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Joint vs Separate Accounts

If you’re married, or about to be, I have a question for you.  Do you have money in your own name?

Even if you’re blissfully in love with each other, even if (s)he’s filthy rich or a financial genius, it’s critical to have your own economic identity a bank account and credit card in your own name.

In part, it’s a matter of self-protection. If anything happens to your Prince(ss) Charming, you could be in big trouble. Oh, the horror stories I’ve heard from women who couldn’t get credit or had all kinds of legal problems after losing a spouse through death or divorce because everything was listed under their spouse’s name.

Also, since money is the #1 source of marital spats, having separate accounts could minimize arguments. As Stephanie Sarkis pointed out in Psychology Today, “the less you argue about money, the closer you will feel to your partner.”

But there’s also a psychological component. A separate financial identity, even while maintaining shared accounts, makes a major personal statement. It has nothing to do with the relationship. It has everything to do with your self-concept and sense of autonomy.

Putting money in your name is about growing up, becoming an adult, claiming your sovereignty over your own life.

I’d love to hear if money is a source of strife or harmony in your relationship? Leave a comment below.

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Comments & Feedback

  • Laura

    Barbara, George and I have always kept separate accounts, separate everything. After being together, engaged, for well over five years, we finally put each other as signers on the other’s account…just in case. We pay bills together, discuss expenses together, and have separate everything. This is how we feel comfortable, what works for us. I recommend it. 🙂

    • Carol

      Before I got married we lived together. We had separate accounts and then we had the joint account for joint stuff. Then he wanted everything together when we got married “or we’d just be roommates.” This was the beginning of the end and his view of marriage was he owned me. I won’t do that again if I get married again. Always listen to your gut…

      • barbara huson

        Totally agree, Carol. When a spouse who won’t let you have money in your own name, that’s a huge red flag. Thanks for sharing!

    • barbara huson

      Hey Laura, so good to hear from you. Sounds like you and George are doing great, financially and every other way! Congrats!

  • Wendy Bloom

    My father recently passed away and I was helping my mother by reviewing his and her credit reports. I kept asking her if any cards were hers alone, rather than joint. Once the credit bureaus got notice of his death, all the joint cards were cancelled and to my mother’s surprise, so were all her cards. Then it was a mad rush to get her bank to issue her a new card and to redirect all the automatic payments.

    • barbara huson

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad, Wendy. And I’m very surprised the cards in HER name only were canceled too!!!! Good thing you were there to help her.

  • Kat

    Celebrating our 2 month anniversary today! All our accounts are separate except for one joint checking and one joint credit card. We did pool all of our investment accounts under one money manager since our financial goals and investments need to be in synch but the underlying accounts are separate. No arguments about money. I am the investor educating him on the benefits. Having a money manager allows us both to have more ease. We choose to live a lifestyle affordable on one income. Which is not too hard as we are both high earners. We are both all too aware that things can change in an instant but are pretty confident money itself is not an issue in our relationship.

    • barbara huson

      Congratulations, Kat! You’re a newlywed!!! Your approach to finances sounds very healthy and well thought out. I’m so glad you shared it with us!! Thanks!

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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