When Having Separate Accounts is Okay

When having separate accounts is okay

Married couples having separate checking or savings accounts may conjure up images of mistrust or deceit between husbands and wives, but I think there are certain situations where separate accounts are can be a good idea.  First, let me put forth a few disclaimers.  I think deliberately hiding money or debt from your spouse or partner is a horrible idea.  I also firmly believe that spouses should have access to ALL accounts, even if they don’t normally exercise that access.  The reason a couple might want to separate some of their money is to reduce – not increase – disagreements over spending.

            Here are some scenarios when having separate accounts is okay:

  • If you’re not married yet, having separate accounts is definitely okay.  In fact, I don’t think you should add your fiancé to your checking and savings accounts until you are legally married.  Engagements are occasionally cancelled and it can be an enormous pain to have your ex- girlfriend/ boyfriend / fiancé removed from your accounts!

  • I think it’s a great idea to have separate accounts for your “Fun Money.”  This idea works really well for me and my husband.  We have three checking accounts: our household bill account, my checking account, and his checking account.  The bank automatically transfers money from our checking accounts to the household bill account every two weeks.  We pay the mortgage, utilities, insurance, groceries, and general household expenses from that account.  From our separate checking accounts, we each pay for our own gas, entertainment, clothing, and other fun stuff.  This way, Nick doesn’t complain that I’m spending “too much” on shoes, purses, or jewelry.  And I don’t complain when he spends his fun money on the latest electronics.  I know other couples who do this, but rather than using checking accounts, they put their fun / discretionary spending on prepaid Visa cards.

  • When you’re part of a blended family, having separate accounts can be okay.  There can be a good deal of fighting and disagreements between spouses when step children are in the picture.  Not only do parenting styles differ, but also spending choices.  Sometimes it helps for husbands and wives to agree on a total amount to spend on “her kids” and “his kids”, and each parent decide how to allocate that total between their own kids and the various categories.  If you’ve already agreed to the total and are sticking to it, then there’s no reason to bicker over the details!  (As a side note, if you are getting married for the second time and there are step children involved, please consult an attorney for the proper estate planning.)

  • When one spouse KNOWS they have a tendency to overspend and AGREES he/ she shouldn’t have free rein over all of the accounts.  Some spenders feel like they can’t trust themselves to behave with the debit card or checking account, and would prefer to have a certain amount of cash every week (or the pre-paid Visa card).  If you’re a chronic over-drafter, this may be a good solution.  Now, listen up Control-Freak Nerd Spouses!  This only works when your overspending spouse admits and agrees to this, otherwise you imposing this upon them will only end you up in divorce court.

If you’re married, I do think the majority of your money should be kept together in joint accounts.  If you’re married and are still keeping all of your money separate, it might be a sign of trust issues that you and your spouse need to work through with a counselor. Do you and your spouse keep all of your money together or do you keep some of it separate?  Why?

Comments 23

  1. Even after 12 years of marriage, we have a joint account and each of us has a separate account. We pay our bills out of the joint and our separate accounts are our fun money accounts.

  2. My hubby and I have been married for 13 years now.
    we have a joint checking account and a joint savings.
    we also have one account that I’m the only one who has access too but it’s our long-term savings.
    My husband is well aware of it. I don’t think it’s safe to have accounts and not have the other person know exactly what’s in there. Guess it’s a trust thing.
    Money can be such a touchy subject for some!

  3. My husband and I share all of our accounts, whether it be savings, checking or credit.
    I can’t think of any reason or situation that would require us to have separate accounts.
    Only if we are trying to surprise each other does it become an issue, but then we can just use cash:)

  4. We have all of our money together. However my husband does have an account that he pays child support from etc. It does help to have separate account for just that. 🙂

  5. My husband and I have always had separate accounts. We both can access the others account but we never do. We are debt free and never disagree over money. We have been doing this for over 36 years. I truly believe that a married couple needs to do what is right for them – this works for us.

  6. We have separate accounts. It is just in case for both of us. However, we have access to each other accounts. We are probably not the norm.

  7. I never grew up that way, my parents always had everything joint and when my husband and I married he wanted to keep his old account and still has it 11 years later, I do not like it but he refuses to close it. I just think everything should be together in a marriage.

  8. I completely agree that separate accounts is okay. We have a joint account and since we are both self-employed we each have our own account. It works out really well for both of us.

  9. Well I might be the odd one out here 🙂 Hubby and I have separate accounts. But it doesn’t bother either of us, we are both very smart with our money. Neither of us has ever spent frivolously, and we are each aware of any large purchases made by the other – which are few and far between.

  10. We have separated accounts we trust each other we just like to keep the money in 2 accounts we do have access to each other accounts but I guess it’s just in case of emergencies

  11. We got married right after we turned 20 and have always shared the same account, but I know many couples that don’t. I say whatever works for you!

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