Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a referral fee (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned.
There are a couple of trains of thought on whether or not spouses should keep their finances separated out or whether they should be combined. Some people are very adamant that, once you’re married, you are as one and all your finances should be joined together as such. On the other side of the fence are those who feel that merging your money spells financial doom. That, of course, leads to the question…
Shared Finances or Keep ‘Em Separated?
My wife and I keep a lot of our accounts separate – checking accounts, credit cards, Roth IRAs, etc. But, I think that this is mostly because it’s how we’ve always done it since we’ve been together. We also handle our finances differently from each other – I’m very meticulous about hanging onto every receipt and getting them entered into Quicken immediately. I’m sure some of this is just because of my former debt problems, but it’s something I’m pretty set on. My wife, on the other hand, is a little more care-free about things. That isn’t to say she’s a big spender – far from it – it’s just that if we had the same checking account, I would have a hard time with not knowing exactly how much money was in it… yeah, I have problems!
Separate checking accounts has just always worked for us. We have the same credit union and we do have a joint savings that we both throw money into (which then goes over to Ally to get a little bit of actual return on our savings). I pay some of our bills from my checking and she pays some of our bills through hers and it really just seems to work.
There isn’t any distrust between us and we both have access to each other’s accounts if we need them. In fact, all of our accounts are under our estate planning umbrella with some under our trust and some (like our bank accounts) setup as Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts. By keeping our bank accounts separate though, I’m able to keep my sanity by being able to balance my accounts to the penny. And more importantly, my wife doesn’t want to strangle me for asking for receipts or inquiring about what this transaction or that transaction was about.
The only thing we ever run into is that we need to do a periodic “rebalancing” of our accounts. If one of our checking accounts gets too low or too high, sometimes we need to move some funds around between accounts. However, it’s pretty rare and I think a good majority of people do some moving around of funds regardless of whether their accounts are separated or not.
A big advantage of shared accounts might just be the simplicity of it. The KISS method prevails in a lot of situations and can just make life a lot less complicated. And since a lot of people spend through credit cards nowadays (hopefully paying them off each month!) more than debit cards or cash, the majority of the transactions passing through checking acounts are probably bills being paid, which are generally shared anyway.
Another advantage of not having separate accounts would be that you both have equal access to the accounts. However, I had friends of mine (husband and wife) that have bumped into each other, so to speak, by both taking money out of the ATM on the same day at different locations and ended up overdrawing their account… oops!
I personally like the independence of keeping things separated (though everything funnels together for us in Quicken anyway), but that’s just me.
There are pros and cons to each strategy and, in my opinion, there is no right answer for everyone. I am curious though – what are your thoughts? If you’re married, how do you and your significant other handle your finances?
Thanks for reading!!