Having Separate Bank Accounts When You're Married Is Asking for Trouble

Rant 41

I still remember the day my mom took me to the bank, filled out some forms, and set up a bank account in my name. It was a pretty big deal, even if her name was on the account as well.

When I eventually got married a couple of decades later, I didn't even give a second thought to having a separate bank account from my wife. We were getting married after all, so half of my stuff was her's and vice versa, right?

Neither of us are crazy risk takers in the finance department, nor are we penny-pinching sticklers who balance their checkbooks to the penny each and every day. We spend money on fun things, but are responsible enough to make sure we have all the bills and major expenses covered.

Recently, however, I've had a number of conversations with other couples (some married, some on the cusp of becoming engaged) and was shocked to discover that a lot of spouses do indeed have separate bank accounts.

Other than trying to hide how much you're spending or keeping your finances securely locked up, I don't really see the reason for it. In fact, I think it could actually be harmful to your marriage. The same way that a prenup can be a red flag for "whoa, someone doesn't completely trust you in this marriage," having separate bank accounts just screams, "I'm preparing for a quick and easy getaway!"

Trust is one of, if not the, most important parts of a marriage. Trust me on that one. If your spouse is suddenly pushing for a separate bank account, wouldn't you be just a tad bit suspicious? And not just at the start but going forward. How much money does he really have in there? What exactly is he spending his money on? Does he have other accounts he's keeping from me? And for that matter, other secrets he's keeping?

Once the seed of doubt is planted, it's really tough to remove, so why even tempt it? Marriage is about trust and compromise. If that means pooling your money together and deciding how best to spend it, that's what you need to do.

Now, there are certain circumstances where I can see why couples would choose to do this. If you were burned in a previous marriage and have been on your own for a while, you'd be super cautious about mingling all your funds with your new spouse. Maybe you're both a bit older now, you each are set in your own financial patterns, so why rock the boat? That I can understand. But that's about the only scenario that makes sense to me.

If you have separate bank accounts, where does it end? Do you sleep in separate rooms? Separate houses? Buy your own groceries? Cook your own meals? If you end up doing everything separately, then what's the point of even getting married?

Now, whether you decide to have joint or separate bank accounts is certainly up to you. But whichever side you end up on, the most important thing is to discuss this issue before you are married. Finances are one of the leading issues that lead to divorce, so make sure you at least start off on the right page together.

At least that's my two cents on the issue. Or rather, one cent. My wife has the other one.

Do you and your spouse have separate bank accounts?


Image via Tax Credits/Flickr

living together, marriage

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doodledo doodledo

No. All our finances are shared. I think seperate accounts could lead to situations of financial infidelity.

nonmember avatar Michelle

Thank god, Andrew, you are finally talking about something that doesn't make me want to kill you!

Separate accounts are ridiculous for married couples...why get married if you can't share finances? I do, however, believe that one person should manage the finances, providing full access at any time to the other partner. More often than not, one person is stronger at money management than the other. Bravo...great post!

babyb... babybluejess12

It sounds like you don't trust your spouse to handle her own money with out you. We have our own accounts and one shared. We each put an equal set amount to pay the bills and the rest is each individual's to spend. We completely trust each other so there is no need to feel insecure on what he's spending or what I'm spending. It's good to be some what independent from your other half

lobus lobus

I personally couldnt wrap my head around having separate accounts with my husband. Why do you need independence? Already planning for the divorce down the road?

tbruc... tbrucemom

I was married for 28 years and we had one bank account. My ex was so financially irresponsible I literally had to check our account every day. He would take out money and not tell me and consequently there were times where we didn't have enough to last until payday.  He'd get mad when I'd ask him where the money was spent. Turns out he wasn't having an affair but he did spend a lot on booze and pot.  Now that I'm getting remarried I want my own account and will contribue X amuont of money towards the household. I don't want to have to worry about bills getting paid, etc. We'll both have access to all our accounts so hopefully it'll work out for the best this time.

babyb... babybluejess12

No it's planning for divorce. Do you people ask for passwords to emails, Facebook etc and pins to vms. Seems very controlling. Also I see it as preventing fights and divorce. Why should you have to explain to someone why you took out an extra $100 or spent this much here? There is no need for it.

James... Jameson007

This is asinine. We have separate accounts and a joint account. We completely trust each other & I find this to be way better for our marriage as we do not have to nit pick every purchase we make. I could see a joint account being necessary for a stay at home parent, but two working parents do not need to share an account. Disastrous.

MsRkg MsRkg

This is the stupidest thing I have ever read . Sometimes having seperate bank accounts is done for logical reasons and have nothing to do with trust. My husband and I have our own personal checkings and savings account where our personal investments go, and then we have joint accounts for things we handle together financially. There is no one fit solution when it comes to finances.

nonmember avatar Christie

No it's not planning for divorce at all! I agree with you 100% @babybluejess12 . We have separate and joint accounts too. We split the bills down the middle and our extra is our extra, and I think it's nice, not only do we not have to justify every little purchase but we can also "treat" each other to dates and it actually feels like a date still and not just a hit to the joint bank account. I am a spender and my husband is a saver so he saves up all his extra and I use most of mine on household needs like groceries, etc. then if anything big comes up like an appliance breaks or a house repair is needed he covers it. He also covers our vacation each year. It works for us and it avoids a lot of unnecessary arguements. I have seen many divorces cause by disagreements about money, I am happy and he is happy, so why do people like this writer and some of the commenters feel like they have the right to tell us what is "good" for our marriages and what's not?

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