Bank Accounts, Joint or Separate?
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The topic I chose to discuss is if couples have separate bank accounts and if they have arrived at this solution after trying to use a single account or if this was their first attempt at martial checking. I chose this topic because I always had the notion that a married couple should have a joint bank account, meaning that their finances just like them were intertwined and inseparable. After I was married to the love of my life, I noticed the concepts and methods we practiced regarding the monthly budget and our finances were vastly different and at times conflicting.
She was brought up in a household where her parents never discussed budgets or savings, they just spent their money on whatever they wanted and when the money ran out, they would barrow to continue spending. I was brought up in a poor household where we had to scrimp and save to make ends meat. Im sure you can figure that this was the source of a lot of conflict and hard ship in the first years of our marriage.
We had tried many different techniques to settle things, but no matter what we tried conflict still arose on how the money was spent and when it was spent. Finally after researching the topic and talking to mother married couples who I knew and respected, I came to the conclusion that no matter what my personal opinion on how the finances should be, my wife and I were never going to agree on this and that I should look for another solution instead of trying to indoctrinate her with my philosophy. One of piece of advice I was given was to split up the family budget in whatever ratio is necessary and allocate the money accordingly. This resulted in my wife being put over the groceries, clothing, and school needs for the family and I was put over the rest of the bills (mortgage, insurance, phone, etc.). I also tried to find a way to tuck a little money away each month into a savings account. Since the inception of this solution we had two separate bank accounts which has resulted in my less conflict and we have been able to put money away for the future for the first time in our marital history.
I wanted to research if this problem was common or not given the diversity of financial backgrounds now in society. I think it very interesting to see how couples come to solutions that fit their case, or if they will hand in the towel and give up on their marriage because they cannot see eye to eye financially.
Instead of picking five people to interview I have selected six couples for this research process. The respondents in no particular order are S. & L., BJ & M., P. & R., C. & A., R. & K., and S. & C.. I chose S. & L. because S. is my older brother and he and I have conversed at length about martial accounting and the changes we have made in order to make things work; they have been married for longer than my wife and I have and I value their opinions. BJ & M. were the first couple I knew with separate bank accounts and yet their marriage was happy, so I found this case quite interesting. P. & R. have just switched to a dual bank account system in their household and their experiences will be invaluable to this research. C. & A. are friends of ours that use one bank account and manage to not kill each other in the process. I also talked to my wifes and my parents (S. & C. and R. & K.) because these are the people that raised us and imparted their philosophies on us, so what better way to get an idea of how your significant other thinks in this regard then by asking the people who taught her.
The results of the interviews are interesting. S. & L. were raised with similar accounting styles; both being taught to save and prepare for the future. They had a joint bank account after they were married, but switched the dual account system after much conflict and many hundreds of dollars in NSF fees from their banks because they would never communicate about what charges had been made and how much was left in the account. Even though they were taught similar principles regarding budgeting, neither of them practice budgeting or saving money currently. They own a hard wood flooring business and make enormous amounts of money, but at the end of the month they are as flat broke as the rest of us. S. claims to be the “accountant” of the relationship but L. strongly disagrees, so there is no clear accountant in this marriage.
BJ & M. were raised with similar backgrounds in finances, both families were poor and taught their children to save and prepare for the future. In this marriage, M. is the “accountant” and believed that BJ and her styles were so different that it would not working trying to mesh them. BJ believes that after you pay for all the necessities in life, you should have fun and buy things that are fun (i.e. a 4×4 truck, guns for target practice, etc.). M. believes that you should pay for all the necessities and then put the rest a way no matter what your wants. I personally did not think the difference their accounting style was that different and incompatible, but to each their own.
P. & R. were raised in two different ways, P. was taught to save for the future and to get by with as little as humanly possible meaning food, shelter, clothing, and a car nothing else (a very minimalist philosophy). R.s parents never taught her to budget because they believed it was a mans duty and that her husband would take care of this matter. When they were married both tried to use the same bank account which resulted in disaster because it was drained each and every month by R. who thought if the moneys in there it might as well go to get something they want. P. said he had to take total control over the finances and ease his wife into it. He started by creating a separate account for her and put her over buying groceries for the family. This worked out for the most part after a couple of bumpy months when the grocery money for the whole month was spent in one week and R. asked P. for more money as if he could go and create it out of thin air. After time R. was put in charge of groceries, clothing, and school needs for the family. One thing to note is that R. opted to close her bank account and just go to a completely cash system so he would not have to keep balancing her checkbook, but could actually see how much money she had left each and every month.
C. & A. were raised in similar ways regarding finances; both were taught to save but to also allot for a couple splurges each month. When they were married they shared one bank account and A. was the accountant and their accounting styles were just as they were taught so they got along well.