by Dr. Charles Alonzo Peters
“I have my money. He has his money”
I’m surprised at how commonplace this attitude has become. While united in marriage, some people handle their finances as if they were single. I think this undermines the concept of marriage – the joining of two lives into one. Shouldn’t that include the joining of financial lives as well?
My views concerning marital money matters were formed watching my parents in their 41+ years of marriage. Neither parent made much money. My father worked on the factory floor and held a second job as a janitor. My mother was an administrative assistant. Yet whatever money was brought into the house was “their” money. Separate “his” and “hers” bank accounts would have been out of the question.
It was because of this they were able to do so much with so little. A joint bank account placed the focus on common goals – owning a home, providing us kids with a great education, and being able to take an occasional vacation, all became paramount to my mother’s individual desire for clothes and jewelry or my father’s desire for electronic and fishing gear.
The other advantage that I noticed with combined finances is that it forced each of my parents to make better financial decisions. You tend to make better choices when you understand you’ll have to explain it to your spouse later. In essence your spouse becomes your accountability partner. Some may view this as a loss of freedom, but isn’t true freedom being free of making bad financial decisions?
Now I’m not so naive or dogmatic to believe just because combined finances worked well for my parents that’s the way everyone should act.
Perhaps for some there is merit in having separate finances in marriage. People like Tiger Woods constantly remind us of the prevalence of male infidelity. Could we seriously blame a married women who might want to consider “his” and “hers” finances just in case? How about a spouse who can’t get their mate to save, invest, or act responsibly. Could separate accounts create a means for the financially responsible party to build a solid financial foundation for the family, despite the other spouse’s reckless behavior?
So BMWK family, I ask you. Should couples have joint or separate bank accounts? Is it necessary to combine all your finances when you say “I do”. Should you discuss all your purchases with your spouse? Is there merit in having “his” and “hers” finances?
Over the next few weeks you’ll get great weekly insight and tips on managing your greenbacks by Dr. Charles Alonzo Peters of MochaMoney.com so be sure to check back.