Will Separate Accounts Help You Avoid Money Problems in Marriage?

There’s an interesting article on Monday’s Wall Street Journal site. Called “Do Marriage and Money Mix?“, it discusses a recent survey author Rachel Louise Ensign conducted among married couples. The topic was whether having separate bank accounts can actually help couples avoid conflicts over money in their marriages.

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The author got quite a few comments both for and against having separate accounts.

Some of the comments that spoke against separate finances were very adamant that separating the money was a sign that a couple was focusing on the wrong things.

It’s clear to me that this type of arrangement [sic] is focused on ‘assets’ and ‘accounts’ and ‘money’ and ‘things’……not on love, or family or health or happiness…..they are definitely NOT a ‘couple’,” wrote Nora Leen.

Leen’s comment and others that spoke against separate accounts seemed to focus on trust and commitment, while those who commented in favor of keeping money separate seemed to be more intent on what they saw as practical solutions.

My wife is completely incapable of managing any amount of money. She is also incapable of discussing money without becoming emotional. So we have a joint account…[and] She has a small checking account for her part-time salary,” wrote John Haynes.

So will having separate accounts help you avoid money problems in your marriage or will it only create a different set of problems?

We think that the answer is different for every couple. A lot will depend on your individual money personalities, as well as how strong your relationship is. A related article on the WSJ site offered this tip:

Pool finances for shared goals and expenses and use separate accounts for personal spending.

That way, you’re working together to create something, but you also have a chance to be yourself,” says John A. Fiske, a mediator and attorney in Cambridge, Mass.

We think that this is the best scenario for couples who find themselves disagreeing too much on each other’s personal spending habits. Sharing expenses such as household bills keeps things fair and having joint accounts for retirement, savings, a great vacation or a second home means that you can work together toward important goals.

The important thing is to be on the same page.

Sit down together and decide whether you should keep some finances separate and why. But before you make any changes, be sure that you’re equally committed to the idea. If one spouse is just “going along”, put the brakes on. In a rockin’ marriage, teamwork and unity are key. If separate finances will make you more…..well, separate….then this may not be the right thing for your marriage.

One Response to Will Separate Accounts Help You Avoid Money Problems in Marriage?

  1. Cathy Lorient August 6, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and also whether you and your spouse have made the decision to have some separate funds. I’d especially like to know what makes it work for you.

    – Cathy Lorient

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