Married couples with separate accounts might conjure up images of mistrust or deceit between husbands and wives, but there are certain situations where separate accounts can actually be a good idea.
First, let me put forth a few disclaimers. I think deliberately hiding money or debt from your spouse or partner is a horrible idea. There is a difference between separate money and secret money! I also firmly believe both spouses should have access to ALL accounts, even if they don’t normally use those accounts. The reason a couple might want to separate some of their money is to reduce, not increase, disagreements over spending.
When Having Separate Accounts is Okay
If you’re not married yet, having separate accounts is definitely okay.
In fact, you shouldn’t add your fiancé to your checking and savings accounts until you are legally married. Engagements are occasionally cancelled and it can be an enormous pain to have your ex- girlfriend/ boyfriend / fiancé removed from your accounts!
I think it’s a great idea to have separate accounts for your fun money.
This idea works really well for me and my husband. We have three checking accounts: our household bill account, my checking account, and his checking account. The bank automatically transfers money from our checking accounts to the household bill account every two weeks. We pay the mortgage, utilities, insurance, groceries, and general household expenses from that account.
From our separate checking accounts, we each pay for our own gas, entertainment, clothing, and other fun stuff. This way, Nick doesn’t complain that I’m spending too much on shoes, purses, or jewelry. And I don’t complain when he spends his fun money on the latest electronics. I know other couples who do this a little differently. Rather than using checking accounts, they deposit their fun / discretionary spending on prepaid Visa cards.
When you’re part of a blended family, having separate accounts can be okay.
Many remarried couples with step children experience a higher level of disagreements. Not only do parenting styles differ, but also spending choices. Sometimes it helps for husbands and wives to agree on a total amount to spend on “her kids” and “his kids.” Then each parent decides how to allocate the total on their own kids and the various categories.
If you’ve already agreed to the total and are sticking to it, then there’s no reason to bicker over the details! (As a side note, if you are getting married for the second time and there are step children involved, please consult an attorney for the proper estate planning.)
When one spouse knows they have a spending problem and AGREES he/ she shouldn’t have free rein over all of the accounts.
Some spenders feel like they can’t trust themselves to behave with the debit card or checking account. They would prefer to have a certain amount of cash every week (or the pre-paid Visa card) instead. If you’re a chronic over-drafter, this might be a good solution. Now, listen up Control-Freak Spouses! This only works when your overspending spouse admits and agrees to this, otherwise you imposing this upon them will only end you up in divorce court.
If you’re married, I do think the majority of your money should be kept together in joint accounts that you’re managing together.
If you’re married and are still keeping all of your money separate, it might be a sign of trust issues that you and your spouse need to work through with a counselor.
Let me know… Do you and your spouse keep all of your money together or do you keep some of it separate? Why?