Joint vs. Separate Finances: Which is Right for Your Marriage?

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jointfinancesAfter the wedding bells ring, will the finances merge? Some couples swear by joint finances, while others sing the praises of separate accounts. But which is right for you and your significant other? It depends. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of both joint and separate finances.

Pros of Joint Finances

– It forces you to be on the same page with your significant other in terms of spending and savings goals.
– It doesn’t give either spouse the upper hand if one makes more money than the other.
– It allows for one spouse to pursue non-traditional employment or no employment — like starting a new business or staying at home to parent full-time.

Cons of Joint Finances

– It may take away your sense of independence from your partner.
– If one spouse has a spending problem, he or she could spend all available cash leaving little to no extra funds to be saved for financial goals.
– It will likely take more time and effort to separate the accounts in the event of a divorce.

Pros of Separate Finances

– Spouses will be able to spend money on the things they value without discussing it with each other.
– It will also allow for separate savings goals, which can be helpful if one spouse is spendy and one is frugal.
– It may give peace of mind to those who have been divorced in the past or have children to take care of.

Cons of Separate Finances

– If one spouse makes significantly more than the other one and the bills are split evenly, it is unfair to the spouse who makes less.
– It allows for financial secrecy between significant others if they don’t have any access to each other’s accounts.
– It forces both spouses to keep employment situations that will bring in a steady paycheck to pay for their half of the bills.

Some couples choose to have totally joint accounts, while others separate everything. Many couples find a combination of both is the way to go — like with a joint checking account for bills, a joint savings account for financial goals, and separate accounts for discretionary spending. The important thing is to choose the best system for you and your partner. What works for others may not work for you, so weigh the pros and cons of all of your options and make an educated decision.

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Erin is the founder of Red Debted Stepchild, a blog about her journey to getting out of debt while still enjoying life in Portland, OR with her husband. She enjoys reading, eating, traveling, and crunching numbers on her numerous spreadsheets. Sometimes she remembers to tweet at @reddebted.