For richer or poorer, right?
If you’re married, you most likely said those words (or something similar) the day you committed yourself to your husband. What may have been a better phrase is, “Whether you have piles of student loans, an Anthropologie habit, or no financial literacy, we’re in this together.”
Merging finances is one of the scariest parts of marriage, and the divorce statistics prove it. Money is something that most of us never learned to discuss and that we would rather avoid – or we don’t avoid the topic at all, but it turns into a knock-down drag-out fight anytime it’s brought up. Money touches multiple areas of our lives and even though it’s ‘numbers’ it intertwines heavily with our emotions. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also., Want to know what someone really cares about? The answer is most likely in their wallet.
So how do we use money to strengthen our marriages instead of tearing them apart? And why, why, why should we not at least protect ourselves a little bit and keep separate bank accounts? There are a few reasons:
1. It forces you and your spouse to get on the same page.
Do you truly know how your spouse manages money? You will now. When everything is kept separate, you may know that there is ‘enough,’ but you likely won’t know ‘how much.’ When everything is in the same pot, it forces you to work together. Typically, there will still be one person that spends more time working on the finances. In our marriage, I am that person. However, our money belongs to both of us, and we are both given a responsibility to spend it wisely. I don’t give my husband an ‘allowance’ because he is a grown up. We look at our expenses for that month together and decide how much discretionary cash we should get. Sometimes one of us gets more discretionary cash that month, and that’s okay. What matters is you’re talking about it and doing it together. Make it a date night once a month!
2. It creates instant accountability
When I was living in Texas and still single, I never received text messages that said, “Um, what is ‘Sephora’ and why did you spend $56 there?” Additionally, I never had to explain to a bewildered husband why $56 was nothing because I got mascara and new shampoo and conditioner. A drop in the hat, really.
Most of us are used to only having to justify purchases to ourselves – just wait until you have to logically explain to your spouse why you “needed” something. It helps you keep a new awareness of your spending when someone else is looking in the bank account!
3. There are no secrets.
Financial infidelity is a huge deal that tears marriages apart regularly. This is anything from secret overspending, forgetting to pay bills, or financing illicit activities. Everyone thinks that this could never happen to them, but finances are a source of great embarrassment for some people. There are wives who have no idea that they are behind on all of their bills because their husband didn’t want to tell them. There are husbands who have no idea what the credit card statement is every month – they just know that their recently furnished living room was ‘a good deal.’ Keep the secrets at bay, and even though you may have financial problems, at least everyone knows about them.
Some people will insist that they still need to have a separate checking account than their husband because it organizes their finances more easily. I suppose that as long as both spouses have equal access to the account and both spouses are completely aware of what the account is used for, I think that is fine.
But really, just combine them. It makes life so much easier.