I always find that this topic raises a lot of debate, especially when it comes to the discussion of joint finances. I think the way married couples manage their finances is a very personal decision. But I will say that I believe in having joint accounts/assets, and I also believe in having separate accounts as well. That's right, both joint and separate at the same time. I'll explain.
Having joint accounts and assets with your spouse
If you are married, the bulk of your assets should be joint. Things like your long-term savings, your house, and your investments are things you should manage together. I say this because in marriage, you and your spouse are a team. As team players, you can grow your financial portfolio more significantly than you would if your portfolios were separate.
Part of having joint accounts means you are having the money conversation with your spouse often (or at least you are forced to), you can see what's happening with your joint finances, and you can make money decisions together. Ever heard the saying, "two heads are better than one?"
Money is the number one cause of strain in marriages. This is a well-known fact, but if you are talking and planning together, then all your cards are laid out on the table. That way, you can minimize issues around your finances from a decision-making perspective.
Having separate accounts from your spouse
I'm a fan of separate accounts for day-to-day transactions. Decide with your spouse how much money you each get allocated on a weekly or monthly basis from your joint accounts. Then, transfer this into your individual accounts. Things like groceries and shopping money would go into these personal accounts. This way you are not constantly explaining every single transaction you make to each other.
Some couples also have separate savings accounts where they save for things they want to get outside of their joint finances. For example, your wish list handbag or shoes, your spouse's tech toys, etc.
Having separate accounts
- Don't use separate accounts to hide money. Financial transparency is important! Remember, you are a team and you should always act in the best interests of your team so you can win together.
- Just because you have separate accounts for personal transactions doesn't mean you should go crazy spending large amounts of money without talking to your spouse. For instance, my husband and I agree to have a conversation with each other if we spend more than $500.
But what about divorce and prenuptial agreements? While these are both topics that require their own separate discussions, I will say this: divorces are complicated and assets are divided based on these complications. If you are facing a divorce, have a conversation with your lawyer as soon as you can.
Before you sign any prenup, understand very clearly what's stated in it by having a sit down with your lawyer to go over it. If you already signed a prenup, find it and make an appointment with your lawyer to go over it. The re-occurring theme in these two instances—first things first, get a good lawyer!
Like I said, managing your finances in a marriage is a personal decision. Regardless of what anyone says, figure out what works well for you both and manage your money accordingly.