Thursday, April 15, 2010

On money and marriage: The case for separate accounts

Over at Shine, I'm making the case for not mixing your money when you get married:

You've probably heard the horror stories: A new widow doesn't know how to manage her money because her deceased husband always handled all of the bills. A couple divorces and one spouse has poor credit because he never built up enough of a record on his own name. Both spouses pool their money, but then one makes a huge withdrawal.

For many people, marriage means that as two lives merge so must the checking accounts. "When you get married, you become one," advises financial guru David Ramsey. "Money is a key area that helps bring unity. When you handle your money together, you are agreeing on your hopes, dreams and goals."

But many financial experts agree that there some situations where it makes sense for spouses not to co-mingle their money. ... [More]
I interviewed Candace Bahr, co-founder of the Women's Institute for Financial Education ( and the Bahr Investment Group, for the Yahoo piece, and she pointed out several situations where it may be better for spouses to have separate finances. "Keeping some money separate doesn't mean you're keeping it secret," Bahr points out, and I absolutely agree.

Since mine is one of those situations where it makes more sense to keep things separate, I also took a look at the topic from a more personal point of view over at The 36-Hour Day:

My husband and I have never merged our money. It doesn’t make sense for our blended family to also have blended finances, so in order to keep our assets and financial obligations and liabilities separate, we keep our financial accounts separate as well. ... Some financial experts have found that keeping separate accounts is becoming more common: people are marrying (or remarrying) later in life, they point out, and more women are outearning their husbands. And with credit scores having become so important, it makes sense for each spouse to build and maintain a credit record in his or her own name. ... [More]
I just got an interesting comment at The 36-Hour Day, calling me a liberal for maintaining financial independence while married, which fascinates me -- has personal finance always been a political statement, or is that a recent development?

What money management system works for your family?

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