We ask 19 experts: Do couples need to merge accounts to be happy?

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Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Managing Editor & Certified Financial Planner™

Hanna Horvath, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and former managing editor at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in NBC News, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Best Company, and HerMoney.

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Whether you discuss it or not, money is a big part of any relationship. There aren’t any hard or fast rules about how couples should handle their finances. But are some ways better than others?

Policygenius' annual Couples and Money survey found that one in five couples manage money separately. It also revealed that those who do are less likely to know key information about each other's finances (including salaries, debts, assets, and credit scores) — and more apt to break up than couples managing money together.

But that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed if you don’t share bank details with your partner. We asked 19 certified financial planners if couples had to manage money together to be happy. Most said no.

Q: Do couples have to merge bank accounts to be financially happy?


Why some experts say yes

“Happiness? Not sure, but having at least one joint account where major expenses are tracked and paid makes life easier. It’s fine if individuals want to have their own accounts for personal expenses, but couples will find it easier to manage household expenses from one joint account. It can also encourage reciprocal rules, like ‘purchases more than $200 should be discussed before made.’” Catherine Valega, certified financial planner at Bay Financial Associates

Why some experts say no

“If they have different spending philosophies or money mindsets, having separate bank accounts can result in more financial peace and happiness. That way couples won't frustrate each other with how they are spending on discretionary items.” Mary Thompson, certified financial planner at Reframe Financial Planning

“If you’re taking the time to discuss your finances on a regular basis, then merging your accounts is a non-issue. I've seen couples that keep separate accounts and instead have a family finance chat each month. And I've seen other couples that have joint accounts but one partner doesn't know how to log in, nonetheless monitor transactions. As far as happiness goes, being on the ‘same page’ in a relationship is vital. As long as one partner isn't feeling hurt or kept in the dark, then I see no issue with separate accounts.” Liz Gillette, certified financial planner at Mainstreet Financial Planning

“The key isn’t to have joint accounts, the key is if they are both upfront about their spending habits and work together if there are differences in priorities. They have to develop a mutually-satisfactory system to manage their finances. Combining accounts doesn't solve problems when spending/saving priorities differ, secretive spending occurs or one party foists their view on the other who reluctantly accepts it.” Robert Friedman, certified financial planner at Central Park Financial Planning

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