Joint vs. Separate Finances after Marriage: Pros & Cons


There was a time when merging finances was a common aftermath of a marriage: the newlyweds just opened a joint bank account, had shared credit cards, and if there was a mortgage, it was made out in the names of both spouses.


It has gotten very different from the old times in these days when the spouses are likely to be working and have separate incomes. Especially it relates to people who get married later in life when they are financially secure – why shoulder the trouble of changing the satisfactory state of things?

So what exactly should you do with your incomes after marriage? This question can well become a headache, the more so since there is no definite answer to it. The perfect solution for you personally hangs on a multitude of factors like the relative financial position of each spouse, spending habits, and how far you are ready to trust one another. Weighing these and other aspects you will be able to work out what will serve your purpose best.

Trust Issues

If you have complete trust in your partner, blending your bank accounts is a natural thing to do. On the other hand, if you abstain from merging, it doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of trust. Naturally, if you are going to live in worry of your partner’s probable mishandling of your mutual finances, you shouldn’t stick your neck out and leave your bank account in your sole possession; there are people who can and people who can’t watch over money properly. So keeping your money to yourself may be not the sign of distrust, but rather of your belief that you have a better head for finance, and your partner can understand that.

Decision for Merging Accounts

Merging is actually a step intended to make your financial management grades easier. A joint bank account will dispose of unnecessary discussions who will pay for what, the endless splitting of household bills, foods expenditures, every mutual purchase, and what not.

Besides, there are people for whom a joint bank account is a weighty symbol of marriage making them feel they have actually become as one and do not just share a house.

Still, this solution can bring up some moot issues – which is especially true in the case when one earns significantly more than the other; then simple sharing will certainly be an unfair arrangement.

When one of the partners happened to be in debt at the time of the marriage, it certainly isn’t worth merging, for it can cause frictions about the necessity to take a share in paying out debts.

Merging Parts of Both Incomes

A better idea seems to be for the couple to agree upon a certain part of their incomes to be shared while leaving the remainders in their undisputed possessions. This way you can still pay your common bills and make savings for some important family acquisitions like buying real estate.

The only stumbling block with this is the share arrangement should the partners’ incomes prove to be vastly different – it will require some working out towards percentage that you will deem fair, but only the first time around.

A good thing is to keep accounts which are your own, so you don’t have to secure your spouse’s acquiescence whenever you feel like buying stuff for yourself. It’s highly convenient when the incomes are comparable, but your shopping habits are different, and you have freedom to indulge.

No Merging Finances At All

For some people spouses keeping their money to themselves is a symptom of poor marriage, but not all people take such a dim view of it. Also, taking into consideration the partners’ financial security, it may be the easiest answer to the question.

If you have a number of credit cards in your name, opening yet another one may seem just a little like overdoing it. Likewise, when you’re a long time with a bank and have savings on your account, why should you go changing things and moving money elsewhere?

But in this case you will have to talk over family payments, who takes charge of what bills and for how much, then again, who makes calculations each month and calls upon the other for his or her share. Or you decide to divide bills between you, one paying electricity bills, the other gas and so on. If you don’t think it’s a drag, this solution is yours.

Settle It One Way or Another

Money is the root of many a marriage problem. If you were too shy or too indecisive to settle the issue once and for all right at the start, you may find dissatisfaction brewing slowly and rocking your boat. Better face the issue and discuss it from all sides as soon as it is convenient, so you can leave it behind.

Be ready that it may turn out to be not the lightest of discussions, your views on the matter varying to a degree. Just stay focused and consider all the possibilities to arrive to an arrangement that will make both of you happy.

There is always a way out to make the final decision after a consultation with a professional marriage counselor who may sort out your arguments and come up with something you haven’t thought of or understood properly.