What Is the Danger in Having Separate Accounts with Your Spouse?

Leave me a comment, tell me how you do it in your household!

You may have great reasons for having separate accounts including not wanting to know what the other one is spending at amazon or starbuck’s each month. But the risk to not sharing accounts is

  • neither of you really know what is being spend and saved per month in total in your household
  • you’re not saving enough because you assume the other person is saving
  • you’re spending too much and having arguments with your spouse about spending because neither of you can see the other’s account

Most couples I see who have separate accounts do not know what is in the other person’s account at any given time and these same couples do not have a specified savings plan that involves both people. Basically, they don’t know where they stand financially because they cannot account for the other person’s finances.

A situation like that can lead to a lot of “I think we’re fine, I always have enough each month,” but there’s no systematic savings or checking on spending to see if it’s out of whack. “where is he/she getting the money for all these new things when I’m barely getting by each month?”

Separate accounts also can lead to what I call expense seepage.  You and your partner divide up expenses like you pay the mortgage and your partner pays the electric bill or you both pay into a “household” checking account so you can pay things like the electric bill and the mortgage, but many times the money that’s left in either of your accounts for your “personal spending” is spent because it’s not really being used for any “household” bills”, which can lead to a lot of extra spending that would not ordinarily be happening if you had a monthly plan for saving.

If you keep separate accounts consider:

  •  having a joint spreadsheet for all the household spending (yours, your partner’s and household expenses).
  • Check how much you and your partner save and don’t dwell on spending
  • Agree, not how much you can each spend, BUT HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD BE SAVING each month as a household to realize your goals
  • Make sure you put money aside each month for your goals if you have separate accounts.
    • Option 1: pay extra money each month into the household account for your goals (saving for retirement or a vacation)
    • Option 2: have one of you (whoever s income is responsible for saving) write a check into a different account called ‘goals’.
    • Option 3: save separately, but AGREE TOGETHER how much each person should save each month.

If heated discussions come up when one person spends significantly more than the other on discretionary items (personal spending on clothes, coffee, dining out, etc.) consider:

  • Nobody wants to feel taken advantage of and nobody wants to feel someone is watching every move they make
  • Agree to save $x000 for goals each year or month.
  • Any money earned thereafter is for your discretionary spending and if you earn more than your, you have more to spend and your partner earns more he/she has more to spend.

The key is that you’re both completely transparent with each other.  It will save a lot of arguments!