Some people think that once they tie the knot, joining their finances is a must to ensure wedded bliss. Others have a philosophy of parallel play, meaning that the two of you ought to have separate bank accounts. This allows the wife to go out for a spa day with the girls without having to worry about spending his money and the husband to buy football tickets, or whatever men do.
No Right Way
There isn’t one right answer concerning whether to merge your finances or maintain separate bank accounts. Some couples jump right in and combine their money immediately. Others choose to take their time. Some people want to keep their independence. Others view maintaining separate accounts as a signal of a lack of trust. To merge or not to merge can certainly be a divisive issue. You need to discuss it and decide what works best for you and your partner.
You might not want to join your finances if your spouse has a spending problem. For example, if you merge your money and your spouse has a lot of debt, creditors can seize the new joint assets. Some couples just don’t like the idea of sharing bank accounts.
Even if you don’t want to share, it is more efficient to merge bank accounts. For one thing, it makes paying bills simpler. You may want to compromise, though, and open a joint account for your expenses and savings, while keeping separate accounts for your personal use. Many couples just starting out use this compromise method, according to Smart Money. Once you have kids and a mortgage, however, it usually makes more sense and is easier to combine everything.
How couples treat money can be a psychological issue that can go haywire without a mutual understanding. Psychologist Karen Pine, co-author of a personal finance book called “Sheconomics,” told “The Sunday Times” in England that joint bank accounts became a factor when women started earning money. Prior to that, men would give them an allowance or dole out housekeeping money. But, even after pooling the money, some women still felt powerless to use the money without careful negotiations. On the flip side, some women thought a joint account gave them access to unlimited funds to spend as they pleased. Another problem some couples face, Pine notes, is “revenge spending,” meaning that if your man can buy a new guitar, then you feel entitled to get yourself new shoes and a purse.
The key to managing your finances is to talk about them. You both need to be on the same page and cannot hide purchases from each other. You can make any arrangement work for you – separate accounts, a joint account or a combination of the two. Review how you spend your money on a regular basis and keep the conversation open. Once you get on the same page about your finances and have joint goals, you can be more confident and trust each other, Pine says.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.