I once heard a woman criticize another woman’s marriage, and the example she used to illustrate the dysfunction that existed in the relationship was that the husband and wife had separate bank accounts.
At the time, my husband and I had been married over a year, and much to the chagrin of the company that we were keeping, had separate bank accounts. We still do.
As a working Mom with an independent salary, benefits package, pension, life insurance policy, and investment accounts, I don’t feel it necessary to operate our household finances out of a joint checking account. My husband pays some bills, I pay others. I buy gifts for my children, plan birthday parties, and organize all sorts of surprises out of my very own checking account. I feel no pressure or obligation to put my husband’s name on my checks. However, keeping with sound financial practices we do have a fully vetted financial plan in place that would allow our assets to be passed to one another. Additionally, we list each other as beneficiaries on any account, or life insurance policies.
A friend recently told me that she feels ‘guilty’ every time she buys something for herself because her husband checks the account balance and questions her purchases. I can safely say that my husband and I rarely argue about who purchases what and how much it costs. With separate accounts we make independent decisions, and trust one another to use good judgment.
Circleofmoms.com recently published an article highlighting the four reasons EVERY Mom needs their own bank account:
- To avoid squabbles over money: If money really is the number one thing most couples argue about, keeping separate bank accounts will help alleviate some of the arguing, and couples will be less likely to micromanage one another.
- To ensure financial independence: Financial Advisor Suze Orman is a big proponent of individual bank accounts, saying, “it is the cornerstone of financial security, independence and empowerment.”
- To pay for gifts: This is the biggest one for me. I have lots of friends that I enjoy buying birthday presents for; I don’t need my husband to be involved in these issues. I also enjoy planning surprises for my family, and with only one bank account it is difficult to pull off a true surprise.
- To keep better track of your finances: In some relationships one individual is a better ‘budgeter’ than the other. Keeping some money separate and maintaining individual accounts can help to prevent mishaps like over spending, or an unbalanced check book.
As a working mother with two daughters it is important for me to be a good financial role model. I want my daughters to learn the importance of financial independence, and to know how to make informed financial decisions. My Mom instilled in me a thorough understanding that it was not acceptable to expect a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband to pay my way out of financial hardship or to finance my lifestyle. I hope to pass this lesson along to my daughters.
Now, after almost five years of marriage my husband and I do have one joint bank account, we rarely use it, but it’s there if we need it.