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