When my husband and I got married in 2005, it seemed only natural to us to merge our finances as we merged our lives. So, after the wedding, we ditched our individual accounts and opened new ones together.
This worked great for us, partly because we had almost no money but also because we wanted to work as a team. We had big dreams for the future — dreams like buying a house, having kids and traveling the world. It seemed reasonable for us to share our money so we could work toward those financial goals together.
Fast forward 13 years and this strategy still works rather well, but it appears it’s not as “normal” as we thought. Over time, we’ve heard from many other couples who can’t understand why we don’t have our own “fun money” or why we share all the bills. Some have even accused us of not giving one another enough freedom or autonomy as independent adults.
We think that’s all hogwash and have no intention to change a strategy that works so well. Here’s why I feel it works so well for us.
1. We plan to stay married
When people say it’s “strange” to share your money with a spouse, I often wonder why. You share a home, children and a bed with your spouse, so why draw the line at the family funds?
For us, it would be incredibly strange to share our entire lives but keep our money separate. The reality is, we’ve been very intentional about the way we share our lives for a reason — we want to stay married. We feel that, by intentionally sharing our money and joining our lives in every imaginable way, we’re setting ourselves up for the future we want (together).
Another reason to maintain joint bank accounts is the fact it keeps everyone honest. Both my husband and I can log into our checking, savings or credit card accounts at any time to see what purchases have been made and when. This paves the way for honest discussions about money, as well as the need for a consensus before big purchases are made.
Early in our marriage, we decided to ask one another before we purchase anything over $100. This way, neither one of us get into the habit of buying pricey items without the other’s consent. This has worked great so far, and it helps that either one of us can check our accounts and see where all of our money is at any time.
3. Promoting a team mentality
I often wonder how couples with separate bank accounts work toward their joint financial goals. Do they open a separate savings account to fund their vacations? Do they decide how much each parent will chip in for the kid’s school activities? How about college?
I shudder at the thought of how much complexity separate finances could add to my life — especially because my husband and I work as a team. It makes much more sense for us to share our money and work together to reach our financial goals, including saving up for vacations, our children’s higher education and retirement. These are joint goals, after all, so why not save together?
Another reason we share all our funds is the fact it makes our lives incredibly simple. When you share your money, you don’t have to worry about who is paying each bill, whether your spouse forgot to pay one of their bills or if they are saving up for their share of your next big purchase.
Plus, how do you decide what is fair anyway? What happens if one spouse earns considerably more than the other? Do you split the bills in half even if one person earns less?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t really care — whatever works for others may not be right for me and vice versa. But the way I see it, when you share your money in a joint bank account, you don’t have to worry about who earns more or who owes what. Everything becomes “ours” instead of “his” or “mine.”
Last but not least, it always pays to set yourself up to be accountable to someone else. I can imagine how separate finances might make a person more comfortable splurging on unnecessary expenses or overpaying for convenience items, whereas joint finances help keep you accountable to another person who might challenge your spending in a way that benefits you both.
As an example, I am pretty picky when it comes to brands of clothing — so picky that I typically only buy dresses from a single company. These dresses cost at least $70 and up to $100 new, however, so I try not to overdo it even though I love them.
If I had my own accounts, I could see myself buying every new dress that comes out and throwing caution to the wind. What difference does it make if my husband would never know? With joint finances, on the other hand, I know my husband would notice if I went overboard and spent too much on dresses, dining out or, well, anything.
The same is true for him, of course, as I would notice if he went on an electronics bender or bought a ridiculous number of gadgets for his camera, which he is inclined to do. Either way, having joint accounts keeps you accountable in a way that might be difficult to mimic if you have separate finances. With joint funds, you have to think of how the other person would feel before you spend, and that’s always a good thing.
Again, these are thoughts I have based on what works for me and my husband. Sound off in the comments about what works in your partnership.