When I got the opportunity to write a guest post for JD Roth over at Get Rich Slowly, I knew it was time to finally put to paper the idea for a post that had been marinating in my head for quite some time.

So often we hear people talking about what they consider to be the one option for how to set up finances in a relationship, and that’s that you absolutely have to combine all bank accounts and investments once you sign that marriage certificate. If you don’t, you aren’t really a team, you aren’t fully committed to each other, and you obviously have some lack of trust in the relationship. Or at least, that’s what quite a few personal finance experts seem to believe.

My husband and I have always kept separate accounts though, and we have no plans to change that. We did open up joint accounts as soon as we got married, but in the intervening nine years we haven’t made moves to combine the rest. Having separate money is really important for us, and I’ve meant to write a post in detail for a while now about how we manage our money together and individually, and this guest post gave me the opportunity to do just that.

The only problem was once I wrote out the post, I almost didn’t want to give it away to be published on Get Rich Slowly because I liked it so much. I did share it though after all, so head on over to JD’s site to read it and let me know what you think! If it isn’t obvious, I feel pretty strongly about this subject, but with everything else, personal finance is so personal and it may not be the right option for you regardless – but there are lots of options, not just one right way to go about it.

17 thoughts on “Marriage And Money: The Case For Separate But Combined Finances

  1. That’s my biggest problem with guest posts. I really want to write my best content. But once I write it, I’m like, HEY, I want that for MY site.

    The struggle is real.

    We still haven’t gotten my husband’s name on our house deed. Most everything else is combined, but, that’s just because I manage everything and it’s easier that way… and I’m the only one who works.

    I’ll check the post out!

    1. Ha, yes. I feel you exactly.

      Hard not to have fully combined finances if only one person works. Not sure how you’d do it another way that would be fair.

  2. Well, I can at least COMMENT about it here! 🙂 My wife and I waited about five years after marriage before combining bank accounts. It took a little cajoling on my part, but we got there. Looking back I think I’d have gone about it differently and suggested we start together with a brand new bank, rather than she joining my existing account. The great thing for Mrs. Cubert is she retains her separate business accounts and that gives her lots of freedom to spend her hard earned dollars as she desires (like, for instance, on Christmas presents for me…)

    1. So you two are about 90% combined then sounds like? That’s the great thing about personal finance – there are about a million different ways to manage your money 🙂

  3. I’ll have to head over there and check it out, well done on the guest post. Great year of blogging for you 🙂
    I have no idea how separate accounts would be, my wife and I have been together since high school and joined our finances at 20 years old I believe it was.

  4. Hers, mine and ours. My wife and I have been together for over 40 years and when we got married she was a professional woman earning about the same as me. She had her own savings, credit cards and assets (car, condo, etc.). She also had a career based on “HER” name. At that period it was “normal” for her to take my last name and for us to combine our finances but the name thing would have set back her earned reputation. We also realized that combining finances actually meant abandoning her financial identity and living under mine (not ours – but mine). The common practice of financial institutions was to simply erase her. Not that we were thinking much about divorce but it was clear that if that did happen she would be alone without ANY current credit score. Going forward, regardless of her income, she would be starting over. We would have also thrown away half of our borrowing power (probably not a bad thing). So, she kept her name, her credit cards, her bank account and her property while we combined our thinking. Eventually, we sold our houses and cars and bought together. At the time the woman at the Virginia DMV wasn’t sure an “unmarried couple” (the name thing) could jointly own a car. The IRS had a few problems with the names and a joint return as well (we didn’t do the hyphenate). All along we have thought as a partnership and we share the same financial values. The joint accounts now represents the lions share of “our” money and she is our CFO. She keeps track of hers and my credit cards (I do keep one for buying her presents and being stupid). One word of caution – this will not work for everyone. There are two kinds of people in this world – savers and spenders. Savers will spend part of their paycheck and always save some. Spenders are famous for spending the whole paycheck and usually a little more. When both sides of a couple are spenders – disaster is certain. If they are one of each disaster is likely. They both have to be savers. I have taken up too much space – but you inspire me.

    1. I definitely agree with all of this – the point is that there are a million different ways to combine or not, but being on close to the same page on the really big stuff is most important, I think.

  5. LOVED the article. I also have separate finances for my partner, for many of the same reasons as well as some additional ones! It was so refreshing at the Cents Positive conference to meet so many women who have separate finances because when I reveal this to ppl, folks tend to automatically assume that I don’t trust my partner when the reality is, it is quite the opposite because we are both giving up control. I like to say that our our end destinations are ultimately the same, but the paths to get there are quite different and while we are accountable to each other 100%, we don’t ever need permission from the other on our spending. We don’t argue about money, and for the most part, we are good influences on each other, though recently we had some insights into the behaviors where we both tend to be a little more spendy than we should and I’m in the process of doing an all-in financial analysis on the two of us so we can discuss our strengths and weaknesses. We both need a reset, if that makes sense. We aren’t completely off track but there are some behaviors and habits and mind-shifts that need to happen. Keep up the good work, Angela!

    1. I LOVED hearing you talk about your finances and all the reasons you’ve separated them the way you have. And I agree – Cents Positive was so refreshing for that reason (among many).

  6. I read over there but I’m back here now! Hehe. I’m so glad to be reading about how “real people” do their “real finances” and excel… All while they’re ALL doing different things! There’s no “right” answer except one that works for you as a couple, and I love that. I’ve thought a lot about which way we’d go if we ultimately get married, but I think we would go with Mine/His/Ours method, where we’ll put living expenses in the Ours, and keep the rest in the different accounts. We hope to live on just my income when we are finally “together” (living together and potentially married) so still not sure how we’d knuckle out the kinks with that (it would definitely be much easier if we just had Ours and smaller “allowances” in each of our accounts monthly), but I’m sure once we get there, we’ll figure it out.

    Thanks for sharing your life, and I LOVE that you were determined your debt is YOURS to tackle and went through with it!! And the fact that you guys have your separate financial lives so you don’t need to get upset about what he spends HIS money on was really impactful. My boyfriend and I have very different ways we spend money in terms of what we find important and the amount (he’d go and donate $2,500 to a charity I like just because and on a whim, and I couldn’t imagine putting such a dent into my net worth without first having a plan on how I’d cashflow that), so that was really cool to read about.

    1. Yes!!! There are SO many different ways to combine finances – ours is just one of many. It’s amazing that in all of Personal Finance this is an area that some people think there is only ONE right way.

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