Written by Matt Wegner
Founder and Lead Counselor, Matt Wegner Coaching, www.financialexcellence.net
I am often asked whether married couples should have joint spending accounts or separate. This is a subject hotly debated in the financial services industry.
All too often, couples get married first, then take the time to discover how the other one feels about money issues. This may explain why money problems are cited as the #1 reason for divorce today. When the honeymoon period is over, the wife finds that the husband has no interest in balancing the books or eliminating debt. The husband discovers the wife can’t stop buying shoes because they were on sale. These are every day problems that stem from lack of communication. When you have separate bank accounts, you have no idea where the money goes at the end of the month. You have no built-in integrity. You have no system of checks and balances (pardon the pun). How can you trust your spouse if you can’t see where the money is being spent?
Learn to Trust Your Spouse
At the end of the wedding, the minister pronounces the couple Husband and Wife. This is not a business partnership. It’s a marriage. If you have separate checking accounts, you now have an element of “mine” and not “ours”. Thinking of things as mine and yours leads to selfish behavior, which is exactly the opposite of what makes a marriage strong. Marriage is about giving to grow together as a couple. Giving of yourself makes you less selfish and even more giving. Having a joint checking account forces you you discuss every expenditure together and communicate about money. When you talk about your priorities and feelings about money, you learn about your spouse and what motivates them. You also have to mutually compromise some of your wants in order to mutually address your needs.
The best way to avoid problems is to do a written budget every month TOGETHER. By openly discussing needs, wants, concerns, fears, and working out where every dollar should go, you open up communication about each other. Money has a way of bringing your deepest feelings to the surface. Be open, be committed to each other, and be willing to compromise to achieve your goals. If your bond is weak and you commit to working together, you will grow closer together. If your bond is strong, you will solidify that bond and make it unbreakable.