This is going to be a controversial topic, but I hope you stick with me.
If you are married and have separate bank accounts (even if you have one joint account and a separate, individual account), you have company.
Some say that it’s because they don’t share the same financial goals or values. Some say it’s to keep some independence in the relationship. And some say they just don’t trust their partner.
Do you see any red flags here?
Keeping things separate, especially your finances, robs you both of such an incredible way to bond.
A working paper with five studies reported:
University College of London’s Joe Gladstone, Notre Dame’s Emily Garbinsky and UCLA Anderson’s Cassie Mogilner Holmes found that long-term committed couples who pool all their money into joint bank accounts are happier in their relationship and less likely to break up, compared to couples that keep some or all of their money separate.https://phys.org/news/2019-02-joint-bank-accounts-happier-couples.html
Some numbers to look at
I mentioned that a survey polled that 42% of married couples, or couples living together, maintained separate bank accounts. This could either mean they share one joint account and then have separate, individual accounts, or they are separated altogether.
According to a Bank of America survey, 28% of millennials maintain completely separate accounts.
The same working paper I mentioned above completed a study on 1,000 married people, asking how satisfied they were in the relationship (1 is not very, 7 is very):
Nearly two thirds of these participants reported having 100 percent pooled bank accounts with their spouse, and this group was the most content, with a median relationship score of 6.10. The 22 percent of participants who reported having both joint and separate bank accounts had a median happiness score of 5.82. The 12 percent of participants who keep their bank accounts entirely separate reported the lowest median level of satisfaction, 5.46.https://phys.org/news/2019-02-joint-bank-accounts-happier-couples.html
Why it’s best to have joint accounts
Looking at the numbers doesn’t give a complete picture, but it does break down where other couples are.
So why should you drop your separate accounts and join all of your finances?
Besides the point made above about the greatest satisfaction in a marriage coming from those with joint accounts, we should also look at other aspects.
First off, having a joint account gives the couple a sense of togetherness.
If they are able to share something as sensitive and controversial as money with one another, it certainly brings the couple together more.
It’s being unified on a deeper level, because finances can be so emotional. It indicates a level of trust that brings you closer together.
It’s easy to feel, if you have not only separate bank accounts but also varying salaries, that the two of you aren’t equal.
If you have separate accounts and your partner makes more than you, it would be easy to build a little resentment, seeing them be able to afford more things than you (like the extra coffee runs they can do each week).
When you have a joint account, you share all of your money as a couple.
One partner doesn’t have the ability to spend more than the other because everything comes from the same account.
It gives a sense of equality. That, regardless of your wage gap, you have the same amount of money. That money is pooled together into one account that you both have access to.
I mentioned this in several past posts. The act of budgeting together, paying off debt together, saving for retirement together all strengthen the bond you hold as a couple.
One of the many perks that came with paying off our debt was how much closer it made us feel as a couple.
We worked hard at a common goal, we sold things and took extra hours, all to plug into our joint account to pay off our debt.
The act of going through something as difficult as that gave us an even more solid bond.
The bottom line
It can be scary and challenging to combine bank accounts and share that aspect of your life with another person.
It’s hard enough to try to agree on financial decisions and how money should be spent!
I get it.
But, as I mentioned, you’re robbing yourself of such an important bond in your marriage.
But, like other aspects of your marriage, these are hurdles you have to jump over to become a successful couple.
It may sound unsure and intimidating to combine your finances when you’re not accustomed to it; it can be a big deal.
What you get in place of it is even bigger than that.
Do you and your spouse have separate bank accounts? Or do you have one joint account? In what ways do you think these have hurt or helped your relationship?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments!