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Should Married Couples Combine Finances?

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A couple of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal asked me to write an essay about whether married couples should combine their finances.  And of course, I was all about it.  In fact, I was downright giddy because I love writing about controversial stuff.  Seriously, it’s my fave.  Anyway, I wrote a 600-word essay about why I think married couples should combine their finances, and another woman wrote an essay taking the opposite stance.  If you want to check it out, you can read it all right here:

Should Couples Keep Their Financial Assets Separate?

In case you don’t want to read the whole thing, here are a few of my thoughts on the topic:

  • Combining finances builds teamwork and forces you to work together toward common goals
  • Having separate finances creates two separate scorecards in your marriage= not good
  • Spouses who keep separate accounts to prevent arguments about money aren’t really solving anything.  They’re just refusing to deal with, or compromise on, the fundamental disagreements they’re having.  Simply put: It’s a Band-Aid.
  • Having separate accounts makes it easy for spouses to keep things from one another= not good
  • Having separate accounts makes it easier to get a divorce= not good (or good, depending on how you look at it)

The other chick basically said this:

  • Having separate accounts allows people to keep their own identity
  • Separate accounts ensure that both spouses know what’s going on with the family funds
  • Separate accounts are based on trust and honesty
  • People end up single all the time- either due to death or divorce- and separate accounts make sure that all parties are prepared when that happens

Should Married Couples Combine Their Finances?

Honestly, I don’t disagree with her on any of that.  Actually, I know several people who have separate accounts and don’t have issues.  On the other hand, I know people with separate accounts who constantly struggle with, and argue about, how money should be saved and spent.  I really do think it can work either way, but I do feel that joint finances are best for the reasons I’ve mentioned.  And as long as people keep asking for my opinion, I’m going to keep giving it. 

The truth: I think that separate finances are lame.  I mean, get married or don’t.  Don’t do it half-ass.  That’s my .02- take it or leave it.

Whether or not to combine finances with your spouse is such a polarizing issue.  Greg wrote an article about why we have joint finances over a year ago (Separate Finances: a Recipe for Marital Disaster), and people still comment on that post to this day.  If you ever feel like punishing yourself, try reading them all.  Quite a few of them are rather…..interesting.  Ahem.

Anyway, on the day my Wall Street Journal essay ran, Fox Business called and asked me to be on the Willis Report, and I was terrified.  I mean, I used to talk in front of people at my old job, but I rarely talk to real, live humans anymore since I work from home. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure I wanted to change out of my yoga pants, or put on a bra.  Is that sad?  I seriously took a few minutes to weigh the pros and cons of putting socks on.  Fortunately, I came to my senses and went for it.  I was afraid, but I love new experiences…even if they’re scary!

Check out my segment on the Willis Report

Overall, I’m happy with how I did.  She did trip me up with one question, but it’s really hard to snap back under all of that pressure.  I’m just glad I didn’t sound like a complete idiot, and I can add that to the growing list of cool things I’ve done.

Being on television was really neat, but I can’t say that I’m dying to do it again.  I like writing better than talking anyway, and I’m not really into lights, cameras, and whore makeup.  Oh, and I like wearing yoga pants.

For more of our thoughts on money and marriage, check out these badass posts!

 

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112 Comments

  1. Oh man you are brave! I could never go on TV (or radio, I just can’t do broadcast). I hear ya on the bra thing – hate wearing ’em, haha.

    I’m a fan of shared finances and I think in many ways it’s just easier (but I do think it’s important to have some of your own money to do with as you please) but I don’t think separate finances are inherently bad. Just different strokes. Where I do think it can get a bit more complicated with totally separate finances is if you have kids, but presumably lot of people will pool some money at that stage? Would be interesting to hear how families manage with separate finances.

    1. Yeah, I think separate finances could get incredibly complicated if you had kids. There are so many expenses that crop up…how do you decide who pays for what?

  2. That’s so cool Holly! Congrats! The hubs and I kept our finances separate for the first four years of our marriage, and then somewhere along the way we realized that life was just way too complicated and we had way too many accounts to keep track of. We combined at that point, and it has been a really good thing. It definitely helps us be on the same page in terms of our finances. Neither of us are huge spenders and we really don’t fight about money at all, so it works out.

    1. I think that makes it easier. Our finances are combined, but we have similar money habits, so there are never issues either way.

  3. Congrats on both the WSJ and becoming a talking head! =)

    We’re joint finances all the way, and personally we’ve never known a couple with separate finances where money isn’t something they still fight about. So what good is it doing keeping it separate if you still fight about it?

    1. Yeah, exactly. I know a ton of people who keep things separate who still fight about it!

  4. Joint finances are the way to go and each person should have a little slush fund to buy dumb stuff with if they choose without judgement or argument.

    Speaking as a person who was divorced over money sneakiness and hiding money is a huge problem. If I lose trust in you in one area of our lives together it will spill over to every area.

  5. I think they absolutely should combine finances. When you get married you are devoting your life to the other person. Your money is their money, and vice versa. I can’t imagine being married and not combining finances.

  6. Kenya Carter says:

    We are seperate finance people. We divvy up the bills and jointly contribute to savings and college fund. I keep a spreadsheet and have very specific plans on how I save, pay down debt and invest. We were 34 when we got marrried and I saw no need to enforce a lifetime of my money habits onto him. We discuss major purchases, expenses and vacations and agree to how they should be paid for. It works for us.

    Besides unlike many couples we are never arguing over who overdrew the account or bought lunch too many times in a week.

    1. Hey, as long as it works for you! That’s all that matters.

  7. My wife and I have a joint account but also seperate bank accounts. We have a joint credit card for most of our spending but also have seperate cards. Since we discuss our finances (including budgets and savings goals) on a regular basis we find it still works well even though it’s not 100% transparent.

  8. I totally agree with this, that if you’re married you should combine your finances. One reason that the couples has a conflict and my turn into a divorce because of a money conflict.

  9. Rock on! We all know a celebrity now – way to hustle and say “yes” 🙂

  10. “The truth: I think that separate finances are lame. I mean, get married or don’t. Don’t do it half-ass.” Lol, I love it! I think you did great by the way, and definitely agree. For a variety of reasons, I think you should combine finances, essentially as you’re a team when you’re married and this should only help that. That said, I guess you have to do what works for you personally and have no issue with that as the key should be to managing ones finances wisely.

    1. Yeah, I don’t “get” separate finances at all, but to each their own. I trust my husband 100% and don’t need a separate account to feel independent. You don’t get more independent than this!

  11. Well I already told you but I’ll say it again: you did great and your whore makeup looked fab. 😉 big kudos for doing something scary and rocking it out!

  12. Wooohoo, way to be a rockstar! I don’t know how I feel about the joint finances thing yet. I think I’m leaning your way, but I haven’t really gotten to that point in my relationships yet.

    1. I hear ya! You’re still single, right? You have plenty of time to think about it!!! =)

  13. We are getting married in the summer, and we will inevitably combine finances at least partially. We’ll keep separate tax free savings accounts, retirement accounts and maybe even emergency funds (for separate vehicles, etc) but our checking and other savings will be combined.

  14. You are a rock star for going on TV. I don’t think I could have done it.

    When we had separate everything, that’s how we ended up in so much debt. I think it’s OK for each person to have a separate account for allowance money, but you should both have access to everything so there are no secrets.

    1. Oh, I seriously considered bolting out there door right before it started. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life!

  15. That is awesome, congrats Holly!

    I’m not married but I think when I do get married, I would want to combine finances. I understand the argument on both sides but I agree with you – it’s about teamwork. Having separate accounts can lead to disagreements, animosity, etc.

    1. Yep, totally. And secrets which are never good.

  16. You did awesome Holly! I would have been incredibly nervous. I’m all for combined finances 🙂

  17. Here’s my biggest issue with keeping finances separate because “people get divorced all the time.” Um, so I made a commitment for LIFE when I said “I do.” Keeping things separate because “things happen” is basically saying to your significant other, the person you committed to for the rest of your life, “Just kidding, I really expect us to fail.”

    1. I agree, although I don’t think that’s the case with everyone. For some people though, I think that separate finances are just their way of keeping one foot out the door.

  18. Nice work on the WSJ piece and the interview. I think you did well.

    As you know, my wife and I have separate accounts, but we also have a joint account for our joint expenses. To your point about kids, since we have one, the joint account takes care of that. All of our expenses come out of that account, plus all of our childcare. Our personal accounts are our play money accounts. We are very honest with each other about our money and we have had no fights about money in the years we have been married. The key is communication and we talk openly about our money.

    Budgeting is also very easy for us with our separate and joint accounts. I don’t see it leading to any issues as it hasn’t been an issue once yet. I am an advocate for it, but I think the main thing is to talk about it before you are married. Everyone is different, but as long as you understand how the money will be dealt with, there should be no issue.

  19. Oh, I guess I should add that we have a joint Personal Capital account that we both use. We can easily log in and see where we are as a unit. That makes it much easier.

    By the way, I think you did well on camera. When I did a radio interview, I was super nervous, but not sure how I would handle TV!

    1. It sucked. I was just staring into a camera. I couldn’t see anyone or read body language. It was actually really difficult to process information because of that.

      1. That sounds just like the radio interview. You have to judge the questions based on tone, but you can’t see anyone. I still think you did a good job.

  20. I absolutely think that married couples should combine finances. I think that you are not living in reality if you think that you could both “do your own thing” and it would impact the family in total. I understand wanting your identity and not having to get every last purchase approved by your spouse, but that is when you carve out an acceptable portion of the family budget to those activities. From what I see as a financial planner, the couples with joint expenses have less marital challenges than the others, and I think the biggest reason is that they are working as a team.

  21. Wow…congrats! WSJ and Fox news…pretty cool. When my wife and I got married, our finances were partially combined, but it really was 2 separate accounts and a joint account. It worked okay, but we weren’t really working as a team. Now that we’ve combined finances it feels like our savings/spending goals are something we are both working on together. As for the other chick’s contention that separate accounts are better because the saver spouse and spendier spouse will have less conflict…you can always budget in money for stuff like that. Joint accounts don’t mean you have to consult your spouse about every little purchase.

    1. I agree- that’s how we do it. We have an unspoken rule that we can both buy what we want, within reason of course.

  22. I read your WSJ piece- fantastic job! And I completely agree with you- join those finances baby! Maybe it was because we were so young when we got married, but I seriously don’t even remember having a conversation about what to do with our finances. We just assumed that was the natural thing to do. Lucky for us, it’s worked out just fine. It forces us to work as team…even when we don’t want to : )

    1. Yeah, same here. We’re both savers now though, so it makes things easier.

  23. Does he make more money than me? If so, sure! Haha

    Seriously though, my first inclination is to say separate finances but I have never met anyone worth marrying and am a sceptic about the whole thing. Maybe that would change if I met Mr. Right.

    1. When you really love and trust someone, it’s a whole lot easier.

  24. How awesome! Can’t wait to watch the video. I agree with joint finances. It encourages the “team mentality” that marriage requires. 🙂

  25. Wow, that’s impressive, Holly. WSJ and then live tv with FBN! I’ll bet you never even dreamed that starting your online writing career would lead to being live on national television.

    You did great…you really did. I wouldn’t have fared that well…I just blank out in situations like that.

    1. I did go totally blank. I actually panicked right before I went on…

  26. Awesome, Holly! Personally, I think there has to be at least one joint account in a marriage. I’ve known people who do separate accounts, plus one joint for household bills and expenses, and I can see that working. We have a joint account and track everything together on Mint. Works well for us.

    1. Hey, whatever works, right? I’m still not signed up for Mint!

  27. Smart Saving says:

    Another important point to consider is the fact that, depending on the laws in the state/country in which you live, once you are legally married the government may consider all of your assets jointly owned regardless of how separate you keep them! So even if you keep separate bank accounts etc. after marriage, it’s important for both parties to have a clear understanding of the entire financial picture on both sides.

  28. Yay, Holly! You did great, and you look great!

    My boyfriend and I had very different money ideas when we moved in together. Looking back, we should’ve discussed money before moving in, but I’m glad we at least didn’t jump right into combining. I do want to eventually combine, but we’re gradually getting there, as I learn to trust his money decisions (and my own, really).

    1. I hear ya! We didn’t fully combine until after married, although we were starting to intermingle a little bit before then.

  29. I think married couples should do what works for them. My husband and I have separate accounts be we also have a joint account. One of the main reasons we have separate accounts is because my income goes completely towards paying off my debt. I had massive student loans before we even got married and I do not want him paying a cent for them.

    1. Ugh, I hate when I remember about your student loans! You are n a unique situation and I don’t blame you for feeling that way.

  30. I was single for well into my mid-40’s (late bloomer) and I thought that getting married and having shared finances would be the death of me. Turns out, it’s not so bad. When you get married, it just makes sense to combine finances.

    I’ve gone for dinner with couples that don’t share and I think it’s comical to watch them argue about who had the extra appetizer and who should pay more. It just seems so silly to me.

    But, as they say – your mileage may vary. 🙂

    1. Yeah, no kidding. I’ve witnessed similar craziness! To me, the whole point of getting married was to share everything.

  31. Go Holly! It was already awesome when it was “just” a WSJ article and now your famous! I’ll have to go hunt down the segment but I have no doubt you did a great job! We do have combined finances but to me whether you chose to combine or keep finances separate – the key is money transparency and good communication. I’ve seen couples with combined money fight and divorce and people with who don’t combine finances argue and divorce. And most of the time it boils down to a lack of communication and money transparency. I do wholeheartedly agree that the argument to have separate finances so you won’t argue is a band-aid at best.

    1. It seems to me like it makes more sense to tackle financial disagreements head on instead of sweeping them under the rug.

  32. Wow, Congrats on the feature. TV would be nerve racking for me. I would have froze probably. I think you did great and I’m sure the more you do it the easier it will get.

    I agree with your stance on this argument. My husband and I have combined finances. We do have a weekly allowance which is cash money that we can do whatever we want with but not really any separate bank accounts. We have seen the pros you mentioned such as better retirement planning, teamwork, better communication and achieving common goals. It works for us and we don’t have any children.

    1. Ummmm…..I did freeze! HAHAAH

      Since you already have combined finances, you’ll be good to go when you have kids!

  33. That’s so neat that you were on TV, even if it was nerve wracking! I think our plan is to combine our finances after we pay off our student loans, since I don’t think we will be married before then. But we may implement a joint account for food and apartment related expenses before then since it makes sense.

  34. Prudence Debtfree says:

    We share accounts, but we also allot a significant his and her discretionary “allowance” for gifts, some essentials (eg. shampoo, clothes), and treats. I’ve always felt good about this way of doing things, but your post makes me wonder if we’re just side-stepping certain areas of conflict. Perhaps if we didn’t have separate discretionary money, we’d end up with better communication. Thanks for the food for thought.

  35. As an old (45 years) married couple, we combined our finances from the beginning. It helps that we started out together without debt. If we were older, it may be much more complicated. We were both savers and then investors. We built huge investments, businesses and put enough away for the future. We always discussed big purchases and agreed or did not go forward. I think I just mentioned some really important elements wich is more important than just combining finances.

    1. Yep, I can see that! It sounds like you made all decisions together- that’s basically what we do.

  36. I don’t know why I was so nervous for you when I began to watch!! You did awesome! I think you made your point very well. I’m so happy for you. I don’t think I could have worked up the nerve to go on TV.

  37. It depends what you mean by finances. Accounts, NO! investments, Yes!
    It all depends on the coupe and your trust as a couple.

  38. My husband and I have separate finances. We share 1 joint checking that we both don’t use or make deposits to. Lately, I have suggested combining our finances and my husband is very resistant to the idea. He pays the mortgage utilities and car notes, I pay the child care food bill and vacations. I went in a year ago to a credit union to open a savings acct and they told me that I have no assests/debt. When I looked at my credit report, there was literally nothing on there. Our house, and cars and every asset we own are in his name only. My husband refuses to put me on anything so I’m f*cked. We have married for 17 years and now he’s pissed that I’m rocking our financial boat by asking to know what he has or to put my name on our assets. I told him that if he doesn’t put me on our assets, if anything should happen to him I will save myself the embarrassment of fighting in probate court to prove these things are mine and I will let the state have all his assets and I will move back home to Indiana and buy my own house. The ball is in his court now. PS we do love each other.

    1. Wow! Do you file joint taxes? Have you ever looked to see what he makes, or seen anything weird?

      1. We do file joint taxes, but my husband does them. I’m embarrassed to say I never really paid attention because things have been so normal and fine. We are sitting down together and doing our taxes. He never hid anything. I just never looked. Now things are slowly changing. I’m more active in our finances. Even though they are still very separate.

    2. My parents were pretty much exactly like this. When my younger sister went to college, my Mom wanted to cosign on her student loan, but was denied. That’s when she found out she had 0 credit history. All the cars, the house, etc. were in my Dad’s name. She ended up getting a credit card to help build her history, and later made him put a couple of the cars in her name.

      They spent 30+ years as a separate finance couple. The last few years they’ve been combining finances. It’s changed the entire dynamic of their relationship, for the better. They’re both happier now.

  39. I am not fully for joint finances or separate finances, as I think each couple needs to figure out what works for them. I do think though that both people in the couple should know what each other makes and you should see it as joint income (especially if you live in a community property state!) and the overall financial picture.

    I was surprised that Kristin and her boyfriend (above) didn’t talk about finances before moving in together. My boyfriend and I have had pretty lengthy discussions about money. We know how each other invests their money, what our incomes look like, what we spend on housing, what our net worths are and how they’re allocated, how we paid for college, etc. We also occasionally both look at things on Mint (him using it is actually why I set it up for my accounts). So even though our finances are technically completely separate, we have a pretty good picture of what the other is doing. I also encourage him to save automatically and help him with ways (e.g. him signing into his Vanguard account and me clicking some buttons to get him set up with direct deposit and then reminding him to actually set it up with his employer). He also helps me to not feel bad about spending money. It’s pretty cool!

    So even if we get married some day and we keep our finances technically separate, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t know what the other person is doing with “their” money and I think that that is the most important part!

    1. Yeah, I can see that! I still think it gets about 1000% more complicated when you have kids. Would you split everything- daycare, healthcare, diapers, formula, clothes-in half?

      1. Oh for sure! I couldn’t imagine not having joint finances if there are kids involved, especially if only one person works. But if both people in the couple work and neither is financially dependent on the other, then separate finances can work.

  40. We do it jointly. It’s already enough work that way, l can’t imagine doing it separately and having even more work. Wow! Way to go with the interview. Congratulations!!!

  41. I was raised in a separate finance house. My Dad was the type who would spend when times were good, and suffer when times were bad. My Mom wanted security and independence. So, they divided the responsibility: My Dad covered the house, our tuition (private grade schools, high schools), utilities, etc., and my Mom covered groceries, gifts, and the day to day costs. When I was younger it seemed awesome; they had complete independence from each other. As I got older, I realized that they were so independent, it was almost like they weren’t married; they had completely separate lives. They didn’t even vacation together! And there was a lot of bitterness and fighting. For years, my Mom was a stay at home mom, so it was really hard for her to come up with money. And later, she had savings and my Dad was struggling. She’d have $20,000 in the bank, and he’d be behind on the mortgage.

    Over the last few years, they’ve combined finances to follow Dave Ramsey’s plan and improve their financial situation. It was a HUGE struggle for them at first. But now, they’re both on the same page, working towards the same goals. There’s no longer the bitterness about who’s making more, or who’s paying what. It changed the entire dynamic of their relationship.

    I’m not saying combined finances is the best way. But, seeing my parents struggle (and her parents before them), I definitely see a benefit in combining things, and working together financially.

    1. Yikes! I’m glad they finally combined. Sounds like it was a smart move!

  42. Congratulations on your success! Working at home rocks btw. Combine finances, i could not trust my Ex by combining our finances. We used to share and write down our income vs expense. I hid a lot of money from her because if she knows, she’s gonna ask for a house and a car. Heck she asks me that even if she thinks i have no money. My goal was how to retire a millionaire at an early age. Her money management skills need to improve first before i would open up to her. I hope this new girl is not as materialistic as the Ex. So we can both enjoy combining finances and working out goals together.

  43. Nice job on camera! You looked great! I would be terrified to do something like that. Anyway, I would do both. Have MOST of my money in a joint account, but have an account of my own too, BUT, with the caveat of making sure I discuss with my husband any large purchase. I guess I would be paranoid of those stories where the partner bleeds their spouse dry and runs off with the money. I need some kind of safety net. Keep in mind that I don’t have a spouse so who knows if my feelings might change, but that’s how I feel right now.

    1. You would probably feel differently if you found someone that you could truly trust 100%!

  44. I find it interesting how so many have indicated that their play money or allowance is in a separate account. If you’ve both agreed on a reasonable amount that you each can spend frivolously without questions, then why does it need to happen in a separate account? Sorry, but the need for secrecy sets off my spidey senses and makes me wonder where you are spending that money that you don’t want me to know about. You’ve made a life commitment to this person, you may have children, you’ll be responsible for each others end of life health care decisions, but don’t ask me what I spent that $20 on? Really? Guess you can tell we have no hidden/secret/personal accounts. We also have no budget allocated to personal spending, but that’s a separate thing. We’re pretty low maintenance and generally spend virtually nothing beyond the basics. I might spend $5-7 a month on coffee and once a month or so he goes out for lunch. We’ve consciously chosen to cut all the nonessentials our of our life so that we can maximize our retirement savings and extra mortgage payments. Early retirement is our common goal and we’ve decided it’s more important to us than pretty much any other type of spending. Any nonessential spending will directly impact our early retirement date so we think long and hard before “wasting” a single dollar that could go toward our goal. Having a preset allowance would likely encourage us to spend it since it was preapproved in the budget. By not having any designated fun money, we still occasionally indulge, but do it knowing that we’re reducing this week’s savings or extra mortgage payment by those dollars. We find it very motivating to feel the pain of having to add that extra unscheduled line to our spending plan when one of us buys a magazine, or a fancy coffee or whatever. Also, because all our income and expenses go in and out of a single account, it’s very easy at the end of each week to determine how much “excess” there is and move it to our retirement accounts or make an extra mortgage payment. Separate accounts would mean doubling all the book-keeping and fund transfers. Our retirement investment accounts are separate but every week when money is transferred to them, I can divide the available funds to rebalance the accounts to ensure we’re both ready to retire at the same time. Personally I don’t get “we manage our savings separately”. I hope those couples are also having reeealy detailed discussions about contribution levels, investment performance etc or a couple of decades down the line someone is in for a shock when they find that one is ready to retire years ahead of the other because they were doing things differently. Or one can afford to retire to a sunny climate and the other can barely cover the essentials. Hmmm.

    1. I think it kind of depends on the people involved. Some people do really well being super restrictive about money. Other people find if there isn’t some room for fun in the budget, they have a hard time sticking to it, or have periods where they “binge”.

      The boyfriend and I will likely combine finances when we marry, and I really like that idea. But we’ll probably each get a set amount of “spending money”, whether that be in cash, or put into separate accounts. It has nothing to do with not wanting the other to know what you’re spending money on; If he wants to see every receipt, that’s fine by me. But I like the idea of not having to run it by him if I want to buy Starbucks. He doesn’t see the value in it, but I enjoy it as a treat. Likewise, if he wants to have a few beers with the guys a few nights a week, he can. I don’t personally value that, but it makes him happy, and he’s usually home by the time I get off work anyways. Plus, he’s more likely to spend all his “free money” in any given week, whereas I like to squirrel mine away for a few weeks, maybe buy a new outfit or something.

    2. I also don’t get the point or separate accounts, even if you have separate “allowances.” We have an unspoken rule that either of us are allowed to buy things that we truly want, but we don’t have that money set up in different accounts. What exactly is the point of that if you truly trust one another?

  45. I’ve seen all the reasons for maintaining separate finances after marriage, and honestly I think it just depends on your situation. I think that as a rule, married couples should combine finances. There are just too many problems that arise when that’s not the case.

    You and your spouse should both be pulling in the same direction with your household’s finances, and that’s so much harder to do if you’re maintaining separate accounts.

    But I’m speaking from a strictly financial perspective. I’m no psychiatrist, so I feel like talking about trust issues and resentment is just a little out of my wheelhouse, although I certainly do have opinions on those things. Combining accounts will mean that you’ve got less idle money sitting around left un-invested. It also allows the couple to put their financial heads together to determine the best and smartest things to do with their household’s money. It forces accountability and discourages financial selfishness.

    I could go on all day, but suffice it to say that I agree with you, Holly!

    1. I agree about the selfishness aspect. We live in a ME ME ME society and separate accounts make it far too easy to put your personal needs ahead of the needs of your family.

  46. This is so awesome! I can’t wait to watch the segment when I get back to my person computer (a bit awkward at work). In terms of the question at hand, I’ve always thought separate accounts with one joint account. BUT there needs to be complete transparency about the separate accounts. Then again, I’m not married and not facing the situation so my thoughts on the subject could always change.

  47. Kim and I combined our finances when we got married and that was helpful for multiple reasons. The first is that we were able to realize areas that we were overspending. The most important reason is one that you mentioned: It helped us to work toward a common goal together. We would have never been able to pay off our debt in such a short period of time if we hadn’t done this.

    1. I totally agree with you. Had we not combined finances, we would probably still be clueless. It’s easier to track progress when everything is combined, although I guess now there are things like Mint.com that can help you keep it in one place if you like.

  48. We’ve been happy with a hybrid approach, where be both have separate accounts but then contribute a portion of each pay check towards a joint account where we pay household expenses from this. It is certainly a very personal choice on what works for each couple. We have saved jointly for goals since before we were married though.

  49. Interesting question to pose! Marriage is first and foremost an economic institution and business partnership as much as it is a romantic one. Whether your finances are separate or joint, you and your spouse should aim to have a continuing conversation about how much money you have, where that money is going and how you would like to save and spend in the future. You are most likely paying for housing via a mortgage payment. Chances are, if you have kids, you’ll be paying for their college education together. Always have a conversation about your finances, it’ll eliminate potential problems and future stress.

  50. In our house, we have some separate accounts, but I oversee the combined budget / accounts. BTW, I thought you did a great job on FOX. If you push yourself to do more TV spots, you might just like it (and the comfort level will increase with the experience).

  51. Obviously, keeping finances separate can work for a lot of married couples, but my wife and I combined our finances within the first month of being married. It seemed to be the simplest and most logical thing to do. We wouldn’t have gotten married if we didn’t already approve of how we each handled our finances.

  52. Our finances are separate. We have lived together for 24 years. Very few disagreements about money, or anything. It works.

  53. First off, congrats dude! I am 100% with you Holly. I just don’t understand separate accounts when you’re married. Friends of ours have everything combined but have their own spending accounts which they ”shop” from- she like to save her budgeted allowance while he’ll have his spent in a week but they budget together and save their allowance seperately this I sort of understand. Being on the same page financially is SO important.

  54. My wife and I don’t have separate accounts, we do however have accounts within accounts through Capital 360. We each have an “impulse spending” account and we use those as a quasi seperate account but we agree, finances should be co mingled. I am the “bread winner” in our household but I would never say she needs a seperate account from me.

  55. My wife and I were fortunate to be banking with the same bank already, so I gave her access to my account and vice versa. We each kept the simplicity of keeping our same account numbers, debit cards, auto-payments, online log-ins, etc, and at the same time we also have the transparency as if it were one joint account. So far so good for us.

  56. You did awesome on that interview Holly.

    We combine our finances. I was too controlling with my money when I was single, so I figured it would teach me how to work as a team, which I also figured would help in other areas of our marriage.

    We’re almost 2 years in and so far so good.

  57. Put me in the combined finances camp. For us it was easy because we met and started dating during college when we both had nearly nothing in the financial sense. Fast forward 15 years from that first date (back when I had hair and it was all brown), and my wife and I find ourselves unthinkably wealthy from our former teenage perspectives on money. I’m retired early and the wife is about to follow in my footsteps.

    I have to contribute a big part of that wealth creation and growth over the years to joint finances and a joint mission to work as a team to keep expenses low, make smart money choices, and grow wealth together for our mutual goal of early retirement and financial independence. Mission accomplished!

  58. I love your love of yoga pants! I know exactly how you feel 🙂 Thanks for this post. I will be getting married soon, and I have contemplated this topic many times. Looking forward to reading the Recipe for Marital Disaster (and maybe some of the comments!)

  59. Wow that’s a lot of pressure. I’d be terrified. You did great! I especially liked the point you made about retirement and greeters at Walmart (it was particularly amusing to me given the posts you write about your hatred of Walmart) 🙂 I think it makes sense for married couples to combine finances. Eric and I aren’t married yet, so for now we’re separate (although we still discuss all big money decisions together), but when we get married we’ll probably combine our money.

  60. So you’re definitely a full blown celebrity now! I’m in agreement that married couples should combine finances. My wife and I do it, and it allows us to each see where the money is going. It makes it hard to keep spending secrets, we’re both able to track it and ask questions, make joint decisions, and it simplifies the accounts by having less of them. I’m all for it.

  61. You did great! It is very hard to do without practice, I started doing these Skype interviews with news stations a few months ago and it took me 3 or 4 before I didn’t completely suck out loud.

  62. Finances should be combined, even when no one is thinking of doing anything wrong. I think it just make it that easier if things begin to get iffy. It’s just another factor to contribute to the perfect storm. I always joke with my husband- “Man if you ever had a girlfriend, she’d hate you because you couldn’t spend any $$$ on her.” We like to keep transparency in finances b/c it’s healthy and keeps honesty going.

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