Ensuring your finances are combined with your spouse is pre-marital advice that is given to almost everyone, especially amongst evangelicals. I believe this advice is good; you should be one with your spouse financially. However, operating from the same bank account with your spouse is not a requirement for being unified in your finances. For my wife Jodie and I, and likely for many others, having our own checking accounts not only helps us be unified, it helps our finances go further faster, having a positive impact on our overall relationship.
I think about and engage with money differently than my wife. This is a reality for everyone. It is impossible for any two people to think about money and use money the exact same way. For most marriages, this reality causes tension, which makes sense. Two people who think about money and use money differently are both supposed to operate in the same account together on a daily basis and maintain harmony with each other? How? Why?
The reality that you and your spouse think about money differently and use money differently is not bad.
Neither of you are wrong, just different. As long as you are both unified on the main objective, it’s okay for you and your spouse to have different thought processes and actions with money.
The reason our finances are still “ours” and not “mine” or “hers” is because of transparency, access, and a plan we created together. I am fully transparent with my checking account and she is fully transparent with hers. We both have 100% access to each other’s account and can see what is going on and use each other’s account if needed. There is nothing private and nothing hidden.
In addition, the primary way we operate in our separate accounts is within the guidelines of an overall budget and plan we created together. This budget helps us accomplish our long term financial goals.
The income our home takes in is our income and the expenses we have as a household are our expenses. However, there are portions of our expenses that make more sense for me to manage, and others for Jodie to manage. We decide on these expenses together.
In our plan, I handle the recurring expenses like the mortgage, utilities, and other subscriptions. Jodie takes care of the variable expenses like groceries, expenses for kids, and gifts. Most of the expenses I manage are set up on auto pay and need to be watched for unexpected increases or seasonal adjustments. I make changes based on the electric bill increasing in the summer and decreasing in the winter. I also make adjustments to the mortgage payment as the taxes and insurance portions alter each year.
Jodie’s expenses adjust more often, based on seasons and stages of life. Sometimes the kids will have a bunch of sports to register for, other times they won’t. Sometimes we host a lot of people at our home and spend more on groceries and sometimes we don’t.
Because our expenses are so different, it makes sense for us to have different accounts that allow us to create our own systems to manage these in the best way possible. This helps us better stick to our plan and allows us to accomplish our financial goals quicker.
Marriage isn’t always easy. And managing finances together can make your marriage worse or better. For Jodie and I, we are absolutely one with our finances. We have a plan that we execute together. But we also have different bank accounts. This removes the tension and conflict that finances can bring to marriage when the nonessential thoughts or actions about money are not exactly matching. Separate bank accounts allow us the freedom to engage with money in a way that makes sense for the finances we manage and for the way our individual brains operate, yet we are still able to keep the main thing the main thing.
If you want to hear more details on this, check out the Stewardship podcast episode where we not only talk about why we do this but provide additional steps for how. https://stewardship.pro/podcast029/