Married Dopers, do you keep separate finances from your SO?

I’m not talking about each person having a small account on the side for discretionary spending or as a holdover from pre-marriage times. I’m talking about NO shared bank account. Person A deposits into one bank account what Person A makes and Person B deposits into another bank account what Person B makes. Bills are divided up so that each is responsible for paying a certain segment. Sometimes it goes as far Person A and Person B having absolutely no idea or access to what the other earns.

My wife and I have a theory that married couples keeping separate bank accounts is a fundemental problem in the marriage and a strong indication that the relationship will not last. If you can’t trust your SO with money, well…what can you trust him or her with? We know of at least two couples like this. One ended in a divorce last year. One seems to be going along well, for now.

For the purposes of this question, you can assume it means you if you’re in a long term monogamous relationship but unable to marry due to the laws in your jurisdiction.

I know a couple that has done this for well over 40 years, and it doesn’t seem to be the cause of any major tensions.

We are the opposite: we have joint spending/saving accounts, but we keep really careful track of individual spending. Even our grocery budgets are separate (since we tend to eat different things). We didn’t do this until we started an aggressive saving program: we wanted to tie ourselves to some much tighter new spending levels, and we found that the only way we could do that is if we kept very close track of what we spent. Twenty years ago we probably would have each just had a cash envelope for the month, but we do so much of our shopping online and so enjoy the simplicity of a debit card that it just seems like less of a bother to maintain an excel spreadsheet with virtual accounts. But the money is all in one actual pool.

I insisted on separate everything when we married. He won’t admit it, but it has driven a huge hole in our relationship and I’m not quite sure we’ll ever recover.

My wife and I have very different styles of managing our money. I’m a saver who has to have a large amount in the bank, a rainy day fund, to feel comfortable. She doesn’t mind carrying credit card debt (which would drive me crazy) and her measure of too much spending is when her debt reaches a certain level. Between the two of us it works out, as long as I don’t see her credit card bills. If she has money she wants to save then she pays a bill that I would normally pay and she knows I’ll squirrel away that extra money. We both have good jobs and she pays most of the monthly bills out of her pay. I’m the big ticket items and emergency fund. It takes trust and a good income to work, I think, and we are lucky to have both.

I’m glad you made that distinction, because that is so us. Some joint accounts, and we have access to pretty much all of each others’ financial information, and we pay joint taxes, but we still have holdover separate accounts from pre-marriage because we are so extraordinarily lazy :slight_smile:

…But yeah. It would be weird, to me, to have what seems to me like very secretive financial habits. My mom is always telling me not to tell my husband about an account that contains stock that they bought for me when I was a teenager. The hilarious thing about this is that he does our joint taxes (which she knows), so he sees the dividends from the stock every year anyway; I don’t know who she thinks she’s fooling.

kiz, would you do it differently if you could do it over? What led you to suggest separate everything?

We have no separation of money. When we got together neither of us made much money so we combined everything to pay the bills and hopefully still have a couple of bucks left over to go out once in a while. It became our norm and we’ve never changed it.

My parents kept their money separate, it worked for them because they had such different spending habits. For the purposes of the OP’s question they were married for 51 years.

Not married, but after this story, I wonder how my parents are! On Mom’s birthday Dad took her to Burger King and then made her pay. He said it all comes from the same pot, so it didn’t matter which one did the act of payment. Someone was missing the point! :smiley:

I voted no, but thought some explanation was due.

I think it’s a very good idea for each spouse to have at least one separate account of some sort (credit card or whatever) for emergencies - like the time I thought I’d lost my wallet the day we were to leave to visit family at Christmas. Cancelled everything - and if Typo Knig hadn’t had a non-shared credit card, we’d have been stuck for travel expenses.

I also think it’s a decent idea to have your own account for “mad money” - not the majority of household expenses, but a little bit you don’t have to account for. I have a separate checking account for this which has at times been useful (like when I was on a long-term out of town business assignment; my second-home expenses went through there). Nowadays, that account mostly just holds a few dollars at a time when we need to make a Paypal purchase.

But the bulk of household money should - if not held jointly, at least be visible to both parties with reasonable access.

As it happens, I do 99.95% of the money management. I have passwords to all of Typo Knig’s accounts, though I am careful to never make changes / transactions without discussion. He has the passwords to mine (by dint of having access to the password vault) and he’d be welcome to take a look, though he’s never bothered.

Anyway - in general, if most finances are kept separate, I really think it’s too easy to be deceived (by your partner or yourself) about the true state of the family finances.

My husband and I have access to each other’s bank accounts, but they’re still separate, as are most of our investments and all our credit cards. It has absolutely nothing to do with trust and everything to do with laziness and has worked well for us so far.

I manage everything related to the kids (childcare, new clothes, sports program expenses, doctors’ appointments, college fund distributions), plus groceries, gym memberships and most large purchases. My husband handles all the utilities and the mortgage.

We’ve divvied it up this way because I remember more household/family details and he doesn’t, so he’s automated most of his bills and I take care of the expenses that generally can’t be automated.

Similarly, because he’s a consultant, I take care of all the insurance, FSAs and 401k contributions.

He can look at my accounts online anytime he wants to see what I’ve spent where; likewise, I can look at his, but we’ve just never gotten around to combining everything.

My wife handles all our finances. I couldn’t tell you within $1,000 how much money we have in the bank accounts at any given time. I have a vague awareness that we have a mortgage and bills and savings accounts and investments, and that I am somehow contributing to them, but other than that, I don’t know what’s going on.

To be fair, she’s the type that needs to have everything in her control, and I’m the type that needs someone like that to manage my finances. Or every time I saw something shiny, I’d go out and buy it.

No, that would be stupid. Never even occurred to us.

My husband and I have kept separate accounts for 23 years, and it isn’t the cause of any tension at all. Ever. I guess I just don’t get what the big deal is - we both worked and had our own accounts prior to meeting and getting married, and there has never been a reason to change that.

This is exactly the way I see it. I don’t understand why not having shared accounts is generally considered a symptom of trust issues or financial disparity. It’s not. We’re just lazy and don’t care enough, dammit.

I think like most things if it works for you and your spouse there is nothing wrong with it.

As I mentioned in the other thread we have separate “allowance” accounts, but everything else is combined. We trade off every 6 months on paying bills and entering things into Quicken because we both hate to do it :slight_smile:

My husband and I are almost like the OP’s hypothetical except that we do have a shared savings account. Otherwise we each have our own checking accounts that our respective paychecks are deposited into, we split up the bills and individually pay each out of our own savings accounts, etc. We’ve been married for almost 14 years and have used this method the entire time.

Absolutely. Money problems are one of the leading causes of breakups and divorce, right up there with infidelity.

We have one joint account, having closed down all our separate accounts along the way. Our paycheques go into and expenses come out of the one account. This works for us, but I can see other arrangements working for other people. If separate accounts cause no problems at all, that’s great. If separate accounts were created due to lack of trust or are causing problems, that’s not so great.

Nope. We kept our money separate when we moved in together, but as soon as we got married she was thrilled to turn over all financial tasks to me.

Are you implying that keeping separate finances prevents money problems? I don’t think that’s the case at all - either method can work, and either method can break down.

No. I’m saying they are much less likely to occur.

We have lots of accounts - some are joint and some are seperate. It just evolved that way. Never been any big deal. None of our finances are really secret from each other, but I’ve never cared enough to review my wife’s.

Been this way for twenty years.