There are some things about being married that make certain things in life more difficult. And one of those things is money! So, it’s no surprise that more couples argue and eventually divorce over financial issues than any other one thing. Money, in many instances is a source of power. If one person in a marriage controls all of the money and denies another from access to it – the balance of marital power is shifted. Even if it is initially done this way because one-half of the partnership is just more naturally adept at budgeting the finances, it will eventually lead to a complicated series of emotions that can disrupt a harmonious marriage.
The question will arise at some point whether sharing a bank account is a good idea or not. Most financial experts recommend that married couples EACH have some sort of autonomy when it comes to money. They also recommend that couples sustain a household checking and savings account that will centrally deal with routine monthly costs. Yet, with most couples suffering to rob Peter to pay Paul each month – having enough money to scatter in so many accounts seems like a dream only for the rich. The point financially is no different than it is in any other realm of life – to balance!
Sharing a bank account can obviously have its drawbacks. Millions of people have a hard time balancing a checking account when only one person has access to a debit card and a checkbook. Then add a second person to the mix and it can be a recipe for disaster. However, it really can work and it is probably a very good idea to have a central shared bank account so that both spouses are able to see just how much money comes in and goes out each month. This shared account should be the source for paying the household bills, the groceries and for doing things like putting gas in the cars. In other words the living expenses that occur from being married. One of the problems is that depending on who makes the most money or who works the most outside of the home, the amount deposited from each person each month will be off balance. This is when spouse A is upset because they deposited ALL of their money into an account where spouse B spent it all.
The easiest way to avoid the money struggle with a shared account is to take a weekly inventory. Yes, weekly! With online banking, it is easier to do. Instead of guessing what you can spend on groceries or whether those new Madison jeans are in your future – both of you can sit down every week and see what needs to be paid and how much money you have. Depending on your pay schedule, this can vary drastically from week to week. Yet, by sitting down together and paying out the bills – then reviewing and budgeting the leftovers, (if you are lucky) the shared bank account will be more likely balanced.
The next complicated circumstances come when couples decide to also have separate bank accounts. If spouse A works full time and spouse B stays home with the kids and takes care of everything domestic, then how do you decide as a couple how much money should be put into spouse B’s bank account? If you give too little, then it can diminish spouse B’s worth. Additionally, is this mad money in his or her private account still something that needs to be justified with spouse A? The easiest solution in this situation is to equally divide the separate account deposits so that each spouse gets the same. And then use these accounts for the personal and private needs of each spouse. The important thing is that the shared account still remains central. If you need to dip into the savings account in order to pay the bills, it shouldn’t remain the job of just one spouse to take money from their ‘personal’ account.
Sharing a bank account is much more difficult than sharing a bed. Trying to balance and keep up with transactions from two people can strain the relationship. Additionally, there is always going to be one-half of the whole that feels there spending needs are more important than the others is. At the same time, savings is vital to your marital and financial success. You should always pay yourself first using a 401K or savings account that does not have easy access for either spouse. Coming to the mutual understanding that these accounts are off limits no matter what – is also an important way of managing marital money.
The bottom line in a marriage is that no two people will have the same spending habits or money management skills. Yet this doesn’t mean that either should be excluded from the financial decisions or denied money. One spouse should not decide what it is that is worth spending money on over another’s opinion. Talking about these things and learning to agree to disagree and compromise with another is critical. Additionally, thinking of sharing a bank account as a symbol of your relationship is important. You wouldn’t intentionally be selfish, greedy, wasteful, or mean spirited with each other’s hearts and you shouldn’t be that way with the money between the two of you either. When you consider that how the two of you handle money can be a large indicator of how successful the marriage will be – you realize that as long as you are upfront and honest with one another, sharing a bank account is a good idea. From that point, each of you can have equal allowances in personal account where you can spend as you wish and see fit, without hurting or taking away from your partner’s life.