In an article I recently read on a financial website, a money expert said it’s critical for women to have their own bank account in a marriage. The word “critical” caught my eye. I’ve always thought of reasons why you should have a joint bank account, but this made me wonder—what am I missing?
I know some people believe separate accounts will save you because you have financial independence, which arguably can bring security and autonomy. And maybe that’s not entirely wrong, but there’s more to the story than just financial independence. What’s your take on these 3 arguments for how couples should keep their bank accounts?
Independence vs. Consideration of Others
One argument for separate accounts suggests having joint savings accounts but separate checking accounts for day-to-day transactions. The notion is that keeping track of a higher number of small transactions is easier if it’s just your transactions and not your husband’s too.
The thought of doing what you want with the money you earned is nice, but there are benefits to managing your money together in joint accounts. When you and your spouse start to think of it as “our” money instead of “my” money and “his” money, your mindset changes. Suddenly you, your spouse, and your money are a team. Pooling your money together can make your marriage strong because it requires you to be considerate of the needs of your spouse and children. It also equips you to put others first because it’s not just your money.
Independence vs. Interdependence
The main argument a lot of experts give for having separate accounts is that in cases of divorce, it’s most often the woman who is left financially ruined with no liquid assets or retirement funds. Having your own accounts will give you your own credit score and saving on your own for retirement will prevent you from being left high and dry.
Well this is scary to think about, but so is a lot of what marriage requires. In marriage, you’re trusting your husband with your whole self, not a portion. Trust isn’t trust if it’s given with conditions. In fact, having this safety net might even plant a subliminal message that you have an out should you need to take it. Keeping one area separated, like a bank account, can lead to separation in other areas. Having joint accounts creates an opportunity for you and your husband to grow in interdependence.
Independence vs. Accountability
Finding the time and energy to sit down together to talk about bills is one of the hardest parts of marriage and it often leads to fighting. If you both work and can put your money into separate accounts, you’ll have one less tricky situation to solve.
This strong argument for why separate accounts are helpful is also an argument for why you should have a joint bank account. Being accountable to each other helps marriage in multiple ways. It gives you a reason to work as a team. It helps you align your goals. And communication between you and your spouse will improve because you both are consistently talking about what you’re doing with your money. Avoiding difficult things rarely makes us stronger as individuals or a couple.
But let’s be honest…
Now it’s easy to say what works for me and my husband, but I know financial situations aren’t cookie cutter. Maybe the common reasons why you should have a joint bank account just don’t work for your family. If you receive child support and need to set that money aside, it’s wise to have separate accounts. Or if you have a spouse who has proven to be untrustworthy and risky with money, like by compulsive gambling, joint accounts could create financial ruin for you. You know what’s best for your situation.
What has made you decide on joint or separate accounts?