Separate Bank Accounts with Your Spouse?

When my husband and I got married we automatically joined our accounts. It seemed the thing to do, as we set up the budget to allocate our funds to bills, savings, and spending money. Everything worked automatically.

What we decided to change

Recently, we switched to managing separate accounts. I don’t knock holding separate accounts. In fact, I like the benefit’s of being a financially independent woman.

The bills have been divided so that we each have the same *cash allowance available each week. Basically, my husband is responsible for the house payment and utilities. While I take care of the loan/debt payments and childcare.

Here are the benefits for holding separate accounts:

  • Some of the financial responsibility/time is freed up on my behalf. It just happens that ‘my’ set of bills are all due on or around the first of month. So, I can send them all out on a single Friday and be done for the month. :)
  • We each have our independence with our cash allowance (I think my husband is liking that as much as I am, too) – don’t get me wrong, we are still making financial decisions together
  • We can buy gifts for eachother with suprise. There is no peeking into transactions.

But there are some potential cons:

  • If one spouse makes more money they take on the higher load of the bills. Need to remember that you’re in this path towards financial freedom together.
  • Responsibility for variable expenses, like gifts and vacations, could be an issue of how to split
  • There may be times you think your spouse is spending too freely and not on the same spreadsheet as yours
  • I admit, I do feel a crunch not managing all the finances, but I think the change is good for us. We now each hold a physical responsibility to ensure the bills are paid on time. Instead of one spouse hearing, “this is where the money is being allocated” or “this is how much we saved” we can now both monitor the results in real time and in our ‘own’ account.

    What about you?

    Do you work well with a joint account? Partial to having a joint & separate accounts? Or living with separate accounts? What are some of the issues you deal with in your account cohabiting?

    *Cash Allowance: the money remaining after our bills our paid. This money is used for weekly groceries, gas, entertainment, hair cuts, etc…

41 thoughts on “Separate Bank Accounts with Your Spouse?

  1. Red

    I’m not married yet, but I grew up in a home with parents who held separate accounts. They actually split the bills similarly to how you and your husband do – one would pay the house, another would pay for the vehicles and utilities, etc. I plan to mimic their style in keeping my account separate from D’s and actually splitting bills right down the middle. We both plan to be debt free when we marry (big goal!). We own our vehicles and are not interested in taking on car payments in the future. So, really, we should only have home expenses to pay, and I think splitting everything 50/50 just makes me feel secure, that we’re both paying for everything. Saving is something we haven’t addressed thoroughly, but from the limited amount we have talked about it, I think D feels as I do – that we’ll each save according to our goals. If there is a joint goal, we’ll both save together, but other than that, our savings is our own deal.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      And that is something we are still setting up… the savings allotment; to make sure we are both putting money towards it and are on the same path.

      That is nice to see you and D have similar goals. Makes things much easier. :)

      Reply
  2. The Lost Goat

    I have a joint account with my spouse. I find it a bit odd to separate money into “his” and “hers” as it is a fungible commodity. But it seems to work for a lot of people.

    I think it saves time to have one of us managing all the finances. That way, we don’t have to spend any time coordinating. Each of us has our own “toy budget,” but that way we don’t have to decide who pays for every grocery run or tank of gas. Also, two people don’t have to keep track of the day-to-day, humdrum finance stuff. As my husband hates dealing with money, this works splendidly for us. If both spouses have a hands-on mentality, perhaps it doesn’t create any efficiencies to delegate the tasks to one person.

    Personal finances are not one-size-fits-all, and I congratulate the two of you for having found something that works.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      And you are right, the joint effort worked well. I managed the finances and we did all our shopping, gas, etc… out of the same account. But I know there were times that he felt he needed his ‘own’. Perhaps the separating finances will work for us, as well as meet his needs, too.

      Reply
    2. money funk

      BTW, I am taking on the Costco bill, we will alternate grocery shopping, and gas is on our own (its pretty equal out). As for the remainder, we will work it out as it come. :)

      Reply
  3. Financial Samurai

    C – Secretly your husband is jumping for joy. I’m telling ya, with separate accounts guys feel a sense of relief, that they are not being watched like crazy. Strip clubs, fun times with the guys, vegas = freedom! Not saying he’ll be all sketchy and all. I’m sure you feel relieved too!

    I got one joint checking with the wife. Fun times!

    Reply
    1. money funk

      LOL. I know he’s wanted more control, as I kind of took over it with this whole going debt free crusade. So, I do believe he probably is jumping for joy, quietly. Plus, I know that having financial control fits for a man’s persona.

      In a sense I feel relieved, but also concerned about maintaining the same financial path. But with due time, I think it is a good change made.

      Reply
      1. Financial Samurai

        Have you watched “The Hangover” and “Swingers”? I can’t help but think about those movies when I think separate checking accounts. :)

        I think I’m just unduly influenced by pop culture! That said, I’ve been to Vegas with the boys before. Don’t ever ask the husband what went on!

        Reply
        1. money funk

          I have not watched Hangover, yet. I so want to see it. But I have seen Swingers. And my husband did go to Vegas for a Bachelor party once. I don’t ask what went on, but I have no doubt he gave me the PG version of their trip. Don’t forget, girls aren’t angels either. ;)

          Reply
  4. Sharon

    We have two checking accounts, but they are in both of our names. One we use to save money for upcoming bills, i.e. homeowner’s association, water bill, insurance, etc. The other is used for everyday bills.

    I don’t think we would have it any other way. The downer? Because I check every account every week, I’m really never surprised at Christmas or my birthday. When those occasions come around, I try not to look at the balances..I really do like to be surprised!

    Reply
    1. money funk

      That is what we were doing: one for the direct deposit, house payment, and cash allowance. The other was the Bill pay account.

      For the gift idea: I tell my husband to put it on the CC and i won’t peak. Then I just transfer the money to pay off the CC.
      With Christmas, we had a budget/set amount to spend. So i just gave him cash. Worked out great!

      Reply
  5. Sherry

    We have joint accounts and have since we were married. Now I am an at home, homeschool mom, so seperate accounts wouldn’t make sense. But, we had joint accounts when I was working. I do the tracking and give a report to my husband monthly. We have always lived below our income and are both natural savers, so there really has never been any problem with us just spending what we need. He just has to tell me when he makes a big purchase so I can make sure the money comes out of savings. I tell him when I make a big purchase and money had to come out of savings. Because we do most things together, this is rare. The most often times are my education expences for the kids.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      I am glad to hear joint checking accounts can work. My husband is a saver, too. So that is a good thing for the both of us. His system for doing things is different than mine. So, I think I just feel a temporary loss of control. LOL. But I will get over it. I am kind of relieved to pass on some of the responbility to my husband. And we are working for the same goal. All is good.

      BTW, I have to agree – children are expensive. Especially as they get older!

      Reply
  6. Jeff

    I’ve done both. We started with seperate accounts with me paying all the bills minus my wifes car, insurance, and spending. I never give it a second thought until we figured out we were in debt up to our eyes balls. At the advice of our financial coach we went joint. While in debt we will remain joint for a few reasons.
    1) We need to talk about all purchases before hand to make sure we are spending WISELY.
    2) We are both spenders, without the checks and balances of having to “report” to the other, we’d never get out of debt.
    3) My wife is an Excutive House Manager. Having all OUR money together helps to remove any problem she has about not adding money into the account. She works her butt off and I don’t want her to have any remorse about income.
    4) All money in and all money out is tracked in one spot. Yes we have seperate accounts for bills and such but everything is routed through one checking account making both of our lives simple.
    5) oh yeah we each get $20 per week as our “blow” money. I don’t see a reason to have an account for that :-)
    6) Gifts, haha when you are in debt you don’t worry about gifts!!

    Do I think seperate account can work? Sure, I don’t have any problem with them. I just know that for us and our debt, we NEED to watch every penny to make sure we are blasting our debt as soon as possible.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      That was my concern in having separate accounts – making sure we are on the same debt blasting page. So I discussed it with him last night. He reassures me we are on the same page. But I will reaccount in a few weeks after we have settled into this process. Communication is key.

      And $20 a week is great for blow money. That is our amount allocated for the same. Thank you, Jeff. Well pointed out pros for having joint accounts. But am glad to hear separate is feasible, too.

      Reply
  7. Jonas

    My wife and I have joint checking. With both of us working and juggling three kids, I just don’t have the time to worry about how much I’m spending vs her. If I want to make a big purchase, we talk about it. If I want to make a secret gift, I put it on a credit card, and let her know not to look. I have many friends that have separate accounts, and the motive behind it seems to be selfish, secretive, controlling. Personally, I feel that if you want ‘your own money’ you shouldn’t have gotten married. If you can’t trust your S.O., you’ve got bigger problems than mismanaged funds.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      Great points, Jonas. And it is a concern of mine that we would building separate ‘empires’. But I think open, continuous communication will be key. Our separate accounts are open and not a hidden asset.

      Fortunately, I have a very responsible husband and I do trust him. So, I think separate account will work for us in that our spending/cash allowances are the same. As long as the normal average weekly expenditures are made on groceries n such, the spending should not be a problem.

      Plus, we don’t use the credit cards any longer. And our EF is still joint.

      Reply
  8. Small Town Runner

    We have joint accounts. Personally, I hate the idea of having separate accounts with my husband. It feels like a his/hers kind of thing when in reality, everything is OURS. Also, for us I think it would be more work figuring out who is going to be in charge of paying which bills. My husband has an irregular income (self-employed), and I think that separate accounts would add to the stress — there might be months that he wouldn’t be able to pay “his share” of the bills, so it would have to come out of my income anyway. For us, joint accounts make much more sense.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      I could see how having separate accounts could be an issue to handle when one person has an irregular income. It would be interesting to hear how someone in this position whether married or dating.

      And you’re right, there are some nice pros to having a joint account. Thank you for your sharing your thoughts on this, Small_Town_Runner.

      Reply
  9. Bucksome

    We have separate accounts; actually we’re on each other’s accounts legally in case of emergency but manage them independently. We’ve handled our money this way since we married almost 15 years ago.

    It works for us, but we are planning to “merge” the money at retirement.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      So, then your marriage is testament that it can work! ;) Bucksome, if you care to share, would love to hear why you prefer separate accounts in lieu of joint accounts.

      Reply
      1. Bucksome

        There were really two reasons we kept separate accounts initially.

        1. I was bringing two kids to the marriage so had increased expenses compared to a single person. Conversely, I did receive child support so I just thought keeping all these transactions separate was better for us.

        2. We used one account during my first marriage and I felt like I never had money of my own.

        Reply
        1. money funk

          I have two that I brought into this marriage, too. Glad to hear blending families works, too. :) We’ve had our ups and downs and it has taken about 3 years to really make it work for all of us (thank heavens!).

          There sure are increased expenses. LOL. Thank you for sharing. I like seeing what issues or what works in having a separate account.

          Reply
  10. Ken

    We have separate accounts. It’s had its challenges but it is the way we choose to do it right now. Communication is key.

    Reply
  11. LeanLifeCoach

    Married twice… handled money both ways. No doubt in my book the combined approach is the best choice. Looking at the big picture it is a more efficient and secure approach; expenses and time incurred are less and opportunity to leverage income and investment opportunities are greater.

    Then again, I also have the benefit of a wonderful stay at home wife to handle all administrative aspects. So for me its particularly easy this way!

    Reply
    1. money funk

      LOL. I like the last comment.

      I like the combined approach, too.

      But due to circumstances we are going to try this way for a while. Plus take some of the load off of me (after I set up my husband’s bill pay accounts). Happily, the husband is putting all his OT into savings. So it may work out for us.

      Thank you for your thoughts on the subject. I am getting so many wonderful responses.

      Reply
  12. Simplelivin'

    Hubby and I have separate checking accounts, but we are both on both accounts. When we got married neither of us wanted to close our account, and deal with setting up all the automatics we have set up, so we just kept our own. We do have a joint saving accounts though.

    It would make life easier to just have one account, so we don’t have to figure out what we need to transfer between the two, since I take care of the majority of the bills.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      We are in a similar boat: joint savings and separate accounts. My husband is having trouble remember what bills he is suppose to take care of, but with due time he will have it handled.

      As for transferring… there is no need for us. I set up the Bill Pay feature on my husband’s account. All he needs to do is plug in the numbers for his portion of the bills and hit ‘send’. :)

      If you decide to go joint, leave the other account open for minimal use or use it as a travel account, if applicable. And taking the two weeks to transfer a direct deposit isn’t too much of an inconvenience.

      Reply
  13. Mom to 8

    I am a sahm and we have one income. We have three accounts. One is for bills. Mine is for household and clothing. Dh has his own account for gasoline and everything else – medical bills, repairs, etc.
    This works great. We don’t have to consult each other over every penny spent. Ever have to call your dh from the grocery store to see if there is enough money to buy extra sale priced ground beef? Or, your dh wants to take you out to dinner and he has to ask you if you spent that last $40 he planning on using. We both feel like we have a little freedom.

    Reply
    1. money funk

      Mom to 8… I commend you for staying sane (I can barely do that with my 2 kids – lol – did you check out the Mom Salary Wizard?). Oh, I like your set up.

      Well, I think my husband really enjoys that portion – not needing to consult each other with every expenditure. Now its I am responsible for mine as he is with his. And I enjoyed the other night, when he took me out to dinner. Felt like a real date. ;)

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply
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  16. Mama Bird

    We have joint savings and separate checking. All of my husband’s paycheck (I’m a SAHM), except an agreed on amount for his eat out lunches and whatever else he needs cash for during the month, goes into my checking account to manage (pay bills, organize savings, etc). I manage all the finances so this works best for us. If my husband wants to save for a big ticket item that I don’t care anything about (like a bigger TV), he saves for that in his checking account. As for savings accounts we have an emergency fund, a travel fund (for our yearly trips to Australia) and another savings account that is currently nicknamed “renovations”, but it changes depending on what we are saving for. We also have 401k and Roth IRAs for retirement. When we were both working, we had a similar arrangement set up, just more of it went to savings.

    Reply
  17. Frugal Trenches

    I think a mix has worked best. First a joint one for all bills, vacations etc, then a joint savings account then a certain amount (the same, to be fair) of savings into separate spending & savings accounts. Great topic!

    Reply
  18. MF

    I am not sure.. my husband wants separate accounts because we have had bounced checks… impromptu expenses not well managed. I am very skeptical. I am working now and I make about 3-4x less than my husbands. He also makes bonuses. He says that he wants more control and will pay everything except for the dogs, and my debt. I dont’ know if this is a blessing or if I should be worried…

    Reply

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