Author Topic: Why do married couples have separate bank accounts and/or "split" costs?  (Read 61929 times)

Buckeye in TX

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I hear of/know married couples that keep their money in separate accounts and divvy up expenses (e.g. he pays for rent, she pays for utilities).  We've been out to dinner where there is a discussion on who is paying (between the two of them).  I'm curious, why do people do this?  My wife and I look at our money as one big pot and I can't imagine doing otherwise. Granted, we make similar amounts so maybe that makes it easier, but I would think that having separate accounts would cause unnecessary arguments and breed resentment. 

BlueMR2

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I can't imagine all the money being in one pot and the arguments that would come from each judging the other's expenditures.  :-)

We got married late in life, we already have all our own things and accounts.  Just don't see any reason to go and combine them when having them separate works so well.

vhalros

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I just find it easier to keep track of things if they are separate.

KMMK

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Because both parties prefer it that way.

Pylortes

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No problems here.  You just divy up the expenses and try and make them proportional.  We each had our own accounts before we were married and never saw a reason to change.  If my wife needs to buy some new clothes she can do so without guilt, and same for me.  If there are trust issues in the relationship then I can see why one joint account would be better but since we don't have those and are both frugal no problems here.  If her account is running low for some reason she just tells me and I give her some money to help.  Same team!

ender

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We have combined finances for all shared things.

But we also each have a discretionary budget amount each month.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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We combine everything.

hdatontodo

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hdatontodo

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We got married in our 40's and have separate money.

I make more and write her a check monthly since most bills are paid from her account except my credit cards. (She had this house first.) I send in extra principal payments since I am trying to pay off the house.

We each have a 401K with about the same amount.

She does not buy much for herself so I didn't fuss about Invisalign $$$$.

I did tell her she does not need to switch from a Civic to an SUV just to haul sleds to the school 2X per year. I said I don't want us to have a monthly payment just after the house is paid off.

Mesmoiselle

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Having things separate has prevented resentment, not added to it. I had a lot of partners and family use me for my money a long time. It makes me more comfortable to divvy up.doesn't stop me from spoiling him when I feel like it.

Also, when it's the same pot,how can presents be special?

Ricky

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In a relationship where both parties have the same goals and habits, and spend equally, there would be no reason to separate. The real world just doesn't always work like that. Separate finance means zero "can we afford this" conversations. It doesn't mean you don't value your SO or wouldn't do things for them, or wouldn't even split all the bills, it's just that it creates a buffer for avoiding arguments. Divorce is a very real thing.

The real question is, why WOULDN'T you have separate finances?

firewalker

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If there is no attitude of "I earned this money and you earned that money" I can imagine some organizational value in having separate accounts. But if there is a separation of funds because of who earned it, the clock has started ticking toward a separation of the relationship.

morning owl

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We've always had separate finances. It's just easier for us. We tally up our accounts at the end of each month to see where we're at, but otherwise we do our own thing. We both like feeling independent, I guess, and there's never been any money conflict or argument, so it's never been a problem. The concept of joint accounts has just never really come up. I don't really see what the advantage would be to having one.

mskyle

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I'm not married, and have only been living with my boyfriend for around six months, but I definitely like keeping our discussions about money more at the high-level goals/major shared purchases level and less at the "is it really a good idea to spend so much on that video game console/opera season ticket/fancy makeup/basketball ticket" level, and I feel like having our money separate facilitates that. I don't actually think either of us would make significantly different decisions, but it just feels easier. I certainly don't hide any of my purchases from him, and I have trouble imagining him doing anything with his money that I would really worry about (well, I can imagine him putting lots of it in a non-interest-bearing savings account, but aside from that...).

I'm going to guess that a lot of people keep their finances separate because they're used to it? Especially if you're in your later 20s or 30s or older when you get married, you're just used to splitting things up, and to having control of your money. And if both members of a couple make around the same amount of money, there's very little difference between splitting all the bills and putting all the money into the same pool. I don't really get how families with a SAHP or substantial differences in income manage it, but it does seem like there are people who even make that work.

firewalker

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One issue that comes up at the bank I work for is inquiries about the mates account. "What do you mean I can't get his balance!?! He's my husband!" It always makes me want to say "Well there's gotta be SOME reason he didn't want you on the account!"

morning owl

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... I don't really get how families with a SAHP or substantial differences in income manage it, but it does seem like there are people who even make that work.

My DH makes about 10 times what I make. His salary has gone up over the years, as mine has gone down. When we met, our salaries were about the same. This is one of the reasons I DONT want joint accounts... I don't want access to that much money anymore, or I will be tempted to spend it! I'm used to managing a certain amount myself, and I don't want or need more. I went through lifestyle inflation, and then began a path of lifestyle deflation. :) DH has far more self control than me, and is quite frugal.

But to be fair, we definitely don't pay for everything 50/50. He pays our house expenses and for extras like restaurants, entertainment, and most travel. I pay for groceries and whatever household things I may need. I also pay for all my own business related expenses. But yeah, we do it this way a) because we're used to it and it works for us and b) because we like our independence and have similar spending habits, so we rarely run into any conflicts.

Retire-Canada

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I've never shared finances with anyone and have no desire to do so.

My GF and I are common law because of local laws. We are just signing an agreement that legally separates our money and property.

I've never had any relationship issues around money operating this way. I can't see any good reason to change.

-- Vik 

Sofa King

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I just find it easier to keep track of things if they are separate.

I concur!

acrosstherainbow

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I don't really understand why people do it either. We don't feel resentment for each other in spending money because it's all in a budget. There's no need to separate it out if you've agreed on how to spend your money that month. I make roughly twice as much as DH, but would never consider a separate account.

morning owl

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I don't really understand why people do it either. We don't feel resentment for each other in spending money because it's all in a budget. There's no need to separate it out if you've agreed on how to spend your money that month. I make roughly twice as much as DH, but would never consider a separate account.

Question: why do you think having two accounts implies not having one budget? Also, why do you assume two accounts means resentment? People with separate accounts can also just as easily agree on a budget, and share in decisions equally...

Astatine

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We married later in life (early 40s ish). We have separate bank accounts because of laziness (we both hate paperwork!). But... we operate as a single pool of money. It's much more efficient that way. It also feels like we are a solid team. Shared debts, shared resources regardless of whose name was originally attached to it.

A previous LTR I was in had separate expenses and separate money for most of the relationship until we bought a house together. In hindsight, the separate money should have been a major red flag for me to have left the relationship 15 years before I did. At a deep level we never fully trusted each other nor was a team who had each other's backs.

My marriage now feels like we're both all in. Previous relationship there was always part of us each holding back. The separate expenses was a symptom of that, not the cause.

darkadams00

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The "how"--

My account handles my income (direct deposit) and all expenses that have a bill attached (they are all set up for auto drafting). I also keep a small petty cash fund that I replenish monthly to an agreed upon small amount. Monthly I transfer an amount to her account to balance her side of the expenses, and the rest goes to an investment account.

Her account handles her income (direct deposit) and all expenses that do not have a bill attached, e.g. groceries, clothing, doctor visits, gifts, vacations, etc. She also has a small petty cash fund that is replenished monthly to an agreed upon amount. Her account is for expenses only, no savings contributions.

The "why"--

I can live off nearly nothing for a year and when I spend money outside a budget, it is for a larger-priced item that I have researched forever, waited for more than a year to buy, and usually found on Craigslist for 40-60% of the new price. Eleven of twelve months each year would be almost identical for me, and the other month would also be in line except for one larger purchase. On the other hand, the DW will trickle money like a dripping faucet, in $5s, $10s and $20s all over town every month. Previously, tracking and planning was a nightmare. To be fair, she'll give $50 away on a gift more quickly than she'll spend $50 on herself, but the end result is still $50 that is gone even if we've already given to charity or church for the month. Our system took several years to iron out, but now we're in sync. She has agreed money to spend as she wishes within a limit (and she looks harder for bargains since we've agreed she can have the extra there as well--i.e. family commission). And now I have consistent monthly numbers I can use to plan for the future. 

Bottom line--Any system that keeps financial arguments out of the marriage while intelligently providing for the overall financial well-being of the family strengthens the marriage. 

resy

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Husband and I are wrapping up our first year of marriage and are already moving from seperate to combined finances because honestly, he is too disorganized with money and it was a bigger issue to be transfering money for bills every month. I guess it depends on the people. for us its just easier to manage if its combined, we have similar spending habits so that helps too.

acrosstherainbow

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I don't really understand why people do it either. We don't feel resentment for each other in spending money because it's all in a budget. There's no need to separate it out if you've agreed on how to spend your money that month. I make roughly twice as much as DH, but would never consider a separate account.

Question: why do you think having two accounts implies not having one budget? Also, why do you assume two accounts means resentment? People with separate accounts can also just as easily agree on a budget, and share in decisions equally...

Because people have already commented to that very effect in this thread and it's a common theme among couples in my own experience.

The number one cause of divorce are money fights- and I'd turn the question around- why is it beneficial to keep separate accounts? There really isn't a reason for married people to not have joint checking accounts unless one doesn't trust the other person with "their" money (which is ridiculous because there is no such thing as "my money" in a marriage). In that case, marriage counseling is probably in order if one can't trust the other.

Kris

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I don't really understand people's need to judge/tell other couples how to run their finances.

DH and I at first kept our finances totally separate because: a) he was shitty with money and I wasn't; b) he had an ex-wife who was trying to bleed him dry; c) I had an inheritance that I didn't want his ex to get her hands on.

Now, many years later, we still have no common accounts.  That said, we pay any and all bills from whatever account has money, we freely transfer savings from one to the other, etc.  the accounts are separate in theory, but in actuality we run our lives together.  We are beneficiaries on one another's accounts.  It works for us, and his money is mine, and vice versa. 

iamadummy

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If there is no attitude of "I earned this money and you earned that money" I can imagine some organizational value in having separate accounts. But if there is a separation of funds because of who earned it, the clock has started ticking toward a separation of the relationship.

This sums it up perfectly.  I knew a couple where one person would pay all the bills and then invoice the other at the end of the month for half.  What a joke

Chuck

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Because we are in different places, financially. I have a job making 4x what she does, and a mortgage that preceded our marriage. She has a desire to be independent and unaccountable to me for what she spends.

So, she pays her bills with money from her job, and I pay my bills with the money from mine (to include mortgage and utilities). It's simple and it works.

pbkmaine

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This is the second marriage for both of us, and it took us a long time to combine accounts because of: 1) terrible experiences with money in our first marriages and 2) different attitudes towards money initially. So we went on for years with divvying up the expenses. When we moved states and my credit union had no offices in our new state, he opened his checking account to me. By that time we understood each other. We also each have side checking accounts in our own names. Mine is for my pay and business expenses to filter through, since there is often a timing mismatch, and in any given month I can look much richer or poorer than I actually am. His is for his "slush fund" - an agreed-upon amount he can spend on technology each year. Having that fund makes him feel all fuzzy inside, and interestingly, he rarely spends all of it.

Zikoris

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Because different things work for different people. There's no right or wrong way to handle money as long as both parties are happy. The division system they use indicates nothing about their relationship on its own.

Sharing money would drive me nuts, personally.

sol

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if there is a separation of funds because of who earned it, the clock has started ticking toward a separation of the relationship.

The old Get Rich Slowly blog had a long-running discussion about separate vs combined accounts, with J.D. (the blogger) always arguing in favor of keeping everything separate. 

Two years later it turns out he wanted everything separate because he was planning to ditch his wife.

What's the first advice this forum always give people who have marital problems?  Set up separate accounts immediately and start protecting your assets.

Combined finances, like living in the same house and having the same children, is part of melding your lives together.  I think that any effort to keep your money separate is a either a sign of uncertainty about your relationship's longevity or the scar of some past emotional problem, like a profligate ex-partner who dragged you into bankruptcy.

I don't know why anyone would insist on separate accounts for any other reason.  I'm open to suggestions, though.  Haven't seen any good ones here thus far.

Cressida

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I don't know why anyone would insist on separate accounts for any other reason.  I'm open to suggestions, though.  Haven't seen any good ones here thus far.

I think it depends on what you mean by "separate." DH and I pay our bills from a joint account, but we each have our own bank account where we keep an agreed-upon portion of our paycheck to spend on what we like. The "separate" part means that we can't see what the other person is spending mad money on and can't pass judgment. I don't think this means we're headed for divorce.

madamwitty

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Also, when it's the same pot,how can presents be special?

To me a good present from DH is not about the money he spent, but rather the time he spent in planning the gift and thinking about what I would like. It doesn't matter to me what "pot of money" it came from.

Runge

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I don't know why anyone would insist on separate accounts for any other reason.  I'm open to suggestions, though.  Haven't seen any good ones here thus far.

I think it depends on what you mean by "separate." DH and I pay our bills from a joint account, but we each have our own bank account where we keep an agreed-upon portion of our paycheck to spend on what we like. The "separate" part means that we can't see what the other person is spending mad money on and can't pass judgment. I don't think this means we're headed for divorce.

I think the separate part means that there is a severe form of "his money" and "her money." the separate accounts helps keep things more legally separate, if any, but it's the extreme mentality of "this is MY money, and this is YOUR money" that can ultimately lead marriages towards divorce.

However a married couple physically organizes their finances doesn't matter as much as how they manage it as a unified team. I do think it's healthy to have his and her categories in the budget on a small, reasonable scale, but to have near or total separation of the budget could be a huge indication of a lack of trust. As long as you're working together as a team, making decisions together, and communicating with one another, you're on the right track.

ETA:
If a married couple isn't working together to manage their finances, something I think we all can agree is an essential part of life, then what other essential aspects of their marriage are they not working on?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 11:25:28 PM by Runge »

Zikoris

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I don't know why anyone would insist on separate accounts for any other reason.  I'm open to suggestions, though.  Haven't seen any good ones here thus far.

Isn't "because both members of the couple are happy with it" a good reason? Why would you need a reason to begin with? Why isn't this kind of thing in the category of "do what works for you", like every other aspect of relationships?

sol

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Why isn't this kind of thing in the category of "do what works for you", like every other aspect of relationships?

Because this particular example involves keeping secrets from your partner?  "Do what works for you" isn't good advice if "what works for you" is detrimental to your relationship.  In some cases, you just might not know it yet.

My wife and I were both well into our 30s when we got married.  We both had a home, and a job, and a bank account, and credit cards.  We kept stuff separate at first just out of habit, but as our marriage became a real union it became clear that separate accounts were an unnecessary complication, like having separate cars or separate silverware.  Some things in a family are best managed as belonging to the family.



Zikoris

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Why isn't this kind of thing in the category of "do what works for you", like every other aspect of relationships?

Because this particular example involves keeping secrets from your partner?  "Do what works for you" isn't good advice if "what works for you" is detrimental to your relationship.  In some cases, you just might not know it yet.

My wife and I were both well into our 30s when we got married.  We both had a home, and a job, and a bank account, and credit cards.  We kept stuff separate at first just out of habit, but as our marriage became a real union it became clear that separate accounts were an unnecessary complication, like having separate cars or separate silverware.  Some things in a family are best managed as belonging to the family.

Why should "separate finances" = "I have no clue what my partner is doing"? You can have separate finances but still discuss things, show each other your balances, etc. You can have separate accounts but not keep secrets from each other.

If a couple has a happy, functioning relationship and manages their finances in a way that's different from how I do, I would not assume they're headed for disaster. Couples manage their finances is a wide variety of ways. If what they're doing works for them, I don't see any problem.

Celda

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Quote
The old Get Rich Slowly blog had a long-running discussion about separate vs combined accounts, with J.D. (the blogger) always arguing in favor of keeping everything separate.

Two years later it turns out he wanted everything separate because he was planning to ditch his wife.

What's the first advice this forum always give people who have marital problems?  Set up separate accounts immediately and start protecting your assets.

Combined finances, like living in the same house and having the same children, is part of melding your lives together.  I think that any effort to keep your money separate is a either a sign of uncertainty about your relationship's longevity or the scar of some past emotional problem, like a profligate ex-partner who dragged you into bankruptcy.

I don't know why anyone would insist on separate accounts for any other reason.  I'm open to suggestions, though.  Haven't seen any good ones here thus far.

I see the same (invalid) argument being made about marriage. "If you're not married, then your partner could leave without legal or financial consequences. So if they are unwilling to get married, it must mean they are not committed".

I don't want my partner to be worried about external consequences that would result from ending the relationship. I don't want them to be worried about losing their money etc. if we break up. I want it to be easy (in terms of external consequences) to end the relationship.

That way, I know that if we are together, it's because we both truly want to be. Not for any other reason. That's how I know that we are more committed than if we did have external ties weighing us down - because we would have no reason to be together if we weren't committed.

It's the same for separate finances. My partner and I keep finances separate primarily for other reasons, but the reasoning above also applies.


madamwitty

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I just find it easier to keep track of things if they are separate.

I concur!

What is it that you find important to keep track of that separate accounts facilitates?

I understand the idea of separate accounts as a contrivance to track monthly "personal allowances" as part of a budget line item. Or if you are just keeping fully separate accounts out of convenience to avoid the hassle of opening yet another [joint] account. But why is it important to delineate who had "contributed" a certain amount to certain expenses such as the rent check? It seems like extra work. Why not just transfer money as needed when one account gets too low?

sol

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Why should "separate finances" = "I have no clue what my partner is doing"?

Because that's what "separate" means?

I have no problem with maintaining multiple accounts.  But if you're using multiple accounts to conceal your financial life, then I think your relationship has a problem. 

I also have no qualms with having multiple bedrooms, unless you're using your private bedroom to do something your partner wouldn't approve of, then I think that's a problem.  Same deal.

Quote
You can have separate finances but still discuss things, show each other your balances, etc. You can have separate accounts but not keep secrets from each other.

Sure.  In that case, I wouldn't consider your finances separate.  Maybe just inadequately unified.  It just facilitates problems, though I concede it doesn't necessarily create them.

The problem arises when you each consider some funds as belonging to you, because that opens up the possibility of resentment or power struggles over who pays for what, or a sense of entitlement that one person should be able to spend "their" money however they want to.  I don't think that's healthy in a marriage.

deborah

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We have always had separate finances. There is no lack of trust. We are both retired and our finances are still divided. We are both frugal and we both have rather more in retirement than is necessary - a WR of about 1%. We have very different investment styles, and it would drive each of us crazy if we were committed to a single strategy for investment. I have made rather more from my investments over the years than he has, but he has been very comfortable in the way he has invested. This has worked for us for well over 30 years with NO FIGHTS.

Originally we didn't know what the other had and if one of us needed a loan from the other we got it. Now we do know each other's worth and we have joint accounts that we each pay our own bills from.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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I hear of/know married couples that keep their money in separate accounts and divvy up expenses (e.g. he pays for rent, she pays for utilities).  We've been out to dinner where there is a discussion on who is paying (between the two of them).  I'm curious, why do people do this?  My wife and I look at our money as one big pot and I can't imagine doing otherwise. Granted, we make similar amounts so maybe that makes it easier, but I would think that having separate accounts would cause unnecessary arguments and breed resentment.

OP, I also think that when one person cuts down on their income to raise a child, for example, having all the money in one pot helps avoid resentment. We do most of our shopping together (we don't shop much), but can you imagine having to do a transfer to your spouse when they go out to buy groceries?

morning owl

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I don't really understand why people do it either. We don't feel resentment for each other in spending money because it's all in a budget. There's no need to separate it out if you've agreed on how to spend your money that month. I make roughly twice as much as DH, but would never consider a separate account.

Question: why do you think having two accounts implies not having one budget? Also, why do you assume two accounts means resentment? People with separate accounts can also just as easily agree on a budget, and share in decisions equally...

Because people have already commented to that very effect in this thread and it's a common theme among couples in my own experience.

The number one cause of divorce are money fights- and I'd turn the question around- why is it beneficial to keep separate accounts? There really isn't a reason for married people to not have joint checking accounts unless one doesn't trust the other person with "their" money (which is ridiculous because there is no such thing as "my money" in a marriage). In that case, marriage counseling is probably in order if one can't trust the other.

Hm, I feel like I've mentioned all our reasons for keeping separate accounts, and why it works for us. It's clear that people have their own preferences. It's crazy to me that some people here think separate accounts = headed for divorce! That is like saying two sinks in the ensuite bathroom = headed for divorce. We like having separate accounts because that's the way we're most comfortable, we have open communication, similar spending habits, and it doesn't cause us any problems. It is in no way a sign of mistrust, and it simply shows your ignorance and closed mindedness to be making this association. There's no "my money" and "his money" in marriage, but we have separate accounts because there's no reason NOT to. It's just a matter of convenience. Separate accounts does not mean that the money is divided separately. It's just a clerical thing and doesn't make the money his or hers, just as two sinks in the bathroom doesn't mean the water only belongs to one person.

If joint accounts were all it took to prevent divorce then everyone would be doing it. Life is not that simple. I'll leave it at that :)

Eta: I will add that trust doesn't come from a bank statement, shared or otherwise. Trust comes from knowing that my partner and I are on the same page, and sharing the same path. A bank statement can't help you trust someone. Think about that.

« Last Edit: March 16, 2015, 05:46:47 AM by morning owl »

jrhampt

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I can't imagine all the money being in one pot and the arguments that would come from each judging the other's expenditures.  :-)

We got married late in life, we already have all our own things and accounts.  Just don't see any reason to go and combine them when having them separate works so well.

Exactly this.

morning owl

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I can't imagine all the money being in one pot and the arguments that would come from each judging the other's expenditures.  :-)

We got married late in life, we already have all our own things and accounts.  Just don't see any reason to go and combine them when having them separate works so well.

Exactly this.

+1

boarder42

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you had separate money and your own way of managing it before marriage.  In our case we lived together.  Why change a system that has been working just b/c you put some label on your relationship. 

morning owl

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I just read Sols post. Ok, now we are getting into some ridiculous nitpicking in semantics.

My DH and I have separate accounts in the sense that we do not have a joint account. Isn't that what everyone means by keeping "separate accounts"? I assumed that was what we all meant. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Neither of us has a secret account on the Cayman islands, if that's all of you people's definition of "separate." What I assume we all mean by separate accounts is the fact that he has his own bank accounts, I have mine, and we do not have a joint account. We still talk about our finances often, and I know what is in his accounts, as he knows what's in mine. The money that's in our accounts is still "our money" even though we prefer to have our own bank accounts because quite honestly that's the way it's always worked for us and we are happy with our banks etc. If that's not "separate", then what do we want to call it here for the sake of clarity?

Eta: has it ever occurred to you guys that people with joint bank accounts can also have secret accounts and not trust each other with their spending habits? Just because a married couple shares one bank account does not mean that they can't have secrets. Trust is trust. Communication is communication. Lack of trust and communication is what causes conflicts that can lead to divorce. Not something as trivial as whether or not they have a joint account.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2015, 06:17:59 AM by morning owl »

2Birds1Stone

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The old Get Rich Slowly blog had a long-running discussion about separate vs combined accounts, with J.D. (the blogger) always arguing in favor of keeping everything separate.

Two years later it turns out he wanted everything separate because he was planning to ditch his wife.

What's the first advice this forum always give people who have marital problems?  Set up separate accounts immediately and start protecting your assets.

Combined finances, like living in the same house and having the same children, is part of melding your lives together.  I think that any effort to keep your money separate is a either a sign of uncertainty about your relationship's longevity or the scar of some past emotional problem, like a profligate ex-partner who dragged you into bankruptcy.

I don't know why anyone would insist on separate accounts for any other reason.  I'm open to suggestions, though.  Haven't seen any good ones here thus far.

I see the same (invalid) argument being made about marriage. "If you're not married, then your partner could leave without legal or financial consequences. So if they are unwilling to get married, it must mean they are not committed".

I don't want my partner to be worried about external consequences that would result from ending the relationship. I don't want them to be worried about losing their money etc. if we break up. I want it to be easy (in terms of external consequences) to end the relationship.

That way, I know that if we are together, it's because we both truly want to be. Not for any other reason. That's how I know that we are more committed than if we did have external ties weighing us down - because we would have no reason to be together if we weren't committed.

It's the same for separate finances. My partner and I keep finances separate primarily for other reasons, but the reasoning above also applies.

I am in this exact school of thought. SO and I have been cohabiting for 4 1/2 years. If/when we get married I prefer keeping our finances just the way they have been thus far. We have different risk tolerance, different spending values, and she is not as gung ho about FIRE as I am. I want her to feel no pressure to have to do what I think is best. I don't want to have to justify myself either. Different strokes for different folks.

MrsPete

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When we married, we had -- between us -- $200, 2 college educations, 2 jobs, and a brand-new mortgage.  So we pretty much started from zero. 

It seems to me that if you're assuming that marriage is forever, your finances must blend with your lives.  At times our input into the marriage hasn't been equal:  For example, when our children were born, I took relatively lengthy maternity leaves.  He "carried me" then.  However, my work-based retirement investments outpace his; thus, we put away a greater proportion of my salary for the future, and we live on more of his now.  Yet we consider all the money "ours". 

How would you do anything else?  Would you ever say to your spouse, "Well, I'm going to retire now.  Too bad you can't."  or "I'm planning a cruise next summer -- can you afford your ticket?"  I doubt it.  In the end, you're putting all the money together anyway.  Why create artificial boundaries in the meantime? 

Having said that, I can imagine that people who are married late in life -- especially if they have children -- would not fit this bill.  For example, if I were to lose my husband now, then I remarried, I think it would be right to maintain HIS assets to be passed on to HIS children.  And ditto for any stepchildren who might come into the marriage -- they should be entitled to anything left to them by their real mother.  That gets kind of sticky. 


nobody123

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When we married, we had -- between us -- $200, 2 college educations, 2 jobs, and a brand-new mortgage.  So we pretty much started from zero. 

It seems to me that if you're assuming that marriage is forever, your finances must blend with your lives.  At times our input into the marriage hasn't been equal:  For example, when our children were born, I took relatively lengthy maternity leaves.  He "carried me" then.  However, my work-based retirement investments outpace his; thus, we put away a greater proportion of my salary for the future, and we live on more of his now.  Yet we consider all the money "ours". 

How would you do anything else?  Would you ever say to your spouse, "Well, I'm going to retire now.  Too bad you can't."  or "I'm planning a cruise next summer -- can you afford your ticket?"  I doubt it.  In the end, you're putting all the money together anyway.  Why create artificial boundaries in the meantime? 

Having said that, I can imagine that people who are married late in life -- especially if they have children -- would not fit this bill.  For example, if I were to lose my husband now, then I remarried, I think it would be right to maintain HIS assets to be passed on to HIS children.  And ditto for any stepchildren who might come into the marriage -- they should be entitled to anything left to them by their real mother.  That gets kind of sticky.

+1000. 

I think the key point is it is all "our money" when you're married.  How do you fill out your taxes every year?  At some point, you're going to have to open the books to the other person, so I don't see the point in a non-transparent accounting scheme the rest of the year.

There may be many legal / logical reasons to have numerous accounts, but there needs to be one budget and a consensus on how the family finances (current cashflow and long term goals) are run, along with discussion on the 'what-if' scenarios.  Any accounting system can work as long as both parties agree to it and are flexible when 'real life' happens.

It is impossible to have separate finances when you're married.  Even if you're going with the 'head-in-the-sand, do what you want with your money, I'll do what I want with mine, as long as the mortgage and bills get paid every month' approach, at some point (birth of a child, loss of a job, medical issue, etc.) an issue is going to arise where you are going to need access to the other's pile of funds.  If you haven't agreed on what the expectations are for that, it's going to be an eye-opening experience.  That's why I don't buy the "this way we never argue about money" argument for keeping his/her piles.  I would much rather have had that discussion about how things will go PRIOR to getting married then have to deal with 'combining finances' during a time of stressful crisis.  How many posts are on here where one partner suddenly finds MMM and the other partner isn't on board, causing resentment on both sides?

Heck, I would LOVE to see what happens when partner A writes a check from their account to Little Johnny for half of his college tuition, but partner B doesn't have the funds or flat out refuses to do the same for Little Johnny.  I'm guessing Thanksgiving dinner just got a whole lot more interesting!


RunHappy

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This is something my SO and I are talking about.  We are planning to get married next year, have a baby this year, and buy a house.  I am late 30's and he is early 40's.  Both of us are high earners and were well established in our (pretty good) money habits before dating.  He is not as mustachian as I am but he has been coming around slowly (paid off his student loans), but has a car loan.

On one hand I like the idea of combining finances because we have combined lives and it would make it easier to pay everything out of one pot then me write him a check for my share.  On the other hand, we don't argue about money.  We split all communal costs down the middle, but we spend (or not spend) the rest of the money as we want.  We both save and max out our 401ks, but he spends a little more on hobbies than I do.  We pretty much keep a budget together and talk to each other before making any large purchase (over $200).  We also consider any debt each other has as "our debt".

Maybe when we get married next year and think about joint filing we will merge the bank accounts, but as of right now everything is working well.