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Should Married Couples Combine Their Finances In A Joint Account?

Updated on February 21, 2011

Money is the leading cause for divorce. Couples frequently aren't sure the best options for handling their finances when they get married. It can be hard to join finances, especially for couples marrying later in life who have their finances down to a science - for themselves. Should couples automatically join finances? That's a tough decision, but let's look at the pros and cons of this so you can make the best decision for you.

My husband and I graduated college and got married. It was very easy to join our finances. We had everything deposited into one account and paid everything out of that account. All of our money, regardless of who earns it, is both of ours. Thinking like this from the beginning has helped us handle many years where I never earned a penny. I became a stay at home mom when my oldest was one and we relied solely on my husband's income for a long time. We had the mindset all along of joint finances, so it worked perfectly. If you do not think this way, and you believe everything should be equal, then you might have problems with combining finances.

Ideally, both people should feel confident that sharing all the finances - the income and the expenses - is the right thing. If one person thinks it is unfair, or nit-picks how much the other spends, or charges up the credit card every month to the limit, then joining finances might not work.

If one person has a child from a previous marriage, it might be a good idea to keep separate finances in order to take care of child support or alimony payments. Legally, things might be better kept separate in this case. If one partner is irresponsible with money or brings a lot of debt into the marriage then it might cause hard feelings with the other partner. To keep the peace, so to speak, it might be better to keep things separate. When one partner constantly overspends, it could quickly sink the whole ship. Keeping things separate could prevent this from happening.

I believe that it makes a marriage stronger to share the finances - good and bad. You can count on each other to cover whatever comes up. I read a blog where the couple keeps separate finances. They have everything allocated out as to who pays what. When one flounders the other does not appear to help them out. The wife let the husband almost go bankrupt and would not help him. I think this type of behavior could easily cause divorce. They made it through but not everyone could get through that without a lot of resentment and hard feelings - on both sides.

Just because you share all finances doesn't mean that it has to be in just one account. You could each have your own accounts, with your own expenses to be paid out of them, while still sharing all expenses and income. I see this a lot, especially with stay at home moms. They have their own account (both people are signers though, so it is still shared) and each month get a set amount of money deposited to be spent on certain things - usually groceries, clothing, haircuts, gas, etc. Everything is still shared, just divided up based on who handles the most spending in those areas.

Regardless of whether you combine your money or not, it is still important to create the budget together. You should each know where all the money is going. Both partners should have input in all financial decisions if combining money will work long term. It is very unusual for two adults to make the exact same income. If you do choose to keep separate accounts, do not divide everything up 50/50, this will not work. You should figure out an appropriate percentage for each to contribute based on how much money you each make. This way one person isn't paying most of their salary while the other is paying very little of theirs. Again, it prevents resentment.

Dealing with money issues is tough; people can get very defensive, very quickly. Different solutions will work for different couples. Many people have success keeping things separate, while many do well combining everything. Some couples do a combination of shared and separate finances. Hopefully this article will help you figure out what is best for you and your partner, so that your marriage can succeed without fighting over money.


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    • DIYmommy profile image

      Julie 4 years ago

      Like you, my husband and I really had a mindset geared towards managing our finances through a joint account. To us, we never really entertained any other option. It just made the most sense and it has served us well in the 3 years we have been married. Thanks for the great hub!

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      We just have one joint account and for us, it works great!

    • profile image

      Martin Livbon 6 years ago

      Indeed a great hub

    • jcnasia profile image

      jcnasia 6 years ago

      Great Hub! My wife and I share all our finances, and it's working out great. I think one of the biggest benefits of sharing finances is the transparency it brings to our relationship.

    • Karen Ray profile image

      Karen Ray 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great hub! Joint has always worked fine for us, but like you said, I can see the other way working in certain situations.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      I wish it was still the same as you have experienced! We make life too complicated. I have been divorced twice. Both cost millions. Would I have change the financial arrangement of what is mine is yours? NO! I feel marriage is a life commitment, not a business arangement. If you are not willing to share, do not make the "marriage" commitment...

      Life is not without risks... I like who I am and my life's experiences has made me who I am.

      I have learned money does not define who/what I am. It simply gives one choices. What I have, or do not have does not define who I am. I was born with nothing and I still have most of it!

      Still happy..!

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      Good hub and it gives good food for thought for young and older couples to take a look at the pros and cons of joint account or not.

      Young and in love may be the worst time for couples see the road ahead and be sensible with financial agreements.

      However this is where, I believe pre-marriage courses or what may be the equivalent for partner arrangements,can bring the kind of information about agreements to the attention of the couples.

      Agreements may have to change, over the years, as circumstances change. Nothing stays the same. I guess things break down when couples don't follow a structured plan.

      Of course there are couples who manage to get through all the difficulties without agreements and don't end up having to break up.

      Thanks again for the hub.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 6 years ago

      Great Hub Jennifer!

      Wonderful points of view to consider! I agree that combining finances is easier when you are young and just starting out! Especially if you share the same goals such as raising a family and the value of a stay-at-home mom!

      I also agree that as we get older and establish our own financial independence combining finances may not be in the best interest of either party!

      There has also been a societal change over the last 20-30 years that influences the equation! With marriages failing at an alarming rate, women especially need to always be ready to support themselves and their children should their marriage end!

      GREAT points Jennifer! Always a GREAT Hub!

      Blessings to you and yours, Earth Angel!

    • winepress profile image

      winepress 6 years ago

      Hmmm, I frown anytime he's making a It's a good thing though. Thanks for sharing.