Separate Bank Accounts
A few weeks ago, I mentioned on Instagram Stories that we have separate bank accounts and how I’m very pro separate bank accounts. But let me preface that with saying I’m pro separate bank accounts for us. It works for us. Would it work in every marriage? Probably not.
I know couples have different circumstances, so I think it’s important I share our income situation. But I’m not dropping numbers because that’s nunya business.
Brad works outside of the home and earns a full-time income. I work from home and earn a full-time income from Two Twenty One and How to Nest for Less, the other blog I own and operate. Since I’m also a full-time stay-at-home mom, my hours are weird. I work when I can– nap time, the tiny slivers of time the kids are playing nicely by themselves, after the kids go to bed, weekends. Basically most of my free time is spent working or thinking about work or talking about work with fellow bloggers. I have an assistant who helps me with HTNFL. I also have a babysitter who comes a couple mornings a week to help with the kids so I can run errands or get work done. But I’m still struggling, so I’m planning to increase the babysitting hours this summer.
Why Have Separate Bank Accounts?
We’ve been living together for 12 years (married for almost 8 years). And I don’t think we ever had a big sit-down conversation about who pays for what. It’s just kinda been decided as stuff comes up.
Keeping our bank and credit card accounts separate has led to very few arguments over money throughout our relationship. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time we argued about money. This is the main reason why we keep things the way they are. Like the motto says, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
The rules are pretty simple. Each person pays what they need to pay, invest, and save what they need to pay, invest, and save. And each person is expected to not carry credit card debt and pay off the balances every month. We trust that the other person is doing what they need to do.
In the end, we get pretty close to splitting stuff 50/50.
Household & Vehicle Expenses
Here’s how we split household and vehicle expenses:
Me: mortgage, car insurance, gas for my car, groceries, toiletries, household essentials (cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc.), home decor, house cleaner, my credit cards
Brad: gas for his car, gas, electric, water & sewer, Internet, streaming services, trash removal, mobile phones, electronics & technology, tools, lawn maintenance service, home maintenance & improvements, car maintenance (he works on our cars), his credit cards
Brad used to cover our SUV car payment but we’ve paid it off. Now he’s putting the money he would be using for the car payment into savings so we can have a hefty down payment when it’s time for him to get a new vehicle.
Sometimes Brad will run to the store, and he’ll obviously pay for it. And sometimes he’ll put gas in my car.
Eating Out/Carry Out
Since I buy the majority of the groceries, the deal is Brad pays whenever we eat out or carry out as a couple or a family.
Since I’m the most fashionable family member (no offense, honey), I buy the majority of the kids’ clothes. Although if Brad sees something for one of the boys, he’ll get it. And family members and friends will gift the kids clothes.
We don’t buy many toys for the kids because they get plenty from family members and friends for birthdays and Christmas.
Lessons, leagues, and zoo & children’s museum memberships are paid for by family members who gift them to the kids for their birthdays or Christmas.
Brad contributes to the boys’ 529 college savings accounts each month out of his paycheck. Family members also contribute to the boys’ 529 accounts instead of gifting them toys.
Date Nights & Family Outings
Brad usually pays but sometimes I’ll pay. Or sometimes we’ll give experiences as birthday or Christmas gifts to one another. For example, last month we went to see Metallica. The tickets were Brad’s birthday and Christmas gifts from me. And when we took Owen to Monster Jam in February, Brad bought those tickets.
He pays for his haircuts. I pay for all the stuff I do to my head and face.
Since I’m self-employed, Brad carries the health insurance for our family so the premium is taken out of his paycheck. He also has money taken from each paycheck that goes into our health savings account. His employer matches the contributions to a certain extent. Everyone in our family uses the HSA to pay for doctor visits, procedures, and medications.
We typically split up vacations with one person paying for flights and the other paying for hotel and meals. Or however it works out so that we’re both paying about the same amount.
We do what our financial planner tells us what to do. But each person’s retirement comes out of their own accounts.
Once all of our bills are paid, each of us can do whatever we want with our remaining money. If Brad wants to buy guitar parts or pedals? Ok, great. If I want to buy a new pair of shoes? Wonderful. He has never nitpicked or questioned me when he’s seen the UPS guy drop off a stack of boxes. And I’ve never done the same to him. Because as long as all the bills are paid, contributions to retirement funds, kids’ college funds, and savings are made, we don’t care what the other person is spending his/her money on.
Is anything free game to purchase with spending money?
We have an agreement that any large purchases (typically stuff costing more than $500) need to be discussed with the other person.
What do you recommend if you’re a stay at home mom with no additional income?
Do what’s best for you and your situation. I haven’t been in this position so I can’t say what has worked or what hasn’t. But if you’re wanting money to spend with no questions asked, I’d sit down and talk this over with your partner. Yay for compromise!
I’m going to get real real right now. After we got married, one thing I had to do was accept the student loan and credit card debt Brad brought to our marriage while I had none, except for my car payment. Was I salty at first that his debt was holding us back? Yes ma’am. I was still a somewhat selfish twenty-something. But after a while I thought, “Chelsea, accept it, move on, and work together to get rid of it.” And that’s what I did. That’s what we did. Together, we got rid off $125,000 of debt, paying off everything except our mortgage in 2.5 years. You can read all about that here and here.
Do what’s best for you and your marriage. If you have shared accounts and it’s working for your marriage, great! But if you don’t like having a shared account, talk it out and come to a compromise. Maybe that means having a shared account that you each put X amount of money into each month to pay for shared things. And separate accounts for each person’s spending money.
I have been married over 20 yrs and we still have separate accounts.
Everyone is different in what works for them.
I feel like you have been cheating on me with your other blog!!!! lol I had no clue you had it!
I mentioned it in this blog post (https://www.twotwentyone.net/life-lately/). I’m offended you didn’t read or remember. 😉
I too was surprised you had another blog, I’ve been following you for a long time! Going to check it out now 🙂
I touched on it in this blog post back in October. 🙂 https://www.twotwentyone.net/life-lately/
We do the same thing – been married 13 years and it works for us !
Great! I definitely think it depends on the couple.
My husband and I have separate accounts, have for most of our 21+ years of marriage, and this works for us just like it works for you and Brad. Some people are shocked by this and really, for us, it’s the best thing ever. Thanks for sharing – good to know we’re not alone.
I’ve been married 18 years this July and we’ve had shared accounts and cards the entire time. The only time we question anything is when it’s odd, like $125 from a gas station (checking bank balances while the gas hold is on, makes your heart drop for just a few).
We’re not big on surprising the other with purchases, so there’s nothing to hide. If I really needed to hide a purchase, I get cash out and use that. Neither of us had debt coming into the marriage, so that was a non issue. I’m always intrigued when couples have separate accounts, because it feels foreign and like things would get forgotten. But I’m glad it works for some people!
We do something similar, except when my hubby gets paid a chunk of it automatically comes to me and I pay all the bills. He can do what he wants with the remainder and I have the piece of mind that everything financially is covered. It really works well for us and we have not had one argument about money in 10 years.
Interesting. I feel like this works best if there are reasonably similar paychecks for both. I make a lot more than my husband, but I wouldn’t be able to work this job without his support, taking care of the kids when I travel or work late, etc., so for us it would be crazy if I was buying myself expensive things with “my money.” We’ve always had shared checking/savings accounts.
My husband and I had separate but joint accounts. Unfortunately he died, but having the accounts joint made my life easier. He never complained about how I spent my money and vice versa. We did have to agree on large purchases. Worked great for us.
I love seeing how others budget! We have a joint account that both our paychecks go in to but then we each have a separate account that we fund every month to buy whatever we want. As long as you have the cash in your account, go for it. You have to do what works best for you!
My partner and I mostly do this. We met at the ages of 36 and 39 so we’d each spent half our lives managing our own money, and our money management styles are polar opposites. If we tried to combine finances, I think we would clash. He earns a lot more than what I do, but he is a consultant so he could be out of work tomorrow. I earn average salary for our city in a very reliable job. We both love what we do so it works for us. I chip away at the mortgage on the property I had before we met because security makes me happy. He puts money into his business ventures because the challenge makes him happy. We’re both working towards the future in a way we feel comfortable with. We have a joint account for household bills but it’s pretty informal. We take it in turn to pay for dates and fun stuff but don’t keep score. We each choose the vehicle we want and maintain them ourselves… but the day after we got home from a roadtrip holiday in my car, he took it to get cleaned and put new tyres on it. He doesn’t care about ambulance or contents insurance so I pay for them because they give me peace of mind. I think things would have changed a bit if we’d had kids but that dream didn’t work out for us. I think in the future I’d like us to set up a savings account to save for something together. I think we might be missing out by not having a shared financial goal. But we have never had a disagreement about money and I know it’s a source of conflict for many people, so I’m glad we’ve avoided that.
Sorry, this turned into a novel!
Thanks for sharing—it’s always so interesting and fun to me all the different ways to “get life done”—bc marriage is the best and it’s hard! 🙂
I’m so nosy and curious (palm to face) is this a similar model to one of your parents’? That’s another thing that’s always interesting—how us “kids” choose either similar paths or WAY diff ones than we saw growing up 🙂 like, as with y’all, my parents didn’t question the others’ spending (within reason of course) and seeing that growing up, I knew I wanted that too—and it works! 🙂
I have 2 boys 2 years apart and love following you on IG—so relatable
Coming from an Indian background Me and my husband has a combined bank accounts and a different bank account for me to put my work money into it but he does have access to it. Some months i do not even look into that account. We both discuss on most of the purchases and investments. We do argue sometimes because he lost lot of money in stocks and did not care about it when it happened. This argument happens once in a year and it will last for a couple of days and then it goes off. But at the end our policy is working for us and most of Indians will have joint bank accounts only.
Well since I was a stay at home mom for most of our 41 year marriage, I didn’t have money to contribute other than Family Allowance ($100/month as long as we had kids under the age of 16 – it’s a Canadian thing) we only ever had joint bank accounts. And it worked out for us because a) my husband basically handed me his paycheck and I gave him a personal spending allowance and b) with 4 kids, there usually wasn’t money left over to really argue about. however, if I had understood when we were first married, that my husband had no interest in seeing how the budget worked, I would have developed a budget a LOT earlier. The only purchase that was really difficult for us was when we bought a camping trailer – he decided and I asked where the money was coming from. He wasn’t into planned spending. And I didn’t like camping… but everyone else loved it, so I adapted.
The best part though was when someone from his work asked him how much money he gave me for spending on the household and her replied that he handed over his paycheck and he’s the one who got an allowance! LOL.
So the joint accounts worked for us, I managed the money because I needed to and he normally got to spend “his” money because he earned it. BTW, our house was furnished in early “cast-off”, we didn’t buy new furniture for 25 years and I decorated with plants.
We also have separate accounts but we split large amounts with percentages. I make way less than he so splitting large amounts 50/50 are not fair for my earning power. Do you each make around the same amount?
So interesting. Thanks for sharing.