Managing your finances is one of the most important decisions you will make as a couple. The traditional view is that couples should join their assets. Combining your resources is a concrete way to show that you are joining your lives together. However, there has been more room for discussion recently. As women become more financially independent and people marry later in life, this may not be the best decision. If you are in a serious relationship, you should discuss with your partner if it is better for couples to keep separate bank accounts.
The Reasons for Separate Bank Accounts
When confronted with this question, I was very uncomfortable with the idea of opening a joint bank account. Having my own accounts gave me autonomy since I had full control of my finances. Furthermore, I was not responsible for paying down my partner’s debts or support payments. I did not like anyone else having access to my funds without permission. Separate accounts also mean that no one can track or question your expenditures.
Some have told me this is a very cynical outlook. On the contrary, I feel it is a way to protect yourself and your assets. Statistics show that nearly half of marriages fail. Often times, finances are a huge contributing factor to marital problems. In my experience, there were fewer arguments about money. At the end of the day, couples who keep separate bank accounts will have more security yet less paperwork and bitter fighting over assets if they split up.
The Reasons for Joint Bank Accounts
Over time, I came to understand that pooling your resources builds trust with your partner. Not only do you have a shared goal for your future, there is less suspicion when you have transparency. In addition, it provides a clearer picture of your financial situation. With a joint account, there are few opportunities for surprises such as hidden accounts or debts.
There are also practical reasons for opening a joint account with your partner. In case of an emergency, it removes obstacles if your spouse needs to access the money. If you are unavailable or unable to allow access, it could create unnecessary headaches and frustration. Joint accounts also streamline the process of transferring funds to your partner after death. There is a significant amount of red tape if you maintain separate accounts.
The Right Decision for You
In the end, only you and your partner know what is best for your situation. In my case, I chose to retain my private accounts while opening one joint account to pay bills. I still had full control over my own finances. However, we also shared responsibility for our monthly expenses. The sense of equal partnership and accountability created shared goals without giving up my financial independence. It also created balance since one partner did not need to ask for an allowance or permission to spend money.
I also feel that having our own spending cash prevented a lot of conflict. As long as our bills were paid, we were free to use our personal funds any way we saw fit. I was able to splurge occasionally without someone watching my every move. It allowed breathing room in the relationship and eliminated anxiety. Money matters can be difficult to navigate as you intertwine you life with someone else. The only way to determine what is best for you is through open communication. Carefully consider all the pros and cons before you make a decision that will affect the course of your financial future.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.