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Financial Sense/ Money Matters

A Happy Relationship Means Having Your Own Bank Account

Money is the number one issue couples fight about so happy finances does help lead to a happy marriage.  For us, that means we each have our own bank accounts, and we like it that way. 

There is no right or wrong way to manage your money (okay there is a wrong way, but not in this particular context).  Some couples have joint accounts and share everything while others have their own individual accounts.  Then there are couples who have both, for example a joint account for the bills and separate accounts for their spending.  Some couple let one person manage all the money, while others split things up so one pays mortgage and the other pays utilities.

In my parents generation all couples had joint accounts.  In fact, when you would hear about a spouse having their own you would automatically think suspicious things like they are secretly hoarding money or maybe having an affair. These days, so many couple live together before they get married it is much more common to see each person having their own separate bank accounts.

We have always been a non-traditional couple so I suppose it makes sense that we have our own accounts.   When we started living together we were also living with my brother and I was already in the habit of collecting the bill money from him so we just continued doing that.  It just made sense.  We were living more like roommates in a way; we both worked full-time,  shopped for our own groceries etc.

Once we got pregnant with my son we talked about creating a joint account.  Seemed like a good idea.  Never did it!

So here we are engaged with three kids and we still have our own accounts, and you know what? We rarely fight about money.  That’s right.  I think some of the few times we have every argued were when I was on maternity leave (which meant I was only earning about 35% of my income) so then the system didn’t quite work anymore.

How Do We Do It?

While we share financial priorities like saving for a new car and new house, and the financial responsibility of the children, we each have our own accounts and are responsible for managing our money how we want to manage it.

When it comes to bills we pretty much split them 50/50 except for personal expenses like cell phones and transportation which we pay for ourselves.  We don’t share credit cards either.  We each have our own that we are responsible for.

I am responsible for doing the majority of the kid’s shopping so I collect the government rebates and use them for the kids spending.  If I need extra to help out, then he will chip in. We split large purchases for the house or kids in half, and smaller things we just take on ourselves.

The children have their own bank account that their RESPs pull from where I put in the funds for their education from the baby bonus and any gifts they receive for that purpose.

Why It Works For Us

This system works for us for a few reasons:

  • We both work full-time which means we have income sources.  If one of us did not work (and I know there are a lot of SAHMs out there) then this system wouldn’t make any sense.
  • We are both generally responsible when it comes to money.  I don’t have to worry that he will take his money and gamble it away or something meaning we can’t pay the bills.  Mind you, if he was irresponsible with money that could also be a good reason to keep it separate (although in that case I think the more responsible spouse should probably take care of the banking).
  • We don’t nickel and dime each other.  We will often round off bills, and make on the fly trade offs like I bought the dog food you buy the cat food type of thing.  At Christmas he does most of the shopping for his family, I buy most of the gifts for mine and we split the difference.
  • We rarely do grocery shopping together.  Since we work different shifts and have different diets (I am a vegetarian) I can’t shop for him no more than he could shop for me. So while we will each pick up things for each other when requested we just get what we need for ourselves.

I think we both feel happy and empowered that we get to manage our own money.  I can make a budget and adjust accordingly without having to worry that he might put something through and there is not enough money in the account.

When it comes to shopping, I never have to feel guilty if I make a purchase because it is coming from my account, and the same goes for him.  Plus, I think its good that we are not scrutinizing each other’s purchases because I don’t always agree with everything he buys, and I am sure he feels the same about me.  Ignorance is bliss right?

I also like the fact that we can still “treat” each other.  For instance, I can buy him a coffee or he can pay for dinner.  You can’t do that if all your money is shared because you’d be treating each other with their own money.

When we got engaged we revisited the subject since once you are married you are supposed to share everything.  While neither of us seemed against the idea, neither of us cared enough to do anything about it.  Maybe that will change once we buy our first house and we will have to worry about mortgage payments.  I am sure though that no matter what we will always have our own bank accounts and credit cards, even if we create joint ones.

So what’s your financial recipe?  How do you keep your finances from ruining your relationship?

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About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Discussion

16 thoughts on “A Happy Relationship Means Having Your Own Bank Account

  1. I am glad you have a system that works. We’ve had joint accounts as long as I can remember, as far back as when we were dating. I can’t imagine it any other way. We discuss all purchases together to avoid impulse buys and explain why we need or want something. It works for us though. In 10 years that we’ve been together, money has never once been the source of an argument.

    Posted by Heather C | January 28, 2014, 8:39 am
    • That’s great! I think if I was married to a former banking executive I would probably be on board for joint accounts too since I know nothing except what I learn from Gail and my financial planner 🙂 Since we split all major purchases we have to discuss them as well by default, one person can’t just go and do it. Life is too short to fight over money 🙂 thanks for sharing.

      Posted by Shannon | January 28, 2014, 9:28 am
  2. My husband and I have a joint account that we use for bills (utilities, cell phones, mortgage, student loans, groceries, etc) and then we each have our own personal accounts for random purchases. We each contribute a certain percentage of our paycheck to the joint account so that it stays fair. The money in our personal accounts is there for going out with friends, if we want to treat our daughter to something extra, clothes, presents, etc. It works really well for us because I know we would both over scrutinize what the other is spending for lunch or something stupid and not worth fighting about!

    Posted by Katie Mere | January 28, 2014, 8:58 am
    • Exactly! So many people ruin good relationships over small details like how come you get Starbucks coffee when I get McDonald’s? I am glad you have a system that works. We will probably look into the joint account thing when we get married/are buying a house.

      Posted by Shannon | January 28, 2014, 9:29 am
  3. Couldn’t agree with you more there Shannon. The hubby’s account is for rent and mine is for utilities, household items, and clothes. Of course our personal fun stuff comes from our own accounts. Mama always said “Leave a little something, something on the side for yourself!”

    Posted by Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth | January 28, 2014, 11:30 am
  4. This is a great post and a really important topic. My husband and I have our own accounts plus a shared account. Our salaries go into our own accounts, but we know how much our shared expenses are and each month we transfer that amount into the shared account. We calculate “equal shares” of the expenses, not equal amounts, so if one of us is making more we transfer in equal percentages of our incomes. I think the system works really well. The only issue is now with kids it’s been hard to find time to sit down and figure out how much to transfer in! But in any case I think looking at the budget every month is important.

    Posted by sparrow | January 28, 2014, 12:39 pm
    • Thanks for sharing. I really like the system you have got, I think that’s something we would try eventually. I agree. So many couples let money unnecessarily be a source of friction in their relationship. Sometimes they get so caught up in it, they can’t even see that their finances are the actual source of their problems. I am glad to hear most of you have it all under control. Cheers.

      Posted by Shannon | January 28, 2014, 1:12 pm
  5. I’m with you on the separate accounts. I’m pretty sure it prevents many, many silly arguments. We’re married and own a house together and still have separate accounts, so you may never merge them! We separate things a little differently. He does monthly bills (mortgage, water bill, etc.) while I cover monthly food and long term savings (retirement, vacation savings, saving for a nicer house/repairs, etc.) We each cover our own student loans and incidentals for ourselves.

    Posted by anotherjen | January 28, 2014, 3:28 pm
  6. My husband and I joined our accounts together the day after we got back from our honeymoon! Haha, we were so eager!! For us, having a joint account has worked well. We like all of our money going into one big ol’ pot. I think it works so well because my husband doesn’t care about money at ALL. He doesn’t spend much and prefers me to handle our bills and what not. Literally, I have to harass him just to check our account once in awhile just for the sake of being aware of what money we have. I could blow through all of our money and he wouldn’t notice. Lucky for him, he married a cheapskate wife! I also had to bug him for months to add himself to my savings account. However, my mom and dad have had separate accounts and have been married for over 32 years and it has worked well for them. My mom would never ever ever give that up. I don’t think she should! To each his own! Good post!!

    Posted by Tales of a Twin Mombie | January 28, 2014, 10:08 pm
    • Thanks for sharing. It’s great that he lets you be in control of the money. I think that can totally work as long as the person in charge spends wisely (as you do). Congrats to your parents on 32 years, that is a great accomplishment. Cheers.

      Posted by Shannon | January 28, 2014, 10:11 pm
  7. Interesting post. I’m surprised it works out so well for you having everything separate with no ironclad official way to split things, but that’s fantastic you can do it! We’ve always had a joint account, and we never refer to one set of money as “his” or “hers.” For us it would be weird to do it any other way but every couple is different. As far as money being the #1 source of arguments, I thought that too, but my husband recently told me that in fact drinking is the #1 cause of fights in marriage and the #1 cause of divorce!

    Posted by theotheroutsider | January 31, 2014, 11:04 am
    • Drinking, yikes! That’s awful. Luckily that is not the case where I live. I thought I was in the minority but of you read the other comments it seems like it’s pretty common. Thanks for stopping by.

      Posted by Shannon | January 31, 2014, 3:02 pm

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