When you’re married, you share many things by default—a home, vacations, cars and sometimes children. But just because you’ve made a vow to be wed, doesn’t mean you have to share everything. There’s a case to be made that having separate bank accounts might be a key factor to living happily ever after.
Despite what traditionalists might say, having separate bank accounts doesn’t mean you’re not connected. Old-fashioned models of marriage assumed households, family and money were to be merged; however, in today’s modern world, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are several valid reasons why keeping your finances private might be the best choice for your union.
You Out-Earn Your Spouse
It might make sense to forgo merging finances when one of the partners makes considerably more money and doesn’t want to the difference evenly. While this depends on the couple, some duos might not feel an equal split is actually equitable.
You Have Different Spending Habits
When a penny pincher marries a big spender, separate bank accounts can offer each a sense of financial independence and considerably reduce bickering. Having your own account eliminates the chance for resentment because there’s no way for finances to be micromanaged.
Of course, it’s important that shared financial goals are still kept in mind. Different accounts also helps couples avoid feeling like they have to ask permission for every purchase. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your financial habits private; it’s your money, after all.
You Can Preserve Your Premarital Savings
Americans are waiting longer to settle down these days. The average age of a first-time bride is 27, a marked increase from 1960, when it was 20. Money you’ve saved while single, or inheritances you’ve earned, won’t be considered marital property. However, if it’s transferred into a joint account, and your relationship ends in divorce, your ex may claim up to half of it.
Premarital Debts Remain Clearly Defined
If your spouse enters the marriage with any debt, whether that’s via credit card or student loans, merging accounts might result in your earnings being susceptible to creditors. Have a thorough talk about paying off pre-acquired debts fairly before you get married.
It May Protect You Against Worst-Case Scenarios
Bad things have a way of unexpectedly happening. A major lawsuit against a spouse could drain your joint account, whether that’s fair or not. Of course, no one marries expecting it will end in divorce, but when relationships turn sour, finances can get funneled away without the other person’s knowledge. If money is merged, one way to protect yourself is to keep an emergency fund just as an added safety net.
If your partner is unreliable and often mismanages your money, having separate accounts can protect you against their frivolous ways.
Alternative Options to Keeping Separate Bank Accounts
Rather than sharing all finances, you and your partner can open one joint account for shared expenses while keeping other funds in separate accounts. This can offer the best of both worlds for those who see it both ways.
It’s worth noting that, while one spouse’s lower credit score won’t harm that of the other, it can make an impact when couples apply for mortgages, loans or joint credit cards. It’s common for lenders to focus on the lower of two scores.
Even if you both have separate bank accounts for personal purchases, you can still establish a budget, track expenses and achieve savings goals together. Do what’s right for you—personally and as a couple. Just because you go into the marriage one way financially, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck that way for all eternity.