How Maintaining Separate Bank Accounts Can Save Your Marriage

Because marriage is a union of two lives, many people believe that every quotidian aspect of those two lives should be merged, as well — up to and including bank accounts.

Not so fast. Joint bank accounts are commonplace in committed relationships, but they’re far from required. All married couples are entitled to their own choices, based on their unique financial temperaments. In fact, many couples will find that individual bank accounts ease financial and emotional strains in a marriage, making it a healthier and wealthier one. Here’s why.

Related: Yours, Mine and Ours: Managing Joint Accounts After Marriage

Why You Should Opt for Separate Bank Accounts in a Marriage

So, what are the perks of keeping separate bank accounts?

Firstly, if finances are separate, there won’t be as much opportunity for conflict between partners with completely different spending habits. Savers and non-savers can get along — as long as they are in control of their own funds. This is especially true if one spouse makes significantly more than the other; eliminate the potential fight of “who spent whose money” by keeping it separate in the first place.

Additionally, Americans are marrying later and later in life — at 27, on average, according to the Pew Research Center — meaning couples have likely already developed their financial behaviors separately and distinctly. It’ll be far easier for two people to continue banking as they did before, rather than adopt another’s (perhaps less-effective) methods.

And then there’s the simple freedom of managing your own funds, and not having them impacted by someone else’s. A 2014 TD Bank survey found that 38 percent of respondents cited “independence” as their No. 1 reason for maintaining separate accounts.This independence comes in handy during a marriage — but, also, after one ends.

Whether by one spouse’s death or through divorce, more than 50 percent of all married people will have to become financially independent again at some point, according to The Wall Street Journal. In this case, separate accounts help simplify the painful process of splitting finances.

Related: 5 Tips for Dealing With Money Matters in a Relationship

The Case for a Joint Account

Apologists for joint accounts are out there and certainly vocal. And there is some evidence that supports their position.

For one, statistics say people with joint accounts will spend about 10 percent less. Additionally, it’s much easier to deposit paychecks into a single account and pay all the expenses from there. You both can see what goes into and out of the account, which means no hiding purchases from your spouse.

That said, these benefits can be reaped if couples keep most funds separate, with a single account for joint expenses. According to a study highlighted in the New York Post last year, the key to a happy marriage can be just one shared bank account. The survey found couples who use only joint accounts are just as happy as those who pool only 5 percent of their funds in a separate account.

Related: How to Perfectly Plan Your Divorce to Protect Your Assets

A Happy Medium, and a Happy Marriage

There’s no reason couples can’t make use of both joint and separate accounts. Those that do will be able to save for joint expenses, as well as tend their own savings with autonomy — basically, they can share each other’s future without sacrificing their financial independence.

Whether you choose to go all in or keep your funds to yourself, the most important factor in a healthy marriage, regardless of finances, is being on the same page as your spouse. If you both agree that joint accounts are the way to go, great. If you’ve worked hard for your money and want to keep some autonomy over it, then keep it separate. Ultimately, this communication will make or break the marriage — and the bank.

Photo credit: Neil. Moralee

  • Sam W.

    Well, I heard that shared bank accounts can lead to a happier marriage. To each their own I suppose.

  • Fit is the New Poor

    My mother, as a child, always told myself and my sister to keep a bank account just for us just incase anything were to happen. To this day, I have my own separate savings account that is just my own.

  • 52andfree

    Clearly, this article is written by bank marketing executive. After all, double accounts means the opportunity to charge double the fees, and also eliminates any discounts or higher interest rate a combined account might yield presuming it would maintain significantly higher balances with less opportunity for overdraft fees on checking accounts. It basically implies that you should trust your spouse with your heart, your health and your life, but NOT “your” money. Funny, because when my wife and I got married (almost 33 years ago), everything we owned, or earned became OURS… Referring to us as “single account apologists” makes it clear this article was written by bank representative.

  • Bret @ Hope to Prosper

    I have quite a bit of experience with this, having been married for almost 24 years. We have tried it both ways and separate accounts definitely work better for us. It was nearly impossible for me to keep a balance and a budget, with someone else spending from the account. Plus, my wife doesn’t need to explain or justify her purchases to me. Other couples may have different habits and experiences and a joint account may work better for them. There is definitely no one “Right Way” for everyone, because everyone is different.

    • NBCProducers

      Hi there,

      I work for The Meredith Vieira Show at NBC and we want
      to help you out! I know that this may not be the easiest thing to talk
      about, but we are having a segment on our show this Friday with families
      with financial infidelities and we want you to come tell your story.
      Suze Orman will be here along with Meredith to see if she can help you
      through this problem. We will fly out out here to our studio at NBC in
      NYC and accommodate you at a hotel nearby. Please let me know if you
      want to tell your story, you can reach us at