It is common practice among married couples to keep separate checking/savings accounts and then separate out the bills in some agreed-upon manner and operate the household finances that way. They’ll divide things up where he pays the mortgage and his car payment, while she pays her car payment, the electricity and the groceries…or something like that. This concept has never made sense to me, but people will fight and argue until they’re blue in the face that this is the right way to operate a household budget. I believe it is a dangerous way to manage your household finances for many reasons. I wanted to use this post to talk about four reasons separate accounts are a bad idea:
- Having separate accounts kills communication – With separate accounts, unless your husband is asking you to borrow money, he isn’t discussing anything about money with you. He buys whatever he wants and as long as “his bills” get paid, you can’t say anything about it.
- You are wired differently than your spouse – If you are a spender, you most likely married a saver and vice-versa. I don’t want a spender to be all on his own, leaving the saver with the full responsibility of being mature with her finances while he’s off doing something stupid with his. Going back to #1, he’ll talk to her about money when (and only when) he’s asking her to bail him out.
- Having separate accounts complicates things – Most of those who argue with me about having separate accounts tell me it is because it is just simpler that way. In the short term, this is true. Over the long haul however, it breeds knock-down, drag-out money fights. Let me explain. Because there is no accountability with spending or with saving when you have separate accounts, you only have to deal with money issues when there is either a maturity issue or a crisis. For example, who is responsible to make sure you’re putting enough away for retirement? Who handles the emergency fund (if you have one)? Who makes the final decision if your child is sick on expensive treatment and who pays for it? See what I mean? Those examples just scream, “LET’S HAVE A FIGHT!”
- Having a joint account provides accountability and encourages fidelity – If I were to go out and run around on Stacy (trust me, I’m not that stupid), I’d either have to be super creative about figuring out a way to pay for it or be ready to answer questions about why there was a transaction titled: “ATM Withdrawal – Hookers ‘R Us” on our checking account statement. As dumb as men are sometimes (I speak as an authority on this issue), I believe it is important to have every possible boost on remaining true to your spouse.
I could keep going, but I think you get my point. When you have separate finances from your spouse, you are telling me you don’t trust your husband. When you keep separate accounts, you’re telling me you have something to hide from your wife. When you can’t combine your accounts when you get married but are willing to have children with that person, you’re telling me that you aren’t convinced this thing is going to last.
We have been blessed that Stacy does not have to work outside the home. This means she has some income, but it is sporadic and for now, a lot less than my income from my steady job. Does this mean that if she needs something, I’m supposed to “loan” her the money since I love her and want to help meet her needs? That is just dumb. The whole “and the two shall become one” thing applies here. If you are keeping separate accounts, stop it. Immediately. You need to start having some good fights about money (and then making up) until you can get whatever keeps you from sharing your money out in the open and dealt with.