Joint Or Separate Bank Accounts? How To Decide What's Right For Your Marriage

Money can be an awkward topic to discuss in a relationship. Whether you've always enjoyed keeping your modest salary to yourself or want to avoid explaining how you've accrued debt over the years, there are many reasons why sharing the intimate details of your financial status with your partner can feel vulnerable.

For most people, money is seen as a powerful tool. However, depending on your background and current perspective, it can also be a touchy subject. Luckily, adopting a "wealth mindset" can heal your relationship with money. That being said, when it comes to friends or extended family members, it can be healthy to set boundaries and limit your transparency with this topic.

Once your dating relationship starts heading for marriage, however, a discussion about finances will inevitably need to be had, especially once you move in together and start sharing typical household expenses. Interestingly, a Credit Karma report found that many people are prioritizing their individual finances before committing to a life partner. On top of that, most millennials surveyed want to have shared financial goals within marriage. Therefore, talking about finances in the midst of larger life plans can be the perfect segue.

Financial transparency is crucial for a healthy relationship

While most dating couples have separate bank accounts, marriage often sparks a conversation about merging finances. Some view this decision as a no-brainer, but others may have trust issues or money anxiety. Choosing to keep separate bank accounts within marriage is a personal decision between each couple. However, it doesn't have to limit the honesty or transparency between you and your spouse when it comes to money.

Open communication regarding finances is essential for establishing trust and holding each other accountable to the mutual goals set. According to research published in the Wiley Online Library, not being on the same page about money is one of the main reasons for divorce. Since being financially aligned is so imperative, explaining your perspective on debt, credit cards, savings goals, and combining incomes should be discussed once a relationship gets serious. Even making an appointment as a couple with a financial planner can be a great way to start this conversation.

Understanding financial intimacy and learning how to talk about money with your partner are essential. Most couples may not see eye to eye on everything immediately, but discussing non-negotiables can help you make decisions together as a team. The goal is to come up with a financial plan that both partners can stick with. Plus, agreeing to discuss any adjustments or changes beforehand can help you avoid the stress or fear of "financial infidelity."

There is no universal approach to merging finances

Couples have a few options when it comes to merging finances within marriage. They can choose to go all in and combine every single account. This includes all credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, emergency funds, and everything in between. Even adding each other to vehicles could help you feel like your lives are fully united. This approach is ideal for couples who agree that sharing everything is their goal.

On the other hand, some married couples find that this approach could complicate things. If one or both partners have a business bank account, they may prefer to keep that separate and avoid mixing personal and professional finances. Similarly, keeping at least one personal account separate from your spouse but merging everything else is an option many couples consider. While this blended approach can provide individual security for each partner, it can also be a simple way to purchase gifts for your spouse without ruining the surprise.

Another option for married couples is to keep everything separate and have each partner pay for half of the monthly bills. While this can make some people feel less unified with their spouse, it works perfectly for others. At the end of the day, marriage is about teamwork and if you approach the topic of finances with love, respect, and empathy, you'll be able to come to the right decision for your marriage.