If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s when self-righteous folks tell other folks what they think they should do with their money as if their opinion is the only opinion that is valid.
It’s one thing to offer advice, but it’s another to browbeat someone because they had the gall to decide to do something different than what you would have done. One of those things just so happens to be married couples and separate bank accounts.
Personally, my husband and I made the decision before we got married to have joint finances. We spread our money out over several accounts that we BOTH can access at any time. However, we respect each other enough not to spend money from each other’s individual accounts (I’ll explain later, stick with me). But the point is, there’s no one way to do your finances and if you and your spouse communicate with each other, it’s quite possible to make separate bank accounts work for you.
With this controversial opinion of mine out in the open, I decided I wouldn’t argue the merits of either but I would delve into the common misconceptions folks have about people who decide to have separate bank accounts. These misconceptions often deter good people with honest intentions from trying something that could help them build wealth together.
So, let me get into this really quick, but first, let me add a disclaimer: If you have an opinion contrary to mine, I don’t mind you sharing, but let’s be for damn sure clear on this one thing — don’t attack me. (If you plan to attack, I won’t even entertain you with a response. I will simply laugh and carry on.)
4 Misconceptions About Married Couples and Separate Bank Accounts
Separate bank accounts mean you don’t trust your spouse.
The lies. Like seriously, who comes up with this stuff?
So, let me clear up some things first. Separate is not always about trust for some people. People choose to have separate bank accounts for all sorts of reasons and sometimes it just makes life easier for them.
My husband and I have separate bank accounts that we spend our discretionary funds from and I can tell you it doesn’t have anything to do with trust. I trust my husband when it comes to our finances and he trusts me.
Matter of fact, we both can look at what the other has been spending, but the thing is that we don’t. I don’t have time to be checking my husband’s extra spending coins. And what if I check his statement and end up surprised?
And I’m not talking about surprised as in the fact he’s spent money on a second family or something like that. But what if he decided to sneak into Jared’s and buy a girl diamonds for Mother’s Day and I ruin the surprise because I wanna be all nosey?
See, for me, that’s a whole other problem. That’s called insecurity. And if your spouse has given you a reason to feel insecure financially or otherwise, your marriage has bigger issues and it doesn’t have anything to do with coins.
Stop judging folks on this misconception that having separate bank accounts means you don’t trust your spouse. Also, don’t take to heart when someone judges you because you choose to keep a separate account either (because seriously, they just don’t know any better).
I’m part of the camp that says, do you. Do what’s best for you and your financial situation and if a separate bank account helps you and your partner manage your money in a way that helps you achieve your financial goals, so be it.
Separate bank accounts mean lack of respect for your marriage.
Misconception #2 is that having a separate bank account means you lack respect for the institute of marriage. <insert eye roll> Chile, please.
I’ve seriously heard this before and I call bull on this lie. Keeping separate bank account does not mean you’re not a team player when it comes to your marriage.
Separate bank accounts is simply a means to an end. There are hundreds of different ways to manage your finances efficiently and if pulling your money from one account that you have together worked for you, then that’s great.
But for many, the lack of structure in their finances is exactly what keeps them in struggleville. The lack of respect comes in to play when your communication skills suck.
It’s just as easy for someone with joint bank accounts as it is with separate bank accounts to lack the necessary communication skills to become financially independent.
If you want to talk respect, learn how to listen to the needs of the other spouse and make a decision that will work best for all parties involved.
Don’t just assume that wanting to do something different means you don’t have any respect for anyone else. If anything, it means you respect yourself first and that’s always a MUST when it comes to any relationship.
Separate bank accounts mean you don’t want to be married.
This one tickles me. I hate this whole idea that you need to lose your independence just because you want to get married. My husband is grown and I’m grown.
I don’t want my husband coming to me and asking me every other week if it’s okay for him to purchase his favorite grooming products at the drugstore.
Likewise, he doesn’t want me coming to him asking him if it’s okay that I grab fingernail polish or a pair of earrings. To deal with this issue, we have a husband and a wife account where we can make discretionary purchases without living in a parent-childlike relationship.
Just because we chose this setup does not mean we don’t want to be married to each other. It means we respect each other enough to give each other room to be an adult.
Your finances shouldn’t be set up as a means of controlling the other person. That’s the type of ish that will have you in divorce court. As long as you’re both clear and have discussed the expected uses of the money in your individual accounts, it’s all good and don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise.
Separate bank accounts mean no access.
This brings me to the final misconception about married folks and separate bank accounts — no access. This definitely needs to be debunked.
My husband and I have joint finances that include the following bank accounts: husband account, wife account, household expenses (includes the children’s stuff) account, emergency savings fund, car maintenance fund, etc. We have more than that, but my exact system isn’t important for this discussion.
What’s important for you to understand is that both of our names are on the accounts and we both have access to the funds. Why?
Well, if something happens to my husband tomorrow, I will need access to the money in his husband account. Instead of filling out a bunch of paperwork and dealing with certain legalities, I’m actually an authorized user of the account. I have a debit card with my name on it. He has the same access to my personal account too.
This is where people get it twisted. I’m not a proponent of having secret accounts and hiding things from the other person unless you’re being abused and need to get out of the ugly situation. That’s a whole other topic for another day.
Having access to each other’s account is where trust and basic mutual respect comes into play. Even though you have access to the account, you need to respect your spouse enough not to take some of his discretionary funds just because you blew through your money.
And you also have to trust that the person isn’t doing things with their funds that you wouldn’t necessarily approve of. You know, stuff like making it rain at the strip club or something. If any of these problems exist, you need to be worried about more than separate bank accounts
How to Make Separate Bank Accounts Work For You
So, let’s make this really simple in case some of you are about to get married or you’re already married and you want to try something different. Here’s how you can make separate bank accounts work for you.
1. Ignore the naysayers.
Yes, first and foremost, opinions that aren’t paying your bills are irrelevant. As long as you and your spouse are in agreement and are working towards financial independence, stop listening to those opinions that go against what you know is right for you.
2. Be super clear on why you’re creating separate bank accounts.
If you’re creating separate accounts because a spouse struggles with overspending, uses all of the money for gambling or something like that, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
Yes, it is a solution to what you’re dealing with, but it’s not addressing the root issue. It won’t fix the problem.
Be clear about your intentions and face reality if you need to do so. If a spouse needs help or you need help, deal with the problem and don’t just use separate accounts as a band-aid.
3. Communication will make or break you.
If you both have decided to create separate accounts to segregate money for certain expenses, communicate with each other about your progress as needed.
For example, the wife may have an account she uses to purchase groceries and kid-related things and she continues to run out of money every month.
If that happens, you both need to come to an agreement about your financial goals and adjust your budget expenses to make sure you’re spending in alignment with your goals. Without communication, any financial management system will fail.
4. View all money as “ours”.
Look, I get it. Deep down no one likes the thought of someone using us, but this is your spouse. You’re not carrying your significant other if you make more money than them. You’re a team and it’s best to look at all the money that comes into the house as belonging to the both of you.
You both work hard and make sacrifices and you’ve been compensated for it in the form of wages (fair or not). So, when you come together, create a budget that fulfills both of your needs. Up until I got the boot from my job last year, I was the breadwinner in our marriage.
But did I ever take it to the head? No. And it’s a good thing I didn’t because now my husband is the breadwinner and just imagine how stupid I would feel if I made a habit of rubbing it in his face that I made more money than him?
We’ve always worked together and created a budget that took into account our own personal desires, shared financial goals, and family needs. We divided the money up into separate accounts that included our personal spending accounts and kept it moving.
But What If My Spouse Is Digging Us Into a Black Hole?
I see this issue a lot and I wanted to address it before wrapping things up. Sometimes one spouse is trying to make the finances work. You both have either joint accounts or a combination of joint/separate accounts, but your spouse has a spending problem that is leaving you in the black each month.
Your partner spends all their money and then dips into your joint money. Heck, sometimes they sneak and get your money. This definitely needs to be addressed, but unfortunately, this is not a problem that I can personally help you solve.
Now what I can say is that if I were in this situation, I would get counseling, open up the lines of communication with my spouse, and set up our financial system to pay bills using an account that only I have access to. I crave security and the way my trust is set up, he would have to work with this system until he agrees to get help.
Because I love him and my kids and I don’t want to see any of us in the streets, nor do I want to ever see a bankruptcy judge again. However, I would be clear and honest with him about why I’m doing this and support him as he gets his ish together.
I know most won’t agree with this because of this whole “we are one” thing they have going on and that’s fine. That’s you. If you are cool with your spouse bankrupting you, I don’t have any problems with it either. But personally, I would take preventative measures to ensure I protect our finances, not to be controlling or anything, but to help us overcome the obstacle.
I would expect my spouse to do the same thing if I had a problem that I needed help overcoming. The key here is not to assign blame but to focus on a solution. Sometimes all it takes is one discussion with your spouse to fix the issue. You have to communicate! If that doesn’t cut it, you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking extraordinary measures to maintain financial security.
Related Reading: How 7 Women Got Their Spouses on Board to Pay Off Debt
Wrapping Thangs Up
With all of this said, think of your finances as a teammate sport where trust, accountability, and respect is essential to bringing home a win. Having separate accounts is not about separate finances. It’s about organizing your finances in a way to help both of you to achieve your individual and shared dreams.
Your decision to organize your finances should be a healthy decision, not made in fear and not one made to keep things from your spouse. Don’t allow the common misconceptions of lack of respect, trust, not wanting to be married, and lack of access to your money discourage you from implementing a system that could possibly transform your financial lives.
Remember, it’s not about the setup, it’s about whatever works. To discover what works for you, both of you need to start communicating with each other about your wishes. I’ve created a free pdf download to help couples facilitate discussion when it comes to personal finances.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to talk about money, but the sooner we start getting clear on what we want and communicate our desires to one another, the quicker we’ll get to financial freedom. Be sure to download your copy by clicking the image below.