factors to consider including children from prior marriages. Joint finances won’t work in every situation.
Stumbled on this and following with interest.
I’m 46 and have been married for 20 years. When we first got together, we merged our finances – because, well didn’t everybody? Right from the beginning, we had trouble with finances and approaches to spending. For the first year I kept the accounts, we agreed to budgets – and then he would splurge on stuff that wasn’t in the budget. It drove me crazy. He would laugh, call me ‘risk averse’ and demonstrate that ‘next month, when I get paid for x, we’ll be fine again’ — he’d had credit cards for years, I never had and neither had my parents. And we were fine the next month – but I found that extremely stressful. We discussed separating finances but I pushed hard against. Like you “I just didn’t get it” and felt that would be a setup for failure. Instead, we decided to try it his way for the next year – and he would keep the accounts. We still agreed to a budget, discussed major purchases, but I agreed to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ and trust that he knew what he was doing. At the end of that year, we had more debt than I had ever had in my life (mostly student loans as we were both in grad school) but everything seemed to work. No fighting over finances, more debt than I was really comfortable with, but nothing we felt couldn’t be handled once we landed those first ‘real jobs’.
Fast forward 20 years and 3 kids. In our third home (sequential, not simultaneous) on acreage with lots of animals. Living the dream. Except we are up to our eyeballs in debt and still living paycheck to paycheck despite a combined 6 figure income. Except for the part where I DON’T know at all what he makes or spends but I can’t spend money on anything without his approval. Except for the part where in the first half of the month we get packages of mail-order junk that he ‘needed’ and in the last half he starts complaining that school hot lunches for the kids are too expensive. Except for the part where last month while on a business trip out of state (I have to pay travel expenses out of pocket and get reimbursed) the credit card he told me to use didn’t work (and I checked with him well before the trip as well as double-checking the night before I left) — when I called home frantic he just said ‘oh well, nothing I can do about it’ and hung up. (The receptionist was nice and kept re-trying cards and splitting the bill until I managed to scrape it together split on 6 cards). Until I found out that the kids’ savings accounts (which aren’t our money really, but what they’ve saved from birthday/Christmas etc from my parents) are empty — ‘don’t worry, it’s temporary, just covering a little shortfall this month’. Yeah, now I’m terrified with zero independent financial security and kicking myself for not keeping our finances separate 20 years ago.
I agree with this completely. When my fiance and I bought our house, we decided the payments should be from one account. We still have our own checkings that we do not use and plan to close soon. The priest doing our marriage counseling had advised us to not even keep them open… that total transparancy with money he finds crucial to Marriage success. I do believe that having everything be joint, with a set budget has brought us closer. We discuss all purchases even ones out of the “blow” fund and agree on them. We respect each other and want to focus “our” money on what “we” need. I enjoy considering all things to be ours and would never wish to separate them! My fiance will even joke sometimes about a new purchase as “Ours” such as a purse or something of that nature and we always chuckle, because it’s true, and to me so much better to be free of keeping track of whats mine, and his… I am with you completely, no matter what arguments I hear, I continue to just not get it. I suppose I am a lucky one with a very responsible partner, I could see how things could easily be different.
i understand a prenup 100% – just not sure how if a Will excludes me from continuing to live in the married home if i live longer – makes me feel that i would be displaced and makes me nervous to think i would have to start over in a new environment if my spouse died before me (though there is money left to me instead); so i respect my fiancee wants his home to be left in the family, yet again, can’t picture this arrangement being healthy emotionally to sign up for permanently– him paying for his home and bills and me paying for mine (and living in his with our animals now & for past 4 years or so going back & forth until i had a family member move into mine to cover some of my mortgage) i was content even driving 70 miles one way to work yet now am confused and feel maybe we shouldn’t bother with marriage (except benefit would be cheaper to have health insurance through 1 job vs. 2). i am not a money person yet he is (being burned from past situations/marriage) – so help my sisters out financially – and now that has surfaced and he is mad and i think that is private. he says he pays all bills– but i pay gas & wear & tear on my car for my commute is plenty to contribute to driving that far. attitude is hurtful so i am open to any ideas if would be compromising my integrity by waiving marital rights in signing (when i am the one bringing the insurance into the relationship and drive so far)
I think you shouldnt judge people about their marriage just because theyhave separate bank accounts. Maybe thats wht works for them and obviously not you. You dont understand why they do it. Mayb their marriage is not “perfect” how you make to seem yours is. Theres so many reasons, and for that noone should ever think they can “lose respect” for them just for a bank account. After all if youre in a marriage that means you trust them, and if u guys decide to have separate accounts and you have a wonderful blessed marriage there shouldnt be a problem. Look into a mirror before you start pointing out.
I married in my mid twenties while serving the last three years of a six year enlistment in the military. A rather rushed marriage if you will, but we were already engaged so … At the time, there was no reasonable alternative but to have my new wife handle the finances (and shortly after, we had our new baby). Neither of us were particularly “good” with money but that wasn’t too much of a problem because there was not much money to handle. At the end of my enlistment, I landed a pretty good job which easily covered expenses in our new location. Shortly thereafter, we had our second child. It was at that time that we had to make a decision about what to do with finances. My wife was not working and I made enough that she was able to stay home with the kids, and believe me I understand this was a luxury not everyone is afforded. It occurred to me at that time that I did not want her to feel that she was somehow less of a partner in the marriage or that she had to live on an allowance, so we decided to continue with my wife handling all the finances, bills etc. Besides, I did’t really want to get into the nitty-gritty of paying retail credit card bills, cable, utilities etc. because I had never done so. Obviously we went into all major purchases together, cars, houses etc.
Fast forward 15 years, the kids got older, my wife got a pretty marketable education and now has a reasonably lucrative job (if she ever decides to leave me now, she could easily afford it with no problems 😉 ) My career and income have also continued to grow. We have a decent retirement nest egg we each try to max out our 401 Ks, contribute to 529s and have more or less not changed our lifestyle much since my wife started working so we are working to swing college costs for the oldest child. I probably make about 3 to 4 X my wife’s income, but through it all, she still manages all the finances. I suppose this works for us because neither of us are really into “stuff”. We both are basically able to spend what we need from our joint account and we generally have stayed out of trouble from early in our marriage by keeping a little buffer in our checking and savings accounts. Any time one of us needs to spend a little extra, we generally tell/ask the other first.
After almost 19 years of marriage, I’m sure we might have been able to squirrel away even more money if we were on each other’s cases about different expenditures, but with all of the problems life throws at you, who want’s to complicate things even more by having to fight about money, life’s too short. I can’t say we really planned this whole thing but we don’t have trouble talking about money. A couple of times a year, I take a look at our big financial picture and I can always see the account balances. My wife on the other hand is way more aware of the day to day dollars and cents of the family’s finances. If she ever asked me to, I would’t mind taking over managing the bills but I think she would be worried I would miss a mortgage payment or something, so she probably sleeps better this way. I suppose if we ever ran into some marital problems each of us could be exposed to one of us taking financial advantage of the other, but honestly, for me, my family is worth more to me than any money ever will be.
In fact we have a running joke, if we ever get divorced, one person can take all the money, the house, the cars, everything … as long as they also take the dog (and kids). 🙂
my husband and I have only joint accounts, and I’d never consider doing it any other way. As you said, it’s our debt, our money – not his or mine.
The only reason I could think of to have separate accounts is if one spouse is bad with money, or tends to blow through it. In this case it would make sense to keep them separated from the money needed to pay bills. However this would be degrading and not a good situation.
I do think you are not considering that everyone has different circumstances. I was divorced a few years ago and the main reason was about our finances which were all joint. I am an extreme saver. I make a low six figure salary but am able to always have 100’s of thousands in savings, and even more in my retirement. I do not like to spend money on material things besides home, auto and kids education. I am extremely frugal and prudent with money. People always say I should write a book on how to save. I have zero debt and never have. My husband the exact opposite. When I met him he had zero savings, lots of debt and big spending habits. He had a good job. But still like most folks, he’s a bad saver. So of course when we got married he insisted we have joint accounts.
Guess, what. Our different spending styles did not change. Except now with all the money I saved, he had way more money to spend on all the things he always wanted to buy for himself and his kids. We fought all the time. I did not think it was fair of him to spend money, while I was not buying anything. He was annoyed with me because he thought I was cheap. I would rather save for early retirement, never have to take out loans, or something bigger we could do in the future. His philosophy was spend now and enjoy. Sure we could have tried to work out a compromise. But if you have extremely different philosophies on money and spending, there’s only so much compromise you can make before you still run into disagreement. It ended in divorce, and since we had a joint account he got to take HALF of MY money!!!! I’m remarried now and you bet your boots I am not combining my money again. My new husband is a spender and not a saver (it’s hard to find savers like me, I tried). But we don’t argue over money because he can spend his money the way he wants. And I can save and save and save the way I like. He just better make sure he has enough money to pay his half of the bills and everything will be alright. But I have plenty of money to help my kids start their new lives, weddings, they have no college debt because I had plenty of money to pay. Whereas my husband has to take out loans to pay for his college age son. We would be in a better financial position if he saved like me, but that’s the compromise I make to avoid arguing and getting another divorce. I give up trying to make other people live a saving and frugal life. Now I just sit back and enjoy seeing my money grow.
I am so glad I read up on this, and ran a search for the topic on Google. I guess there are doubts in every relationship, and I am happy to read that my hubby and I are not the only ones with separate accounts. In fact (just to throw in a completely different point of view) I can honestly say (when I am thinking logically) that in our case I am glad that we don’t have joint accounts, because I am an impulsive shopper and terrible spender, and even if he turned a blind eye to the problem, and not cause many arguments – I know that my 3 daughters are better off having a father like him. Don’t get me wrong – I know where my strengths are and the wonderful things that I bring to the table as a mother and wife…but responsible spending is not one of them.
This summer he paid for 3 camps, took my eldest on a trip to Europe for 5 weeks, gave me freedom when he bought the family van (that I use for commuting to work), reno’d his mom’s home, etc. He is one of those guys who will have a cell phone for 7 years, if it works – but bought a mini iPad for his daughter who achieved good results in school. He pays the mortgage I pay the utility bills and groceries. It’s a pretty healthy split, our basement is rented and he uses that money to pay 10% of the mortgage on the anniversary. Yes, I do wish I made more or saved more – he earns 5 times more than me. My parents are close to retirement and are planning to downsize which will leave me with a bit of an iheritance that I doubt he will be asking half of. If anything he will be advising me to invest a certain percentage of what I get. But do I have worries that my children won’t have enough for a car or college fund? No….
Not even sure how I landed on this website, but boy you have some pretty harsh words for people who simply have a different way of managing finances. I’ve been in two marriages, and done it differently each time… and can definitely see benefits to each system, but it probably comes down more to the people involved. You seem to require joint finances to help control your spending, and to validate the strength of your marriage, and that is just fine, but not for everyone.
My current wife is a fair bit younger than I, and makes a fair bit less. Letting her handle her own in and out expenses is allowing her some independence and education that I had years ago. We split the expenses up, more or less proportional to income and that way both of us are in a routine of paying what needs to be paid. This is not to avoid money conversations, but for us it is simply less work. When we go on holidays, one will offer to book flights and the other will automatically rent the car and hotel. It’s relaxed and amicable… and having separate RRSPs is fun as we joke about who is saving the most. Technically she’s way ahead because she started in her twenties and I in my late 30’s. Having separate credit cards and accounts really isn’t putting us closer to divorce; I adore this woman and have no intention of ever screwing it up.
By contrast, my first wife and I shared everything… accounts, car loans, credit cards, etc. We didn’t fight about money–in fact we didn’t fight at all. After seven years she left me for another guy. She “split” the debt up between us by paying what she felt was her fair share of each loan or card and left me with a car to pay for twice. Having shared accounts didn’t help or hurt the marriage in my opinion, but it was a bit of a mess during the divorce. I agree with you that “divorce” isn’t a good reason for separate accounts, and I wish people would put more effort into preserving their relationships, but it is what it is and you can’t control what partner does.
Why would you trust someone with your heart and not your money??? Money is not nearly as important as your heart and, if either you or your SO is having money problems, that is an obstacle the marriage needs to overcome together, not leave it for one person. You can make money your whole life with people you don’t know, but you can’t do that with love.
Guess what? It’s not my husband’s fault that i ran away from home at 17/18 (i’m 32 now) across the country and financed that with credit to which i eventually had problems with and et cetera.
But you know what? Even if i say and do “i’m going to be the only one to pay this off so it doesn’t affect you”, it still affects him. He STILL has to wait for me or I for him to catch up. It is STILL getting in the way of our MUTUAL goals in life. That’s STILL money being displaced away from our goals. No matter what i do about it, just the fact that it happened, even if it was before i ever knew he existed, it is going to affect him and our marriage. And as it happens, if he’s great with money, why should he not be able to h help? Why do we have to draw the line between whose problem is whose? It’s a community problem now, let the community help fix it (community of spouse + spouse).
I don’t understand how anybody could say different, because anything i’ve read or heard to the contrary is just justification for not communicating and/or fear of being vulnerable/of communicating to your SO, to which i say, “Why did you even get married then?” Why do you both not want to help make your community better than each of you individually? Acknowledge your problems and deal with them with your SO and vice versa. Do you not know how rewarding that is? Sure, it’s hard but suck it up. Your SO is worth it or you shouldn’t be married to them.
And for note, i am the breadwinner of the family. i own my own business out of our home and he owns one as well, although mine is the one that pays every bill and allows us our lifestyle. He is an immigrant.
@Erica, did you even read some of the other comments from folks who have separate accounts like me?? It’s not about helping someone with some bills or past debt. It’s also about day to day spending habits and some people are just the opposite of each other in that area. I save most of my money so I can retire early and in comfort. My husband is a spender. If we had our money in a joint account, he would just spend up the money I save too. I love him in many ways, but I do NOT agree with the way he runs through money. Therefore to keep the peace I don’t let him have access to my money. Yes, I get frustrated sometimes that he could be saving like me to work towards a mutual goal. But I guess he’ll just have to keep working long after I’ve retired to continue to pay his half of the bills if he wants to spend today instead of save for tomorrow. He knows he’s not getting off the hook for contributing equally to our expenses. I’m not saving my money just to cover his half of the bills later. And if he runs out of money, I guess he’ll have to live with the fact that I will make all the decisions (he would hate that!) so that’s an incentive for him to at least try to be financially responsible to some degree.
The point is, everyone tries to work out a system that works best for them, one that works with the two different personalities, and sometimes the weaknesses of one spouse. You can’t say it’s a statement of whether you love or trust your spouse enough, “what’s love got to do with it?”
as I have been lived through being stolen from by one of the people you should be able to trust completely without any reservations what so ever (yes: I am talking your parents!), in this case my mother, who kept an account for me with money for educational purposes, the first car, the first apartment (and other such expenses), where she deposited some money every year till I turned 18 (about ten years ago) in order not to have to pay child support (my dad agreed to this, even after gaining full custody of me…) for me, I will probably never trust a women like this again in my life (!) and this is why I would never agree to joint accounts (I might, and I stress might, give her access to my accounts (and authorization to withdraw money and take control of my finances in the event I am totally incapable)…but even this is uncertain and would require a huge leap of faith on my part!)
Hell, because of my parents divorce (which was ugly – not as ugly as can be, but bad enough…not that I have first hand knowledge as I was not even 2 years old when it was finalized – and their constant trying to one up each other and turn me against the other (weaker on my dad’s part – he just told me some stories where she behaved badly and such, while she actively tried to convince me that he was a bad parent and all that…and to my shame, my naive younger self bought some of it and I was quite hard on my dad sometimes for say punishing me for stuff I did and were he was right to!)) I would even say marriage is not for me (too much potential of it going wrong me ending up getting butchered by the family court – note: my dad got custody but he was financially nearly bankrupt (he had his clothes, me, his motorcycle and not much more…joint accounts had been plundered, he let her have most physical belongings (he was tired of fighting her) and he was emotionally in a hole it took him nearly 3 years to crawl out from (he might have killed himself without his friends and my grandparents, who despite warning him about my mother helped him back on his feet!!!)
So in the end:
Preference in this depends on how life has treated you!
Sometimes people who marry are dishonest. When the person you marry lies and clearly stabs you in the back, it is hard to trust again. It makes it worse when the woman tries the being submissive, let the man lead… thing that some people enjoy … and she has horrible results. It seems like punishment over and over and over again every day. She can feel trapped and accused of being a sinner who worries. At the same time, he creates financial nightmares and slams it on her back for her to deal with. He does not want anything to worry about. He looks at himself and sees a clear path to continue the pattern. He had no worries because she is suffering and ignored. He is happy and she is miserable. In some cases, she would be a complete fool to share a bank account with him. It is begging for misery.
Great comments, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. At least, I DID, until my husband left me with two kids, and I remarried a man with two kids…who pays a fortune in child support. What can I say – it’s messy.
We’ve settled on separate finances, with a joint account we both feed into for living expenses, until we’ve met our kids hit 18…and for the most part, I like it. There is no friction between us over what we each pay towards our children, and its worked well. So far.
The reason I’m on here though is we’ve now reached the muddy waters of buying a house, and questions of hubby feeling the need to ‘protect himself’ moving forward, having been burned badly before. I was not burned, so I can’t comment. I just feel hurt, and insulted, and a whole bunch of negative stuff. Your comment about marriage being the most intense state of intimacy and trust really resonated with me, and I DO feel like I’ve been relegated to ‘best room-mate ever’…talk about being put in my place.
Having more kids won’t be an issue, but moving to another city to pursue his career might be if – as I’m now to understand – his money will always be his, and I will only have whatever equity I’m able to contribute…because my ability to contribute will be compromised by the move! And there goes the ‘team’ focus, just like that.
I guess what I’m saying is – it’s not cut and dry. Shared may sound ideal, but it’s not always. And being rational about it is fine, until you factor in this is not a rational arrangement – it’s two people who are supposed to be each other’s greatest fans.
Thanks for your thoughts anyway. It’s nice to think I’m not the only one in the world that takes this issue personally.
My husband and I aren’t legally married. He is so afraid of debt. I don’t know what to do anymore. I am $56,000 in debt in school loans. He doesn’t want to be responsible for my debt. We split rent, electric, internet, and groceries. I am becoming resentful about it. I agreed in the beginning to this situation and so I am partly to blame. I don’t like it and it is a disagreement every time we talk about it. He makes 3 times more money than I do. So he reluctantly agreed to pay me $200 more month. I am so frustrated with the situation. I feel helpless. If we go out to eat or do anything I have to pay for my part in it. I feel like it is more of a roommate situation. I am not happy with the situation and told him over and over that I am not. I just want to be done with everything. Everything is in my name and my name only.
@sylba. I don’t get why your partner should have to pay anything for your school debt? I presume, if he went to college, he already paid his own school debt (or tuition). You didn’t pay his. Some people make bad choices about racking up student or other debt. (Not saying u in particular). They shouldn’t expect someone else to come along and get them off the hook. Take responsibility for the financial decision you made in the past.
Not sure how long you’ve been together, but you are not married. Calling him your husband doesn’t make it so. Why is he “paying you $200” don’t you have a job of your own? I can understand if you’re staying home taking care of the children (but u don’t mention any). But if not, you could get your own paycheck. Just throwing out some thoughts that come to mind after reading your post.
The picture above speaks a thousand words. I am having similar issue with my husband where my husband prefers separate accounts and I prefer joint account. One of the main reason is his parents whom he idolizes. Both of his parents had their own accounts, however his mother didn’t work and his dad paid her every month, sort of like a pay check that she received for homeschooling my husband and his sister. So he is very drawn to that idea. On the other hand, I feel like we are not married because we handle all of our own problems. this is more of an issue, also Because both of us are in school taking out loans. Currently, my husband has come up with an idea to buy a house and hasn’t discussed if both of us are to own it or just him. Since I am in school, and I can’t afford to contribute, I am thinking that he doesn’t want me in, but every big decisions has made me feel one step far away from him, even though every now and then he steps in to help out. We are only married for couple of years, and I don’t know how to bring up this issue. If only he would discuss big decisions with me rather than his parents first, that would make things a whole lot better. Also I would agree with him, if his parents married life was great, but it is not. His mother cannot divorce because her husband is the only source of income for her at this point. Also he is constantly scared of our relationship might end at some point and that anything we own together will be split among us. It just makes me sad that I entered the marriage in such situation. I don’t want to leave him, at the same time I want this to work within both our terms.
I never said he should have to pay my school loan EVER!!!!! I do have two kids not his kids so he is not financially responsible for them. I would never suggest that he is. My children live with their dad my choice. It was really difficult being a single mom. My husband makes a lot more money than I do. Everything is my name. In the eyes of God we are married. That isn’t on topic and should be left out of this period. I unintentionally racked up student debt trying to better myself and be able to support myself. Becoming self sufficient became very important to me. I was married to my ex husband for 9 years and in that time I was mostly a stay at home mom. I two vocational diploma’s. Jobs in this economy that pay females with very little education are few and far between. Apparently my education has been absolutely worthless. Until you have actually been in my shoes you have no idea what I am even talking about. After a 9 year marriage I lived on my own with no clue about how to manage finances or raising my kids by myself and what was worse is my income was my child support of $300 a month and I lived on that for 6 months. With car that needed more work than I could even began to afford. A newborn baby and 4 year old. My family tried to help. What is enough when it comes to helping a single mom? My apt that we both live in currently is in my name only, the utilities are in my name only. I cook and clean and work a full time job. And get my kids every other weekend. In which I drive to 45 minutes one way to pick up my kids. I only make $10.30 an hour. I pay child support. We split the groceries, rent, internet, and electric. His part has only been $350 a month. Not including groceries. I never shopped for groceries as much as I do now when I was living by myself. My husband thinks we need to go once a week. It drives me crazy. I can’t afford to grocery shop every week. I can live on ramen noodles. He wants cooked meals and that is fine but he doesn’t like prepared foods. Everything has to be from scratch. Cooking and cleaning and working out because he complains about my weight and then making him a home cooked meal. Beyond frustrated!!!!!!
In most cases, not all, prepared foods are much more expensive than cooking from scratch. But some people decide the convenience is worth the extra cost. U have to decide which factor is more important for your family. If u don’t have much money then it’s probably better to make your own meals (maybe make a lot over the weekend and freeze portions). I do very well financially now, but I started off life with challenges. Left a home of extreme poverty and abuse at 14, entered foster care system. Then as a teen single mom with a baby, I went to university of Illinois during day, worked in hospital kitchen in the afternoon and weekends and some loans. No parents or family to help me. I then went on to get my masters (MBA) by that time I had 2 children. With that education I got a very good corporate job and my financials struggles were finally over. I say all that to show u that I do understand what it’s like to face hardship. I’m married now but always stay financially independent from my husband because I always want to be able to take care if myself. He could die or we could get divorced. I raised my daughters to not ever count on a man to take care of you. Get educated or trained in a skill that will support u with or without a man. They took my advice and grew up to get their own masters degrees. I know we all travel different roads and we do the best we can. But in my experience it doesn’t always work out well to hope someone else will relieve our financial burdens. Just have to keep figuring out how to do it yourself if possible.
You are married “in the eyes of God” when you have a wedding and commit to each other. Sorry, but you’re just shacked up with a boyfriend and living in sin. Expecting your live-in boyfriend to act like a husband is a problem, starting with the fact that he never committed to being a husband.
That commitment is not just a matter of spending time together or warm feelings, it is a promise to care for each other for the rest of your lives. What you actually have is an agreement to split monthly expenses, and you said he is living up to that agreement.
It really sounds like your boyfriend (not husband) is living up to his agreements, but not living up to your expectations of a husband, probably because he is not a husband.
I agree with your concept, but it can be very difficult when two people who have been single most of their lives, get married and then combine finances. I recently married (at age 51) and have combined finances for the very reasons you listed above. But I have to say that having someone constantly question me and tell me I can’t buy things is getting really old fast. I begin to feel guilty for every penny I spend and I make more money than my husband! My husband is just as used to doing his own finances. I am a bookkeeper and have a budget etc., so I don’t have a problem with over spending. It seems like it comes down to more of what one spouse thinks is important or not. I’ll stick with it, but it has not brought us closer in our relationship.
I love my husband dearly. And we have wonderful children! But he is controlling about everything! I was a stay at home mother for years and he wouldn’t add me to his checking account. Every time I needed to buy anything, toilet paper or even just rent a $1 movie I had to ask his permission and get him to give me money. And he would get upset If he gave me 20 once in a great while just to “have” and it would be gone in a few days. I’ve run out of gas before on the side of the road because he left for work without leaving me any money and I had to depend on strangers to help me. I started a year ago working and have my own account. He now wants to have a joint account! After all these years of locking me out of finances and making me beg him for money he wants a joint account. It’s to a point that he gets overly stressed and ugly with me for days leading up until I get paid even though so far all I’ve done with my checks is pay off bills we are behind on because he didn’t pay them with the account he wouldn’t let me have access to. He gets angry and tells me I need to pay the whole mortgage from my check even though he makes more than me. I’m good with paying half or even over half. It’s the idea that he wants to control me. He even makes purchases like buying a new sorts car after we discussed it and decided no. He went out and did it anyway because” it’s his money and he deserves it.” I’ll keep my money separate thank you. We all love our spouses, but we don’t all have spouses who are good with money so we have to protect ourselves and our credit. I keep my finances separate because my I earned it and want some control over my own life!
How can you presume to know what is best for other couples?
I have been married for 21 years. I live my husband but his financial outlook and mine don’t match. My husband likes instant gratification and will fund a lavish lifestyle by taking extreme risks and running up debts. I made the decision to maintain a separate account because I am frugal and need financial security to be able to sleep. I would rather live a simple life, well within my means and save for a rainy day. Debt and inability to pay people pounding on the door for what is owed is extremely stressful for me.
I would try talking to him and he would say he knows no,other way except his to live. He would try talking to me and I would find I can’t let go of my need for financial security. So we both believed maintaining separate finances was a good solution. although there were times when he resented not being able to control the joint income as the “man of the family”, he would eventually come around to accepting this arrangement was for the best. It was definitely a situation that I was happier with than him.
When he had money he splurged and as I lived with him, I got to enjoy beautiful, luxurious things. When he got into the lows of his roller coaster risk taking and splurging I would give him money to the over troubles. These were my decision, my choice – I did not mind.,
After 18 years of saving, I entrusted “my” funds to him to invest. He used a significant portion of my life savings to bail out of debts and ended my hopes for retirement. I was deeply hurt and depressed. It took me a long while to recover emotionally. But I did.
I still love him dearly. I will never allow him full access to the money I earn. I have worked hard to build back savings in my individual name. He has run up even higher debts and is facing insolvency. He did extreme things like take out a huge second mortgage on our home (which is now being attached by the bank) and use the same money to pay off instalments while also using the principal to fund a lavish lifestyle. At this point, I refused to let him spend on me anymore. I would warn him this was leading to disaster but I could not get through.
I can look after our needs today because I maintained separate accounts. I cannot trust him financially. But I can give him money to take care of reasonable expenses, put a roof over our heads and food on the table and hopefully take care of a financial emergency if one were to arise.
Your approach would have led only to two outcomes. We would both be broke at almost age 50, or we would have had to separate because we couldn’t find a common approach to money.
My reason for staying in is because he is otherwise a lovely man. He is smart, kind, fun to be with, philosophical and large hearted. I know his financial habits are self destructive and dysfunctional but I also understand that he never had the example my parents set for me. Sometimes I think his financial behavior is like an addiction or a mental illness, at other times I think he is just being self indulgent. But it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t imagine being with anyone else and love snuggling up to him whenever I am happy or upset and the world is a better place.
Beautiful! You are an incredible soul.
As though there were not enough pressure on the financially responsible man or woman who is married to someone with poor financial management skills, here is an article that heaps some more pressure from an “expert”.
How can you position yourself as a debt management expert if you don’t understand what gets a person into a debt hell-hole? Debt can be an addiction. Such people will lie and steal from their own just like a crack-head, even if they are otherwise nice people. They are usually in denial that their debt habit is a problem and often think they are smarter than everyone else who is scrimping and saving.
If a couple can negotiate a common approach to saving, spending and both are not financially dysfunctional, shared finances is a great approach.
If your spouse runs up huge debts, lives beyond their income, is in denial that this is a problem, walk out of the marriage. If you love the person and decide to stay, keep your money and your credit intact. When your spouse runs out of funds and the ability to borrow and has everything he owns repossessed, you can put food on the table and take care of essentials for the family. If you let such a person blow up what you earn too, you are enabling financially irresponsible behaviour and will end up in a sad position of not being able to help the spouse or yourself.
You said it BEE!!! My spouse is “in my view” financially irresponsible and in denial about it. He has no respect for my financial discipline, frugal savings habits and watching every dime – Even though I have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in liquid cash and nearly a million in total net worth on a modest middle class salary, WHILE he has nearly zero savings and virtually no retirement account at 51 years old. He frequently borrows a LOT of money from me (I write up a formal loan agreement and he always repays me with interest). It’s surely dumb of me to loan him money, but he will act like I’m a bad wife if I don’t. I would love to just let him crash and burn to learn a lesson, but the reality is those kind of people blame their partners and not themselves when they fail and they think you could have saved them. It’s my dysfunctional way of keeping the peace. BUT I am getting tired of it, the wife-ATM will soon be closing. But I will keep my finances separate, thank you very much.
Joint finances are definitely the ideal, but I had to eliminate the joint finances when I found that there was no money in the account each month because my wife was draining the account to support her foolishness. Sometimes it is not a matter of putting off the “difficult to have” conversations but rather ‘impossible’ conversations. I had the finance discussions with my wife before we got married, but she lied. I had the finance discussions again when we eliminated the joint account and we agreed on a budget, but she hasn’t coughed up a penny since then to pay monthly expenses.
It seemed like the only choice is kick the woman out and get a divorce, or tolerate the failure to contribute to household expenses. Reading similar articles over the past few days, I’ve decided to start cutting off services that she wants (maid service, high speed Internet) but that I can live without for a while. It is a start. Any ideas for other things to do?
See that is not right. In my situation I make 1/3 of what he makes and I pay more bills. I dont even know his bank card code! He knows mine as I am not a secretive person.
I was married once before and that man shared everything. He had no control issues and I handled all the bill payments etc. Now, I have to ‘ask’ for grocery money. He has said he has issues from the past, but I am tired of bearing those crosses. It is not right. I have been patient and understanding. I have now lost my job and need support for few months. He has ‘given’ me $300 in the last 3 months….really? Yet i am paying the cable from my CC. Really folks, I am not a fool. I thought I was in love and it was worth it, but I am seeing I am not worth it to him.
It may work when BOTH agree, but with my situation I dont agree and I hate it! It is stupid and wrong and degrading! My husband ‘gives’ me grocery money….? He transfers part of the mortgage….I cant do this anymore.
@dina, I would encourage you to read Belinda’s post above. I admire her choice to put the ‘relationship’ with her husband before his money weaknesses. Love is always a choice. You can choose to forgive your husband for being controlling of money, and ask the Lord to give you love and respect in your heart towards him. Rebuke pride, and take your power back by taking responsibility for your own feelings and choices. There is a wonderful book called, “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk. You can get it through Amazon.com. I would highly recommend it. It has helped me realize I do have control, and I do have choices. I will always choose to do what it takes to stay intimately and lovingly connected to my husband, no matter what the circumstances or argument.
Blessings to you,
My husband and I go out on date night and so many times I have had to pay for my own meal. I am not very good with managing my money. I know I am not perfect but I settled for the circumstance I in because I didn’t think I deserved what.I wanted. It’s actually demeaning and very hurtful. I feel very empty. I bought a new car in June because I needed a more reliable vehicle. His suggestion was giving me his portion of rent for the next year and me go buy one off craigslist. Wow really?? Now I can’t support on my own without his help or getting a 2nd job. I am just done.
I just came across this conversation, my situation is this…
I’m engaged to a man i’ve been with for 6 years, we live together, we have a child who is fast approaching 9.
WE HAVE SEPERATE ACCOUNTS…I HATE IT!!
Its tearing my relationship to pieces.
I work two part time jobs to fit around school. He works full time…gets paid a fortune then gives me 50% of his wage. I then pay for EVERYTHING for him, myself, our child, our dog, our home bills, car etc.
He pays for his cigs and train fayre.
I’m fed up with it.
We cant get married because i’d have to pay for it.
I cant take us on nice family holidays etc..because i’d have to pay for it.
Anyway end of my patience….
Couldn’t agree with you and your opinion more!
I have strong feelings on the matter of separate vs. joint. Seems like a marriage vs. roommate situation. As both seniors and if we had separate accounts, does the survivor get left high & dry? Or if one is put in a nursing home, does the healthy one struggle with one income possibly unable to keep up with the cost of living? Please answer. I feel a bit of pressure from the ol’ guy.
I agree with you. I’m married and we have separare accounts and I hats it. Its very difficult and degrading to me. I recently had surgery. Ive been off work for two weeks with no income. I get no help from my husband financially. Currently. My checking account has $8. His has lots. He eats out everyday for lunch. Most days I have to skip lunch cause I have no money or food. I’m becoming extremely. Resentful over this. Any advise how to overcome resentment?
I know how u feel this is how I have to live also It’s very humiliating I had a good life befor my husband a house a car good credit an I gave it all up for poverty with him cuz he has his own contracting business it’s his house Idk what he makes it even has in the bank an now my credit sucks cuz I was forced to live off my credit cards an now I can’t afford to pay back even he used my cards for things an when mine got used up he got his own an left me wit the bills He has no mortgage cuz he built his house so all he has is electric an cable bills so it’s not like there’s bills to b paid but he still tells me I don’t help him out I’m lucky if I make a $200 paycheck in a wk. I’m a hairstylist in a mall an get paid comm only so if it’s dead I don’t get paid all he says is find a better job then but I don’t qualify to do much else I’m injured so it’s hard on me to work but I go an stay open to close an work a couple days as the receptionist (that does pay 7.50 /hr) all but 2 days a wk i have off but to him im not doing anything I worked hard for my car got it down to 12,000 in 2 yrs from 23,000 an I stopped being able to pay an got behind $800 an they repoed it so then I had to watch them auction off all my hard work an brand new $500 tires I just had put on cuz they were bald so I needed to replace them cuz he wouldn’t help me get it back I saw one of his atm receipts nxt to the bed when they took my car an after his withdrawal The receipt said his amount was a little over $15,000 in just his checking account but he couldn’t afford to help me wit the $1600 I needed to get my car back So I c how important I am now an it sucks to feel like I’m a total loser an not worth his time an now financially im a nobody who owes money an won’t b able to get a loan or buy anything now He dropped me off his health insur too so I don’t even have that either for the last 2 yrs I guess that was his way of paying me back for moving out at the time an even though I’ve moved back in after a couple months later I’m not important enough to b put back on his health plan so I understand how u feel it sucks
I am becoming extremely resentful towards my husband as well. I just don’t get the selfishness.
I am becoming extremely resentful towards my husband. I just don’t get the selfishness. Until I found this page I was / am very angry and hurt. I have tried to talk to him but he will not have it. I had a house of my own and sold it to be with him. He bought the house while we were engaged and it is in his name. I pay rent and we split the bills 50 50 yet he makes three times as much as me. I live paycheck to paycheck and and can hardly manage but when I try to talk yo him he says I just want his money. I can not live like this. Marriage is a unit. I shouldn’t have to write a rent check to my husband. I should have to worry about how my share of the bills are going to get paid. I should have to sit up at night and wonder how I am going to afford things for my children from a previous marriage. Help. I just don’t get it. When I try to talk to him he says all I want is his money and women think they are entitled Help. I’m going crazy and so hurt
My husband and I have separate accounts. He makes more money and he buys whatever he wants. He pays the larger bills, mortgage, auto, home, health insurance, phones, and what he has left is his. I pay the smaller bills water, gas, light, internet plus daycare and have little to nothing left. I have to borrow money from my husband and pay him back. He want to give me more bills to pay cause he say I’m not pulling my weight. And that I need to get a job making more money. I believe his idea of marriage and money is wrong and nobody can him different. I presently go to school ONLINE and work full-time and care for our 4 children ages 14,11,9,4. While he works and live out of state. And comes home sometimes every two to three weeks for the weekend. All 4 kids have to go to four different places and my husband ask me what do you do? He thinks its crazy for me to want a nanny to help me. I’m here by myself with the kids no relatives or friends close by.
I can give you a few reasons that may not change your mind, but they are reasons.
1. The person you are marrying has a spending problem, develops an addiction, or develops control or abuse issues. People can tell you anything, but you don’t know until you do life with them what they are really like. My friend’s wife waited until he was deployed and spent all their money. She purchased a car and spent money like water. Told him nothing. There was no backup or account she didn’t have access to. He came back to debt and being broke. I don’t think you should hide money from your spouse, but if they have an addiction, problems handling money, or they become abusive-you better get an account in your name. I know many women who could not leave their abusive husbands because they had no money. If they withdrew anything, he knew. So until they could find someone willing to take them in, they endured horrific abuse. If they had any money anywhere that didn’t immediately notify their spouse it was withdrawn, they could have left sooner. Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten by her partner-domesticviolencestatistics.org. It’s a real problem and money is used as control.
2. The person has bad credit. Yes, it’s ideal to marry someone with good credit. It’s not always the reality. If they have horrible credit and you join accounts, then you are affecting your credit score if they repeat bad habits. This is something that needs discussed prior to marriage. If they have written bad checks, have defaults on credit…And of course it’s ideal not to marry someone with a past of poor money choices.
3. You want an account to do nice things for your spouse. Or you had a savings set up for someone in your family before getting married. I have a savings for my neice. I don’t see why I would need to add a spouse to that account. It’s for her, not me, not him. I don’t touch it. I add to it. Her name will be added to the account when she’s older.
I sometimes think people take two become one too far and that’s why there are problems. I am not against joint finances. I am not against separate in some cases. I know couples who have both. Every couple needs to do what works for them and work it out pre-marriage. In some cases it may be better to have separate accounts. You are right that if you don’t trust someone you shouldn’t marry them. But I have met many who didn’t know until they were married. They now have bad credit, empty accounts, and everything they worked for pre-marriage is gone, and for a few the spouse left too after destroying their credit and ruining their finances. I would not say to them, you must repeat what you did. Every person must choose their own journey with their spouse. I know it’s for better or for worse, yet those with good marriages forget there are people in HELLISH marrages. Some situations are not easliy worked out. There are people who have been burned badly. And for those who have been burned badly, my prayer is they have wisdom, peace, and comfort. I know my mom put my stepdad through college, helped him rebuild his credit and he left her with three kids once he became successful. He’s wealthy now and won’t offer a cent to help her. For better or worse right?
Anywho thanks for this post and reading this comment if you read it. 🙂
Brilliant response! You would be an interesting blogger if you aren’t already!
My apologies for typos – R
I love all the comments I’m reading about joint vs. separate accounts.
My husband and I have joint and separate. Major credit card blunders on my part have made my husband gun-shy, and untrustworthy. I have, however, cleaned up my act…have one credit card with about $1,000 balance and no other debt…just monthly bills. He makes about 2 1/2 times more than I do. He pays the majority of the bills, cooks, cleans, etc.
Saving has not come easy for me, but, I’m really trying…have recently saved over $2,000, added substantially to my retirement and 401K accounts, and try hard to live within my means.
The problem is this: I want to buy a used car. My husband and I have an excellent savings account (six figures – thanks to the sale of our home and my husband’s great financial responsibility). He wants me to take out a loan instead of borrowing from our account…I explained I would replace the money monthly, as if it were a loan…this way, we would not be out of the total amount when we retire. He would prefer that I don’t do this. In December, he bought a brand new car, and took half of its total out our account for the down payment. He financed the balanced. He feels that I should know how it feels to be financially responsible with a major purchase such as a car. (He purchased my two cars for me.)
Question: Even though my husband is nervous (I understand, to a point) shouldn’t be able to use our money to purchase my “used” car?
Thanks for your advice.
When I was 20 I got married – We were both university students and very much in love. He easily talked me into opening a joint account, as his parents (and mine too) had always had and it was a no brainer as both of us came from nice comfortable middle class backgrounds. Then one day, 8 months later, he drives up to the classroom window where I was taking an exam, straddling a brand new huge (expensive) motorcycle. As our “joint account” had been funded mostly with my savings from part-time jobs since I was 14, saving for college, I looked at him incredulously – but he held up a helmut for me as if this was going to be the ride of my lifetime. It was. I have since spoken to many many who’ve had similar experiences. So much rests on trust and maturity but our relationship went south from that point on. He never even considered paying me back and after we divorced, I had to quit school, get awful jobs and student loans and the courts didn’t make him repay me because it was a “joint account” and he pled he had no money! End of story. I’m not happily remarried and we both have separate accounts.
Sorry – I meant to say I’m now happily remarried – He cleaned out our “joint account” and if anyone watches Judge Judy, they’ll see that this problem is much more common than people imagine.
I am sorry but I do not agree that there is a problem if people have their own separate finances. That does not mean that they will get divorced either. It is better that way the woman is still independent. Now she must get a salary from her husband? But she is working for a salary. The problem is who works with the bank card? You have to share a bank card? That to me does not make sense. It is so not fair for the woman to ask her husband for money than he think he can control his wife. A wife is still an independent woman even though she is married. Yes you must make decisions together and the everything is yours together but a woman still have the right to own her own bank account. Since when does a woman need to ask her husband for money? I don’t want to wait for a man to put airtime on my phone or give me money to go and shop. What if the husband dies? Did you ever think about the legal aspect of things? Being married in community of property. The day the spouse dies the wife is stuck with no money at all. If the bank law firm or whomever does his estate freezes his accounts and the wife and children can only get funds six months after the estate is wound up? How must they survive unless he left them some policies that will be paid into the joint account? Therefore the wife must be able to close the joint account and there must be a valid will also. I have seen far to many cases of the husband dying and the leaves no will and that wife is stuck without money and can’t pay her bond. That is not fair and finances should be kept separately or the husband must make arrangements for his wife to have funds for daily expenses to live from if something should happen to him. If the will is drafted and a law firm or bank has to administer the estate the wife can’t close the bank account herself joint or not. The executor lawyer or estate administrator of the bank must. So no it is selfish to have a joint account. Keep your salaries separate but use both’s income for the household and living expenses.
I have to pipe in here.
I always believed in having joint accounts etc, and had planned on creating one with my husband. Then he started depending on alcohol (I mean spending upwards to $700 – $1000/month on it!) – then went bankrupt.
He can’t keep a job longer than a year and a half due to missing so much work from the health issues he gives himself from drinking so much. When he is not working (and not making money) he would spend any money he can get his hands on – on booze. He will plan on buying groceries with a list that we make up during the week, but can’t afford much after he buys his booze (first priority to him).
I have gotten to the point where I no longer buy alcohol for him when he has no money – I won’t even go to the store for him when he offers me his bank card or cash. It’s all on him.
He always offers for me to take money from his account to help pay bills – but I know that if i do – he will run out soon enough and be begging his family for money to borrow so he can buy more (usually by saying we need groceries – but they know what the money is for). The problem is that they come back to ME to pay them back when he can’t afford to.
So his money is his (for his bankruptcy and booze). Mine is for the rent, daycare, bills, groceries, vehicles, insurance… etc.
So In CERTAIN situations – YES separate bank accounts are very necessary!
With the wedding on the way, I have cohabited with my soon to be husband for five years. No hate for that please. We have discussed this several times as he as some relaxed habits when it comes to swiping a bank card. Coming into this relationship, we obviously had our own accounts, bills, etc. We have agreed to use a combined for of finances after the wedding, a joint account for savings/bill pay, and each with our original banks. We have a few reasons. Neither of us have found a bank that offers EVERY service we need, and we don’t believe in putting all our eggs in one financial basket. Also, he is divorced with kids. We have had times in the past employers have not processed his support payments correctly…this has led to multiple times of his assets being frozen. The worst was for over two months. Employer didn’t send the checks, account was frozen, and because of the assets being frozen, he couldn’t take the money out to pay. Vicious cycle. I work as a sales consultant and and use my personal account as a business account as well. Same for him, he runs a small business part time and works full time. Its made it easier so when I have to fill up my gas tank 5 hours from home, I know what I have available to spend and I dont have to get in touch with him to let him know I spent the money on that. Declined credit cards are embarrassing…Well it works for us. As we enter into the marriage union, it will be modified to fit our changing needs. Also makes it a heck of a lot easier to buy christmas presents online…. 🙂
I found this conversation while wondering and googling about staying married with separate finances. I am a happily married woman, for fifteen years now…..outside of our finances, which are a disaster. I owned my own home before meeting my husband, and sold that home and bought a piece of land….my husband is an incredibly talented carpenter, and built our little house…..for four times what he told me it would cost. Currently, I am the breadwinner, and have taken money out of my small retirement fund to help him with the thousands he owes in back taxes. He’s awful with money, we’ve been in counseling for two years and are working with a debt counselor……but I’m the only one following a budget. I don’t want to divorce, I want to breathe financially, is all! Maybe divorce is the only way not to drown financially for me……but it seems an absurd idea. I love him, we have fun and intimacy and a wonderful family….surely there must be another way? We’re voth fifty-five, and I really do want to retire by the time I’m seventy, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
As background – my doctorate was focused on HOW WE CREATE POVERTY – and “joint finances” is one of the primary ways we do this in Western culture. “Joint finances” became a default in the past (as recently as the 1960’s) because women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts, credit or checking accounts – therefore “joint” was the way men to controlled resources and therefore, women and children.
Fast forward to today where more than half of marriages end in divorce. Believing the meme of joint finances as “best” or an indication of “unity” (best for who?) in marriage creates poverty every time a man/spouse leaves draining the checkbook and maxing out the credit cards. This happens frequently as the posts here indicate. Women and kids are then left without resources, without credit history, without any usable financial accounts. For a woman who has chosen to be at home with her children – she and her children are now even more vulnerable – with no way to earn a living. And in fact, most of the poor in this country ARE women and children. The point here is that joint finances put women and children in a very precarious, powerless and vulnerable place.
Marriage requires mutuality – with both partners contributing fairly financially. Both partners should come into a marriage as fully autonomous and mature individuals with the life skills of financial responsibility – maintaining their individual autonomy and financial independence. Even women who work at home raising children should maintain their own checking, credit and saving accounts – unless they want to expose themselves and their children to a much higher risk of life-long poverty. Working at home as monetary value and the parent who works at home earns a share of the resources that come into the marriage – as evidenced in our divorce laws. Trust has nothing to do with this. Just as we purchase home or life insurance (we don’t simply “trust” that nothing will happen) help create financial insurance and financial health for yourselves and your children by maintaining separate finances. Don’t by into the false cultural meme that a marriage is better when finances are joint or co-mingled – ask, “Better for who?”
Also – for those who believe that separate accounts is the same as a roommate arrangement – this is not true. Married partners with separate finances are still working toward joint financial goals that benefit their family over themselves individually. This is not true for roommates who have only themselves at their financial center.
But what about trust? Being able to trust is about knowing that your partner is being truthful about their financial situation and dealings. This is where trust comes in. How can you know that someone is truthful? By their willingness to be transparent with their financial accounts and statements – plus being willing to discuss all financial issues. Similarly, in the same way, you know if you can trust them elsewhere in the relationship. Not a guarantee — but part of a larger confirmation.
Co-mingling of finances becomes fertile ground for developing financial “enmeshment” where one person has emotional/financial power of the other. Just as emotional and psychological enmeshment (lack of personal boundaries) is an illness – so too financial enmeshment and the two often go together.
Can ‘t trust someone who has proven they are horrible with money – filed bankruptcy – and still have no clue. It’s not about trust. It’s about being smart and protecting whatever resources you have worked hard to earn. It’s like handing heroin to a drug addict. Why would I do that?
My wife told me last night that she wants to buy a condo with her sister to renovate and flip. Why would she want to do that with her sister and not me? I don’t like the fact that she wants to invest our money on this project but, she’s willing to leave me out. What’s up with that? Is that fair? Why can’t we just do it together? I don’t even like the idea of renting out a condo and being a landlord. Not sure if this is a good idea as we have debts and a mortgage. Please give me some advice. Thank you
I am currently in a divorce process from my wife of nine years. I have a very good job and I am a very responsible person. I do not hang out in clubs and came home to my wife after work. Not long after I said “I do” my wife began to spring on me all of these bills and expenses she had. Before we married she told me she had no outstanding expenses. And she also sprung an adult son on me who all of a sudden needed a place to live.
She promised to work as neither one of us had small children. She has an IT background and is able to work. She always had an excuse about not working. It was supposed to be just the two of us. Most evenings coming home from work, she is not home and no meals are prepared and the house is filthy.
I gave her access to my bank account and eventually she began to claim it as her own. Secretly, would withdraw large amounts of money and would not tell me why. This led to arguments. Her grown son living the house for years also caused strain on the marriage as he ate up everything and washed clothes almost on a daily basis.
She purchased a brand new car (zero miles on it) without my knowledge (she already had a good used car that I paid off for here and gave it to her son), took out a $30,000 student loan without my knowledge, purchased new furniture on time, and twice removed thousands of dollars from the account. The last withdrawal was $11,000. And when I asked her to account for the money, she would argue with me and say that it is her account to and that she is entitled to it because we are married. (She does not work).
She even completely drained the account and disappeared on me for 9 months. She even sold the wedding ring and band I gave her. (They were valued in the 5-digit dollars).
Like an idiot, I took her back. That was my mistake. She promised to “be good” but eventually lapsed right back into the evil person I know now.
I ended up sleeping on the couch in my own house! Her adult son was in my office / spare bedroom and he was moved in. (It was supposed to be for a few months until he would find a job. It has been more than four years).
I had enough. This woman was using me. I knew something was wrong when she wanted me to pay her ex-husband $300/month room and board for his own son to come live with him! (If I wanted her son out of the house). WTF !!!
I went to the bank and opened up another account and transferred what money was left into it. I arranged to have my paycheck direct-deposited into the new account. This was the only way I could stop her from irresponsible use of the account.
Not to long after I opened up a new account, she realized that the old account was at zero and she could not get to money pay her car note, insurance, cellphone bill/plan (that she placed her adult son on), credit card, and furniture bill.
She was very angry and threatened to call my employer to tell them that I am not supporting her. And, she did! My employer told her that it was none of their business. She she lied and told them that I was beating her. Yet, anyone who knows me knows that is not my style. If I was beating her why did she not file a police report? My wife bruises easy but no bruises. Her adult son is in the house and he is just as big as I am. She was pissed and lied.
I initiated and filed for a divorce from her. She wants half of my paycheck, for me to keep her on my medical insurance, to pay off her $30000 student loan, pay off her car, half of my retirement, and pay her attorney fees. We had no children together. She wants a free ride.
I moved out of the house and she filed for a Pendente Lite (temporary spousal support) during the divorce process. The court granted it to her. So I am giving her half of my disposable income.
She has lied under oath and told the court that I knew about the new car she purchased, the $30000 student loan and the other expenses. I did not know.
I DO KNOW that she was never at home when I got off work so either she was “secretly” going to school or she was having an affair. To this day I have no idea how she was able to purchase a $21,000 car and get a $30,000 student loan and not have a job.
I filed a response to the court that my wife lied under oath and I submitted documents that prove that she did.
I am also asking that my divorce be granted and she get nothing from me as she is able to work, had promised me she would get a job so that we can save and purchase a bigger house, have savings and travel. In nine years of marriage she refused. She always wanted money – big money – for her friends and family. But if I purchase a stick of gum she goes ballistic. And, it is money I earn.
In the nine years or marriage, she has never ironed a piece of clothing, asked me what I would like for dinner or lunch (she would ask her 30 year old son who was living off my dime what he wanted to eat). It was as if I was not even there in the house.
Recently (about three months ago) she told me that she never could stand me and was jealous of me because I had a good job and everyone liked me. (I swear she said this to me).
I guess I am writing this because there are situations were marriages are not really marriages. In my case, I trusted my wife and gave her full access to my checking account. In the beginning she was humble and grateful for it. But as time went on, she took it for granted and played the “we are married” card and “Al that you have is half mine.”
Her attitude now is that she is entitled to half of everything I have. I have never cheated on her and always came home after work. (She knows this and so does our families and friends).
She is play acting the part of a “good and moral” Christian (a Jehovah’s Witness) for everyone – including her lawyer and the court – to win sympathy. But I know and she knows I know that she has been lying to everyone and I believe she is going to get caught in her lies.
It is morally wrong for her to expect me to take care of an adult man in my own house. He is able-bodied and works in several fast-food restaurants and spends his money on DVD movies, anime comics and video games. He is not saving to get his own place.
It is wrong for her to secretly take out loans for a car and student loan and lie and said I knew about them (I never signed anything. Unless she forged my signature) and expect me to pay them! As well as her other bills she made without my knowledge.
She tells no one that she sold the wedding ring and band I gave her.
I made a mistake when I married her. Deep down I knew back then something was not quite right with her. I was lonely. Such is human weakness.
It is not that she has filed a divorce from me, it is I filing a divorce from her. She conniving and dishonest, and a dead beat.
I hope the court sees what she is and grants my divorce free and clear (no alimony). She needs to get a job.
I’m amazed you stayed with this woman for 9 years…
You have a neon sign screaming ” SUGAR DADDY” on top of your head.
I’m sorry you were taken for a ride… but you saw all the signs and ignored them.
Love will make us blind — have been where you are. But at least you were smart
enough to put a halt to all this greed.. Shame on her. Let her believe she’s all moral and good. Her actions prove otherwise.
I’m sorry you had to go through that. But the first time you discovered her removing money without your knowledge.. HUGE chunks of it is even worse… you should have removed her name from your account. You sound like a good guy — someone who let a greedy woman take advantage of your kindness/generosity. Please protect yourself better next time. Much good luck.
I have a question? My wife and I been married for 7 months. Her mom stays in business, I take care household. We move in her family home, before marry, I remodel her family home of 9 rooms. Now I’m check to check, still pay house builds and my personal bills. She takes her money and takes care of her mom and save. Her mom is healthy and retired. She says I don’t take care of her financial. She want us to put our check together in bank account. She has bankruptcy and claim she always over drawn. Should I put my money in bank with her? I Can’t See It!!
NO. Do NOT combine finances… DO NOT PUT HER NAME ON YOUR CHECKINGN ACCOUNT.
I have been where you are — she will spend YOUR money and both of you will be broke.
If she can take care of her Mom when she’s still healthy and is retired ( on social security) .. why are you responsible for your wife?? The MOM should be responsible for HERSELF. Please don’t combine your money… You will wind up with nothing because of a woman who does not know how to handle money.. WHen hers runs out… guess whose she will use?? NO NO NO AND NO..
Have been where you are.. If your wife needs to go out and work.. send her.
If you have no children at home — why can’t she work?? Good luck.
I love the idea of the combined finances / accounts. I entered the marriage with some debt and the wife had lots of savings mostly due to being able to live at home and work and save from a young age, me being 9 years older and out on my own not really saving much due to rising rents, student loans and so on. The hers and mine mentality still exists between us and the opinion of ‘well I saved while you lived your life spending frivilously (ie not having roommates so I could save a dime) so my savings are MY savings and your debts are YOUR debts.
I have friends that entered a marriage both in some kind of debt so both had these issues coming into the marriage and I suspect that makes it a better situation to ‘pair the finances’ together as both have been through times of debt.
I do envy this system and see coupling finances as you said, trust and love and did I mention trust? Perhaps some day this will change but until then, I’m stuck doing a monthly budget and depositing what ‘I owe her’ into her account to balance it all while paying what I can on my debt.
I have been married to my current husband for 24 years and our only child is now 19-years-old. Neither of us have been married prior and neither of us have any other children. We learned early on to tap into each other strengths and help with each other’s weaknesses. My husband, frankly put, is a train-wreck when it comes to finances. To literally save my husband from himself, we have decided to keep separate accounts; he has access to the account that has very little cash-flow. He has his independence, freedom, and dignity to take a few bucks and blow it. But the rest of the money goes in to an account that only I can access, and I am responsible to pay all the bills. I am happy to say that both of us enjoy perfect credit, a mortgage that is almost paid for, a healthy 401K, no debt, investments and savings, and enough money to pay for our son’s college education. Separate accounts is not malicious or sneaky; in our case, it could not have worked any other way. And, by the way, my husband thanks me all the time!
I can’t imagine having separate accounts and splitting bills! That’s strange to me. It would feel like a roommate situation in my opinion. Does one person just handle the bills and the other one hands over their share? And I saw someone comment about sharing a bank card. Why would you share it? Me and my husband have a joint account and we both have our own cards with our own names. We don’t have to trade off who gets it. We both have our own card that is connected to the same account. We have had a joint account since before we were even married. It’s just easier that way. I am the one who handles all the bills and stuff, so it’s more convenient to have one account I can just make the payments with rather than dividing it or something. Even if we had separate accounts, my husband is scatter brained and forgets due dates, so he would still probably give me the information to his account so that I could still pay his bills (we do most everything online). And just because we share an account doesn’t mean we monitor each other’s spending or snoop around. As for gifts and stuff. First off, we have a budget that we agree on for our finances and life. So we have money to both do whatever and we aren’t needing to constantly check the account. If we know we are gonna buy something for the other one, usually we just take money out here and there so as not to ruin the surprise. R if it’s something we want to buy with the card, we just ask the other one to not look at the account until after. But otherwise it just seems logical. Sure it may work for people to have separate accounts but to me it would just be a hassle. We have common goals and similar views. We always discuss big purchases. But we don’t fret over petty stuff. There have been times when he was making more and times when I was making more. But we don’t keep tabs. It’s not about anything except OUR life. We don’t keep track of who pulls more money in. And as for prior debt. We already knew about each other’s debt. And since we are building a life together, it is common debt now. He has some old things, I have some student loans, and those both are in our budget as well and we pay them off together. Just as we are building credit together. And of course no one can say they will never get divorced. ANd sure divorce probably makes having a joint account a nightmare. But I’m not gonna live my whole life not doing things just because I might bet divorced. I don’t plan on it, so I’m not gonna act as such. And just like everything, if it did happen I would handle that when it comes. As for now, it just makes sense. Plus why would we both be paying bank service fees. We could just have one. I just don’t really get it either. If sharing a bank account with someone isn’t something I would do, I probably wouldn’t even consider marrying them. I’ve had past relationships where I wouldn’t even dream about sharing an account with because of spending habits, or problems rather, or whatever reason and as it turned out, the relationships didn’t work. Everyone has their own opinion. But I just don’t find the separate thing appealing. I mean yeah there is things that are separate (my phone, my clothes, my side of the bed, ect.) but I don’t feel like viewing money that way is benificial. Yeah, clothes I get. I bought them for myself but I don’t earn money for ME. I go to work and earn Money for US. Our life. Our bills. If we were just gonna split everything and keep it separate should we start monitoring who watches tv more so that they can pay more of the cable bill? I mean idk. I still maintain (as does he) independence. Neither never has to ask permission to buy something we want. Unless it’s a super big price tag. But separate finances or not I feel that’s just common courtesy. When you are saving to buy a house one day, and retire and ect then something that’s hundreds of dollars over budget should be discussed anyways. I don’t care if we had separate account of not if he came home with a 70 inch flat screen with a surround sound system and new entertainment center you can best believe I would be upset I don’t care whose money it is! That’s something that should be discussed. But that’s just how our relationship is. We try to make most things a unified decision. Otherwise whys the point? In my opinion, if I’m gonna keep that much distance with my SO than May as well be FWB and keep are lives separate too. But everyone does what works for them. And I don’t judge, because as long as it floats your boat more power to you! But I do admit that I don’t get it.
I am married with separate finances.. Why?
I am 65 – married for the 2nd time for only 3 yrs now. My husband filed
bankruptcy 2 yrs before we got married. He has a history of being a spendaholic with a mentality of ” well, I’ll make this much money down the road – so I can buy this now”..
I decided to keep my house ( paid for) that is an hour away and allow my daughter to live in it. She pays for utilities. I have a 44K retirement plan but am only employed part time, living on social security.
My husband has a VERY expensive hobby – and loves his toys. I knew the best way for me not to get upset about his spending habits was to keep our finances separate. He doesn’t tell me what to do with my money. And I don’t tell him. 3 yrs later – he is again in debt for 7K and has a NEW hobby in addition to the old one – that is ALSO expensive.
I pay my own way – the only thing he covers is my supplemental health insurance. His children are the beneficiaries of his 401K ( what is left). He earns 85K a year as a “retired” union worker in addition to his pension. I see none of it.
Is this ok with me? Yes. Makes me feel more secure to know that I am in control of MY money that I worked hard for. I am good with money. He is not and doesn’t welcome my suggestions. His house is his. My name is not on that or any of his accounts.
I pay for my own car – insurance – gas – and anything else I need – including food.
Most wives would not go for this set up… but he will not use MY money when his runs out. Waited 3 yrs for a honeymoon — and most birthdays/Xmases I received nothing. It all went for his hobby.
Am a little upset that he has no life insurance – or will – so there will be a probate involved and a funeral to pay for.. Who pays for that? Hm. I know he wouldn’t pay for mine.
It’s a kind of business transaction I guess.. But I refuse to live like.. ” What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.” No thanks. He’s been thru debt consolidation before the bankruptcy.. and I suspect when his allotted time is up before he can file again.. he will.
What works for us – probably would not work for others. At least – I can sleep at night and hope I can still make some money when I’m an old lady. ( He wanted to combine income taxes … and why?? So he could pocket the refund. I would have never seen a dime.. )
I am forced to live with separate money. I just don’t understand this way of living im getting ready to have our 5 anniversary of being married an still we share no money. I live in poverty while I watch my husband spend whatever he wants wherever he goes He doesn’t check price tags or buy the cheaper item I guess he doesn’t have to. He has his own business an I have no idea what he even makes or has in the bank but if I spend money on anything he ridicules me but it’s the money I make at my job. I work ridiculous hours as a hairstylist in a mall just tryin to survive I have a 10 year old daughter that is not his and I have to take care of her on what i make. He does not buy anything for her. He has a 14 year old son that’s not mine that he takes care of. When it’s Christmas we shop separate I go an shop for mine an he shops alone for his If we do any shopping together he pays for his things an I pay for mine. It’s humiliating for me I feel like a roommate but he sees nothing wrong with this an makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about It’s so bad I don’t even do grocery shopping unless it’s with my money I don’t feel like a wife at all I just don’t get it I know no one who lives like this
Oh I feel the same way. I cannot take it anymore
And I live like this. I have 3 kids from a previous and this is exactly the same. If I didn’t know any better I would say it is the same person
This is a splitting image of my marriage. In fact, we went to the grocery store last night and bought our items separately!! It’s so degrading and ridiculous!!
I feel the same way although my husband of 4 months feels different. We have both been married before and he feels like women are only out to take half. I am getting resentful towards him. I believe that when two come together they become one, not let’s keep everything separate. The fact that he does not trust me that way or feel the same way is very hard for me. It is very degrading when I half to writ my husband a rent check biweekly. I feel it should be combined. Both our money into one pot. I never wanted to get divorced again but I can not live like roommates anymore. Please help
My fiance and I use to have a joint account because I was the same as you……our bills, our debt, etc. However, my fiance kept spending, spending, spending. We sat down and had several conversations about it. He kept promising he would be more responsible. Well, it never happened. I became resentful and frustrated because I came into the relationship with no debt while he had, and still has, tons of debt and he was spending all the extra income I was bringing in. He pays child support and I remember the beginning of our relationship how excited he was that we were getting a joint account. I thought nothing of it until after it was all said and done. The man just can’t hold on to a dollar for more than a day. I pinch pennies. I was raised with very little money while he was raised with a lot of money. His parents have tons of savings and invested their money wisely but NONE of this rubbed off on their son. To avoid a potential separation I sat down with him and told him we would have a joint account for bills, a joint account for savings, and then we each would have a separate account for ourselves that would hold any “extea” we might have. Well, so far it’s worked out pretty well. The problem is he does a lot of side jobs for extra money and he contributes none of it to savings…..he spends it ALL. No, he doesn’t spend it all on himself, but he spends the majority of it on all his hobbies. I was buying ALL the groceries and he was perfectly fine with that until I resigned from my very stressful job and decided to go back to school. Now that I’m back in school and money is tight he, initially, resented the fact that he now had to pay for half the groceries…..I have one child and he has two. I was continued buying groceries for five people with my student loans until I refused to keep doing it. He was perfectly content having me pay for all the groceries while he blew all his extra money on his toys and hobbies. He hasn’t changed. There for awhile he resented me for going back to school because our money situation had changed. He had these same issues with ex wife. His mom has even told me that he has horrible spending habits. He is addicted to social media (is ALWAYS on his phone!!!!) all the barter and trade sites, his RC cars, his side-by-side, and network marketing ( don’t get me started with that!!!). I honestly don’t think we will ever have anything together. We do have a house but it’s in his name. Both our vehicles are in his name. Things being in his name is fine because if he blows ALL his money then it’s on him not me. I contribute what I can now with the limited school funds I have available. He has gotten a little better, but he still just spends and he has a REASON and an EXCUSE for all his spending.
Thank you for sharing this. I am a newly wed and my husband decided after getting our first bank account we should keep it all separate to avoid arguments. As sad as it may sound having separate financial accounts is making me feel alone in the struggle of life. I really feel like couples should avoid this, because you could ruin a beautiful relationship over greed instead of just sharing it with someone that you should love as much as you love your self.
I am in the same situation you are!!! I feel so alone and it doesn’t feel like we are a TEAM like we are supposed to be.
I keep my account separate from my husband. I have children from a marriage before him and when it comes to providing for my children, he isn’t the greatest with that sometimes. Also I was a stay at home parent for years while he worked and I never had any access to the money. I had to ask for every little thing I needed, and if he wasn’t around I had to wait until he came home, sometimes he was gone all day and until midnight or later and I would have to borrow money from others to buy things like medicine if the kids came down ill. He also had a drinking problem and would spend a lot of money on booze and occasionally the strip club, so there was that as well. Now he is sober and wants me to give him my paycheck now that I am working. He doesn’t want me to have any access to his money OR MINE! Back to the old way of asking for every red cent! I’ve told him I am comfortable having a joint account where we both have access, but I am not going to live like that anymore. He says he deserves to have my paycheck for taking care of the family for the 5 years I stayed home and went to college. That he doesn’t trust anyone having access to HIS money except him because his ex wife put them into bankruptcy. But I am expected to let him have 100% total control over his and my finances with no say! I get “in trouble” for ordering pizza, yet he can go out and buy hundreds of dollars in fancy electronics he wants no problem. So having sep accounts does cause problems in that he wont accept that I am not going to work 40+ hours a week to have no access to money at all. But the problems giving it all to him would be even worse! I’m not against having joint accounts, just sometimes you aren’t with someone willing to be fair and you need to protect yourself and your children. I am glad the author of this article has a loving and nurturing marriage with trust, but a lot of us don’t and sep accounts are needed to survive. My husband has used this article to smear in my face, like I’m being a bad wife. If this makes me a bad wife, so be it. But boozing away your family’s grocery money on strippers and alcohol doesn’t make you a good spouse either. Lets hope he stays sober.
My husband and I have our own bank accounts. We split all bills equally, I closing the mortgage and groceries. But why should he have to pay for my yoga classes, or I for his fishing equipment? After bills, We each have our own money to do whatever we want with. Also, no kids and never having any.
The whole ” joint account ” thinking is so old and more for past generations.
I have to agree with you on this. I have a good marriage, but both my husband and I are divorcees with children and he absolutely refuses to combine our finances and I’ve got to be honest with you, I would have to say that the only reason he refuses is because he doesn’t want to be held accountable for his purchases on certain things. I feel that this has driven a huge wedge between us and he continues to sweep it under the rug. I’m at a point that I don’t know what to do about this. Every time I bring it up, he brings up my debt and the fact that his income is higher than mine, like I only want to do it because I will have access to his income. I am a Christian woman who just wants a marriage that is 100% unified and we are able to work together to knock out OUR DEBT!!!
Yes everything sounds simple when the marriage is in tact. I used to think it was ok to combine everything and knock out “OUR Debt”. So I married my husband. He had student loan debt, a 401k loan and no savings. I had zero debts and huge savings and large income. So as a good wife I cleared up HIS debts and loans as if they were my own and put his name on my savings account. Less than 5 years later he leaves me for another woman, takes half of our assets and starts a financially strong/ debtfree new life with his bimbo mistress. Beware, our spouses are mere flawed humans and what may be true today may be totally different tomorrow. “I love you until I don’t” is the fact of life.
My new husband is not going anywhere near my money and his debts are his to clear up. I’m not going to be anyone’s financial savior ever again. Any mutual debt we incur, of course we will share the burden.
Just wanted to share a very similar experience my oldest daughter had. Married a guy with debt — she was debt free and thought as the new wife she should clear that for him so they could have a clean slate. Well.. fast forward l0 yrs later. He became a drug addict – involved in get rich quick schemes… started a business he knew nothing about and lost it.. managed to go bankrupt … My daughter watched her car being repossessed and lost her house. They divorced and she has regrouped.. Has l00K in her 401K and Roth… He has an inheritance from his grandparents that he has spent mostly on cars. No savings. No retirement.
Lesson here?? They are what they are. Nobody can save them. That is how they operate.. If someone else can pay for it, great. They are irresponsible with money and will never change. Some are spenders. Some are savers. Some are smart with money.
I am so proud of my daughter for turning her life around — she has a good guy now and they are planning to buy a house. When someone shows you who they are.. believe them.
Well said Kay. I’m happy your daughter is in a good place now. I feel her pain from the past.
I really enjoyed reading this article. It is everything I was brought up to believe is the unity of marriage. I am currently engaged to a man who is generous, kind, thoughtful but also an enabler. We have a child together and another on the way. My issue is that he currently pays for his 40 year old sisters car insurance because she drives his mom in it for errands and it helps them save money. Additionally, he pays for their cell phone, the sister, the mom, and his 20 somethings year old brother. Needless to say his younger sibling’s father maintains a close relationship with her because they share a kid and love each other but live in different homes. If you ask me it’s ridiculous, but that’s their issue. Is it wrong for me to put my foot down and say we are combining our income but his family needs to transfer their phone lines and insurance to their own name?
After all they are old enough to care for themselves and fully capable of getting a full time job (they only work part-time) and the stepdad provides for his kid and mom still.
My fiance makes 3 times the salary I make, but he hides all his income and only provides for food and rent. We have hope of having our own house and assist our kids for college (which only I have been saving) but wish we both would.
Further more, he has had credit card debt of more than 5K twice, which concerns me because I’m not aiding anyone financial means if him and I are struggling to pay our kids tuition.
We moved away from them not too long ago because he was paying their rent and ours and financially it was straining our relationship. He states he doesn’t pay rent anymore, which Im not 100% sure of.
I really do not have any problem with joint account, infact i like it cos it shows we are of one heart. My husband makes more than I do and he monitors the finances, and my paycheck (paper check) goes into his account. I do not have the priviledge to open an account in my name right now because of some bank issues. My husband ended up getting a credit card for me in his name. Now i am not feeling too proud or boastful, but i do not spend lavishly. Most time before i spend out of the card, i run it through my husband and sometimes i don’t because most times when i spend on the card, its for the house, not for my personally (blow-money). But i do have a problem because sometimes when i do not tell my husband prior to spending on the card, he gets mad and makes me feel like he wants to control me financially. I do not know if am overly thinking his behavior, but i get upset and at this point am about giving him back the card. Plan on cashing my check, take few dollars out and give him the rest as my contribution to the house. Am i wrong to wanting to do this or not?
I can’t for the life of me convince my husband to get a joint account with me. No matter how many people have told him it’s weird. No matter how many times we argue and I cry. If he buys me anything or I ask for help, he makes me pay him back. Even if it’s only 10 bucks. His excuse is I make less than him and he’s not sharing with that. He says if I need help then I need a better. I’ve tried bringing up that I feel like a friend and not a wife. I’ve tried telling him it’s degrading. But he thinks because he buys me good every night that’s enough. I’m not trying to steal his money or anything. I would never do that. But he refuses to do any kind of budgeting or sharing. I’m just so upset.
Of course you don’t get why some married couple prefer to have separate accounts. Because probably when you started your marriage, you two started with equal amount of assets and debts. But some married couple can be from completely different world. Lets say guy never owed money before but he only maintained good assets before this guy married to a woman who had spending problem with countless debt and student loans.
So when you get married and you presume this debt of spouse automatically equals to the husband who lived his life in an honest way and never made debt, but just because this marriage have to make it for husband and wife seems to me that is not fair.
I’m sure you will be questioning why such couple get married, well maybe the lady’s side isnt bad at all, but to have lots of debt in her credit history, but that doesnt mean her husband take responsbility of 50% of her debts that are caused by her own naviness.
Don’t even tell me that this is because of the marriage. No Iet’s see the principle here. Who owed that money first time? The woman, therefore who doesnt have any right to argue this is fair or not.
If this doesnt make you sense, how about this perspective. The guy has been saving money, but not having enough money to achieve to get himself a dream house and cars, but since after this guy married woman with intensive debts(I’m talking about over $100,000) that has actually ruined his dream to establish his life after struggle what he went through, in order for him to achieve his goal is to separate the finances.
You married rich guy doesnt make yourself a rich spoiled woman who think she’s entitled to have that 50% of assets what the guy earned for sacrificing almost decades of his efforts.
The concept “ours” only works when these two started out with the same financial levels. Otherwise, dont even think about word “ours” because the hard earned money is not yours and debt you caused not his or ours and it is yours.
What’s even more messed up about this is divorce judge think both should share 50 % of debt, even though the guy never made any debts in his life. This is not fair and just. I dont think so. This society is just trying to sacrifice some innocent people to pay off their spouse debt forcefully against their will
I would understand if that debts were produced righter after the couple got together. Then, it makes sense and fair, but all the resources that I read, they all pretty much pushing this responsibility to the guy or woman who actually never had debt before or even after they got married.
I hope this society see things straight instead of thinking or considering that they should share everything just because they are married. Whomever caused debt they are the people who are responsible for paying those debts and if your spouse willing to pay for those insanely high debt amount, you should feel grateful instead of feeling entitled to share debts you have caused
Think Straight People!
hello, i like reading about this, but basically one question i have
a friend of mine is going thru a divorce,
now, her ex, cheated on her and other things which she doesnt want to go into detail with
they both have separate accounts,,,
after the divorce was filed he started accumulating credit debt, he didnt have those when they were together
now he tells her that since they are divorcing that she has to pay half of his credit bills,,,
now ,,, can he do that by law, or is it not true
they never had joint accounts and he never went into credit debt until she left him and filed for divorce for him cheating on her
would the judge just laugh at him for trying something like that,
Ok I have no bills and have worked hard to stay out of debt, even saving for 15 years to buy a home with cash. Ive never had a credit card even nor do I want one. My fiance has several rental properties he is paying off and uses credit cards regularly. I dont want to to be responsible for his debts. What should i do. I really want a legal marriage but i dont want to be responsible for his mortgadges. I live in the state of wisconsin
When one partner without a child grinded year after year to saved a meager tens of thousands for retirement or to take time off work in the future, to have the freedom to do so, then marries a partner with full time custody of a child living month to month with debt because they had a child at 18 it is not fair to the the responsible saver to give up half the savers future opportunity of freedom. If the saver gives the nonsaver half it will go quickly to debt and the nonsavers kid and the nonsaver will not work as hard. It’s like communism. It just doesn’t work. No doubt even with separate finances the nonsaver and child will still financially benifit from the relationship because they will be in better schools, nicer homes, and get things paid for along the way by the saver that planned their future more wisely. In this situation I can’t think of a good reason to combine finances. I am in this situation. After getting married I decided to take some time off and stay at home since I grinded to save up a year of income and was very frustrated with work. My health was affected by the stress. If we had combined our accounts her disagreement with my choice would be full out war. My partner still doesn’t pay for nearly half of everything. And gets mad when I don’t pay for everything when we go to the store. No. I’m keeping my money seperate. If I didn’t there would be this huge sucking sound from the bank. Communism doesn’t work. If my partner loves me for more than money they will get over it. Maybe it will push them to work and save and be a better contributor. If they resent me then they love taking money more than beong with me and they can find a seperate living situation.
Separate finances happen when one partner just cannot wrap their minds around the concept of not buying up all that’s in stock at Home Depot, or no you don’t need that tool belt, there is a cheaper one right next to it that’s just as good. Yes that’s my husband. I have had to tell him, “You don’t need that” or “We cant afford that” more times than I care to remember. We haven’t separated finances yet, but I think we are heading that way. Quickly.