Should married couples have separate bank accounts?
You may be asking yourself if you’re married if you should have separate bank accounts. It is really more common than you think for people to feel a certain way about doing this. It actually has been a recent question in our own home that we have been struggling with.
And this week has been especially hard…… I promised y’all I would be transparent so let me explain.
The current topic of discussion has been whether we will combine bills/bank accounts “again”. Now let me explain why “again” is in quotes.
From the beginning of our marriage…actually of our relationship…..we always combined all the finances and the bills. About two years ago we went through a separation. During that time we separated our finances as well. Since then, we have decided to stay in our marriage but since then, we have never quite combined our finances like before.
Remember this entire journey is being documented in real-time for y’all and I want to be transparent, so I am going to walk you through the discussions we have been having recently. But first lets ask ourselves a few questions;
Do you share a bed?
If someone were to ask you if you and your spouse share a bed you would likely look at them like “seriously dude”? But ask the same question to many couples about money and you get mixed answers. Why are we so “married” to the bed but not our money?
One book that I have heard some reviews on is One Bed, One Bank Account. I haven’t even read it yet but just the title and some reviews make so much sense to me. We expect to get married and become one with everything but NOPE…. Not my money dawg! Why is that?
Some people say that they just don’t want to give up that control. Others say it is better or easier to manage separately. I have a friend who says they just don’t want their spouse to know how much they make.
Now I am a true advocate of “do what works for you” HOWEVER….I really am trying to understand how you would dedicate your life to someone….your entire heart and soul…
You decide to possibly procreate with someone and kick it with them until death do you part….but you don’t want them to know how much money you make? I don’t know that just seems weird to me. It was Dave Ramsey that wrote in this article “The separation of finances is the first step to the separation of the marriage.” That quote alone just made so much sense to me.
Until I tried to sit down with my spouse to “rejoin” our finances
Who gets what expenses?
The first thing we were trying to figure out is “who pays what?” We tried it before where he paid the rent and I paid the utilities. The first month into it we found ourselves letting each other “borrow” money to cover “your” bills. How do you let your spouse borrow money?
Typing that out and reading it back again just felt ridiculous…..but it was our story. We were lending one another money every other week until we got paid again. This became an endless cycle.
Once we saw that wasn’t working, we decided to get one joint “bill” account that we would pay all of our joint bills out of. Then we kept our separate bank accounts to pay our “personal” bills and do whatever else we wanted.
*Side note – Isn’t it true that if make bills while you’re married your spouse is still responsible for those if something were to happen to you?….I digress……
Since I am good about keeping a budget I mapped out our paycheck plan for the entire year. That helped us determine how much each of us would have to deposit into the joint account every paycheck to keep up with the bills. As easy as that sounds, we still had issues.
First I had an issue come up with my paycheck, so he had to adjust how much he was depositing into the account. I can’t tell you if that was fair for him or not but what else could we do? I guess I could just borrow money from my husband again right?
Then finally my paycheck issues were resolved but guess what…..then he had issues with his paycheck (now can you see part of the reason why I no longer want to live paycheck to paycheck?) So then I had to make adjustments to be sure that the bills in the joint account were covered until we got his issues resolved.
Was this fair to either one of us? How could we even know? How do you decide who pays what bills and why? This part has been so difficult for me.
I also feel like if we are ever going to truly tackle and snowball on our debt that two heads are better than one….how do we decide how to tackle debt if everything is separate?
Talk openly to your spouse about money
Much of what has gone on in our relationship with money we developed together since we met and got married so young. So this discussion seems like it should be a lot easier for us than it is for other couples.
Couples that have established careers and finances by the time they are married have to let go of a lot of independence if they plan to share responsibilities with their spouse.
How do you open up and talk about your money concerns with your spouse? It may be hard to ask “why are you buying that” or address your mate if a bill is late when your accounts are separate. You have to be able to have these conversations so that you don’t go crazy…..oh and so that your bills get paid.
This is part of the reason I am an advocate for joining finances. Usually you have one spouse who is stronger than the other when it comes to different areas.
For example, I am a ridiculous spender, but I am good at creating a budget and managing the finances. My husband is less interested in keeping up with what bills need to be paid and when, but he is a much more conservative spender than I am.
When we work those super powers together we help to balance one another out. While our accounts have been separate I notice that I am able to spend WAY more (even though I don’t have it) than when our accounts were combined and we worked on our finances jointly.
It is easier now for me to just go and buy a pair of shoes than before when we had a discussion about it first (well sometimes…..others I just got the shoes and discussed it later…I don’t advocate this behavior ladies it is a flaw I am working on LOL).
We know that one of the number one reasons for divorce is money issues, so we have been trying to have more open discussions about our money and budget. We find that we still fight about it….it is still frustrating as hell, but we are able to learn more about each other and how we deal with money when we have these conversations.
Ways to get creative with separate bank accounts
Some people have gotten this far and they are still like “I ain’t sharing my bank account….” especially if you aren’t married yet. There are certainly a number of people out there who question should couples have joint bank accounts if they are not married. If any of this applied to you then lets look at ways that you can manage that and still not have to sleep on the couch later.
Look at your budget together and see what you can manage to pay. Then like we did, get one joint account for all of your bills and deposit the amount you agree on in there. I would recommend just having that amount direct deposited in the account because the moment you don’t put your full amount in there your spouse will be tripping (trust me I have done it).
You could also do it the other way around. If your concern is just that you want to have your own money set an amount that will work for you and have that amount sent directly to your separate bank account. Just make sure that the balance that is going into the joint account is enough to cover the bills in the household. If not you have to suck it up and find another way to have your “own money”.
If you just decide that you all don’t want a joint account and you want to keep everything separate, look at what expenses each of you could cover reasonably. Make sure it works for you both with your income. Keep in mind the stuff that will come up that isn’t necessarily in the budget (this shouldn’t happen, especially if you have an emergency fund which we will discuss in later posts) and talk about how you will handle those unknowns.
Remember you gotta do what works for you…..not just what makes you feel good….do what is truly going to work for your household.
What did we decide?
I don’t think we have fully decided. We have had a few conversations….but many times talking about money is tough so it leads to us fighting which we are trying to steer clear of.
We will have some talking to do but right now we are still working with our joint bill account and a set amount we deposit on payday for our joint bills. We pay our personal bills from our own accounts.
Do I think it will always be like this? No, because we are already making baby steps to talk more openly about our finances. I just think that just as it has taken time for our marriage to heal, it is going to also take some time for our finances to heal as well.
What do you couples out there do to manage your household finances? What works and what doesn’t? Leave a comment and let us know!
With Luv ~ Cris