Some things in life are meant to be shared while others most certainly are not. Of course, then there are those in-between things that could arguably go either way. For many couples, finances are a black and white issue. Most couples either have combined finances or separate finances, depending on their preferences and financial situations. Some couples may have separate accounts as well as combined accounts. It really comes down to a comfort level in most cases.
Sometimes couples choose to keep separate finances to avoid one person taking on the other person’s debt. Others feel finances are a private personal matter, which can be a bit concerning in cases of marriage with separate finances. When you look at the whole picture, a couple’s decision to combine or separate finances really does come down to the individual couple, their habits, and their communication style.
Money is a common point of contention for many couples at one time or another in their relationships. If it’s not overspending, it could be where to spend. It could be how much to spend, how much to save, and how much to invest. It could be related to a child’s college fund or your own retirement fund. Personal finance is a huge part of life for everyone, and once you’re married, your finances aren’t so personal anymore. Almost everything, at least almost everything important, becomes a joint decision.
Bethany and Scott Palmer, “The Money Couple” and authors of FIRST COMES LOVE THEN COMES MONEY: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication, offer specific tips to help couples overcome the emotional burden of keeping finances in check while maintaining a happy marriage.
“Remember your partnership,” The Money Couple advises. “Separate accounts can be very helpful. They make it easy to see who’s spending what. But they can also open the door to hidden spending and other secrets that are the core of financial infidelity. Remember, strong financial communication is based in partnership.”
The Money Couple recommends looking inside yourself to know if your relationship is well suited for separate finances. Strong financial communication allows you to keep each other in the loop on separate financial accounts, which can be a good sign of success for keeping separate finances. The Money Couple also suggests committing yourselves to regular “Money Huddles.”
“We tell couples to think of themselves as a partnership, a kind of Ã¢ÂÂlife business’ where financial decisions are made together in the Ã¢ÂÂboard room’ Ã¢ÂÂ the kitchen table or the couch or wherever you want to meet Ã¢ÂÂ during routine Money Huddles,” they say. “Just as business partners need to talk through financial decisions, even when they work for different departments, life partners need to talk about money no matter who writes the checks or tracks the credit card statements.”
Keeping in constant communication about finances is a key part of marriage and can dramatically improve the trust and solidarity of your marriage. Avoiding financial surprises can help to prevent arguments centered on money. If you choose to separate your finances for one reason or another, be sure to keep your spouse informed on major purchases or financial concerns, and be sure to expect the same in return.