Separate or Joint Bank Accounts? Who’s Happiest?

by | Aug 16, 2017

Money may not be the root of all evil, but it certainly is the root of many arguments. On top of that, if you argue with your spouse about money, chances are your relationship will suffer. Of course, if you are constantly under financial constraints, that’s tough on any relationship. So making enough money to live comfortably is important to your well-being as a couple. But even rich people fight about money, so what’s going on?

No two people will ever feel the same about every issue. Couples talk through and work out all sorts of things before they get married, making their feelings known about politics, religion, children, family. But somehow the subject of money often goes neglected. Yet a straightforward and direct discussion about money is important.
And yes, it’s important to be open, but what about having your own private account versus pooling your money? Well, some research shows people who pool most of their money are happier than those who keep all their income to themselves. The arguments for a joint account go along these lines:

Pooling reinforces trust. Without trust, what good is your relationship? You must trust your partner to make good use of the funds you have, and to consult you about any big ticket purchases. And vice versa. If you have a joint account you surrender total control over the money and enjoy the give and take of partnership.

Separate Or Joint Bank Accounts? Who’s Happiest? Nancy'S Counseling Cornera partnership.

Pooling makes it tougher to quit. If you have an amount squirreled away for a rainy day, then you always have an out. Without this safety net, you must be thoroughly committed to the relationship. And you must work harder to stick with it during tough times.

Pooling reduces the time you spend arguing. It’s easier to manage one joint account, and simpler to budget. Earning disparities are less pronounced when your money is pooled.

The arguments for separate accounts are:
Separate accounts reduce the time you spend arguing. Wait? Didn’t we just say that about pooling? It just depends who you are. With separate accounts you have your own decision to make about spending and rely less on consent from your partner, so perhaps that reduces arguments.

Separate accounts give you peace of mind. When you pool your accounts, you don’t have a private safety net. And some people need to know they have that, even though they never intend to use it. It gives them comfort.

Separate accounts give you financial independence. It’s more than just money, it’s knowing that you have the freedom to use that money how you want without constraints. Being able to spend freely without fear of judgment from your spouse. And even in good marriages there are times when one partner doesn’t need to know what the other partner is spending.

They key is to know yourself and your partner. If one of you is a spender and the other a saver, you need to discover common ground where you are both comfortable. There’s no rule that you can’t pool some of your money and keep some in a private account, too. Whatever works for you is the right thing.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Psychotherapist. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:


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