You stumble out of the pub and the kebab shop beckons. You’ve had a tough week and an add pops up with discounted flights to Bali. You walk past the most sartorially accomplished human you’ve ever seen in an underground discotheque and suddenly crave Gucci.
What do all these situations necessitate? A separate bank account from (or an equally compulsive) partner. Sure: during the early stages of a relationship most couples maintain separate bank accounts. But even when you get married, or reach the point where you start sharing clothes and toothpaste, you should always have a separate bank account from your partner. Here’s why.
Having To Constantly Explain Yourself Gets Old Real Quick
The idea behind having a shared account is to reduce administrative hassle while you work towards your joint saving goals. However, arguments over $300 haircuts and Amsterdam “business trip” withdrawals tend to cause a lot more friction. The occasional blowout purchase isn’t a crime: but when you’re in savings mode and your partner makes one, your hackles will inevitably raise. Likewise, when you’re in “party mode” and your partner shits on your tequila-lit dreams, it doesn’t feel so great.
The problem isn’t that you shouldn’t be saving together, it’s that your periods of financial recklessness will not always be in sync: and that’s fine. As long as you have separate bank accounts, you can agree to contribute a certain amount each month to another (separate) joint savings account—and fritter away the rest at your own pace.
Having Separate Bank Accounts Proves You Trust Each Other
Although traditionalists claim that having a joint account is the “ultimate symbolic gesture of financial union” that proves you trust your partner with your money, actually, it’s the exact opposite: it means you can track your partner’s every financial move. According to The Balance, “Some couples may feel a loss of financial independence with a joint bank account, especially early in the marriage. With separate accounts, each spouse maintains an individual degree of freedom over their finances.”
Joint Accounts Make Breaking Up Complicated
Another advantage of having separate bank accounts is that a joint account can be problematic if your relationship ends. “If the couple decides to part ways, the funds in a joint account can be messy to separate. Each spouse has every right to withdraw money and close the account without the consent of the other, and one party can easily leave the other penniless” (The Balance). Having separate bank accounts prevents this, and allows for an easier break that doesn’t involve a long dispute to fully separate the finances.
Financial Arguments Are The Top Predictor Of Divorce
According to a Kansas State University study of more than 4,500 couples, money arguments are the numero uno predictor of divorce. This makes managing your finances crucial. Set aside one joint saving account (that you both deposit whatever you have agreed into), which neither of you can withdraw from, and perform day to day transactions with separate accounts. Add in the fact that 13 million Americans admit to having a bank account their spouse doesn’t know about, and not wanting separate bank accounts seems like you’re just resisting the inevitable.
The Best Gift You Can Give Your Partner Is Financial Independence
This doesn’t mean: shower your spouse with moolah once you get married. It means support your spouse in making their own contribution to your family’s finances. This is particularly important if one of you earns significantly more than the other, or if one of you gives up their job (for whatever reason—kids, relocation etc).
One business school classmate who married a Google engineer back in 2007 told Yahoo Finance how important it is to be able to spend money without fear of judgement from your spouse.
“I had a great 10-year career working as a chemical engineer until we decided it was best for me to stay home. He made more and the family benefits at Google are amazing. But ever since I decided to be a SAHM in 2012, I miss the feeling of being able to make my own money and spend money on silly things without having to explain myself to my hubby.”
“I love my husband’s frugal ways, but his massages don’t come close to what professional hands can do.”
“Although we are a team,” she continued, “I’m always second-guessing whether I should spend on even the simplest of indulgences. For example, when my back and hands were starting to kill me from having to rock my youngest to sleep for an hour each evening, all I wanted was to get an hour-long massage. But instead of charging $120 on our joint credit card where he checks each line item, I decided to just spend $20 in cash on a chair massage at the mall because I was afraid he’d complain that he could easily give me a message for free!”