Financial Freedom in Marriage

Updated on January 17, 2011
R.R. asks from San Mateo, CA
43 answers

In a marriage where both partners work, what is the best way to manage money? Put it in joint account, joint and separate, or just separate and share expenses? If the husband manages all finances and all money goes to joint account, how much freedom can a wife have to keep some money for herself?

If the wife wants to keep some money for herself in a seperate account (less than 10% of her income) as security as she fears someday if husband asks her to leave or removes her from his credit/debit cards or something happens she will have no immediate financial backup. Husband has strong objection to keeping a separate account. He thinks it is secrecy and trust issue and break in foundation of marriage. He thinks that in order to stay in marriage and honor his feelings and appreciate him, wife must keep money in a joint account and spend within his prescribed limits.

What do you think is reasonable? How much financial freedom and security each partner should have in a marriage?
Thanks much,

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for taking the time to write such detailed responses. I really appreciate it. It does make sense to combine finances and keep it simple. At the same time, two partners in marriage are also individual beings and deserve to have some freedom to spend money the way they want after all the family expenses are taken care of. I feel that both partners should have a little bit of free money either by a separate account or another mechanism.

In the situation, I described in my question, there is no financial hardship and all expenses are manageable. There is no debt except minimal home mortgage. The primary reason wife wants a separate account is to manage her personal expenses (clothing, shoes, hair cuts, skin care, small gifts for her side of family, etc.) and not being nagged for it. The wife feels she spends within limits (buys things cheap on sale, no high end designer stuff, no spa or nail salon visits, no going out for lunch or coffee).

The husband knows how much his wife makes and can easily figure out how much money is being put away in separate account by direct deposit plan. She of course will transfer additional money to joint account whenever there is family need. Husband still thinks if he does not get to know the wife’s expenses, it is still a secret. He thinks that what if there is an emergency and he needs ‘that’ money, he won’t have access to it. The wife says that if she is alive, she will of course make that money available. If she is no longer alive, it will be his money by default. I don’t understand what kind of emergency can lead to such a situation if the family has good health insurance, good credit, decent saving, and retirement fund. There does seem to be some other underlying issue. Again, I appreciate all the insight you all have offered. My very best to you.

Featured Answers



answers from Honolulu on

Well, my husband and I have 2 accounts but both accounts are joint. One is seen as mine, while the other is seen as family. I stay at home and "my" account gets 600 for food and house hold maintenance each month. I can keep anything over that and don't have to account for it at all unless I need more to feed family and keep the house running (though I do get a raise when he gets one at work...)

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on


It truly sounds like your marriage is in trouble. Money is the most common reason for couples to fight.

We have a joint account - I don't work. We have one credit card that is paid of each month, a mortgage, no car payments. I do the bills and balance the checkbook because I'm HOME. We review it each month together.

We have two accounts that each of us get $200 every two weeks in - this is OUR money to play with. If I chose to go gambling with it - so be it. If i chose to spend it all on a pair of shoes - great - but that's it!! :) the joint account is for the house (gas, electric, water, etc.) and if I use my $200 in a sloppy way - then that's my bad. the credit card is for EMERGENCIES ONLY.

It sounds like your husband is trying TOTAL CONTROL. And that's not a marriage. A marriage, in my opinion, is a partnership - and both parties need to agree to ways to handle situations.

If you fear your husband is going to ask you to leave - ask yourself if you are better off with our without him. If the answer is without- leave. DO not pass go and do not stop. If the answer is with - you need to find a compromise that you both are willing to work with.

I would suggest marriage counseling and find out the root of this distrust (were either of you married before and had financial troubles?) does he have reason to suspect you to be spending or whatever his concern is?

It all depends upon your personal financial situation. We made sure that when we married, we could do it all on one income - my when I did work - my money was swwwwweeeeettttt!!! now that I don't work, we have rules for spending...but it's a decision we make together!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We have...errr... checking the website 7 checking and 6 savings accounts (I'm so used to moving things around / using them I don't often think of the number).

Checking / Debit:
1 - Deposit Account (where all paychecks, tax returns, ANY income money gets deposited into *EXCEPT* student loans and scholarships) - money ONLY goes into this account and then we transfer it into our other acounts

2 - Mortgage and Bill Pay (just like it sounds)

3 - Joint Account (where all FAMILY money goes... grocery, gas, house, trips, etc.) Every single dollar spent from this account HAS to be checked with the other person before it's spent

4 - His account

5 - My account

6- Kiddo's Account

7 - School expenses & Income - We actually only have 1 school account open currently, but when all 3 of us were in school we had 3 school accounts.


1 - OSF - Oh Shoot Fund (for things like car repairs, medical expenses, home repairs, yikes! forgot their birthday was this month... you know all the THINGS that crop up on a monthly basis, this is the safety net for them)

2 - Long term savings

3 - School savings (we dep any leftover financial aid AS WELL as a set amount from each paycheck for kiddo's school)

4 - Mine : linked to my debit

5 - His : ditto

6 - Kiddo's : ditto

EVERY single paycheck (or money influx) we sort the money into the different accounts. Mine & His are inviolate. The other person has no say on it whatsoever as to when or how it's spent. They are EQUAL amounts. This way, everything is above board, but we each also have "private" money in addition to family money.

For the record however, I'm a big fan of BOTH partners putting aside a certain amount of money every month into a "homewrecking hussy account". Preferably a numbered or named account in a strict banking law nation. UBS is a great bank, for example. I put some of my personal money into such an account fairly often. It's my personal money, I can spend it how I please. As long as I withdraw it and have it wired NOT from my account, the location is secret from anyone *except* the US govt. (Switzerland cooperates with the US, it's not like a Caymen account... it's just untouchable by anyone but me or the govt., no one else can lay a finger on it and the govt has to show cause, and the Swiss are quite strict about cause.) As long as I stay within the legal limits the US places on such accounts (under 10k), I'm perfectly within my rights to do so. In such an event as the marriage collapsing I'm protected, and in such an event as our 50th wedding anniversary we can take a year long trip around the world.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I am a SAHM, while I worked - this is what we did:

1. joint account for all house bills (mortgage, car payments, credit cards, insurance, etc.)
2. single account for each of us and a set amount of money goes into it each payday - that's "Free" money - for us to do with as we please.

Now that I am not working - I still get $200 every two weeks in my account. but we have no credit card debt nor do we have car payments anymore. only the mortgage and insurance.

I personally think if you believe that one day your husband will ask you to leave - your marriage is in trouble - that's MY opinion - it may not be true as I could be misreading your question. However, if your husband states that you MUST put your paycheck into joint account and spend only what he tells you - that's control, that's not a partnership or marriage.

In my home, it is MY responsibility to write the checks out and put the receipts in Quicken so we can track our progress. Hubby signs the checks so he knows what's going on. I balance the checkbooks each month and he brings home the bacon...there aren't any financial secrets in my home - if hubby feels this way - I would suggest counseling so you two can learn how to communicate about money, where your financial future lies and how you both plan to achieve the financial goals you have....

If he has set spending limits for YOU, they must apply to HIM as well, it's not a one way street.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I really think that it depends on the people as to how finances are handled. My husband and I each have our own separate checking & savings accounts - then we have joint checking & savings accounts. We also have a completely separate minor account that we set up for our son right after he was born that we both deposit money into. Before we were married we lived together and split up the bills... my husband makes more than me so he takes care of more of the bills. We have our joint accounts that we typically have some money from each paycheck go into... and then we use THAT account for our "fun" stuff (vacations, special purchases, etc).
I am VERY big on always balancing my checkbook and keeping track of stuff... while my husband is the complete opposite. He "balances" his checkbook in his head. Somehow it seems to work out for him though, because <knock on wood> he doesn't overdraw his account... but that is definitely not how I want to handle finances! So, I think it would be very difficult for us to combine all our money into one account.
I honestly don't think I could handle living the way you're talking about. There should be enough trust in a relationship where you can spend YOUR money on what you want to. He should honor YOUR feelings and appreciate you enough to know that you're not going to stray from the marriage or anything radical like that. It's one thing for you to watch over a child's expenses when they are first starting to make/spend money on things for themselves, but you are a grown woman!
Is there something that happened to him in a previous relationship or just in life that has caused him to be controlling like this?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

well we joined together meaning everything was joined. I know that this is becoming less common, my hubby works, I stay home with the kids. All money goes to a joint account, I pay the bill (the financial person) he calls to make sure he can charge anything over $20...we are not rich so this is a rule and any purchase over $100 we have to agree and talk about. Works for us. Oh and yes when we married I also married a school loan, he did not. But um really we are together so his money is mine and vic-versa, his or my debt is each others also. I don't see why it wouldn't be. But again that is just me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

My husband and I have seperate checking accounts and a joint savings. It's all through the same bank, and we have each other's names as secondary on our accounts so we can view each others accounts online if we want to, but generally we dont. My husband pays most of the bills, house, water, gas, electric, trash, credit card, etc, and I pay my student loan and the car bill. We were talking about consolidating into one account, but I hate the idea of giving up that bit of freedom, of making impulse buys that I dont have to justify. I talked about it with my Grandma, whose marriage to my Grandpa is my inspiration for what a marriage should be, and she said that they've always had seperate accounts too.

One of my friends is a SAHM, and she and her husband have seperate accounts too. His paycheck is automatically split 3 ways, part to her acct, part to his, and most to their joint account, so that each has "fun" money they dont have to justify.

I think you should do what you feel most comfortable with, although I think it's worrying that you are wanting to save up for the possibility of your husband leaving you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

i would NEVER live without my own bank account. EVER. we have a joint account where we put half our earnings and we each have our own account and we do what we want with our own money.
what is husband afraid of? sounds like he is trying to live in a time past where a husband would make all the money and dole it out to his wife to get her hair or nails done or buy groceries. it sounds like this is not your situation. is he aware of the discrepancy between this historical pattern and the reality of the present circumstances? talk to him about it. and keep your own money in the meantime. you worked for it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I think that in an ideal world, married people would remain happily married forever and there would be no need for concerns about husbands leaving or removing the wife from accounts. I think that in an ideal world, husbands and wives would make all decisions jointly after respectful discussions, taking both partner's opinions into consideration.

We don't live in an ideal world, however.

So I would say that I think what is reasonable depends upon the parties involved and what THEY both think is reasonable. I also think, that this issue is one that is, unfortunately, not discussed often enough PRIOR to getting married and often isn't discussed until a disagreement or some trust issue rears its ugly head.

A financial advisor once told my spouse and myself that we should have a retirement vehicle (fund, IRA whatever) set up solely in my name, just for the fact of the mental sense of ownership. So I felt like I had my own finances separate from him as a backup or whatever. So maybe that is something you could consider. We did it, (a Roth IRA) but it doesn't and hasn't changed how I feel about our finances either way. I don't earn an income. I quit when we had our first child. But we discuss expenses outside the normal ones, and he doesn't tell me what to spend on groceries. We generally discuss things like "___ has been asking for a new pair of sneaker, but I don't think he really needs any. What do you think?" or vacations and Xmas budgets, etc. We don't go buy new cars or take out credit without talking extensively with the other. And we never do something the other is adamantly against when it comes to money.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Dave Ramsey! When you got married- you two were made one- that means everything you have are now "ours" instead of "yours and mine" You both have debt, you both have money- it should go into the same account and you two need to sit down together and do a budget- where BOTH of you get a say in how the money is spent. This is a joint venture not a competition to see who earns or spends more. You both need to be on the same page financially and it will improve EVERY part of your marriage.
Check out Dave Ramsey and sign up for his financial peace class- your whole life will improve and you will have financial freedom!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What my husband and I do, is very simple. We have one checking account and a savings account attached to that. All our money goes in. What he earns isn't "his" and what I earn isn't "mine." Everything is OURS. I make the grocery budget since I do the cooking and he doesn't really know what all that costs. I run it by him and we look at the account. When one of us wants to purchase something that isn't a necessity like a book, craft supplies, whatever it may's always run by the other spouse with a quick look at the account. The money is ours and we decide on spending together. We both have equal freedoms, as one persons money is not more valuable. We don't make decisions without the other person and we feel very secure in our decisions.

You say: "He thinks that in order to stay in marriage and honor his feelings and appreciate him, wife must keep money in a joint account and spend within his prescribed limits." That sounds like CONTROL. Is there problems in the marriage. It sounds odd to think of the husband asking the wife to leave. The thought of putting money away in case my husband asks me to leave has never crossed my mind!! Sounds like a lot of control and manipulation happening on the husbands side of things.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My husband and I have a joint account...never gave it a second thought. In fact, for years before we were married his paychecks went into my bank account, which he didn't even have access to. I pay all of the bills and track our finances. When there is something one of us wants to buy, we run it by the other one first and decide together whether the time is right or its best to wait.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

From your post, it sounds like your gut is telling you to get your own bank account just in case. Go with your gut, it's usually right. While you are working, appy for your own credit card as well. If anything happens to your husband, it's important to have a credit history in your name. Being listed on his card doesn't count. Lots of red flags in your description of your husband. Take care of yourself!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I handle the money. I deposit the money, pay bills, set up savings... I even control how much money my husband has a week on his debit card for gas/lunch/extras, but bills and shopping goes into my account. They are all joint accounts, so he can move cash over if he needs, but he usually doesn't.

Basically, we have a joint account for bills, then we both have our own little personal accounts we budget for so we can spend, and then we have a savings and soon we will have savings for our children's funds.

Now, with both of you working, the money should be seen as both of yours. However, if you feel you need a separate account for your personal emergency fund, then go for it. I have one and do not ever anticipate leaving my husband, but it is still comforting to have one as anything can happen. If you feel you are being oppressed and controlled economically, then you certainly have a reason to have an emergency fund, and it is also recommended by professionals.

But, if you can both budget and agree upon where/how the money is wisely spent and you feel safe with him, then perhaps you don't need one.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I stay at home, while my husband works, and we have - and have always had since getting married - one account. I have a business account for my Mary Kay, and we have a separate savings for the kids, but only one checking account. From this, we do everything! Pay bills, have fun, buy things for ourselves. Neither one of us tells the other that they have a budget. Instead, if it's under $50, we buy. If it's over, we discuss and decide if it's the best time. Granted, we may be fortunate to have the finances others don't right now, but even though I do the bills and checkbook, we still have freedom of spending.



answers from New York on

I think the answer is different for everyone. My husband and I have 2 joint checking accounts. His pay check is split between the 2 and mine goes into 1. One is for bills the other for fun. I control the bills and all that, but we both spend from the fun account. Knowing what we are spending on for the most part. It works for us.



answers from Sherman on

We have a joint account and 2 personal accounts. My husband deposits our budgeted amount into our joint account and I pay all bills. I agree with your husband. If you are thinking you must save back up in case your marriage goes arrey then possibly you don't trust your husband and you need to find a way to work that out. Our personal accounts are attached to our 2 small home businesses: mine Mary Kay and his oil and gas book keeping. Those accounts are used for our own personal needs


answers from Stockton on

well, you have access to that account if it is a joint account. You would have just as much access to that money as he would. If you guys are on a budget that you both agree upon, I don't think that you should be worried about having a joint account. Has your husband given you some reason to think that he would just up and leave and you would have nothing? Seems to me that he has no intention of doing that as he sees you having a seperate account is a "break in the foundation of marriage". Sounds like you want to have this account because you are assuming that your marriage isn't going to work. I think that if I were your husband that would bother me too. California is a community property state - even if you had $ in an account with only your name on it, he would be entitled to half of it if you guys ended up splitting. I think you need to just go with the joint account and start expecting that your marriage is going to work instead of expecting that it is not going to work......


answers from Tampa on

If you BOTH are making the money and paying for household expenditures... then BOTH should be able to spend (within reasonable limits) the money on themselves too.

For the wife... I'd see if my job offered direct deposit towards TWO banks for 2 different amounts. I'd then automatically invest 10-15% of net pay into a personal savings account the husband did not know of, and have the rest deposited into the main account.

I'd then tell the husband "Looks like they are cutting back at work, I could either accept lesser hours or a slight pay decrease."

Sounds like you are in a borderline abusive relationship... maybe you should both seek counseling while you start your own emergency fund.



answers from Sacramento on

I think probably the best solution is not one, but several joint accounts. No matter which spouse handles the finances, both need to be involved with setting up the budget and making decisions on how the money need to be spent. This should include an 'allowance' for each to make personal purchases each month. If that allowance is generous enough and you wish to do so, set up a small savings account out of it and keep on adding to it each month for your 'security' money. Marriage should mean trust, and while I know that it doesn't always, it seems that when a wife insists on having her own account, it sets up a feeling in the husband that she doesn't trust him. I have to be honest, if my husband insisted on having his own account, I would feel that way too.



answers from Kansas City on

I can't really answer this question without sounding like a hipocrate but I'll try.

When my husband and I were both working, we both had our own accounts. There was one joint account for the house ONLY that we both put money into to make the mortage. Outside of that, we sat down and decided whose paycheck could/would cover what bills. Anything outside of that was ours to spend as we wanted. I saved, he spent. He never felt it was a trust or secrecy issue. He knew that I put money back in savings and he would try to get me to break into it for certain wants (not needs) and sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't, but it was ultimatly up to me.

Fast forward 10 years, I stay at home, he works. All of the money goes into my account and I budget it out. This is where hipoccracy comes in. You said he says you can't have a seperate account for savings and that 'wife must keep money in a joint account and spend within his prescribed limits.' I say that there is a difference in budgeted money and controlling money. I think 10% is great. Both of you (assuming you earn approximately the same) should take that 10%(or an agreed amount) and have for personal spending. It's built into the budget (prescribed limits). We do that and I choose to hold back from that money for savings. My husband knows that I do this with my 'fun' money and also knows how much is saved in it. It's there but not a secret and I don't feel I am violating his trust by choosing to do what I will (save) for any emergency I may see fit to spend it on (and of course if it was truely needed for the family then that is what I would 'choose' to spend it on.



answers from Washington DC on

It could be that he has a controlling personality, or it could be that he's a minimalist, or that he's a 'saver' not a 'spender' and wants to have a say on how everything is spent...

In my house we both work, and we have 3 accounts. At husband's urging. Mine, His, Ours. When we first were married, hubby wanted a prenup. I said no way. He then said that HE wanted seperate accounts so that I couldn't get to all of HIS money. Ok (that does go both ways!)

We sat down and figured out all of the household bills - mortgage, electric, cable, car insurance, water, food, etc. Added them up and divided by 2.

Each payday our paychecks are auto deposited into out individual accounts, then we each take part of that and transfer it to the joint account. The house bills are then paid from that. Food runs are paid from the individual account of whomever is doing the food run.

We each have our own credit cards that we are responsible for paying out of our own checking accounts.

That's worked for use for 13y and counting.



answers from Bakersfield on

Hi Mama-
In my opinion, once you are married, everything becomes a shared venture. This includes money. I make more money than my husband, but it doesn't mean that I have greater control over the cash flow of the house. If your hubby pays the bills and sets the budget, then do what my hubby and I do--set an amount that can be taken out of each paycheck for your personal savings fund--for me, it's a shoe fund. For my husband, it's music equipment. I think between the two of us, there is anywhere from $25-$100 taken out each month as cash to spend how we please. And it all depends on how much extra we have after we put some into our savings account. We also both have a bank card attached to our joint account, and we both have the freedom to say, get ourselves lunch, or purchase something small. The deal is, anything over $10 the other partner needs to know about. AND, if you are on a tight budget, both partners needs to know about everything, no matter who is spending. This means that your husband must let you know that this week, he is going to be purchasing ________, and it costs around $50-$100. Okay- then the bills are checked, etc. It becomes part of your every day. The same with groceries. Let him know you are going to the store, check if there's anything he needs, and double check to make sure your normal spending amount is available. Limits are never dictated by one spouse. There must always be 2 yes's for an agreement of any kind, especially on spending and terms. If you need a new bra, or a new pair of jeans, etc--then the two of you work the budget and if he is the main bill payer, he can let you know that on the next payday, purchasing would be best but to hold off till then--or to do it now, no biggie, but please stay under $______. It's a shared conversation, and shared communication.....
I will say that money is probably the number one cause for most divorces.
In my home, this is how it works: Divorce is not an option. Now, that being said, if a spouse cheats or becomes abusive, then things change. However, one should never go into a marriage with divorce as an option. Otherwise, you are never all in.
I say to be reasonable, you need to have a money heart to heart with your husband. It looks to me as if he has no intention of leaving you, but instead wants to meld everything with you and become a single unit of marriage. Not a bad thing! Get together, talk about crazy cash for you, a little mad money to keep in your wallet--or walking around money as my hubby calls it, but yes- paychecks, etc. should all go into the same account, and the person who is best at managing the finances should be in charge of that. The decisions on how to spend the money and pay the bills, etc--that is a decision you both have to agree on, but leave one person responsible for doing that. It doesn't mean you can't check in on it and be a part of it--you just don't have to pay the bills and manage the account on the bank side--but your name should be on the account--as a partner with all the same rights to the money.
Lastly, in my opinion-- and it's solely my opinion, but it sounds like you live in fear of being left. Is this an issue? Has it been threatened? If not, then you need not worry. You should just jump in, ALL IN, and become a partner in the finances instead of having your own separate accounts. To me, that is where the trouble and power struggle begins. It is scary, and it is a hard thing to share that cash flow. This has been a hard thing for my husband and I to learn to mesh, but 9 years later, we are pretty darn close to having it down. Just keep working at it. As long as your husband is willing to bring you in on it, and as long as you are interested in sharing 100/100. There's no 50/50 in marriage. It's kind of an all or nothing covenant. That doesn't mean you won't ever have power struggles and that you won't argue on subjects because you are still two wonderfully unique people, but it does mean that your heart is starting in the right place. Don't worry about separate finances. Worry about how the two of you can make the best out of your finances with what you have together.
Good luck
-E. M



answers from Pittsburgh on

We have a joint account that we contribute equally too - we use it to pay the mortgage, food, child expenses and 'joint' expenses. It is probably about 1/2 of our income. The rest is completely separate. We have been together 25 years. We only started a joint account 5 years ago when DS was born. Before that we had separate money and shared the bills 50:50. I strongly believe all adults should have their own money. A large percentage of marriages end in divorce? What then? What if something horrible happens like he dies and all your accounts are tied up in probate? What will you live on until the will is resolved? Do you get to tell him how to spend his money?


answers from Houston on

everythings in my name, hes the one working but all accounts and houses are in my name, i manage the money, he uses a card that goes to the account but it has my name on it. i think joint accoiunts are great, but the more responsible one should handle the cash.



answers from Boston on

OK I'll answer the specific question in a second but there seem to be pretty glaring issues of lack of trust and control here. If you, letter writer, are in this predicament I would seek some counseling immediately. There seems to be more to your letter than figuring out the tactical details of marital finance.

First, neither partner should "control" the finances. Couples who go into a marriage with remarkably different debt situations and assets certainly may have a case to handle those particular situations but for the most part, property ownership, bills and debt eventually become "ours." Both partners should have access to bank accounts, passwords to on-line accounts and debit cards, access to paper statements, access to whatever recordkeeping is done (e.g. finance software, spreadsheets, or a paper checkbook that is balanced) and a full understanding of the whole financial picture. There is no room for secrecy in marital finance. Partners who can't trust each other with finances have no business being married.

That said, it may make sense for one partner to handle most of the finances. In my marriage, that's one of my roles. I enjoy it, I'm good at it, I work in finance, and I make time for it. I pay all of the bills (even the ones in hubby's name), track our income and expenses and let him know how much of his paycheck I need every month. We have a joint checking account and individual checking accounts. We take our income, figure out each person's portion (usually 60/40 but sometimes 70/30) and then our total expenses and divide the expenses based on our income %. Whatever the difference is between each spouses income and expenses, he or she gets to spend (or save) freely. This works if the incomes are fairly even. When things get out of whack, we will move things around so that both of us have roughly the same amount of spending money, meaning the higher earner may be paying a higher portion of the bills that his or her salary but that seems equitable.

If there is something that we want to save for or a big purchase that we need to make, we decide that together. In our day-to-day finances, I move money pretty rapidly between the joint account and my account. My husband usually deposits his paycheck (minus his own spending money) into the joint account and spends out of his separate account. This prevents us from unknowingly hitting the same account on the same day and overdrawing.

If you and your husband are making ends meet and you can afford to save 10% of your salary, you should be able to do so. He should not be telling you what you can and cannot spend - those are decisions that you two should be making together, again, based on getting all of your bills paid first. You should have your own credit cards and credit history so that you don't have to worry about what would happen if he left you, and if that concern is top of mind for you, I really think you should talk to someone and find out whether or not your concerns are valid. My husband would be the first person to tell you that I "control" him and tell him what he can and cannot spend, but that's because he doesn't meet his obligations to cover his portion of our expenses (which he agreed to), spends more than he makes, and has little financial self-control so I have him on a short leash until our financial situation improves. Assuming that's not your situation, something sounds a little off in your financial scenario.

ETA: We (I) recently switched over to using for our finances. All of our accounts (5 bank, 6 or 7 credit cards, 3 loans, our mortgage, my retirement and brokerage accounts, etc.) are all joined in our Mint portfolio and are updated automatically. I get a weekly financial summary that includes all account balances, fees paid, top transactions, etc. e-mailed to me and I forward that to hubby. He has the login and password for Mint so he can view the info but doesn't bother. He probably doesn't read the summaries either but it's a nice way to just say "hey FYI here's where we are this week." I've tried a lot of financial software (Quicken, Money) and this is by far the best that we've used.



answers from New York on

Dear Mama-

I have to echo the concerns already expressed that there seems to be a situation here that needs to be addressed, focused primarily around trust and respect. I hope you can get assistance with this before it blossoms into other areas and/or becomes an elevated situation.

As for how to handle finances, you really need to look at work bests for you and your family. We have multiple accounts that have direct deposits - one for vacationing purposes, a custodial account for each of the kids for college, one for car repairs, one for gift-giving (Bdays, Holidays, etc.), one for emergency purposes then there is the "family" account. All of these are "joint" and either one of us can access them; however, the family account is the primary account and is used in the traditional sense to pay "house" expenses. Most of the others are not used without a serious discussion about what we are looking to purchase and why. Now, we also each have our own accounts that we use to manage "private" expenses as well as commuting expenses - gas for the cars, etc. My husband uses his to buy tools for his woodworking shop. We balance things out as best we can and if either of us get "stuck" we can use the "family" account after a discussion.

I do not think this setup has lead to any "hidden" purchases, etc. and allows each of us to maintain a certain amount of "freedom".

I wish you luck and ask that you seriously consider the source of the question and why you needed to ask it in the first place.




answers from Amarillo on

I had to start this response over. If the two of them are working the could have a joint account to pay the bills and each person contributes money to that account. Both people should meeting weekly or when paid to go over what bills are due and pay them. This way they know what is going on with the "family business". I say this because a successful marriage is a mini-business meeting the needs of all the business partners. We have two joint checking accounts. My husband was in military and a truck driver and it was easier to transfer money to one account and keep the other for running the home. We still have them to this day. I have a separate account because of having a separate business or two and this way the money was not comingled with the home accounts.

As far who should "control" the money, you both should. Set up an amount that is budgeted for each person that way they can buy what they want up to a certain amount without a meeting of larger items (tv, sofa, bed, vacation). Of course there should be a saving account and retirement account.

One person shouldn't feel that they control the purse strings or it won't work. As far as credit cards you should have one of your own to keep your credit separate because you are two separate people. Businesses look at your scores separate from hubby's unless tied to a joint credit card or house. There is no secrecy in having a separate account and trust is measured in many different ways. Did he have or has he seen an issue in his past that brings this to the forefront as a child? Since when does an adult have to ask permission to do things from a spouse?

Good luck in your future life.

The other S.

PS If the spouse is feeling that he may boot her out down the pike then there are other problems going on in the marriage. No one should have to feel like that she must have an exit fund.


answers from Washington DC on

everyone brings different baggage to a marriage. for some it works great to keep separate accounts and each be responsible for various bills. for others that would be a violation of trust and sharing.
my attitude is what's mine is mine and what's his is mine. fortunately he agrees.
throughout the 20 years i had a small business i kept a separate checking account for it. when it went under i kept that account for a couple of years afterwards because i couldn't bear not having *my* money. pretty silly. but he was totally patient about it.
now i'm over it and the world hasn't come to an end. but then, i don't think i could bear to be in a marriage in which there was such a strong sense of distrust all round as the one described above. not sure how to fix that, but money issues are just a symptom.


answers from New York on

I'm not sure how it works when one person is a SAHM or SAHD long-term. In my first marriage, we both just kept our separate accounts that we had going into the marriage. I think we just didn't bother combining them, and also I felt pretty strongly about maintaining my independence if necessary. And when we split up, he took half my money (seriously - all those jokes about women taking their husbands' money when they leave really irritate me).

This time around, we have a ton of accounts. We have a joint checking account that pays all the family-related bills: mortgage, baby stuff, food, etc. Then we each have whatever accounts we want (I have a checking and savings). We set up our paychecks to be auto-deposited partially into the joint account and partially into our individual accounts. We figured out how much goes where by determining how much we needed to pay the bills, then we paid into the joint account proportionally by how much we made (ie, if I make 60% of the household income, I pay for 60% of the joint account).

This ensures we are jointly paying things that are, well, joint. And leaves us our own personal money to buy personal things. This way we can treat ourselves to whatever without having to justify it. I spent a lot of mine on takeout lunches and getting my nails done and car payments, and saved the rest. My husband spends a lot of his on books for school. It also keeps us pushing to better our careers.

Before I left my job I made sure I'd have enough money to cover my personal expenses as well as enough of the joint expenses until I was ready to start a business or a new job.

There is no trust or secrecy issue here. In fact it demonstrates a lot of trust in our marriage that each of us spends our own money on who-knows-what. In reality, we tell each other everything pertinent anyway, but this way neither one of us has to babysit the other.



answers from Sacramento on

All money in a marriage is for the family, no matter who makes it. Neither person should have complete control over it. It should be a joint endever. What I would suggest is that you have a joint account and that you talk with your husband about each of you having an allowance. The most responsible thing to do would be to discuss a savings plan for the family, and then discuss how much you each get as an allowance each paycheck or month. That way you get a little "financial freedom" without your husband feeling like you are squirlling away money behind his back.



answers from San Francisco on

For me, the answer is "Yours, Mine, and Ours" accounts: Each maintain your own account, into which your paycheck is direct-deposted. Then you each contribute to the joint account for all shared costs, according to income: if he makes 25% more than you, he puts 25% more into that account to cover the joint expenses. That leaves each of you something in your separate accounts that you get to spend as you wish without driving the other crazy (for me, it's crafting supplies and clothes; for him, it's electronics and computer stuff). It was the best solution for us.

A final note: If you can't come to easy agreement about this, I recommend counseling. Finances can be a microcosm for how the whole marriage works.



answers from Denver on

Our joint account is actually in my name, and my husband has one of his own. He is the bread winner and I stay home with the kids. I also pay all the bills. The majority of our income goes directly into our joint account, with a small amount going to him for a few bills he pays. I like that we have separation because then he can buy me gifts and I can buy him gifts with some surprise to it! (He never looks at our joint account--he lets me handle it all). I am not afraid he will leave me, and even if he did, he would never be so vindictive as to leave me without anything. I think if I was working I would put at least some of that money into an account of my own. I have separate retirement accounts from my husband.
Just my thoughts--good luck!


answers from Rochester on

My husband has his own personal checking account with a direct deposit amount we agreed on from his paychecks. We (I) pay bills, grocery shop, gas up cars, etc. from our joint account. The main reason he got a separate account was that I felt like a controlling nag since he had to call me and ask if we had enough money when he was out if he found something he really liked, and I hated being upset with him if he bought something that we really couldn't afford and it threw things off for bills or groceries. You could have the same effect by having a cash "allowance" each if a separate account is a problem, but my husband's big hobby is media, so he just buys CDs and the occassional DVD with his account, so he needs to be able to order online. I don't have to balance the book for him, he doesn't have to ask me, and nobody feels resentful or guilty. He can save it for something big or spend it little. I have an account but don't use it since we're on a pretty tight budget and I rarely have the urge to spend money on myself (he has tried to get me to, but I would rather pay on something).

I like the separate account because I do trust him not to do anything illegal or immoral, which are my two stipulations. =D He also likes that he can transfer our agreed-upon budget for gifts to his account and shop for me without me seeing where he spent the money.

I read through and enjoyed Suze Orman's book Women and Money. She does highly recommend that women have at least one credit card in their own names, not because they inherently don't trust their husbands, but because it is simply a good, practical idea. I know a lot of people have strong opinions about this issue, though. My parents always had separate finances because my dad had a lot of money problems. I think it should be an agreement though, even if there is only one wage earner.

I should probably add that my husband does not really look at our bank book, and is not all that familiar with what I actually pay on bills monthly. He is terrible with numbers (studied history, not math!) and when I've asked him if he wants to do them with me or go over them, he declines. (He does find it depressing since we are pretty much paycheck to paycheck, but I take care of it so he consistently says that is fine with him. He knows where all the information is if he wants to see it.) I think it is great and best if both people know where everything goes, but as long as the communication is open and there is trust, you should be fine.



answers from San Francisco on

In my marriage, we put all of our money in a joint savings and checking accounts. We don't plan for the failure of our marriage because we are very secure in our marriage. If you truly believe there may be a problem one day, then I would keep a separate account and not tell hubby I had it.



answers from San Francisco on

You have so many answers and I know that they will help greatly. I want you to know that I will make sure that every young couple in our family gets this discussion is prior to marriage and make a big decisions. So Thank You for asking the question. I wish you well in your quest for information.



answers from San Francisco on

We each have our own "bucket" money, as we call it. This is a small amount we take out of every paycheck for ourselves (and I mean small!) The majority of the money goes into our joint account. This is for bills, family entertainment, and really almost everything.

My bucket money is for clothes, jewelry, out with the girls, etc. My husband usually uses his for works lunches, hobbies, or out with the guys.

Since I'm the one paying the bills and keeping track of our daily debits, I like that my husband has his own "play" money. Then I don't have to worry about him making transactions in our joint account and forgetting to tell me!
He's always had his separate account, and I've just recently started taking out cash for my "bucket". Works great for us!



answers from Las Vegas on

Rachna, I just want to add my post here, to help you decide the norm on this. Since day one, my husband has handed me his signed paychecks. We have always kept a joint account. I have an account of my own, which he has never taken the time to become a signer on, but I hardly keep any money in there and as well, I have my business account, which he is not a signer of. It really makes no difference to us, we share all of our money and make joint financial decisions.



answers from Norfolk on

Every couple is different, but my husband and I both when I worked and now that I do not always have had a joint account. We each know about what we can spend for the month, spend it on our credit cards, and I pay off each card at the end of the month completely. We have both always had the self discipline to spend only what we could afford so neither of us have ever worried about checking up on one anothers expenses. If one of us was to start getting off track we might need to work it out differently. We have always maintained a joint savings for the surprise expenses like vet bills and broken furnaces so that it doesn't have to come from one person's money or the other. This keeps you from fighting about who's cat it is anyway or who really wanted that vacation. We are both joint account holders with full access to the account and maybe this is crazy, but I trust him not to suddenly withdraw all of our money (granted I also know that the military has lots of protections in place to prevent dead-beat dads and that I can at least get part of his pay directly to me if that was needed).



answers from Victoria on

Most financial advisers say that you should have 4 accounts for a family. Joint for family bills, hers, his, & savings. each individual account is so that each person has money to spend as they wish for movies, coffees, or retirement, etc... this gives each person the opportunity to handle finances of sorts and since some people spend money as though it is burning a hole in their pocket others are quite thrifty and the spender usually will go through the savers and cause resentment to build.

We have two businesses & I take care of the books for both plus our personal account & savings. I didn't want to deal with two more, so I jusrt give me & my husband an allowance of mad money & it is cash. We both enjoy having our "own" money. Since you are worried about stability & your husband is worried about trust/secrecy, I'd say you guys have bigger issues that need to be addressed. best of luck.


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi Rachna-

In my experience...$ and sex are the 2 biggest issues in a marriage.

If 'one' partner is gonna control one...the other partner will try to control the other...

Not healthy for a marriage IMO...

Just 'my' observation...

Take Care



answers from San Francisco on

You have gotten a lot of good answers but I wanted to add mine. I am a stay at home mom. About 7 years a go my husband threatened to cancel the credit cards during a fight. I think he even made a pretend call. (He can be a jerk.) So the next day I opened an credit card in my name only with the same company that held our joint credit cards. He was a little miffed that I had my own card but I explained why I did it and that basically his actions forced me to do it. I also have a checking account that is in my name only and I put money away monthly. The account exists as a "retirement" account since I don't work. Once a year I move the money to an IRA (in my name alone) but at any given time I do have a couple thousand that he can't touch. I'm happy with the situation and he doesn't seem to mind.



answers from Chicago on

I didn't read all the responses. I see both sides here. I am against separate accounts because it goes against the whole "totally in this together" aspect of marriage, i.e. there is no yours, mine, ours, just "ours." At the same time, I am concerned that you feel like you need an exit plan. This doesn't speak well to the marriage.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions