You may have adopted the “what’s yours is mine” attitude, which included finances, when you got married. But joint bank accounts don’t work for all moms, and may not last the life of your relationship. Circle of Moms member Tracy U. reports that when she first quit her job to stay at home, having a joint checking account “was a huge disaster." As she explains, "We never knew what money was coming or going." I, too, believe that it’s important for couples with children to maintain separate bank accounts — regardless of whether there are one or two wage-earners in the family. Here are four reasons why:
1. To Avoid Squabbles Over Money
Even if you and your spouse agree on a budget and on your family’s financial goals, it is not possible to agree on every expenditure. As many Circle of Moms conversations reveal, money is what married couples fight about the most. Keeping separate bank accounts can help to alleviate some of the arguments. Stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) in particular frequently find themselves in debates about money or can feel guilty about spending money when they’re not generating any income.
For example, although she’s not getting an “allowance” from her husband and she doesn’t see "why a SAHM can’t have something nice for herself, yes, even a Coach handbag,” Circle of Moms member Leslie admits that she nevertheless feels bad about buying something as inexpensive as hair dye. Leah E., too, admits she feels “embarrassed” and like “a bad person” for wanting an expensive camera.
2. To Ensure Your 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.” After 31 years of marriage, Sandy R. regrets that she didn’t learn that lesson and assert her financial independence earlier in her relationship. “My husband and I have joint bank accounts, but whenever there was a big purchase to make it always took forever for him to okay that purchase,” she says. She adds that when she decided it was time to get her own account and begin a nest egg of her own, “This did not go over well, and ended up with a week of no talking, then talking of halving everything, which I did not want. . . . I have a wonderful husband; he has been great with our finances. But now that I have my own bank account, I have a sense of my own security for the future.”
3. To Pay for Gifts
It’s nice to have cash on hand to pay for things — like a gift for your spouse or child — without having to ruin the surprise or explain to your partner why you need the money, as Nicky L. says. Some moms, including Jennifer B., are building nest eggs by saving a little money from the family grocery budget and stashing it away to later afford gifts for her husband.
For moms uncomfortable with that tactic, however, keeping separate accounts into which a little personal spending money goes each month might be the trick.
Joanna G. says her family maintains one main bank account that her husband’s paycheck goes into to pay bills. “But with each paycheck … a certain amount is direct-deposited into my own personal account, which I use to buy groceries and things we need from Target and the like. ... That's also where I put any gifts of money I may get for holidays, so it's fun to save it up and get something I want.”
4. To Keep Better Track of Your Finances
Frequently, one spouse will be better at managing finances than the other, or spouses will have very different money management styles. As a Circle of Moms member named Sharon shares, her husband "likes to write checks" while she's "a debit card person." The two habits created "mayhem" in one checking account, so they now keep separate personal accounts, with a little money allotted to each spouse every month.
Keeping some money separate can help to prevent mishaps like overspending or an unbalanced checkbook. Elizabeth shares that her husband is better at saving and at long-term goals, while she's better about paying bills, so the two maintain separate accounts. Heather L. likes maintaining separate accounts to protect her credit history if her partner overspends.
Although her husband is “horrible with budgeting” and she maintains a separate bank account, Laura G. however, reminds Circle of Moms members that it’s important to examine finances jointly and to maintain trust. She and her spouse "still consider any income as family money."
Similarly, Sharon shares that while she and her husband maintain separate bank accounts, they are listed on each others’ accounts. This ensures that if something were to happen, the other spouse still could easily access the other's money.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.