Should couples have joint bank accounts?
Is it just me or does everyone think money and marriage go hand in hand?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my wedding anniversary and said the secret to a happy marriage is a shared bank account.
My reasoning is pretty simple, that money is a metaphor for love, you should give it freely, never count what you are owed and don’t go handing it around at the pub.
Since that article, many people have taken me to task, saying they are in happy unions where money is kept completely separate. They argue that having your own money means you never have to lie about how much a fishing rod costs or why you need a third pair of black boots.
One friend told me she that by keeping their money separate and never discussing it, she and her partner never fight about it. Fair enough, but I think a relationship is a team like any other and when we put the team first, everyone prospers.
I grew up in a house where money was pooled and John and I started sharing our cash long before we even lived together.
I have watched two very dear friends endure marriages where money was mercilessly split, right down to blazing rows about who should pay for birth control and post it notes claiming “You owe me $23.60”.
Both cases ended in divorce.
John and I have never earned equal amounts but we are good sharers with similar views on what constitutes a necessity. We are equally likely to resist buying a coffee or magazine, but totally up for a two hundred dollar dinner with friends.
John puts up with my fashion fetish, I accepted long ago that a trip to Bunnings is cheap therapy for him. We have made a thousand bad financial decisions together, but have never blamed or stressed over them.
I used to think we were pretty standard but now I know there are as many financial arrangements as there are unions, less than half the population actually pool their cash. That seems fine to me as long as everyone is open and honest. I’d like to study whether keeping financial secrets is saving marriages by relieving financial tension or a warning sign of a doomed relationship. I suspect it’s the latter.
Stories about tight people can be fun. I remember reading Mick Jagger once drove 20 kilometres back to a restaurant which charged him for a bottle of mineral water he didn’t order.
I know a man who used to steal that hard plastic toilet paper from his job at Queensland Rail and a friend told me this week about a woman who washes used cling wrap.
These stories are funny when they happen to someone else. Not so funny when being tight with money means tight with love.