Hell Yeah We Keep Our Money Separate When Married!

In the 5 years that my husband and I have been together, we’ve always agreed that keeping our finances separate made the most sense for our specific situation.

Ever since date #3, we’ve known each other’s whole financial back story, income and debt. Since we’ve been together, we’ve communicated openly and honestly about money, and we’ve trusted and consulted each other on financial decisions.

We got married 1.5 years ago, and even after tying the knot we STILL felt no reason to suddenly combine accounts.

I personally don’t see anything wrong with either joint or separate accounts, or a combination of joint and separate accounts. Each approach has its own individual pros and cons, and I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way.

Lately, I’ve been reading through numerous posts and opinion articles about how not combining finances when married is a “recipe for marital disaster”. (LOL, sound judgey much?)

Here are some of the “top reasons” I’ve read from people speculating why a married couple would want to keep their money separate:

  • They must be on the verge of divorce.
  • They are just trying to avoid tough conversations around money in the relationship.
  • They don’t want to grow up and be adults.
  • They’re fundamentally selfish people. They clearly only care about their own financial situation and would never want to be responsible for their spouse!
  • One or both partners must be trying to hide something – maybe they’re covering up an affair or dreaming about having one? Why else would they want to be so secretive about how they’re spending money?
  • One or both partners have an out of control spending problem. If they don’t want to combine accounts, they must be trying to hide their horrible spending from their partner.
  • Basically, the whole marriage is just flawed. Only idiots would want to keep their money separate when married.
  • Insert other amusing, yet unfounded judgments here…
The sad fate of those who refuse to combine finances when married
The sad fate of those who refuse to combine finances when married!

All of these reasons are entertaining to read through, but none of them resonate in our relationship.

I have several friends  who are married that also don’t combine finances, and I doubt a single one would cite any of the reasons above either.

I can think of many reasons why it would make sense for a married couple to keep their finances separate. Here’s a few I can list off the top of my head:

1)      You don’t enter a marriage with combined finances. It can be an extensive and sometimes costly process to combine them, depending on the complexity of your individual situation. If there’s no problem in the relationship related to having separate finances, why go through an extensive process to share them?

2)      If one or more partners are entering the relationship with significant debt, you’ll need to consider how this impacts the other partner’s liability toward that debt.

3)      Everyone thinks that they’re the exception to the rule when it comes to divorce and that they’ll always be happily married forever, but a large percentage of people do end up divorced. Keeping your finances separate helps alleviate the messy work of untangling them in the event that this happens to you.

In our case, neither my husband nor I think we’re headed to divorce, but we realize we’re no more divorce-proof than the next couple. It might be an unromantic, unpopular sentiment, but I’d rather be realistic and practical. If it happens to others, it could happen to us, unfortunately.

4)      If you are remarried, and have children from a previous marriage, for estate planning purposes (trust creation, inheritance divvying), you absolutely might want to keep your accounts separate.

5)      Perhaps one or both partners have been burned by their partner financially before. Maybe they’ve experienced the fun of having a joint bank account cleared out after breaking up. Personally, that would sour me against ever combining finances in a future relationship.

6)      Maybe there’s a history of forced dependence (i.e. in my case, growing up in a cult), where now it feels extremely important to the person to be financially independent in the marriage, and completely accountable for individual expenses, debt, and savings/investments.

7)      Maybe either party doesn’t want to feel like they’re asking “permission” for personal expenses which should fundamentally be their own decision. Again, it goes back to financial accountability and independence. This could be critically important to someone who has a history of being controlled financially as a kid (raises hand) or as an adult.

I’m sure there are tons more reasons why one would prefer not to merge finances after getting married. Regardless of the reason, people should really stop judging others and realize there is no right or wrong approach.

It’s the 21st century and it’s silly that we’re still perpetuating old fashioned stereotypes about marriage and money! Let’s all lighten up a little and stop being judgmental because some other couple isn’t managing their finances the exact way that we do.

How We Keep Our Finances Separate:

Here’s what we keep separate in our marriage financially, and what we combine.

  • We do track our net worth together, but our individual investment accounts and liabilities are held in our separate names.
  • We are each 100% responsible for personal expenses incurred.
  • We are each 100% responsible for our own debt (i.e. student loans). We own the house jointly down the middle, and split the mortgage payments 50/50.
  • We split bills that are jointly incurred 50/50 (i.e. property tax, home insurance, car insurance for our 1 car, utilities, etc.).
  • We also split food 50/50 even though my husband is a man-giant that eats 3-4 times as much as me. I take one for the team and subsidize his food costs ;o)
  • Wait for it………We absolutely DO pay each other back if one of us covers the other’s personally incurred expenses. If I pay the entire grocery bill, for example, my husband will transfer 50% of the cost to my bank account. The horror!!! If there’s a hell for married people, I’m sure we’re headed to it ;o)
  • Our 401ks through our respective jobs are held in our individual names.
  • Once our student loan debt is paid off, we’ll each be putting all of that extra income into individual Vanguard low-cost conservative Index Fund accounts. We both already individually have the Admiral VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund) account, and we’ll continue to contribute separately to these, and other accounts.
  • If we buy a rental property, we’ll split the mortgage payments and ownership costs/equity 50/50. Unless my husband chooses not to invest in the property with me, in which case it would be ‘my’ investment.
This couple CLEARLY combines their finances
This couple CLEARLY combines their finances – look at how happy they are!

The Top 3 Reasons Why We Keep our Finances Separate:

Here’s why we behave like apparent fools and keep our finances separate:

#1 We Already Make Financial Decisions Jointly & Trust Each Other’s Judgment
  • All financial decisions really are made jointly between us, even though we don’t share accounts.
  • My husband wouldn’t go out and buy something big with his money without consulting with me? Why? Because he trusts my judgment.
  • It works the other way too. I would never go out and make a big purchase without asking his opinion? Why? Because he’s my best friend and I trust his opinion. We both care about our money, and we respect each others perspective.
  • Neither one of us worry that the other will spend or invest in any significant way without consulting the other, just because we don’t share accounts.
  • One example of this is that my husband recently wanted to buy a newer used car. Since I work remotely and travel alot for work, he’s been using my paid off car for the last year to his commute to work. My car is 9 years old, and while it runs perfectly fine, he wanted something a little “fancier”.
  • He got all excited looking at different cars that he thought he could afford. We talked about it, and he listened to my opinion that I thought it would be a total waste of money. That money could go straight toward his loan payments, and then ultimately investment accounts.
  • Of course he’s a grown man and is free to spend his money as he chooses, but he listens to me and respects my opinion. He decided he didn’t need the car, and used all of that extra money to pay down more of his loans. I would consult with him in the exact same way, if the situation were reversed.
#2 We Never Want to Be Responsible for Each Other’s Individual Debt:
  • I entered the marriage with close to 125k of student loan debt. My husband had less than half that amount when we got married.
  • I would NEVER accept a dime from my husband (or from anyone else) to cover my debt. My husband feels the same way about his debt.
  • My student loan bills are my responsibility. The thought of asking my husband to ever help pay them off is laughable. Why would I ever expect him to do that? The loans paid for MY education, not his. I incurred them, I’ll pay them off, thank you :o)
  • We made sure that we did not sign on to each other’s student loan accounts as joint holders after getting married. That way, we’re each only ever liable for our own student loan debt.
  • Both of us also wanted to ensure that the other would be protected from having to pay the others debt, in case something happened to either of us. We both ensured that our student loan liabilities were more than covered through a work based  life insurance policy.
#3 We Never EVER Want To Depend On Each Other Financially:
  • Let that statement really sink in, in all of its terribleness. I can already hear the disapproval, but I mean every word of it.
  • Even though we live in a community property state, where a couple’s income is considered shared (unless one signs a pre or postnuptial agreement), I will never expect my husband to share his income in any way with me, and he has no interest in expecting that from me either.
  • I don’t accept a dime from my husband for any of my expenses. The only thing he’s ever paid 100% for me for was dinner out on our first date, and even that was a struggle. I didn’t even let the poor man buy me a wedding ring. Mwahaha. Yeah, I’m a bit extreme in this regard (thanks, childhood!), but I like LOVE paying for things myself. It’s really strangely comforting, given my background.
  • Being financially independent and accountable in a marriage is more of a necessity on my side. I grew up in a very controlling cult, and I vowed at a very young age that I would never be dependent on anyone if I could help it.
  • Almost every single woman in the cult financially depended either on the group or a man for survival, and almost all of them that stayed considered themselves too weak to leave and figure out how to support themselves and/or their children. 
  • The downsides of being financially dependent made a huge impression on me as a kid, and I never wanted to end up in the same situation. This is a huge motivator to wanting to achieve financial independence as early as possible, because I can’t wait to feel like I no longer depend on my employer for income.

For better or worse, combining our finances feels to me like losing financial independence.

My husband sees eye to eye with me on this. Actually, a more accurate statement would be to say that he just tolerates my views ;o)

He loves me enough to realize that this approach is important to me, for reasons outside his control. Thankfully, besides always joking that I’m a cheap date, he’s fine with this arrangement. 

You might argue that if we had a stronger relationship, we would trust each other enough to combine finances. I disagree. I think it’s because of our strong relationship that we’re fine with a setup that is outside of the traditional ‘norm’.

Even though I know that keeping our finances separate works really well for us, I’m sure that depending on the situation, it might a terrible idea for someone else’s marriage.

I would LOVE to hear, whether you’re married or not, what your thoughts are on managing money in a relationship. 

Do you think it’s absolutely necessary to combine your finances with your partner?

Or do you think it would work better to keep them separate, or maybe combine only some accounts?

 

48 thoughts on “Hell Yeah We Keep Our Money Separate When Married!

  1. We have a combo of joint (for the house and joint expenses) and separate (where our pays are deposited and we spend our personal money from) – this works perfectly for us, for many of the same reasons you guys have! (unequal levels of student debt/savings, independence, realism about the fact we may one day separate)

    1. Nice!

      A few of my friends have a similar setup. It seems to work well with automating paying bills, etc. We too might setup a joint account just for bills, as it is a bit of a pain paying out of separate accounts right now.

  2. We are going to combine most of our accounts once we move, it’d just muddy the waters right now. We will have some fun money accounts, nothing big, but still just for fun crap that we can’t judge each other for. I think tgat will work for us.

    The big thing is open and honest and frequent communication and it seems like you guys have that. If it’s working, who am I to tell you to change? Keep doing what’s best for you guys. Your situation is yours.

  3. This is awesome, Ava! Honestly, I love that you thought it out, figured out what was best for you and your husband and proceeded with that method! Marriage finances is one of the areas I firmly believe needs to be determined by the couple themselves (not outside speculators!) 😉

    Mr. AR and I have a mix. We have some joint accounts and some separate accounts (where we are put as each other’s beneficiary (+ we have a will/trust… we have a kid so that was a must do for us!). Our only debt is our house (joint), and we each paid our own student loans, he paid his credit card debt and I paid my car loan for my first car. It is what works best for us, but it is by no means the only way to go!

    1. Thanks, Adventure Rich!! I love how open minded you are :o)

      So important about having a will (especially if you have kids). We both have one, but we’re getting ours updated again soon.

      One of the valid concerns I can think of around not combining finances is having access to the money in the event of emergency situations. If you have kids, this is even more important.

      On a side note, we also list each other as the beneficiaries on our accounts, although for mine, a good chunk would go to each of my individual siblings if something ever happened to me.

      1. That is one question I had: how would you handle a money crisis like one person being unable to access money or unable to EARN money for whatever reason. Perhaps open a joint savings to accout which you each contribute a set amount each month. Then the money is there if you ever need it, both parties have contributed equally and have acccess.

        1. That’s a very good question.

          Honestly, if tomorrow we found out that my husband would never be able to work again, I would support him financially in a heartbeat. I’m positive he would do the same for me.
          We would have to make a lot of adjustments with our spending, and we probably wouldn’t be able to retire at 45.

          At that point, we would drop the whole separate finances approach. If only one of us was earning an income, it would be ‘our’ money, or the relationship would probably never work. I can’t imagine how one person wouldn’t feel like a financial burden unless you changed your approach.

          I don’t mean to make us sound like we don’t care about each other ;o) We would absolutely support each other financially unequivocally if that situation you described came up.

          It would be tough, though, to be on the receiving end of support. I know myself and OMG that would be painful to adjust to. It would have to be an emergency situation.

          We do both have disability insurance through work that covers 60% of our salary, and I think SS would cover 20%ish, in that event.

          Your idea about the joint emergency savings account is really cool, and I think that would work too!

  4. By all means it is an individual choice thing. However I think you are overstating the benefits if there was a divorce. I don’t think it matters at all who owns what accounts. There is a fair chance that all accounts will be split down the middle in a settlement. Probably all debts will as well. There is no real risk of someone cleaning out a joint account in this digital age. The record will be there of the transaction and it will be offset in a settlement. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement then reality is your finances are effectively combined in a divorce situation. I’m not a lawyer but just basing this on the experience of divorced friends.

    1. True.

      One of my friends is a divorce attorney. Before my husband and I got married, she went through all our documents and our plan, and gave us both advice, which mirrored yours.

      In the event of a divorce, unfortunately, it’s likely assets and liabilities will be split down the middle, barring specific circumstances that would prevent that or unless both parties wanted it handled differently. If either party truly wanted to protect themselves, her advice would be NOT to get legally married. (swoon!)

      She stressed that even with a pre nup, 90% of the time a good lawyer can find ways to get around that. Her advice was to get one, regardless.

      Ultimately, it was a risk to get married, and we know there’s no guarantee that we’d both walk away unscathed in the event of a divorce.

      It comes down to trusting the other person’s character. I can’t imagine a scenario, even if my husband did something extremely egregious, where I would ever feel comfortable walking away with his money. That would a life changing decision for me, and I don’t think in a good way.

      Maybe I’m naïve, but I believe he feels the same way. He knows how hard I worked to get to where I am, and I trust his character.

      That said, people often do things out of character when going through something as stressful and emotional as a divorce. We’re no different, so I’m glad we talk openly about it.

  5. I think it really depends on how people /start/ in the relationship, and the financial situation of that. My parents have been a model of a stable marriage to me – they share absolutely everything, and big purchases are hm’d and haw’d over for weeks, opinions gathered from each other and everyone in the family. My Mum spent the last 3-ish months deciding whether or not to buy an iPhone 6 – my Dad spent about 3 years deliberating about buying a brand new motorcycle before finally taking the plunge. But they’ve also been married for 30+ years, and came to Canada with a handful of money and a pile of bags. Everything they have now, they’ve built up together.

    Of course, if one of them was a huge spender or gambler, things would be completely different. If I don’t end up sharing the same financial mindset as my SO in the future, it’ll be a serious hurdle for me to overcome. And I’d definitely keep our finances separate. But if we were in roughly the same situation (savings, spending habits, etc.), then I’d want joint accounts.

    Different things work for different people 🙂 And it’s really good to see you’re incredibly aware of the how and why – that’s the most important part.

    1. Your parents are amazing :o) Being married for 30+ years is the epitome of relationship goals, right there!

      Yeah, I agree, how you come into the relationship (and your individual history) will impact how you want to handle money together.

      I really don’t think there’s a right or wrong approach (there are pros and cons to each), but I think there’s a lot to be said about “everything that they have, they’ve built together”. The thought of them working together to that degree and supporting each other melts the iciest corners of my heart :o)

      I’m really glad you had amazing role models to look up to and I’m sure you’ll be able to repeat this in your own relationship!

  6. As you know, my husband and I keep our finances separate. The thinking was, why combine just to combine? If it’s not broken, why do we have to fix a problem that’s not there?

    I think you hit the nail on the head in the beginning. It’s about the communication and the trust BEFORE you get into a serious relationship. I see some arguments for joint like, well, the other person won’t overspend because you can see what’s going on! And it’s like, in that case, the joint account is just a bandaid. The real problem is the person’s money habits! Honestly, if my husband was an overspender or didn’t respect my financial goals that would have given me pause to get married. And we talked a TON about money while we were living together so I think that really is the key. We also just instituted weekly budget meetings where we eat key lime pie and see how our spending is going. Yes, even though our accounts are separate, there’s still transparency.

    Our food cost isn’t 50/50 but part of that is because my husband is a million times pickier when it comes to food. So he does most of the grocery shopping and cooking. If I did the shopping and cooking, he’d turn up his nose at what I made 🙂

    Anyway, there’s no one RIGHT way to do married money, so I wish people would stop trying to preach like you’re less committed if you do one or the other.

    1. Totally agree about the need for communication and trust around finances before getting into a serious relationship!!

      Haha, I’ve heard that argument for joint accounts – so there’s better visibility and ‘monitoring’ on expenses – and I thought the same thing! :o)

      Okay, the key lime pie weekly budget meeting is going to get implemented in our house like now. I’m cracking up because my husband’s favorite dessert is key lime pie. The man is obsessed. Why didn’t I think of that before??

  7. We kept ours separate for over five years but ultimately I lobbied to combine. My ever so patient wife agreed, and it has made it easier to manage our finances. Everyone’s situation is different but because we have aligned goals we have nothing to hide. Granted, there is something to be said for the independence of a separate approach.

    1. Hi Cubert,

      It’s interesting to hear everyone’s separate approaches! Was it hard to adjust to combining your finances, after 5 years of keeping them separate?

      Thanks!
      ~Ava

  8. Hey, what works for you makes sense! You learned life lessons from what you have seen, like we all do.

    My first marriage had mostly merged finances, with separate retirement accounts. I was really lucky that he didn’t clean me out in the divorce. I made a good salary, and still felt frantic about finances. Things were tough for a bit – though nothing like your childhood! – and I walked away with more debt than ever before, between credit cards and new school loans. I worked really hard to pay off all my debt, and while it was scary sometimes, I’m really proud of that.

    My current marriage has a combined checking account, combined family credit card and separate cards, separate savings and retirement accounts, and shared Mint account so we both see all of each other’s accounts. We keep track of our net worth on a cork board (with pretty paper on one side for when guests come over, though we leave it when family comes over bc we all talk about finances regularly). This works for us.

    We both love personal finance (he had a similar debt pay-down past, which was something that drew us to each other initially). Tracking net worth together is really motivating.

    1. OUCH – I’m sure that was a very challenging situation to deal with re: finances post divorce. Congrats on paying off all of that student loan and credit card debt – that’s a monumental achievement!!

      That’s so interesting on your approach for handling your finances in your current marriage. Finding someone who shares your love for personal finance and has the same success with paying down debt is a huge benefit!

  9. I have a friend that has separate finances. They are not nearly as organized as you. She is mainly worried about retirement for both of them. She is saving away while he’s not nearly as organized so she’s a bit worried that she’ll have to do some heavier lifting in retirement. So that’s one of my main arguments for join accounts is that factor. But it sounds like that won’t be an issue for you all. Awesome post!!!

    1. Great point!! That would definitely put them in an uncomfortable situation down the road. They probably wouldn’t want to keep separating their finances, for that reason. Thanks for the comment :o)

  10. I think this is interesting, and I get it – loads of friends still work the same way. However, society still doesn’t assign men and women equal economic worth, and combining finances can be a way to handle that and result in a more equal outcome (providing your partner ‘gets it’).

    If you have kids for example, then often splitting things down the middle really does not result in an equal outcome. Or even just as you age – the gender wage gap grows as you get older.

    For example: I earned more than my partner before we had a kid. Now I’m back at work but not full time (I’m self employed and it’s been tricker since). I also had maternity leave which meant taking a financial hit. Splitting money equally in this situation creates inequality.

    Also, if you’re pregnant, you need maternity clothes, or clothes for when you’ve had the baby your shape is still changing. These are all things the female partner has to handle, but not costs that should be borne by them.

    Or when you go back to work, maybe having taken some time out, and you’re paying the female tax – lower wages, harder to progress in your career once you have kids. Or – your haircuts cost £50, his cost £10, and you’re expected to wear make up. These costs are decided by society, as are a woman’s earnings relative to a male partner. And opting out (cut your own hair, don’t wear make up) can impede your economic advancement even more, wrong as that might be. Combining finances with a partner who ‘gets it’ can go some way to countering these inequalities and making the unit stronger than the sum of its parts.

    I was interested when you replied to someone to say that if something bad happened, it would all be ‘your money’. For us, our partnership is more equal now money is a shared resource. We have a main ‘joint’ account which the majority of the money goes into. We both have equal fun money. But it is recognised that just because it costs me £40 to get a hair cut, and I do his for free, I shouldn’t be financially penalised. Economic equality does not always mean getting the same amount of money and splitting bills 50:50. The day or two I spend at home with our kid has value – but society doesn’t assign it monetarily. Our money belongs to our little unit, and we use it and assign it based on need.

    I read this post yesterday on the subject which I thought was really good https://apracticalwedding.com/ynab-household-budget-fairness/

    Thanks for sharing and generating such interesting discussion.

    1. Wow, that is a fascinating point of view. I’ve honestly never considered it from that perspective.

      I can’t argue with any of your points about the societal disparity (in many cases) between men and women’s financial worth and earning power. The disparity typically gets worse with age and having kids. Combining finances could certainly be a way to equalize that gap.

      Re: kids – Good lord, I can’t even imagine the financial impact to the woman if she assumes an equal 50% of the financial responsibility WHILE taking a massive cut to her salary from an unpaid maternity leave, having to cut back on work hours, or by staying home for a few years with the kids (many times this is to save on childcare costs, which benefits both parents).

      Plus, the reality is that most women, even while working, still do MORE housework and childcare tasks compared to men. Why shouldn’t this work be accounted for? I can’t argue there.

      I just read Marilyn Waring’s “If Women Counted” on a flight last week. The book was a critique of the system of national accounts, which was the international standard of measuring economic growth, and the ways in which women’s unpaid work were excluded from GDP and what counted as ‘productive labor’ in the economy. She wrote it back in 1988 (when I was 2 years old), and not surprisingly, it’s still extremely relevant today. It’s pretty fascinating – you should check it out, you’d probably really like it!

      I can’t argue that our specific way of handling money might be terrible and unfair in practice for another couple, in a completely different situation.

      I think I NEED this approach because I have such a fear of waking up one day and finding myself financially dependent on someone else (gasp, a man).

      Here’s the thing: Excluding childcare/parenting costs (because that is a whole separate beast) – while it is more expensive as you said to be a woman, I would still have those costs regardless of whether I was with my husband.

      By asking him to split them or cover them for me, I’m putting myself in a position where I need him financially in the future. And that PAINS me ;o)

      I agree, it’s unfair my haircut costs 4x more and that I have to wear expensive makeup to look presentable in front of clients. Meanwhile, my husband can roll out of bed and into his office looking like an unshaven castaway pirate, and no one blinks an eye. Not fair.

      (Those are just 2 very small examples – but I understand EXACTLY what you’re talking about).

      However, I need to be in a situation where if he walked away (or vice versa), I could fend for myself. I have to always be able to cover my own costs, and I CAN as long as I don’t put myself in a position where I expect someone else to ever take care of my expenses (regardless of whether there are scenarios where it would be more fair to do so).

      I think your point and approach is far fairer than mine, to be honest. It makes total sense. For me, it wouldn’t work though, at least not right now. Right now, I’m too driven by a fear of losing financial independence. I’d rather feel the pain of paying more (and learn to cover those costs on my own long-term) rather than risk depending on someone else in the future.

      1. Hi Ava. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I totally get what you’re saying.

        I don’t feel that if my husband and I were to separate, I would be any more or less dependent on him. He isn’t subsidising my lifestyle any more than I am supporting his by taking on more of the childcare. We have very decent savings between us which would split 50:50 in that event, and his child support payments would cover the amount currently accounted for by the additional support that financially comes from his higher wage. Assets would be split, and we would be in the same position, to be honest.

        Man, though – society still has so far to go to get to equality!

        1. You make really good points. I actually thought of a few of the same points after replying to you!

          For me, it’s 100% a psychological barrier. I would be too scared to try a similar arrangement.

          That said, having a kid would almost certainly change our approach.

          And totally agree – we still have tons left to do as a society to get to true equality <3

  11. Hey Ava. I love your reasoning on why married couples should keep their finances separate. It makes a lot of sense. Mrs Groovy and I combined our finances and so far it’s been working great. But I’d be hardpressed to articulate the reasoning behind that decision. We’re old school and it’s just something we thought we should do. It was more of a symbolic gesture of our commitment to each other. I doubt our married niece and nephew do the same in their respective marriages. As you said, Ava, whatever works. No judgements.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I hear you about the ‘symbolic gesture’ part. My in-laws brought this up a couple times – asking what the point of getting married was if we didn’t trust each other enough to merge finances. It’s added pressure to symbolize our commitment to each other, in a way.

      How do you guys like it so far? Almost everyone I talk to that combines finances raves about it – so we’re definitely THAT couple that’s too scared to try it :o)

    2. It sounds rather like you use your separate finances as a way to make sure you have the financial conversations that not every couple does. Some people use joint accounts to do that.

      Maybe you should make a note to re-visit this post in ten years and see if you have changed your approach! It certainly works for you and your relationship now, which is the important part.

      One (painful to mention) advantage of jointly held accounts is that it makes things much easier for the surviving spouse after one passes way, which I trust is far far into your future.

      1. I totally should bookmark this and re-visit it in 10 years.

        If my poor husband is still married to me by then, that man will deserve an Olympic sized trophy ;o)

        We’ll probably have changed our approach over the years. I’m guessing I’ll relax somewhat over time.

        Yeah, the death benefit aspect of joint accounts – I do think about that. I’m not concerned about it currently, to be honest, but I would be if we had a kid.

  12. We do the same thing. We have been married for 10 years, keep our finances essentially separate, go halvsies on just about everything, and miraculously, we are still married without boiling resentment!

    I think that combining finances causes more animosity and sneaking around than just keeping them separate. My parents combined finances and were always arguing about money and I know my dad was hiding money from my mom. My buddy who combines his finances with his wife also hides money. It’s a ridiculous to assert that keeping your finances separate is bad for your relationship. I think combining finances just stokes anger over how money is being spent.

    As far as the mechanics of keeping separate finances go, we keep it simple. We have access to each other’s checking accounts to make it easier to shuffle money or reimburse each other. I calculate our individual and combined net worth every month. That’s a good time to make sure that we both know each other’s account balances. We also talk about our financial goals and possibilities. Having the numbers right in front of you forces you to confront reality. This is a great way to stay open about your money.

    1. Ah, that’s cool that you guys do the same thing that we do!!!

      The whole ‘hiding money while combining finances’ thing – I guarantee it’s more common than people think. Combining finances doesn’t ensure being in sync financially. Sometimes, keeping money separate in a marriage really is the best strategy.

      I should start tracking our individual net worth, the way you guys do! Right now, we track our combined NW, but I think it’d be motivating to view it separately too. I like it :o)

  13. I watched my parents fight about money on a daily basis growing up. They had combined finances and my dad was more frugal than my mom so that caused problems with every purchase. So, when I got married 7 years ago we decided on separate finances to avoid all that especially since we had fairly different financial habits. If one person is contributing more than the other there’s bound to be resentments form over time. Separate finances worked great, we never fought about money, we had other issues but financially all was well. I however don’t want children and she does so we are now in week 2 of the divorce process. I can verify that separate finances have made this process so much easier, I spent less than 30 minutes with the lawyer and we both keep our separate assets. So, while I’m miserable right now I’m not financially ruined and from start to finish separate finances worked great. And yeah, I never thought we’d be part of the 50% that didn’t make it but so it goes.ir

    1. Wow, thanks for being super transparent about your situation! I’m really sorry to hear about the divorce – that sucks, however you look at it :o(

      I hear you about the separate finances making it easier in a way, though. As shitty as it is, at least you guys aren’t fighting over money and it’s clear who owns what. That would just be one more problem to worry about at the worst time.

      Hang in there with the divorce – I’m told it really does get better after some time!

  14. I think either way is fine, as long as the couple talks openly about their money, including long term and short term goals. It made more sense to combine our finances for the most part because my husband and I are from different countries, so when we moved to the US, it was easier for me to set up a joint account with him while I got my credit history established. Any foreign accounts are separate, but we each know about them and always talk to each other about it.

    1. Agreed! Communication is critical around money in a relationship. Whatever works best for each person’s specific situation really is the ‘right’ approach. Thanks for the comment!

  15. We are all separate except for a joint passive index investment. We decided that we could save money on tax and fees by putting it under my partners name and both paying equal amounts into it.

  16. Individual and joint accounts (mortgage and bills) over here. However, I put more into the joint bc of my higher income, and we don’t go Dutch on grocery or restaurant bills. Whoever grabs it, pays it. Whenever we go out to eat, we both are usually fighting for the bill.

    This is the same for chores. We have agreed upon roles, but will help out when needed without a second thought if it needs to be done.

    1. I like it!

      We could learn from you both with the whole “fighting to pay” thing :o)

      When the check comes, we both know the drill and reach for our cards.

  17. Joint (mortgage and bills) and individual accounts here. We don’t go dutch on grocery and restaurant bills though. Whoever does it, pays because they’re there. And we fight for the meal bill when it comes. Same with chores, we have set rolls but will help out when the other is busy with work and life.

  18. I loved this post! My husband and I have a joint savings and line of credit that we started for our wedding last month, but all of our other accounts are individual. We split the utilities and rent 50/50 and we are responsible for 100% of our own debts, and personal bills, cell phones.

    For us we have different financial goals and different strategies on how we save and use our own money. I pay more towards my student loans and he pays more towards his credit cards. We still have plenty of conversations about our money, this makes it easier to see who is making what and how we are spending it.

    1. “For us we have different financial goals and different strategies on how we save and use our own money.” — this seems to be a driver for keeping finances separate in relationships for many people!

      We’re also in this category, although once my student loans are paid off, we’ll be basically working toward the same goals.

  19. DISCLOSURE: I am an old fart who has been married for 45 years and am Canadian.
    Considering your emotional baggage, I can almost understand your stance but I signed on for better or worse with my eyes wide open and we have always had a join account.
    You live in a community property state which I expect only exempts what you bring into the union and that appears to be mostly debt.
    Once one of you has paid off your loans and starts investing, you start throwing away money since after taxes, any gains are most likely overshadowed by the interest being paid by your partner.
    There are times when it is advantageous to hold investments individually and then you simply create a paper trail to back it up via seperate bank accounts which receive the required segregated deposits until the job is done.
    A fully integrated financial union is a powerful force compared to just doing your own things.

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