money and marriageFirst, let me give mad props to my fellow personal finance blogger, Holly of Club Thrifty, for rocking a Wall Street Journal essay and a Fox Business TV interview.  She was dealing with the topic of money and marriage.  This is a very controversial topic in the world of personal finance and I understand why.  I wrote about it briefly some time ago when I was talking about paying off a spouses debt when they incurred it before marriage.  That one got me some angry comments and emails, but I powered through.  I don’t mind causing a little controversy.  I read both the arguments on the WSJ piece and I am going to provide my argument for separate finances for married couples.

My Argument Disclaimer!

I figured I would throw this disclaimer in the beginning as it will make a cleaner article and maybe calm down some of you that get your blood boiling from my comments.  It DOESN’T matter how you deal with finances when you are married if you don’t talk about it before you get married.  Let me say this again.  If you don’t talk about money before you get married, then it doesn’t matter how you deal with your finances.  Communication is the key to a successful marriage.  This goes with everything in a marriage and not just money.  The key to succeeding in marriage is to understand each other and compromise on how you want to deal with everything.

Why Separate Finances Works for Us

OK, get your pitchforks ready my friends.  I am sure you will want to try and stab me through the computer screen.  Unfortunately, if you do, then you will just destroy your computer screen and I will be unaffected!

My wife and I have been married for close to 10 years.  Yes, it is not a long time, but we have been together for 14 years altogether.  We know each other pretty well.  We have great communication and we agree on a majority of things.  I mean, what couple actually agrees on everything?  This communication is why our separate finances works well.  Here is how we handle our money.

My wife and I have our own checking accounts.  I also have a business account, but I won’t count that as she is not part of my business.  We also have a joint checking and savings account in both of our names that we each have insight and access to.  We use our joint checking account to pay our joint bills.  This includes our mortgage, food, utilities, taxes, insurance, blah, blah, etc.  We put a specified amount in each paycheck that we have agreed upon.  This is based on our current running budget.  If one of us is short for some reason, like taking time off work or what not, then the other person picks up the shortfall.  We talk about it before hand and understand why there is a shortfall.  See how easy that is?

Since we have kids, we use that joint account to pay for all of their expenses.  Daycare, doctor visits, clothing, and all of the other fun things that goes with a child comes out of our joint account.  We made them together, so we pay for them together.  It is not even an issue.

Here is where our separate accounts come in.  I have seen too many arguments about separate accounts fostering secrets between spouses. Are we all conspiracy theorists? Why do separate accounts have to foster secrets?  I don’t have any secrets with my spouse.  My wife knows how much I have in my accounts and I don’t mind showing her or telling her.  I hold back no secrets from  her.  If you are withholding secrets, then you have a bigger issue than just money.  This all goes back to communication.

Play Money Funds

We use our separate accounts as our play money funds.  I have some expensive hobbies, like working on Jeeps and brewing beer.  I have no intention of having my wife pay for these hobbies. I use my separate checking account to save and fund my car part purchases.  My wife does the same thing with hers.  She keeps funds in there to pay for her hobbies.  Since we don’t share all of our hobbies, why do we need to pay for one another?  Does this mean we are doomed?  Nope!  Having play money funds separate is a great way to keep your independent identity.  It has nothing to do with secrets.  The times are changing and people want to have some form of independent identity.  I think everyone should have some form of play money.

Debt Incurred Before Marriage

One big thing for me with keeping separate accounts, especially when we were married was the debt that I carried.  I had over $50,000 worth of credit card debt.  You all know that already.  My wife had no part in creating that debt. It was all on me.  I incurred it before we got married.  I am a big advocate for owning up to your responsibilities.  It was my responsibility to pay for my debt.  She should have no part in it.

Yes, I know that I am going to get more hate mail for this stance, but think about it for a minute.  Most arguments come from the fact that marriage is about unity.  I get that and I am united with my wife. Should we punish our spouses for issues they had no control over?  What a way to create animosity toward one another.  The argument that spouses should help with debt incurred before marriage just rubs me the wrong way.

What about people who are single?  Are we saying that they should just get married, so they can get assistance with the debt that their spouse had nothing to do with?  This is like using our spouse as an flotation device during an emergency that they just got brought into.  As I said, everyone needs to own up to their mistakes.  If you made some major money mistakes before you got married, then why not deal with them on your own?  My wife gave me a ton of emotional support throughout my debt repayment process.  That was more than enough for me.  She helped me through it by just being there for the ups and the downs.  I don’t believe that I should have her pay off my stupid money mistakes, especially since I made them before we were even married.  There are other ways for spouses to help than to provide monetary support.

Planning

I have said it before and I will say it again, I am a planner.  I plan the crap out of things.  It is just in my nature and I don’t mind it.  It does drive my wife crazy a bit, but that is OK.  She respects it when I have backup plans for when our original plans go to hell.  The sad truth about marriage these days is that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. That is an alarming statistic.  Is that because everyone is having separate accounts?  No!  The main reason for divorce is due to communication issues.  Those communications issues lead to one of the bigger marriage problems.  Money problems!

I don’t believe that having a separate bank account is going to cause problems for your marriage if you already have great communication and have talked about how money is going to be handled.  Marriages fall apart because of communication problems.  While I don’t like to think of my marriage ending, I can’t help to look at statistics.  Since I am a planner, I like the security that separate finances brings.  The main reason I like this is due to having both parties understand how to budget.

I have met couple after couple where only one person handles all of the finances.  This leaves the other one unknowing of how the bills are paid, where the money is coming from, and so forth.  This leads to disaster.  What if your spouse dies or wants to end the marriage?  Will you know how to handle the money?  Having separate accounts just gives you that continuing education.  It keeps you sharp when it comes to managing money.  Yes, you can argue that both people in the marriage should deal with the money at some point, but that just doesn’t happen in many cases.  There is nothing wrong with planning and I don’t believe separate finances is a tell-tale sign that the marriage won’t work.

My Conclusion

I know that this is a controversial topic.  I don’t mind if you have differing opinions about this.  The only thing I will say is that each couple is different along with each person within said couple.  We all handle our money in different ways.  You can only do what is most comfortable with you.  If you are married, then you need to discuss how you want to deal with your finances beforehand.  There are always going to be pros and cons to each side of everything.  Do what works for you!  My argument is to show that separate finances does work.  We are not totally separate and have more of a hybrid approach, but we still get to keep a hold of our own fun money.  We have no money arguments and we have a great understanding of our overall financial picture.  We are very much a team and work toward one big goal. Having separate accounts for our own play money does nothing to change that goal.

One thing we do is we both have access to our Personal Capital account.  This gives us a massive picture of everything going on.  It shows all of our retirements accounts, all of our debts, and our assets.  We can both log in at any time and see where we are.  This keeps everything transparent.

Make sure to go checkout Holly’s write up on her site. While I don’t agree with her points on this subject, I respect her opinion on it and think she did a great job!

OK, get your pitchforks ready and use the comments to sound off on why I am an idiot.  You won’t hurt my feelings!

Image via Leland Francisco

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83 Comments

  1. I really think it just depends on the couple. My sister and her husband have separate finances, and they never argue. They just started out that way and never changed it.

    On the other hand, my brother and his wife have always had everything separate and argued about it non-stop. For her, it was an issue of control and displayed an overall lack of trust. They are currently in the middle of a divorce.

    Different types of people can make different things work, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

    1. I agree with you there Holly! I think you displayed your argument well, but I just disagree with it.

      I do think control problems can come about, but couldn’t that happen with combined finances as well? If you have control issues, then you might deal with that no matter how finances are dealt with.

      1. I think that underlying issues can cause money problems whether finances are kept jointly or separate. If someone is controlling, it’s probably going to cause a problem no matter what a couple decides. I think that is more of a marital issue, and less of a money issue.

    2. Avatar Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com says:

      I agree – it really just needs to be a discussion before marriage to make sure both folks are on the same page. This goes for just about all major types of decisions 🙂

  2. Really enjoyed your post! My wife and I JUST opened a joint account and it’s main function is to serve as an Emergency Fund. We still have our personal accounts and it works for us.

  3. Totally agrree. When both partners work, there is nothing wrong with having separate accounts. We also have a common account where we put in a set amount of money for common expenses, bills, and our child. It works for us and we have no secrets. She doesn’t have to ask me for every little purchase she wants, and I don’t have to ask her.
    Not sure where people think that having separate accounts is not “becoming one”. They can do what they want, just not tell everyone else how to handle their money!

    1. I am with you Samuel. It shouldn’t matter how you deal with your finances if you communicate properly.

  4. Such an interesting and hot debate. We keep everything combined and it has worked out well for us. I think you should do whatever works for your marriage!

    1. I think that whatever works for your marriage is what you should do. I have no issues with combined finances as long as it works.

  5. Avatar Girl Meets Debt says:

    Right now J and I have completely separate finances as an engaged couple. Our communication about finances is almost “too much” being 2 personal finance bloggers LOL. When we are married and start having children, we are going to do pretty much exactly what you and your wife have set up. And you already know that I am paying this debt on my own. I made the mess so I will clean it up myself. 🙂 Great post Grayson!

    1. I am with you Wendy. You know very much how I feel about paying down debt on your own. I feel that if you create it, you should fix it. Isn’t it like a bailout to ask your spouse to fix your mistake? We all know how much us Americans hate the word “bailout”

  6. I loved your post! My husband and I do exactly what you and your wife do and it works really well for us! I feel like we never fight about money, which is a really good feeling. 🙂

    1. It is a great feeling, right? Nothing better than not having to fight about money.

  7. I definitely don’t think you’re an idiot. I’m on board with you. I got into massive student loan debt before I met my husband so I don’t want him paying a cent for it. We also have a hybrid approach in that we have a joint account but separate ones as well.

    1. Well thank you. Some might disagree with you, but I am OK with that. I hear you and I agree.

  8. I have my own for the purpose of gift buying. But besides that we share an account. Its just easier for us that way so we are on the same page with bills and spending.

    1. That makes sense to use yours for gift buying. I guess I do the same with mine from time to time.

  9. This is pretty much my plan for our finances as my boyfriend and I grow as a couple. Seems pretty simple and practical to me – I don’t really understand why it would be controversial?

    1. Glad to hear it. It is controversial as some think that you are not fully vested into your marriage and relationship if you don’t share everything. In practice I have found that the opposite is true. Why do we need to share everything? We are still humans and we need some independence.

  10. Great post Grayson. I agree with you completely on keeping your own personal
    savings and checking accounts. You still have your own identity. Like you mentioned
    you have your hobbies and you do not expect your wife to pay for them
    and vice versa.

    I paid off 8 consumer credit cards in October 2013 and I do not plan to
    get any more credit cards. My goal is to tackle my student loan.
    My live-in beau and I discuss finances. We split the household bills, household items
    and groceries.

    He pays his child support to his two children and I pay my student loan bill each month.

    1. Thank you Ajaveen. I appreciate your comment and support.

      Congrats on paying off the credit cards and good luck on the student loan. I think you have a good setup.

  11. Sheesh, no need to get all upset about it. Ha! Looks like everyone’s on the same page with you, so I guess I’ll be the odd one out. 🙂 My wife and I have almost everything joint. I just find for us, it’s much simpler. Before getting married, my wife was actually the one to bring the topic up, and I remember my first reaction was, um, no. She was carrying a lot of debt too, so that was part of the issue. But I couldn’t really come up with a good reason not to. So we did. Although she made most of her debt payments, I contributed to it as well, because well, we’re all in this together and the faster she got out debt, the sooner we could move on with our lives. But I agree with you in that a joint account doesn’t make much sense, if only one person manages the joint account.

    1. The main takeaway was do what works best for you. In some marriages, like mine, the separate accounts work with a hybrid twist. Combined finances works in yours. I was just adding to the debate as I can attest that separate finances in fact does work, but doesn’t bring any more complication and doesn’t increase tension.

  12. As I shared on Holly’s site, to me the biggest issue isn’t whether or not you combine or don’t combine finances with your spouse, it is about money transparency and excellent communication – just as you stated. If you don’t have those two things than I don’t really think it matters whether finances are joint or not – you will most likely argue about money. We do have combined finances. We married young and neither went into the marriage with big assets or debt. I see both sides when a person has significant debt coming into a marriage. I think if my partner had the debt, it would really make me happy to see him own it and want to be responsible for it himself. I would feel confident that he has changed his stripes, so to speak, and will be a responsible, conscientious partner. And you know what – because of this – I would be willing to help him pay it off. Ironic, that him owning it would make we want to help and not owning it would definitely make not and possibly question whether marriage is right for us. And I wholeheartedly agree that you MUST communicate about finances and decide together how you want to handle your money before you get married.

    1. That seems to be the general theme. It shouldn’t matter how you handle finances as long as you discuss it beforehand and understand how it is going to be done. Both have to be on the same page and invested in the approach. Communication is really the underlying aspect that can really cause havoc if not done correctly.

  13. I guess as a New York person, I had assumed that this was already the norm — or close to it. But yes, very logical. I assume plenty of couples will move to a hybrid of the two in the near future

  14. We’ve done both during our marriage. We started out with separate finances for about the first four years, and then after a few years it just seemed excessively complicated and we thought we had too many accounts so we combined at that point. But we both have a similar amount of student loan debt and neither of us really have expensive individual hobbies (we love cycling, but we do it together), so we are on pretty even ground. The hubs makes more than me, but that has not been an issue. Combined finances really works for us as it makes it less complicated and we really don’t fight about money. But I can see why people do it the other way too, and I think as long as you are communicating about money it doesn’t matter how many accounts you have or whose name is on them.

    1. Thanks for the comment Dee! I like your last point about doing whatever works best for you.

  15. Avatar Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

    I believe in joint whole-heartedly but I know it’s not for everyone. You and your wife work well with separate spending money because you ensure there’s plenty to pay the bills and save for goals which you agreed upon and then you can spend the rest. To me, I don’t see a need to have a separate account for those fun-spending purposes since we can spend on our hobbies in the main account but we still allow enough for payin’ those bills.

    I will add that I also see marriage from the legal standpoint in which it truly is a joint venture where all things are shared. Perhaps that’s why I believe in joint accounts. But I also believe in good communication!

    1. Well, depending on your lawyers, you can get a great pre-nump and you will get to keep control over your assets that you brought to the marriage.

  16. You guys don’t have separate finances and that’s not what the woman Holly spoke with was advocating either. You practice partial pooling (aka yours mine and ours, aka partly joint partly separate). The headlines are attention-grabbing but in reality y’all are quite close in your mindsets. If you use your separate accounts only to fund your hobbies at this point (you didn’t mention if there were other purposes like clothes, hygiene, eating out alone, etc.), then your system is very, very close to joint with allowances, which most people put squarely in the “joint” category.

    1. Hey Emily,

      I spoke with the woman yesterday that she spoke with. This is the method that she advocates for. We are not joint for the reason that we only use our joint account to fund our joint expenses. If we do something on our own, then we pay for it with our money out of our separate accounts. I consider a lot of things under the play money category. Eating out, buying clothes, and many other things come out of my checking account, not our joint. We don’t have to speak to each other about spending x dollars when it comes out of our own accounts, as long as the joint account is properly funded.

      So, I would have to respectfully disagree that we have joint finances, as we truly don’t.

      1. With that clarification, I agree that you are far from having joint finances. But you are also far from having separate finances – the simple fact that you have a joint account shows that. What you are defending in this post is that spouses should have some separate money, which is different from having separate finances.

        1. OK. I think our situation would be classified as separate finances by some and not by others. I have read many posts on this and many think that since we don’t combine all of our money, then we are technically using separate finances. Yes, it does have a different twist from completely separate finances, but it is still based off that principle. We have our own accounts to do what we want with. We are the only ones in control of those accounts and that is where most of our money lies. Since we don’t hold money in our checking account and we don’t even have a joint savings account, I would lean toward our situation being separate finances.

  17. I completely see your point of view, and to be honest, I shared it up until my fiance and I got engaged. Not that it automatically changed right away, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted to do partial combination of finances with my husband-to-be. We aren’t combining everything – like you, we have slightly different money personalities – but many accounts will be combined. As you said, do what works for you!

    1. Hey, as long as it works and you both are on the same page, then what does it matter? I think you are doing what you are comfortable with and that is great.

  18. My partner and I have been together for almost 6 years. While not technically married, he is my domestic partner and on my health insurance plan. Our separate finances work great for us. We both have student loan debt we are paying off separately. If we get to a better financial situation, we will help each other with that (as in one person pay more for rent/bills, etc to allow for debt repayment), but for now things are mostly equal. I pay a little more than him as I make more money, but it’s fine. I’ve thought about having joint finances because sometimes it’s annoying to “pay each other back” when it’s no big deal. But he doesn’t want to join finances with me because he wants to make more money first. I applaud him for not wanting to join finances just because it would be advantageous to him (he’s a musician). For now our system works and I don’t see it changing. Communication is key. I don’t feel jealous or hurt at all. I just want works best for both of us.

    1. I understand the situation. I think as long as you have it together, then you will be good to go.

  19. We plan on opening up a joint account once we’re married (only a few months to go!)
    We’ll likely keep some separate accounts for other expenses, but I think as time goes on, we’ll lilkely move more and more to “everything shared”. We’ve been living together for so long, partially just splitting expenses, sometimes just trading off who pays (my turn to buy groceries, your turn) but once we have the combined account, we can just pay for all those shared expenses from that account.

    It will be an adventure. We’ll see what happens 🙂

  20. Haha I don’t think you’ll see any pitchforks around here but in all honesty I don’t understand the logic that your wife isn’t paying for your hobbies because your money isn’t combined. Regardless of where the dollars fall or who makes what amount of money, I think that when you’re married your finances are essentially combined even if you don’t physically combine them. The dollar you spend on your hobby is a dollar that could have been put in retirement.

    1. Hey DC,

      I am a little confused by your logic. Since money for my hobbies is coming directly from my paycheck, I don’t see how she is paying for them. I am assuming that you speak of only future earnings that she could realize based on my income. My wife doesn’t have access to my checking account without going a legal route. On top of that, our retirement funding is done before we receive paychecks. I didn’t think you could fund a 401k after tax, but why would you? Since we fully fund our retirement accounts, I don’t understand where your logic comes in. My wife has no funding decisions for my hobbies. We both have specific goals that get taken are of, but we also have specific goals as individuals.

  21. I appreciate your willingness to blog about such a controversial topic. My wife has a separate account for what we call “girlie” money, but it is more of a way to help her keep boundaries around her spending. However, when it came to tackling our debt, I paid off her debt just like it was my own. I figured that once we got married that we were in this together, so her debt was my debt.

    1. I never mind doing so. I didn’t want to burden my wife with my issues. She never caused any debt issues for me, so I needed to own up to the mistakes. While she offered to help, that was not something that I was willing to do. I feel that you learn the most when you get into something and then learn how to get out.

  22. Your method makes sense to me, but I’m not married, so maybe I don’t fully understand the whole “unity” concept. My boyfriend and I live together and have separate finances. We split the bills that are applicable to our living situation, which is basically just rent and groceries/eating out as utilities are included. I have to admit that at times, it seems like it would be more convenient to just have a joint account for these expenses, so we might do that down the road. Neither of us have expensive hobbies, so that issue never occurred to me!

    However, we both have student loan debt, and he has more than me. If I were to pay mine off first, I do think I would help him, so that we could get on with the next phase of our lives. I don’t think we’ll be financially ready to get married until they’re gone and we can actually afford a wedding. It benefits both of us. I think it really depends on each couples’ situation, but I don’t see any issues with the way you guys handle things!

    1. I wish you the best of luck on getting rid of your student loan debt. We use our method because it is comfortable for us. WE both understand how to handle our money and not one person is in control of all the assets. I feel that can be a dangerous road to go down.

  23. We have joint finances, and we never really thought much about it. We married young, so pooling our little incomes and expenses made the most sense. I’m a fan of joint finances just because I think it holds us accountable to each other 🙂

    That said, I really don’t care how other couples handle their finances. You do you, I’ll do me!

    1. You said it right Erin. You do you and I’ll do me. That is what this is all about.

  24. Avatar Taylor Gordon says:

    Thanks for taking on this topic… Not sure why it’s so controversial. It’s called personal finance for a reason, every situation is different. I’m glad someone else brought up gift giving because it’s my first thought. This may be superficial, but how will I ever be surprised by a gift if we only have a joint account? That’s no fun! Where’s the romance?

    My husband and I have a join account and separate accounts. Our joint account is where we put our emergency savings. We’ve split our monthly bills in half and pay them from our separate accounts. Nothings hidden though, we use Mint.com for a full picture of our family wealth. It works for us!

    1. Great point on the gift giving. I feel the same way, plus, are you really giving a gift if your significant other is technically paying for half of it? We use something similar to Mint and that give us an awesome picture.

  25. Avatar Jack @ Enwealthen says:

    You nailed it with your comment of communication being key.

    We have joint accounts and separate accounts, and do most of our bills, investments, and future growth together from the joint accounts. But since we each had a life prior, we have our own assets and investments from prior that we control individually, and we contribute a very small amount each month to our own accounts for whatever we want to do with it – beer with the guys, a new pair of shoes, etc.

    Being together and growing a life together is what we’re all about, and over time I suspect most of our non-retirement assets will be commingled as we start buying rental real estate, since we married with similar net worths, just allocated much differently (my real estate, her stocks). But keeping them separate at the beginning makes it easier for us to be equal going forward – I sell my house, then we buy our own house equally using my house equity and her stock equity, for example.

    Complicated? Perhaps. But it works for us, because we talked about it – where we are, what we want to do now, and what we might want to do in the future. Most importantly, we have an agreed upon “ask” technique so whenever one of us has something important to ask of the other, we know how to handle it so no one gets upset, scared, etc.

    Money is just another aspect of your relationship. If you can’t communicate in your relationship, you won’t communicate about money.

    No communication == divorce. And then you just give all your money to the lawyers. Nobody wins but them.

  26. Avatar Cecilia S says:

    I am in complete agreement also. Our only issue is how to handle certain things in a streamlined way. For example, I’m on my spouse’s health insurance because it’s a better plan than my employer offers. We split the premium expenses 50-50. We currently each have separate Health Savings Accounts (FSAs) which I’m not sure makes sense given that we file our taxes jointly. In any case, keeping this all straight is a bit challenging and I’d love to simplify it. Any thoughts?

    1. Hmm…my wife and I don’t split out health insurance costs. She is on my plan as it is cheaper, but I pay it from my paycheck. Most of our bills are paid from a joint account, but when we want to do things on our own or buy items just for ourselves, we use our own checking accounts. We also pay for our own gas when we are driving our cars, but will share the expense if we travel together. We have been doing it since the beginning and it makes it easy.

  27. I pray for any couple who maintains any degree of separate finances. Sad to say, but statistics typically show that the couple with discrete monetary funds will eventually–whether it’s in under 5 years or more like 50 years– be divorced. Google it; you’ll see.
    Why you ask? I’m not sure how many people here have a Biblical view of marriage–maybe no one, especially in today’s society, but I do. From the Christian perspective, there is no yours and mine. I repeat, there is no yours and mine. That relates to everything from books and cds to cars and money. Otherwise, it’s not marriage. Maybe on paper, but not biblically. You pay this with your income; I pay this with mine. That’s an arrangement. You could do that with anybody–brother, sister, best friend, whomever. Marriage is different and special; it is God’s sacred convenant. It is total transparency. If I don’t trust you 100% with money, why am I marrying you?
    As far as the “joint household account ,” the very articulate gentleman spoke of earlier, my older sister brother-in-law operate this way, and I suppose as long as both husband and wife are completely open and honest with the activity in the separate accounts, this is okay. However, to me it unnecessarily complicates matters–if one falls short, take from here to put there…I personally am an extremely busy person, and I don’t want to have to think about pulling from various accounts to cover this and that expense. If it’s all in one place and we’ve budgeted well, then it’s simple. Also, I can appreciate the consideration he expresses for not wanting his wife to bear the burden of his previous debts, but remember technically in marriage (again, biblically speaking), there is no mine and yours. You become one. For better or worse, good and bad. Bitter and sweet.
    Lastly–I know I’ve been long-winded–another objection to these separate finances is looking down the line to retirement. I just read about a couple divorcing after 48 years–and this is true for many other older couples as well. Reason being, in retirement you’re on a fixed income and need to pool money prudently to sustain and survive. They’d kept separate finances for almost 50 years, so they had no clue as to where to begin building together. It was just a mess, and they didn’t want to be miserable in their old age.
    Food for thought. Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect your right to disagree with me. God bless in 2015!

    1. Thanks for the comment D. While you are correct that couples that have discrete monetary funds typically divorce. Where your argument falls with regards to my article is with the word “discrete.” We don’t keep discrete funds. I know how much is in my wife’s account and she know’s the same with mine. We don’t keep any money a secret, nor do we have to. If you hide money, then you are asking for trouble.

      We also don’t say that she is going to pay for this with her money and I’m going to pay for that with mine. We have a joint account with a specified amount we put in. It doesn’t complicate things at all. We automate the transfers and all goes smoothly. We’ve been doing it for almost seven years and have had no issues whatsoever. If you’re complicating it, then you’re doing it wrong.

      Again, having separate accounts with a joint aspect is not about trust. When I go do something on my own, I like to use my own money. It’s something I worked for and I want to use it for something I want to. My wife is the same way. We know what’s going on with every dollar, but we still like having our separate accounts.

      I’m a very busy person as well, extremely busy, but I don’t have to think about pulling money from one place to another. That’s what technology is for. Set it and forget it type of technology. Every bank has it, so why not use it?

      With regards to retirement, my wife and I have the same goals. We already build together, but we have play money accounts. That doesn’t affect the outcome of retirement. Those are our goals and we work toward them. You seem to be assuming that those with separate accounts are hiding money and scheming against the other. That’s furthest from the truth in our situation and many others I speak with. You can be completely transparent with money, yet still have separate accounts. It all comes back to communication.

      1. hi Grayson, do you still monitor this page?

  28. My STBX had debt that he did not tell me about. Short of the story, we ended up keeping accounts separately. Now with a kid and debt because of everything. I don’t want him to have to pay for it but I know if I don’t get a job soon I will have to file bankruptcy. 🙁 I hate that, I would rather be given chance to pay but it is too much to do alone.

  29. I really like this post. I am for separate finances as I have seen this abused most in relationships. Or one person’s credit is destroyed or they ruin someone’s life with poor money management. My mom took on my step dad’s debt and helped him through school. When he was done, he cheated on her, dumped her and when she was sick we lost everything. He said, “We are not married anymore, you figure it out.” I know people throw in the for better or for worse, yet have seen too many people taken advantage of and left devastated after marrying someone with poor money habits. I too do not think a spouse should have to pay off another’s debt. If they choose to, great. If they don’t want to, then why should they have to. I also think of those who come into marriage with trusts, and things they worked hard to achieve as a single person. I do not think they should have to hand that over to someone if they do not wish to. Meaning if you have 10 million dollars you worked hard for, I do not believe I deserve half just because I said I do. I think if you have children you should certainly both support them.

    I had a coworker who went to Iraq and when he came back his wife had made so many purchases that placed them in great debt. He was expected to pay for it all. That’s not right. She is a adult. She needed to be responsible and pay for the choices she made. Another friend got really sick and lost her job. Her husband moved out and then stopped making payments on the car she cosigned for. Her credit was ruined. He then went on to marry someone else. She had to fight in court to get the stain removed from her credit. He sailed off happily ever after and she was screwed over royally.

    I make very decent money. I am shocked how many men want me to be the sugar momma. I think if a person is a stay at home parent, you need to rethink the way things work. If you both work. I think having separate accounts will help you in the long run. It is great to have something that is for your hobbies, etc…I think people take the two become one way…way…too far and it breads resentment and sets up a scenario for abuse. If I want to buy a gift for my niece I would feel silly asking my husband for permission when I work 40+ a week. I have also saw my good friend put on a budget by her husband-she made more than him and he was using money to buy whatever he wanted. I think when you establish up front-we are in this together, but I am not a child who needs permission to do everything, it keeps you both sane. If my husband wanted to go buy golf clubs and the bills were paid, who I am to tell him no. Go get the clubs, have fun, enjoy life. 😛 I salute you. I have never wanted a man to feel responsible for me or that I was with him to take from him. I think marriage should be about partnership and building together, not running each other’s lives and treating each other like children. I asked my parents for an allowance. I have no desire to ask my husband for one.

    Thank you for this post. Maybe some of the haters need to think about the people who’s lives have been utterly wrecked by having joint everything. People judge what they have not walked through and what they do not understand. For those who have joint accounts and it works. Super. For those who have separate. Super. I think we do best when we let the couple decide what works for them instead of trying to force our way on everyone. 🙂

    1. You’ve made the perfect comment Emma. Thank you for that. You are spot on. Why do we expect the other person in the marriage to bail us out of something we did? What happens if we are single and we make those mistakes? Do we then need to find someone in order to get them to help? This just seems lazy to me. Married people shouldn’t be able to have the distinct advantage of having someone in order to get bailed out. That’s not what marriage is. We are all still adults and need to own up to our mistakes and make it right.

  30. I liked your article. My husband and I have separate accounts. There are specific reasons for this that I will not go into. Let’s just say that we have VERY different ideas on how to handle money. It didn’t take long for me to realize that until he dealt with some personal issues, I would have to keep a separate account. We have received quite a bit of “flack” about it. It may not be ideal, but you pick your battles. Is it worth ending a marriage over money? I don’t think so. It’s been 8 years and honestly, this is the way it needs to be for us. Those that criticize us don’t walk in our shoes. Maybe one day we’ll combine finances, but if we never do I’m ok with it.

    1. You don’t have to get approval here Laura! You know how I feel and your money and setup it how you like it. Good for you!

  31. Great article! I enjoyed reading this very much, as well as the thoughtful comments. I’ve been thinking and learning a lot about personal finance lately, because I just graduated college and will start grad school soon, so I’m looking at a whole new money world. I’m fortunate to have supportive parents who wanted to set me up well before gently cutting the money cord (in a few weeks, when I move to a new apartment), and with my own savings and inheritance I’m in a place where I have no debt and can comfortably purchase a car and my grad education without taking on any debt. I know what a gift that is and I’m so thankful, but my boyfriend has a lot of student debt and has had little to no financial support from his parents for a long time. He works very hard and saves what he can but almost all of his income goes to rent and utilities, and he doesn’t have a plan for when he graduates- unless he goes to grad school and takes on more debt. We’re just in such different places, and I agree that the real issues in a relationship come from deeper things like communication, but I’ve been wondering how we’d reconcile two such different backgrounds. I think our approaches to finances are basically the same (neither of us are big spenders, although I do like to shop more and his hobbies are more expensive) but in some ways we’re very different. I love school and want to get a Ph.D. one day, and he likes working with his hands and hates sitting in class. But he has dreams of making tons of money in his 20s (he’s just not sure how) and retiring super early, and I want to start a career in a field I love regardless of pay, so that I don’t want to leave when it’s time to retire.

    I know that all sounds so arrogant on my part but I think it’s from our hugely different backgrounds, and I’m starting to worry about what it would look like to throw it all together one day, because we do want to get married. Money aside we’ve worked hard on good communication, esp. being long distance, so I’m really happy with that! And we definitely have a few years before any lifetime commitments, so I guess I don’t have to worry much now…just over here biting off more than I can chew. Haha.

    So, all that to say I appreciated the points you made in this article and what other people have said in the comments. Thanks!

  32. Thanks for your article, I found it really useful! My husband and I have our finances completely combined at this time but for a couple reasons (debt included) we’re considering separating them. Any thoughts on the process of going from combined to separate? Thanks!

    1. Keep a combined account for your bills that you share and then create a new account just for you and just for him. You’ll then have to figure out how much personal debt you owe that is your own if you want to tackle that independently.

      It’s going to take a bit upfront to get it all set up, but it can work. My wife and I have been doing it for 10 years with no issue.

  33. Avatar Tracy Haase says:

    Thank you for this. I get the wierdest looks from people when I say we have separate account for our money and it’s nice to hear we aren’t the only ones. I can’t imagine handing over all of my money to my spouse, I’m too independent for that.
    Thank you again

  34. Avatar Bryanne Smith says:

    Greyson, I want to have separate finances so bad but my husband doesn’t. It pisses me off that I only get a little bit of spending money each month when I make more than he does. We have been married for 5 years but have gotten more in debt. I want to pay the credit cards off and then 100 percent separate our finances. I like autonomy and my husband not seeing all my purchases. How can we go about this?

    1. Sounds like you both need to sit down for a talk and get on the same page. This system only works when you both are on board. Does your husband spend a lot of money that he shouldn’t? Does he get a bit of spending money too or does he just spend when he wants?

    2. Did you figure it out? Your post sounds like something I could have written!

  35. I actually just found this article (and your blog) when I googled arguments for separate accounts. The reason I googled it is because my husband and I have the same set up and I’m tired of the general consensus making that sound like a terrible, marriage-ending idea. So many articles I read about ‘top marital mistakes you can make’ include keeping separate accounts. In my mind, I feel like there are trust issues when people argue that accounts must be combined. It seems like an element of control and tracking each other.
    The reality is a high amount of marriages end in divorce. While we work our hardest to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s still a chance. We don’t know what ten years down the road holds for us.

    1. My wife and I haven’t fought about money once in the 10 years we’ve been married. It’s not an issue. We know our system, it works, and we don’t have issues. It works for us. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it does us. Those “mistakes” tend to be very general and if you come up with a money plan before you’re married, then you’re good. Best of luck to you Laine!

  36. I’m having money issues with my wife both have separate account and we also split the bills I always got to pay the big bills mortgage groceries if your car breaks down I pay for it if something happens in the house I pay for it but my wife just pays the electric water trash and Car Insurance and she never has money but she makes more then me.
    No taxis and is coming along we don’t file together .she doesn’t get that much back but I get a lot more because I make less . Now she wants to combine our money together . Money is always an argument .

    1. Sounds like you need a new method. Money is an argument because it’s not working for you. I wouldn’t recommend paying the bills like you do. Why split them that way? You need to setup a joint account (but keep your separate ones) to pay the joint bills. If she makes more than you, then you two discuss how much needs to go into the joint account and base it off take home pay.

      No matter what you decide, what you do now needs to change.

  37. Avatar Cindy Kelly says:

    This is interesting reading and a topic that is much on my mind currently. I am in my early 50’s, divorced but planning to be married to my 2nd husband in about 6 months. I married the first time at 22. Neither of us had financial assets so we had shared accounts for everything. That worked for a while but ultimately we approached money very differently and we had many conflicts about money or lack thereof. After the divorce, I was thrilled to be handling finances on my own. Now that I’ve decided to remarry, I really don’t want to go back to sharing finances, sharing accounts. My fiance has significant debt and a house foreclosure in his background. I am buying my home and it matters a great deal to me that I continue to pay the mortgage on my own. So, our plan is that we will each continue to manage our own incomes as we do now. My fiance contributes to household expenses because we live together but his debts, his monthly expenses outside the household (insurance, medical, clothing, transportation) are his to pay, as mine are mine to pay. As we incur new expenses (our microwave quit last weekend) we plan to discuss and decide how we will pay for them. I think this approach is easier because we won’t have kids together. We’ll see how it goes but I feel confident that because we’ve talked about income, debts, money management openly, we can continue to find our way together.

  38. I am being called a Jew by my friends becuase I like saving money and I said I would not want to have shared wealth. I do not understand why that is ever useful for a man who earn higher and save more. Having shared money is only usefull for those who earn less and spend more. And those who earn less and spend more – like to call those who save greedy Jews. And most often those are woman 🙁
    And I believe its super rare that if woman earns more or has more wealth, that she would just give it to her husband for free, she most likely then fuck his mind what a loser he is that she earns more.

    I have no idea how I will find a wife who agrees on me not only about money but also who I could trust that she does not fuck with other man and who does not fuck my mind if I will play computer games or something like that.