Getting married but don’t want to merge your bank accounts with each other? Don’t worry about it!
If you’re in a long-term relationship or are married, there’s a lot that is shared between you and your significant other, be it a home or weekend plan – but your bank account doesn’t have to be one of these things.
And no, it isn’t an indication of something being amiss in your relationship. In fact, many healthy couples maintain separate bank accounts. For some couples, this helps maintain a happy and harmonious way to manage finances than having to deal with merging their finances. Here are some reasons why:
You Don’t Want Keep Sneaking Purchases
Joint account holders get notified every time the other person swipes their card, purchases something online, or makes an ATM withdrawal. This means there is no financial privacy. Whether you want to keep your significant other in the dark about your financial activity because you want to surprise them with a gift or just don’t want them to know how much you splurged on your new designer bag, that’s your prerogative.
According to a survey conducted by Penny Hoarder, 1 in 4 respondents admitted to hiding a purchase from their partner for the fear of how they would react. Having separate bank accounts can help you stop feeling guilty or stop being sneaky about what you want to buy.
Of course, it’s not wise to rack up secret credit cards or drive your debt up the wall – especially if your partner doesn’t know about it. That’s a recipe for separation right there! But managing your own money responsibly is a great way to keep harmony in the relationship.
You Have Different Income Levels
If you or your partner contribute significantly more or less than the other to the joint account, it can spell trouble if you cannot agree on all the details. The person earning more may end up feeling like the other person is spending their hard-earned income unnecessarily while the other person may feel like their financial activity is being micromanaged.
To avoid a power struggle, you may benefit from maintaining separate bank accounts. You should also come up with a fair way to split common expenses such as groceries and the electricity bill. Outside of such expenses, each of you will be free to spend the money in your account as you see fit.
Your Spending/Money Management Styles Do Not Match
Another good reason to maintain separate bank accounts is if you and your significant other do not share the same kind of spending habits or money management styles.
You may not be able to agree on the best budgeting method or have the same financial goals. You may prefer using cash for your purchases while your husband prefers having his card on him at all times. Your partner may want to splurge on a new TV but you don’t.
By maintaining separate accounts, gives you both the freedom to do what you want. You can’t rely on getting him/her to change their mind every single time. In fact, constantly having arguments about money can put a damper on a relationship very quickly. Instead, you can each choose to “do your own thing”. Your partner can save up for that TV he wants and you can enjoy spending your money on things you want in the meantime.
You’re Used to Being Financially Independent
Let’s face it; once you get a taste of financial independence, it’s tough to go back!
This is especially the case as couples are waiting until they are older to get married, by which time they have become set in their ways of money management. This makes it difficult for them to adjust to a joint bank account after having sole control all their adult lives.
Isabel Barrow is the director of financial planning at Edelman Financial Engines. She says that as people are now getting married in their 30s, 40s, and even later, you get “used to doing things how you do it and that’s what’s comfortable for you.”
In such a case, the simple solution is to maintain separate bank accounts. This is also a good way to make sure you keep up-to-date on your money management skills because there is no guarantee of what might happen in the future. If only one person is always tasked with financial tasks such as creating a budget, paying bills, and handling investments, the other may slowly lose their knowledge of it. It is better for both to stay connected to their portion of the household income instead of burdening one person with it all.
You’ve Had a Bad Experience with a Previous Partner
We are a sum of our life experiences, so is it any surprise that people who have had a previous partner who was irresponsible with their money or financially controlling prefer not to merge their finances when they start a new relationship? Barrow says this is much clearer with couples who are in their second marriage as they often prefer not to open joint bank accounts or merge other assets.
“I think that a lot of times it’s just to give them peace of mind knowing that they’re free to spend and to save how they choose,” she said. “They may have had disagreements in their prior marriage about money or maybe that was something that led to the divorce, and then they’re left feeling vulnerable financially and they just don’t want to go down that road again.”
Regardless of how good your current spouse is if you have been burnt by a past partner, having your own bank account will give you peace of mind and remove one thing from the list of things that could put pressure on your relationship.
You Want to Protect Assets for Your Children
Couples who get together later in their lives can have children from previous relationships and would prefer that their wealth and assets get passed down to their own, instead of being distributed equally to their stepchildren. Therefore, they may prefer to maintain separate bank accounts so they do not face fights over money in the future.
For those who want to protect inheritance money or gifts, Barrow suggests putting such assets into a trust. Having assets in a trust is also beneficial in the situation of a divorce as they are less likely to be split between partners in such an event.