I attended a beautiful wedding ceremony a few weeks ago. He was Italian. She was Jamaican. This was his second marriage. This was her first. He had two children that he brought to the marriage. She, on the other hand, was looking forward to starting a family with him.
The pastor candidly spoke about the complexities of having an interracial, intercultural, blended marriage. He spoke about the importance of respect, communication, laughter, and compromise.
But he wasn’t done there.
On top of that, he spoke about the role that money management played in creating a happy and respectful marriage. During his sermon, he said that there is a magic number when it comes to the number of bank accounts a married couple should have. He said that this number would create a marriage that was both dependent and interdependent– the secret sauce to a long-lasting marriage.
As a personal finance coach, I often counsel my clients to do what’s best for them financially and not look for an exact formula. The number that the pastor suggested, however, made a lot of sense and reflected wisdom, common sense, and a lot of real-world, married experience.
His number was three. Here are the accounts and the reasons why.
The Wife’s Separate Account: Every woman needs her own money and does not need to be beholden to her husband to make purchases that she wants for herself. In his sermon, the pastor mentioned shoes, but as a personal finance coach, I think women should have a separate account to treat themselves to anything that strikes their fancy as long as her financial obligations and commitments to the family (savings goals, debt-elimination goals, retirement goals) are met.
The Husband’s Separate Account: Similarly, a man does not need to be “hen-pecked” about money. We all know about the whipped man that hands over his paycheck to his overbearing wife every two weeks and then is left with a pittance of an allowance to enjoy his life. Not cool. Not cute. Men, like women, desire to have nice things and to splurge on things that they want. If he is handling his financial responsibilities to the family, as the pastor said, “let the man be.”
The Family Joint Account: The first two accounts allow for the healthy independence that we all need in a marriage. This family joint account ensures that there is the intimacy and dependence that characterizes marriage and differentiates it from a roommate situation. Even though the pastor suggested one joint account, I believe that married couples need at least one joint account to pull resources, determine goals, and work towards financial freedom. Some of the specific accounts could be earmarked for education, vacation, savings, joint and retirement.
So BMWK Family: What do you think? How many accounts do you and your spouse have? Does it create the balance of interdependence and dependence that is oh-so-healthy in your marriage?