Together or Separate?

Many couples choose to operate as independent financial entities.  They each have their own checking account, their own credit cards, their own savings and their own debt. These couples normally have come to some understanding of who is responsible for what expenses.

Is this a problem?

If you have chosen to keep finances separate instead of together, you need to ask yourself are you being private or are you trying to deceive? If you keep things separate because your partner would object to some of your spending or savings behaviors, you may be trying to appear to them as someone you’re not. Does that really sound like the basis for a good relationship, to you?

As long as both of you are clear on what you expect from the other financially and neither is trying to deceive, then I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem. However, I strongly believe couples that maintain separate finances are really missing out on an opportunity to deepen their relationship and improve the overall success of the family.

We used to handle our finances separately and it seems many of my friends still do. If the opportunity arises, I am quick to tell them how much merging our finances has improved not only our financial situation but also our relationship. It is very difficult to truly be together if don’t talk about your dreams and aspirations. Being smart about your money all starts with having goals and if you want to really share your life then you need to share your goals.

Putting your money together, forces you to communicate. If you are both writing checks out of the same account and no one is talking, bad things are likely to happen. One place I believe it is helpful to have less disclosure is with the budgeted blow money. Unless a couple is in financial crisis there should be some reasonable amount of money budgeted to each for blow money. In my way of thinking, that amount should be equal. What that money is spent on does not need to be recorded or disclosed. That’s why it’s called blow money. For one partner to question the validity of the blow money purchases of the other, defeats the whole purpose of not having to be accountable for that spending.

I’ve seen separate money behavior deteriorate to the point of having one spouse direct their credit card bills and bank statements to their work address or to a secret post office box. This level of deceit destroys a relationship. If you’ve fallen into this type of behavior and there are debts your spouse is unaware of, now is the time to resolve to change the situation. Seek the help of marriage counselor, financial coach or your pastor and end the secrecy.