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A Case For Maintaining Separate Accounts

by Serendipity on March 6, 2012

Dave Ramsey, who is my personal finance guru, argues strongly for a joint checking account. He explains that money becomes one when you enter a marriage and that you become fully a team. While I completely agree with being a team, sometimes it’s not always best to throw your money in one pot.

This is such a taboo subject, but I find it so utterly important for women to know that they have options other than a joint checking account. A separate checking account may not be for everyone, because let’s face it, personal finance is personal, but let’s consider the pros.

Household Expenses Can Still Be Shared — Go Teamwork!

How many times has someone paid all of the bills and then grown resentful towards the other carefree partner in the relationship? “No one knows how hard I work to budget! No one understands how stressful it is to pay all of the bills on time!”

With separate checking accounts, you can now delegate household expenses. Each one of you can be responsible for paying certain household expenses to lessen the burden financially and mentally. Each partner is contributing and no one feels like they are doing more work than the other one.

A Separate Checking Account Forces You to Be Responsible

It’s quite easy to slack off on personal money management when you have a joint checking account. Don’t feel like balancing the check book? Oh, let the other person do it. Running low on funds to spend? Oh, your partner is getting paid this Friday.

A lot of the time, we don’t communicate between our partners how we’re handling money — which happens to be the number one reason couples divorce. How many times have you been upset because your partner has bought something without your consent, out of “your money?”

Well, when you have a combined checking account; it’s technically money belonging to the both of you. When you have a separate account, you have to take responsibility for your actions and spending. You are responsible for how your money is being spent on your behalf.

A Sense of Relief

With you being in charge of your money, it brings about a sense of relief. No longer do you have to worry about someone spending money on something you find of little to no value. You no longer have to worry if there is enough in your account to cover items you might need. Your partner does not always agree on what you’re going to spend your money on and vice versa.

This helps relieve some of that stress and analyzing of where every penny of their money is going. If bills are being paid and the financial goals you may have as a couple are being met, there is no reason to judge what the other person is spending their fun money on.

This can also be a relief if someone you love has a spending problem but you still want peace of mind that there will be money left over for you.

Separate Checking Accounts Are For Different Financial Pages

Sometimes, couples are not always on the same financial page. I was a spender and an impulse shopper, while my fiancée was a saver when we first met.

It was hard for me to fathom how he could have so much in his checking account and not help me for what I thought I needed, like money for tuition and a new car. To him, it was hard for him to fathom where all of my money was going while he paid living expenses for us and to help pay more for a nicer car when I already had enough to buy a decent one. We were on different financial pages. Now, we’re getting there but slow and steady does win the race.

Husband has a bad habit of spending money while you like to save? Separate checking accounts may be just the thing to help you guys out.

Fairy Tales Are Nice, But Let’s Consider The Reality

This is the most important reason I feel women need their own checking accounts, yet is probably the most negative. Although I would love to believe that everyone is going to have a fairy tale ending, that is often farther from the truth for a lot of us.

All women should be prepared and financially comfortable just in case something should happen to their partner via a death, separation or an emergency that perhaps leaves their partner unable to work. Financial security does wonders for the mind.

Also, being independent of your partner might be worth more than you realize it could be. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard of women staying in a situation because they felt that had nowhere else to go, or in some cases, no means. You should never allow yourself to be treated poorly, and if you stay because of not having the financial means to leave, it makes you more depressed. You should be able to get up and go.

Conclusion

I’m not saying separate accounts are for everyone but I’ve had a separate account for my entire relationship and I feel comfortable. Some might argue that having a separate account is preparing for the worst, but I can honestly say for me, it’s helped me grow as a person and become a financially responsible adult.

I know where my money is going, I know I’m contributing to our household and I’m still able to work on financial goals that pertain to me at this time. I would never rule out opening a joint account with my significant other, but I would still keep my separate account with some of my cash flow kept in there for me. No one is going to take care of you unless you take care of yourself first.

Serendipity

About Serendipity

Serendipity aka Athena is the writer behind Serendipity's Guide To Saving. She enjoys song lyrics and bad tv. Find her on twitter @serendipity85 and her blog http://savernotaspender.blogspot.com/.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

The Happy Homeowner March 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

I’m a fan of a blended approach where each person has their own account and then there’s a general fund where both contribute to in order to pay the mortgage and any other shared responsibilities.

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Elizabeth Elizabeth March 6, 2012 at 10:38 am

It’s amazing how many ways there are to manage just accounts.

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Tina W. March 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

My husband and I have separate checking and savings plus a joint checking. I personally love it. I do the bills each pay period and tell him how much they are and we just transfer the money into the joint account to pay bills. We split most things right down the middle. He also has a daughter so that plays into having separate accounts as well. We are on different pages with financial responsibility. I am actually doing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Planner now and my husband just joined me on the journey last week. We are working toward having a joint savings account for house stuff and vacations, etc. But for now we just have the joint account for bills and we are building our first step in savings. We don’t fight about money unless he complains about being broke and I point out why hahha. Part of it is because we have separate accounts and part of it is bills are always paid a paycheck ahead and the day we get paid before anything else. I don’t know that I will ever be comfortable with a single account unless maybe one of us had no income. But that is just me.

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Katie March 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm

My husband and I have a joint checking account to pay all the bills and then when each get the same amount of “spending” money every week . I like the way we’ve set up our finances, we can do what ever we please with our spending money but our priorities are still in line.

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Anthony Thompson March 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Yes, Dave Ramsey advocates solely that married couples have a shared bank account. While this works for some, and it may not work for others. I like your explanations on the benefits of having separate accounts. Nicely done!

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Serendipity March 8, 2012 at 5:07 am

Thanks Anthony! I really appreciate having an open mind! It really goes to show there is no wrong or right way, personal finance is personal. :)

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Mikhaila March 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

My partner and I are moving in together in August and we’ve discussed what approach to bills, rent, etc, we’ll take, and we haven’t come up with anything concrete. I think we’ll just leave things as they are and work out something for the rent (I think his building only accepts one cheque per unit). I’m also a worst case scenario thinker too and that’s why I’ll never share credit with a partner, and why I would have a joint account, but always maintain my separate accounts and therefore my financial independence. Currently he’s buying a motorcycle, and I’ve built up an emergency fund. Different goals for different people!

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Bgirl March 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thanks for posting! This is a topic my boyfriend and I have been discussing. I make more money but have more bills. I can be a bit of a control freak when it comes to finances and making sure I always have bills paid long before their due, so I lean towards keeping separate accounts. However, we are heading towards marriage and I don’t ever want money to be a source of conflict for us. I’d prefer that we both feel like we’re contributing to a strong financial future and want us to hold each other accountable.

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