Regardless if you have joint or separate accounts, couples will disagree about money from time-to-time.  But would you go so far as to hide purchases from your partner?  Financial infidelity can be as damaging to a relationship as sexual infidelity, and is one of the leading causes of divorce today.

A recent survey found that more than 34% of men and women who have kept money secrets say it’s because they disagree with their partner about where to spend it.

When my wife and I got married, we combined our finances into one joint account and haven’t looked back.  But for many couples, deciding whether or not to combine your personal finances can be a delicate subject.

Related: Couples Money – Savers vs. Spenders

There are three common approaches for couples to consider when setting up their finances.  Make sure to discuss the pros and cons before deciding which one works best for your situation.

Use a joint account for everything

With this approach, couples combine their incomes and pay all expenses – both joint and individual – from their shared account.  This makes tracking expenses as a couple very simple, and can help build an open and transparent relationship.  However, this arrangement can be hard for people who enjoy their financial independence.

If you choose this method, consider whether there will be some unique expenses that you handle individually, such as paying off debt that you had before you entered the relationship.

Related: Is A Prenup Really Necessary?

Keep separate chequing accounts and have a joint account that you use for shared expenses

With this approach, couples use their personal chequing accounts for individual expenses, but open a joint account to use for shared expenses like groceries, rent or mortgage payments, and utility bills.

Couples that choose this option can split their shared expenses easily.  Because individual purchases are separate, though, budgeting as a couple can be more difficult.

If you choose this method, you need to decide which expenses will be paid for jointly, and how much each of you will contribute to shared expenses.  Will you split them 50/50 or contribute a percentage based on your incomes?

Related: Treating Your Marriage Like A Business (Financially)

Have completely separate accounts

With this approach, couples maintain their separate finances, and split joint expenses as they come in.  This may work well for couples who value their financial independence, but can be difficult in other ways.

Sorting out how to divide every expense takes some effort from each partner and can cause confusion.  Also, budgeting as a couple can be complicated when you both maintain separate accounts.

Joint Borrowing

How you decide to handle your finances as a couple can affect your individual credit reports.  If you have a credit card together, only the primary cardholder will develop a credit history by paying it off on time.

Related: Understanding The Risks Of A Joint Account

If you’re thinking about expenses using a joint line of credit or a joint credit card, don’t forget to consider your responsibilities as a joint borrower before making your decision.  If you co-sign a loan, you become equally responsible for repaying the loan.

How we handle our finances

My wife stays home full time with our kids, so we don’t have to worry about how to divide two salaries.  But since I’m the sole bread winner and also look after our household budget, it can be frustrating for my wife if she feels like she doesn’t have much control over our finances.

Related: How To Survive And Thrive As A Single Income Family

To overcome this, we discuss our financial goals – both short term and long term – so we’re both on the same page.

For day-to-day spending, I like to use a cash back credit card for my purchases, but instead of monitoring everything my wife buys, she just takes out some cash every month to spend on whatever she wants – no questions asked from me.  This also helps the ‘surprise’ factor when buying gifts for birthdays and at Christmas.

How do you handle your finances as a couple?  Do you have joint, or separate accounts?


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