Q: My parents always had joint accounts, but I’m getting mixed messages from everyone today about whether that’s the best option for my finances. With divorce as common as it is, should we plan for the worst and leave our finances separate once my fiancé and I are married?
A: Whether you choose to join your finances when you tie the knot or keep them separate is a relatively new dilemma. If you’re both young and just starting out, joining your finances will be simple. If, however, you’ve been in the workforce for a while, have a previous marriage behind you, or are carrying significant debts (or assets), you may have more reasons to keep your accounts separate.
Either way, it’s a personal question and one only you can answer. You may feel there’s more trust and unity when everything is in one pot. On the other hand, if your views on money are different and one of you may resent occasional splurges your other half might make, separate accounts may be a good idea.
Also, realize that it’s not an either/or discussion. You may want to have a joint account to pay the household expenses from, to which you both make pre-agreed upon deposits each month from your independent accounts.
Having separate accounts doesn’t mean you’re hiding money from each other. You should each have a good idea about how much your spouse is earning, spending, borrowing, and investing. While studies have found that up to 55% of couples hide money from each other, doing so can signify deeper issues.
So consider your personal situation and financial differences, and have an open discussion about it. Whatever you decide, make sure both of you are comfortable with the arrangement.