If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my work with couples, it’s that each couple is incredibly unique. What works for one couple may not work for others. Furthermore, what works for a couple at one time, may have an expiration date. This is often the case in regards to money management within relationships.
When it comes to money in a relationship, there are so many decisions to make. Who will take responsibility for the finances? Who will pay the bills? Where will that money come from? Will there be a savings account? Will there be a retirement fund? Will there be “fun money” to play with? And then there is the much debated question: Will we keep a joint account, or will we each have our own bank accounts?
That last question is often debated because it carries a lot of psychological weight. But, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to.
Many people equate sharing money with trust or closeness in a relationship. If you decide to keep a joint account, does that mean that you trust each other more than those that don’t? Does it mean you are closer than those that don’t? Does it mean you are willing to go “all in” and merge everything down to your last penny? If that’s the case, what does it say about a couple who doesn’t join their accounts? Do they trust each other less? Are they preparing for divorce by not marrying their money?
My take on this is that it’s perfectly acceptable to take the judgment out of this decision and simply look at the logistics without it having to mean something about the quality of your relationship. Which method is easier for the couple? Which way makes the most sense financially? Let’s examine some specifics by talking about a couple of hypothetical situations.
Couple A is made up of Bill and Jill. Bill works from home as a computer programmer. He is an independent contractor, not an employee, so he’s able to write-off many of his home expenses. Jill is a realtor, so she’s also an independent contractor. However, the expenses she can write off are often different than the one’s Bill can write off. Can you see how Bill and Jill might benefit from having separate accounts to make things simpler and maximize their tax deductions when reporting to the IRS?
Couple B contains Jack and Julie. Jack is a government employee and Julie works at a bank. Both are employees with steady paychecks that don’t change much from month to month. Julie is also really good at managing money whereas Jack could use some help in this department. Could you see the benefit of these two sharing an account?
You see, in these two examples, whether or not to share accounts has nothing to do with trust or love. Instead it’s simply about what works for each couple.
Intent Is Everything
Whether or not you decide to keep separate bank accounts, the key to a healthy relationship is good communication. If you are keeping your own account so that you don’t have to discuss finances with your spouse, your problems are bigger than your bank account! On the other hand, if you’d like to keep some money on the side to surprise your love with shiny things from time to time, I can definitely get behind that decision and I bet your spouse can too.
If you would like to talk more about managing money in your relationship, contact me. I’m here to help!