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How separate finances can work for married couples

By Georgie Miller

How separate finances can work for married couples

Generally, the expectation when a couple says "I do" is that one of the first financial tasks they will handle is to switch to joint accounts. However, joint finances are not mandatory and may not work for everyone.

Here are some things married couples should keep in mind when considering maintaining separate finances.

1. Separate accounts foster a sense of autonomy

No matter how long you dated before tying the knot, going from an "I" to an official "we" can be overwhelming. Especially if one partner makes more than the other, merging accounts can make the lesser-earning spouse feel as if they don't have as much of a say when decisions need to be made. Additionally, when accounts are jointly held, it is easy for one partner to end up with all the responsibility of bill-paying -- whether they are interested in doing so or not.

Keeping accounts separate puts each spouse in charge of how the money they earn is spent. Each spouse can contribute an equal percentage (not necessarily an equal dollar amount) of their income toward joint expenses. As long as each partner is living up to their end of whatever bargain is reached, additional money is theirs to spend or contribute to a savings account as they please. This approach can be especially attractive if one or both partners is trying to build financial flexibility and considers some of the other person's spending frivolous or unnecessary (we all judge!).

2. Separate accounts require more communication about money

The fact that most banks offer online bill pay mean that it is pretty simple for couples with combined accounts to determine whether a particular bill has been paid. Log in, check the account, done. On the other hand, if you pay some of the bills and your spouse pays some, then you need to trust that each of you will do your part. Further, you each have a responsibility to tell the other if a bill is unusually high or there is some other extenuating circumstance surrounding an account.

Getting married means striving for financial adulthood, even if you are maintaining separate accounts. Each member of the couple will want to make sure that the other person has all necessary log-in information. That way, both people can access all funds or accounts in case of an emergency. In other words, separate accounts isn't cause for secrecy or deception. Exactly the opposite!

3. Separate accounts may help maintain credit and ease student loan repayment

Joint accounts factor into each person's credit score. However, contrary to popular belief, there's no such thing as a joint credit report or a joint credit score. They're individual. Maintaining separate accounts can encourage each member of the union to ensure that their credit score is as high as possible. This can come in useful in a variety of circumstances, from obtaining a mortgage to qualifying for the best credit card rewards programs.

Additionally, more and more young adults are paying back student loans. Generally, unless there is a cosigner, student loans stay with the individual who borrowed the money whether that person is single, married or divorced. As a result, maintaining separate accounts after getting married (including filing taxes separately) may make qualifying for income-based repayment plans simpler.

Final thoughts

Whether you are engaged, newlyweds or longtime spouses, deciding whether to have joint accounts or to maintain separate finances isn't a decision to make lightly. Talk to your partner and come to an agreement that works for both people.

If, after carefully weighing all the options, you decide that separate finances are what will work for you, don't let other people convince you that your relationship is doomed or that you don't love each other. It's your marriage. Only you and your partner truly know what your relationship is like or how you feel about each other!

Disclaimer: Discover is a paid advertiser of this site.
Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the Discover online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards.

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1 Response to “Separate Accounts for Married Couples: A Good Idea?” 

  1. Crazy 4 Rewards says:

    Nice article, but I have to disagree. I strongly believe that join accounts are stronger - for the relationship and also to have stronger finances. The only exception in my case is credit cards accounts - and not to divide the expenses, but to earn double sign up bonuses for the rewards : )

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